Tag Archive | Halimah Yacob

Pioneer generation gift I want…

… but unlikely to get…

I don’t know whom people like Madam Halimah Yacob has been talking to but as a member of the so-called Pioneer Generation — phew I just made it — I don’t particularly want my medical needs to be supported by the G as a gesture of the nation’s gratitude to me having been there and done that — whatever that might have been to make SG what it is today.

The real gift I want from the Government won’t cost tax payers a cent from their pockets but would benefit people like me.

I think the best “relief” the G can give “pioneer” Singaporeans is to allow those of us who own private property to buy HDB resale again and not charge any ABSD whether it’s my second or sixth property.

That way, it ensures a level playing field between Singaporean HDB owners (who are still allowed to buy private) and Singaporean private property owners from the “pioneer” generation.

By opening the door to more buyers for the HDB resale market, it gives HDB owners wanting to upgrade a bigger pool of buyers to tap. Also, it will give those “pioneers” who already own both HDB and private an added option: they can once again sell their HDB and know they can get back into the resale HDB market, if the need arises. Otherwise such potential suppliers of HDB resale units might be paralysed into inaction.

OK, Government, give those who don’t want this option their medical benefits till death. But give others who may have enough rainy day medical savings the option to buy HDB — which we enjoyed till a couple of years ago.

Go on, Tharman, show that you are a true maverick who can really think out of the box in Budget 2014 😆


PM Lee plays real cool hand for ND Rally

The National Day Rally this year will break away from the one-man, very long speech that characterised the format which Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, introduced and which was continued by his two successors: Mr Goh Chok and Mr Lee Hsien Loong.
In the new arrangement, Mr Lee Jr  will today have three ministers speak before he makes his annual address at 8pm.
The three ministers are Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, Senior Minister of State (MOS) (Education and Information, Communications and the Arts) Lawrence Wong and MOS (Community Development, Youth and Sports) Halimah Yacob. They will join PM Lee in spelling out challenges facing Singapore and how to address them.
They will also speak on topics of interest to them. For instance, Mr Wong will air his aspirations for Singapore and thoughts about building a stronger community and nation while Mdm Halimah said her focus “is likely to be on the importance of keeping hope alive and providing opportunities for all Singaporeans, regardless of their background, so that we can achieve our vision of a fair and just society”.
The three ministers will speak between 6:45pm and 7:30pm. Mr Wong and Mr Heng will speak in English with some Mandarin, and Mdm Halimah in English and Malay. PM Lee will speak from 8pm in Malay, Mandarin and English.
I’m delighted that Mr Lee has made this change; because unlike the era when Singaporeans were mesmerised by every word that the elder Mr Lee uttered at the rally, today’s folks have too many distractions. Shorter, sharper and smarter content and delivery are likely to hold attention better, especially when there is also variety in the orators, not a monologueby a soloist.
As for the choice of ministers to help warm up Singaporeans before the main actor takes centre stage, I think the selection is spot on to be a crowd pleaser.
First, crowd pleaser must be Mr Lawrence Wong, whom IMHO is the most likely to become the next Prime Minister, even though people in the know have said repeatedly that Messrs Tan Chuan Jin and Chan Chun Sing are also hot contenders.
Mr Wong’s outing at this year’s ND rally could be viewed as a kind of dress rehearsal for the real thing, somewhere down the road.
Second, the choice of Mdm Halimah Yacob is a 3-prong crowd pleaser, even though she will never become Prime Minister, at least not within the current political framework.
The first prong is that the tudung wearing Cik Halimah would appeal to the conservative Malay Muslims in her community, especially those who aspire to rise in the world in the Singapore context. She shows that being a Malay Muslim woman proud of her roots is no hindrance to making it in a Chinese-dominated and somewhat loudly Westernised Singapore society.
Her second prong is her appeal to the conservative feminist of all races who wants to be married, have children and have a career with maximum state support: Cik Halimah is both champion and role model.
Her third prong is for the PAP to show its rank and file that yes, you can be woman, Malay Muslim, conservative and not so glamourous as Ms Josephine Teo or Ms Grace Fu but you can still make it big in the party and government. After all, it’s Cik Halimah who is going to be the first woman from the PAP to address the ND Rally, not the other two ladies, OK!
As for the choice of Mr Heng, the ex-central banking chief and the current Minister for Education, his inclusion suggests (to me at least) as a nod to the upper middle-class Singaporeans who have made it but don’t belong to the coterie of successful citizens who blame the PAP for everything that displeases them in life! It helps too that he is the Min for Ed which widens his appeal to all those with kids and grand kids or simply hoping for them. This large wedge of Sgreans, falling TFR not withstanding, want to know what’s in the ever morphing, ever dynamic education landscape for the young!
So after the appetisers, what main course would PM Lee deliver?
He could be the magician who draws the threads of wisdom spun first by the “chorus” of three and turn them into a blanket of many colors for SGreans to picnic upon? Then he could unpack the picnic basket of goodies to tide us over the 12 months until the next National Day Rally?
Whatever Mr Lee does, today’s rally will go down in SG history for breaking with tradition. Or should i say “Tradition Made Better” in the tagline that once belonged to Fraser & Neave? 😀

