During a walkabout at the Yishun Temporary Bus Interchange on 5 September, Minister K Shanmugam shared his thoughts about the key issues that voters should consider during the upcoming General Elections.
For example, by 2030, 900,000 Singaporeans would be aged 65 and above. As a result, healthcare financing would become a critical challenge. Minister Shanmugam said that the Government has anticipated the challenge many years in advance and put in place comprehensive policies, such as Medishield Life and the Pioneer Generation Package. The Government has also acted responsibly, setting aside $8 billion upfront to fund the Pioneer Generation package for example, so that “our children do not have to pay for it”.
Minister Shanmugam also pointed to the intense economic competition that Singapore faces from major cities around the world. The challenge, he said, is to restructure the Singapore economy and upgrade Singaporeans’ competitiveness through SkillsFuture, while continuing to provide targeted support for the low-income worker. While there are “major challenges”, there are also “major opportunities” to be seized, Minister Shanmugam said. For example, the ASEAN Economic Community would present an extended hinterland for Singapore. However, the key is to remain nimble to identify and seize growth opportunities in the fast-changing world.
On Opposition parties’ claims of a need to “check” the Government, Minister Shanmugam said numerous policies have been implemented since 2005, “without any policy inputs from the Opposition”. For example, the Government introduced the Workfare scheme in 2007 to top up the incomes of low-wage workers. Minister Shanmugam said this is better than a Minimum Wage as the Government takes on the burden so that businesses do not have to.
Another example is the Jobs Credit Scheme, which the Government rolled out during the Global Financial Crisis in 2009 to save Singaporeans’ jobs. As a result, Singapore avoided the high unemployment rates that many richest countries in the world suffered, and Singaporeans “almost did not feel the crisis”. Minister Shanmugam added that if the recent economic volatility and uncertainties continue, Singaporeans would be in a good position to “strap on our seat belts” and
look forward to the future.
Minister Shanmugam noted that the Government’s focus has always been to do what is in the best interests of Singaporeans, even if this comes “at a political cost” at times. He observed that “sometimes, policies aren’t popular”. However, policies should be judged by whether they are “good or not good for Singaporeans”. Ultimately, voters have to assess the facts and make up their own minds about who they would trust to safeguard their future.