My thoughts on National Day Rally 2014

With NCMP Gerald Giam at NDR 2014, ITE College Central

With NCMP Gerald Giam at NDR 2014, ITE College Central

Yesterday, I attended the National Day Rally 2014 at ITE College Central. Amongst others, the Prime Minister touched on pathways to success, especially for non-graduates, retirement adequacy and making Singapore as an endearing home for all. My Parliamentary colleague NCMP Gerald Giam touched on issues related to changes that are to be made to the CPF scheme. I will be sharing my thought about shifting our mind-set to support different pathways to success.

The PM shared stories about the successful non-graduates from Keppel Corporation. Keppel’s positive attitude to create opportunities for all its employees is commendable. These stories, however, are actually common in the private sector. I know of many cases of those with vocational training or diploma climbing high in the corporate ladder, exceeding that achieved by their graduate peers. Amongst those that I had personally supervised in the course of my work, I had one who came through the now defunct Baharrudin Vocational Institute (later merged into ITE). We took him into our company even though he did not have a diploma which we generally expected of staff as we were running a technology business that required people trained in specific skills. He came through because he had the relevant work experience. He demonstrated great work attitude and initiative and eventually rose to head the software team, a very critical part of our business, with many graduates reporting to him. His skills were self-taught or through courses attended along the way. There are many other such examples.

The elephant in the room is actually in the government service. The structures are well defined and it is no secret that scholars and those identified early as having potential are fast tracked through the system. They are typically those with stellar academic achievements. The promotion pathways are fairly rigid, with paper qualifications being sometimes the barrier preventing someone from jumping into a new career track within the civil service. While the PM had said changes will be made to the public service to merge the career tracks of graduates and non-graduates, no details were yet given. The execution will be challenging. It is helpful though that they have acknowledged this problem. What ASPIRE wants to achieve in providing fulfilling opportunities for Polytechnics and ITE graduates will need a major mind-set shift across the country, especially in the Public Service Division. Putting DPM Tharman to head the tripartite committee to make this happen does send an appropriate signal that this needs attention at the highest level. 

In this globalised and highly connected 21st century, information becomes obsolete rapidly. The pace of change is rapid. Economies compete aggressively with one another. It is appropriate for Singapore to move away from a paper chase culture. It is useful to look at countries such as Germany and Switzerland that have placed strong emphasis on vocational training, and have ensured that those with the right skills are compensated competitively against their graduate peers. I had touched on this during the Parliament debate on the Singapore Institute of Technology bill.

The PM wants the current generation to be pioneers for the future generation, just as the first batch of pioneer generation had taken Singapore from third world to first world. We will need a culture of believing in our own people, developing them and giving them the opportunities to progress. We will need to move away from blind paper chase to chasing to equip ourselves with the skills to do the job well, and to do the job with pride. I certainly hope this mind-set shift will not be just lip service but will be pursued earnestly.


7 comments on “My thoughts on National Day Rally 2014

  1. Silver Support. We had the S$1 billion Community Silver Trust in Budget 2011.

    Will it be another S$1 billion?

    To give the elderly a bonus yearly.

    And, to allow a small lump-sum drawdown after 65.

    Have a Counter-Inflation Fund…and a CPF-Elderly Fund. Also, a CPF Compassion Fund.

    Instead of three, make it into a three-in-One: Call it Silver Support Fund.

    Sharing my link:

  2. Ideas for the Lak….Sell the land at Shenton…

    Please sell that prime land at Shenton to build a super huge complex at the Jurong Lake district.

    A win-win solution for all.

  3. HDB flats…Mortgage it. Not sell. How? “Unlocking the value of homes for the elderly” in CNA, 14th August 2014.

    The concerns of ageing, property asset rich, but cash poor are real. Some struggle to place food on the table.

    We know staring at the ceiling will not help those in financial plight. Opening one’s mouth while staring up will at best receive some droppings from the ceiling.

    I hope the Govt will decide decisively how to help those in their twilight years and in financial desperation to unlock the value of their HDB flats.

    For those owning private flats, I hope the Govt will encourage banks to accept mortgage of the property for the elderly to have a steady stream of cash to see them through their wintery years.

    In the event of premature death of the mortgagor, the person who inherits the property should be allowed to continue to receive the steady cash steam until the mortgage ends and/or have the option to redeem the mortgage by settling the amounts disbursed plus accumulated interest.

    Since no one can bring a property with them after physical death, I hope the banks will also allow owners to mortgage their HDB flats if it is financially viable to both the bank and the mortgagor.

    I hope this will be an added boost to the banks in soaking up market liquidity, and help generate the domestic economy with more internal spending.

  4. Keppel’s success – Increase the cake size is the way to move forward. How?

    Get Keppel to take on bigger contracts by competing at higher end of the rig industry against the South Koreans who now win all the big deals leaving tiny ones to Keppel.

  5. Six months delay to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. Should we have a CPF – Hospital Trust?

    Public hospitals are short of beds, and the solution to contain medical costs is for the Govt to set up a CPF-Hospital Trust to encourage Singaporeans to fund it. This will give support to the MediShield Life cover scheme, which will start next year.

    The Trust can be funded by CPF members, each person to contribute $10 with option to refuse. Those who wish to give more, they can opt in to use their CPF or donate by sending in their cheques.

    I hope the Trust will reach $500 million easily, say with some 500,000 Singaporeans participating with each donating at an average of $1000.

    The Trust can buy a freehold land to build a no-frill, a non-5-star type 500-bed entirely Class-3 ward hospital for the benefit of Singaporeans.

    The Trust should lease the completely-equipped hospital to either NUS, GH, TTSH, Changi or NUS hospital at a nominal sum.

    The ward charges should be kept low without adding in land cost, construction cost or medical equipment cost. The ward charges should be computed based just on daily operating recurrent costs, for example, salaries of doctors and staff, medicine, utilities and routine daily unkeeping cost.

    To pay for major items like refurbishing or renovating costs of the hospital or replacing of medical equipment, the Trust should encourage each CPF member to donate $1 per year from their CPF account, with option to refuse, and those who can afford more to opt in to donate more or send in their personal cheques.

    This is the way forward to contain runaway medical costs in Singapore from affecting the common people.

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