Thursday, August 25, 2011

Post National Day Rally 2011 Community Dialogue with MP Lim Biow Chuan

Residents from Mountbatten constituency had a dialogue session with Member of Parliament (MP) Lim Biow Chuan at Mountbatten Community Centre on 24 August.

Residents brought up the housing woes they faced. One expressed concern on the two blocks of flats in Toa Payoh which had been converted by HDB to rental flats for foreign workers from Resorts World Sentosa.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's announcement that Singapore universities will add 2,000 more places over the next four years. My question : How many of these will go to Singaporeans? The proportion of foreign students at universities here is 18 per cent.

Singaporeans welcome foreigners to study and work in our beautiful country. Many at the dialogue session agree we need to bring in foreigners but they have to compete at a fair level.

Does the citizens of Singapore know that millions of taxpayers money is used in bringing foreign students here, housing them and paying their tuition fees and even giving them free home travel, return air tickets at taxpayers expense? Do we know that up to 20% of the student population in all three universities were given to foreigners many on full scholarships when our own citizens and even NS men who completed the service are rejected?

Residents are concerned that the government is bringing in foreign students as young as 12 or 13, providing them accommodation at hostels and are offered places in our top mainstream public schools. They will be offered Permanent Residency status around age 15. First generation male PRs do not have to serve National Service giving them a 2 year headstart over our sons and brothers who are born in Singapore.

So these new citizens are also eligible for the 2000 more new places Singapore universities will add?

Participants urged the Government to consider bringing down the proportion of foreign students at universities here to below 10 per cent.

We have gone through some failed policies eg, the Stop-At-Two family planning campaign (launched in 1972) which resulted in the massive problematic immigrant issues that made General Election 2011 a memorable one for Singaporeans.

Three decades ago, my mother who already had three children was forced to abort twice and get sterilised or faced fines. Also, if she did not undergo sterilisation after her third child, he would not get priority in school. A sterilisation certification had to be produced as proof to the school.

Population experts pointed out that the campaign was necessary at that time. Yeah, my foot. Had the government tried hard to solve the problems then, Singapore might not have prospered so fast but at least we won't have a population shortage now. The government should allow nature to take its course, human should not play the role of God.

Today we face a population crisis with a sliding population that cannot meet the replacement level of a TFR of 2.1.

Singapore's procreation policy has come full circle. From discouraging its citizens to have children, the government is preoccupied over the past two decades to get couples to marry early and have more babies. Now the Government even resort to bringing in instant citizens.

Citizens are raising more questions and we may not even get decent answers. The time for a change has come, residents have to keep highlighting the flaws and failings of government policies so that the review of the failed policies has to take place. We should take this opportunity to put forth our views, our worries and concerns, our hopes and expectations, to the government.

Nothing beats meeting our MP face-to-face and the human touch is critical in building rapport, friendship and trust. To engage residents, the management committee of the constituency organises grassroots activities and dialogue sessions,  weekly meet-the-people (MPS) sessions to assist residents with problems, and also to raise issues at parliament.

The MP tries to address the residents’ needs and concerns and it is his duty to help in whatever ways he can. Unfortunately, he cannot solve all issues as some are beyond his means and capability.

It is not an easy process and it takes both sides, both residents and the leaders, to create the avenue and opportunity to get to know each other better. I encourage fellow residents to join in the many activities their grassroots groups organise, and MP Lim Biow Chuan is always reachable either through emails or at his weekly meet-the-people session.

The next dialogue session is on Education. I hope MP Lim Biow Chuan can persuade a senior MOE officer to attend and answer our questions. Our first choice is Education Minister Heng Swee Keat lah, but no fish, shrimp also can lah.

Education is an important aspect in everyone's life and is key in how Singapore develops in the future.

Town Hall Dialogue on Education Issues with MP Lim Biow Chuan, deputy chairman of Government Parliamentary Committee (Education)
Date : 25 September 2011;
Time : 3 pm - 5 pm
Venue : Mountbatten Community Centre

Open to all residents and grassroots leaders of Mountbatten
Please register with Mountbatten CC (63447387) or Katong CC (63458258),


  1. I applaud your government for taking the time and effort to have dialogue with its constituents. I wish it could be like that here, but I guess our country's geography makes it difficult to organize dialogues such as that. With regard to the population, I think there should always be a balance. A big issue here now is about reproductive health bill, which for me is a never-ending argument of artificial or natural family planning method.

    I learn a lot about your blog, so keep it up!

  2. jen,
    I appreciate my government's effort to have dialogue with its constituents.

    I learn a lot at each dialogue session and come away understanding a lot more on why some painful policies have to be made.

    It is not easy to please a variety of voters.

    What most voters want is that the government has to ensure its citizens have these basics to survive - jobs, a roof over their heads, education for the future generation and a safe environment to bring up our kids.

    We have to work at increasing the population. For a start and to do our bit for the country, my son must have 4 children. :)