The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has reneged on its duty of providing affordable housing to all Singapore citizens by failing to increase supply ahead of demand in recent years, and by allowing prices to escalate so sharply that prices greatly outpaced the growth in wages.
I would like to congratulate Dr Vincent Wijeysingha for opening up a new chapter in his career as a social activist. Dr Wijeysingha resigned from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) on Wednesday in order to afford himself a much greater opportunity to be involved in human rights issues, civil liberties, and LGBT rights in particular.
PM Lee Hsien Loong recently cautioned that taxes might have to be raised again to pay for increased social spending, such as spending on healthcare and financial assistance for the needy.
Grants alone will not make housing more affordable if prices continue to grow at a fast pace. There must be more measures to ensure that prices stabilize. While PM Lee said that prices should remain stable, he did not elaborate on what the government planned to do to achieve this outcome. His fixation on housing grants does not alleviate the anxiety of future home buyers.
The new healthcare system is the topic that concerns me most deeply. The key changes include the introduction of a new Medishield Life plan that will cover the person for life. The new plan will be universal, in the sense that it will include everyone without the possibility of opting out. It will also take in people with pre-existing conditions. In exchange for enhanced benefits, insurance premiums will be higher. To keep up with rising medical costs, medisave contribution rates will also be increased.
Some people are giving up on Singapore because the authorities have shown they are unwilling to change or address regressive attitudes and mindsets. Others are voicing out their concerns online because things have gotten harder in recent years, with an escalating cost of living and a widening income gap. If the government does not appear willing to listen, are these commentators expected to shut up and quietly accept the status quo?
An early election gives the PAP the opportunity to capitalize on the momentum of its new-found approach — the two-pronged strategy of containing the WP in its currently held wards, and at the same time actively and persistently discrediting alternative voices, especially those of the online community.
Already, in an effort at anchoring the traditional concept of Family as the foundation of Singapore society, the government has needlessly and cruelly institutionalized discrimination against Singles and against Single Parents. The Family Pledge by a supposedly politically and religiously neutral organization further drives a crucifix into the hearts of those brave mothers and fathers who have chosen to shoulder the responsibility of raising a child on their own, with sheer bravery.