Respecting personal choice or washing off our hands?

Minister of State for the Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports Madam Halimah Yacob believes that most needy families in Singapore won’t ask for help. And her view is that we have to respect people’s desires “to say that they have ownership of their lives. (see Today article reproduced below)

She herself is the result of one such family, she told Parliament earlier this week. Implicitly or explicitly, I guess she’s inviting us to conclude that if she’s anything to go by, people at the bottom of the social heap who refuse help needn’t end up dead or worse.

While Madam Halimah may be one exception who makes the rule, I’m more interested to know what happened to the rest of the kids who were in a similar situation like her family’s?

Perhaps things were different when Madam Halimah was a kid.

What is the reality now concerning those who refuse help or don’t know how to get help has been aptly illustrated by the story of the man who was locked up accidentally in his rented flat by the HDB because he was in payment arrears for more than 3 years! (see story reproduced from Yahoo below).

Despite what Madam Halimah says, sometimes, nay often, when a person is terribly poor, he might not be in the right state of mind any more — due to lack of proper nutrition and/or terrible personal circumstances that leave them divorced from reality.

And just as we don’t leave people who want to commit suicide to execute their desire — if we can prevent it! — by shrugging it off as a “personal choice”, I think we can’t, mustn’t, leave those who are desperately poor to shift for themselves, just because they say it’s what they want!

Most low-income families will not ask for help: Halimah

04:46 AM Nov 23, 2011

by Teo Xuanwei

SINGAPORE – She lost her father when she was just eight. And although her family’s income level was in the bottom 10 per cent of the population, Madam Halimah Yacob’s mother never considered getting social assistance.

“Very often, when I was in school, my teacher always told me: ‘Why don’t you go and ask your mother to get social welfare, social assistance?'” the Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports shared with the House, in response to a question by Ms Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) about the number of needy families who choose to fend for themselves instead of getting financial aid.

Mdm Halimah had shared the findings from a survey of 2,000 low-income families that showed that 60 per cent of them preferred to be self-sufficient.

“But my mother would be terribly horrified with any suggestion that she should go and get social welfare or social assistance. Because when my father died … my mother said that so long as she has two hands and two legs, we will all survive,” Mdm Halimah said, blinking back tears.

Mdm Halimah made the point that we have to respect people’s desires “to say that they have ownership of their lives”.

URL http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC111123-0000073/Most-low-income-families-will-not-ask-for-help–Halimah

Copyright 2011 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Man accidentally locked in flat by HDB officers

Yahoo! Newsroom

Imagine being locked inside your flat without food or water for a day. At least that’s what a 63-year-old elderly man experienced after finding himself locked inside his rental flat in Bukit Merah.

Officers from the Housing Development Board (HDB) had changed the locks to his two-room rental flat at Henderson Road on Monday afternoon without realising the man, who wanted to be known as Mr Liao, was still inside, The New Paper reported.

Apparently, officers did that to repossess the flat as it had been in rental arrears amounting to $2,000 for more than three years, the paper said.

