19 December 2014

Solving Problems And Messy Consequences

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the People's Action Party ("PAP") is different from other political parties because, inter alia, it solves problems and plans for the future.

Government Elected to Solve Problems and Plan for Future
The PAP was elected to form the government. Solving problems and planning for the future are the primary duties of every government.

Political office holders are paid handsomely to solve our problems and plan for the future of our country.

That is not to say that the opposition parties have not put forward any solutions.

15 December 2014

Blindly Accusing AHPETC

A reader, Lau Hak Tong, wrote to The Straits Times (Worrying Lack of Transparency, 13 Dec 2014):

"The public streets in the vicinity of the Hougang-Kovan Melody area, where I have lived for the past 30 years, used to be swept daily under the former Ajunied Town Council - until the changing of hands after the last general election more than three years ago.
These days, I hardly see any estate cleaners sweeping or doing maintenance work on public streets. Most of the streets are littered with fallen leaves and rubbish. Often, outdated event banners can be found strung on the road railings.

08 December 2014

Did National Environment Agency Exceed Scope Of Its Powers?

National Environment Agency ("NEA") took Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol-East Town Council ("AHPETC") to court for organising a fair earlier this year without first obtaining a permit from NEA.

The court found AHPETC guilty of contravening section 35 of the Environmental Public Health Act (Cap. 95) ("EPH Act"), which states:

"No person shall promote, organise or stage any temporary fair, stage show or other such function or activity without first obtaining a permit from the Director-General [of Public Health]."

03 December 2014

Rejecting Sensible Amendment To Pioneer Generation Fund Bill

During the debate on the Pioneer Generation Fund Bill on 3 November 2014, Nominated Member of Parliament Chia Yong Yong said:

"I speak in support of the Pioneer Generation Fund Bill.…

It is heartening that the healthcare-related schemes announced to-date by the Government under the Pioneer Generation Package do not require means-testing.…

In this context, it is noted that clause 3 of the Bill states the purpose of the Act as 'to recognise and honour the participation and sacrifice of Singapore's Pioneers in the development of Singapore by providing to them who are now elderly and are or may be in need of financial relief, assistance or other support to meet their healthcare costs, and other costs of living in Singapore.' The Explanatory Statement to the Bill is similarly worded.

… I would like to draw the attention of the House to the phrase 'and are/ or may be in need of financial relief'. This phrase suggests that for a scheme to qualify for funding under the Pioneer Generation Fund, the disbursement of monies or provision of benefits to any Pioneer must be subject to means-testing or differentiation on the ground of financial need. If so, a scheme that benefits Pioneers without the requirement for means-testing would not qualify for funding under the Pioneer Generation Fund. That would be inconsistent with the declared intentions that the existing, the announced healthcare-related schemes should be drawn from the Pioneer Generation Fund because the current announced schemes do not require means-testing.

To address the foregoing concern, as well as concerns as to whether a Pioneer participated and made sacrifices in the development of Singapore, the language in clause 3 may be amended by replacing 'them who are now elderly and are or may be in need of' with simply 'Pioneers'. This would remove doubts as to whether the Pioneer Generation Package healthcare-related schemes as announced are eligible for funding under the Pioneer Generation Fund and would also grant the Government greater flexibility in designing and qualifying future schemes under the Pioneer Generation Fund. I do recognise that there are other possible interpretations of clause 3. But I would suggest that we should make a plain reading plain."