According to local Chinese tabloid Shin Min Daily, Liao was not able to respond well to questions posed by its reporter.

On this issue, an HDB spokesman told TNP that referrals have been made to the family service centre and Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to assist him but it has not been successful as Liao was not responsive.

When officers first arrived at the flat, they found the main door wide open and, despite repeated calls to find out if anyone was inside the flat, there was no response.

In light of this issue, an HDB said that its internal procedures will be tightened to ensure such incidents do not take place again.

Liao was “released” from his flat on Tuesday afternoon after a neighbor informed HDB officers of the incident.
Throughout the day he was locked in, TNP reported that Liao allegedly had no water for consumption and asked neighbours for water and food.

But even prior to the incident, Liao, who is unemployed would sometimes ask for money and food. A neighbor said she has seen him leaving his flat with a plastic bag, searching for leftover food at coffeeshops, the paper said.

Hard Truths & soft facts

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said on Mar 7 that he “stands corrected” on his comments about how the integration of Malay-Muslims in Singapore.

In a statement issued on Monday night to the media, he said: “I made this one comment on the Muslims integrating with other communities probably two or three years ago. Ministers and MPs, both Malay and non-Malay, have since told me that Singapore Malays have indeed made special efforts to integrate with other communities, especially since 9/11, and that my call is out of date.”

“I stand corrected. I hope that this trend will continue in the future,” MM Lee added.

The statement referred to remarks he made in the book, Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going. Inter alia he said Muslims are “distinct and separate’.

The book is based on 32 hours of interviews Mr Lee gave to seven journalists from The Straits Times and was launched on Jan 21.

Mr Lee was quoted as saying, “Muslims socially do not cause any trouble, but they are distinct and separate.” When asked how they could integrate, he said, “Be less strict on Islamic observances, and say: ‘Okay, I’ll eat with you.’”

He also said: “I think we were progressing very nicely until the surge of Islam came, and if you asked me for my observations, the other communities have easier integration — friends, inter-marriages and so on – than Muslims.”

The Minister Mentor’s statement was met with a positive reaction from the Malay-Muslim community.

MP Halimah Yacob, who spoke on racial cohesion in Singapore in Parliament on Monday, told ST: “This will go a long way towards assuaging the feelings of the community. … MM’s earlier comments caused a lot of unhappiness because many felt it was not a description of the reality.”

She added, the statement showed Mr Lee’s “humility”.

Chairman of the Association of Muslim Professionals Nizam Ismail also welcomed the news. He said the “retraction” was a “necessary” move. ”The issue of integration is an important one especially for a young, heterogeneous and cosmopolitan nation-state. Integration still remains a work in progress,” he said.

“The Malay-Muslim community remains committed to integration and hopes that all stakeholders, including other communities and especially the State, will take part in this process of rebuilding mutual trust and bonds which may have been frayed,” he added.

Given that the people directly affected by MM Lee’s remarks have been gracious in their response to his concession that he is out-dated on this particular matter, I’m astounded that there are the likes of The Online Citizen which insists on continuing to tease the subject like a mad kitten with a ball of yarn.

Can’t TOC even contemplate that the Malay-Muslim community may be embarrassed by MM apologising? Hasn’t TOC ever heard of the word hormat?

Personally I don’t think MM is entirely inaccurate in his views. It all depends whom he had in mind when he made those remarks; what incidents he was dredging from his memory bank.

However, his remarks would be dead wrong if applied to the Malay-Muslim colleagues I’ve had in my working life. In fact some of the best traits I’ve picked up at the start of my career — work ethics, food and dressing preferences — had been instilled by chien peh from the Malay-Muslim community, albeit mostly from north of the Causeway.

That’s the trouble with soft facts or impressions and perceptions humans get from interacting with one another. We often mistake the specific for the universal.

There will always be small groups whether Malay-Muslim or Chinese and Indians of whatever religion who will, out of choice or temperament, not want to integrate with communities outside their own or even within their own.

Continuing to fret about this is just as pointless as trying to set ice cream by turning the freezer thermomter to temperatures that will make polar bears into ice carvings. A delicious dessert needs just the right temperature and time to set!