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Parliamentary exchange between Lily Neo and MCYS minister

Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 25, 2007

This is an excerpt of the parliamentary debate between PAP MP Dr Lily Neo and Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on the issue of public assistance.

Dr Lily Neo:

Sir, I want to check with the Minister again when he said on the strict criteria on the entitlement for PA recipients. May I ask him what is his definition of “subsistence living”? Am I correct to say that, out of $260 per month for PA recipients, $100 goes to rental, power supply and S&C and leaving them with only $5 a day to live on? Am I correct to say that any basic meal in any hawker centre is already $2.50 to $3.00 per meal? Therefore, is it too much to ask for just three meals a day as an entitlement for the PA recipients?

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan:

How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?

The full transcript of the exchange can be found here.


8 Responses to “Parliamentary exchange between Lily Neo and MCYS minister”

  1. It is no point arguing this issue as the old man is sitting on it.
    Just like abortion law, the health minister cannot do anything. Only the old man decides.
    Even the death penalty law, Wong Kan Seng and law minister cannot decide.

    Remember how the former health minister Howe answered question on abortion law ?

    Wait for the old man to die, then many laws can be changed.

  2. uy said

    When will the “old man” die? He’s still looks so healthy. He probably have another 10 years going for him. That’s about 2 elections… Wanna place your bets on when the “old man” goes visiting Satan?

  3. disappointed said

    Really appreciated Dr Lily Neo for bringing up the issue. Perhaps some of the MPs should really walk the ground more often….not those pre-plan walk the ground with RC members, etc whereby everything are being planned nicely and in almost perfect scnerio…..A natural walk the ground will show how difficult pple are getting by…..

    Prices in hawker centres, coffee shops, etc or perhaps evern raw food have started to increase even since the announcement of increase in GST…..really cannot imagine that increase in salary by millions can be so easy and increase in PA by few tens is so difficult…..

  4. Kevin said

    Lily Neo asked: “…in any hawker centre is already $2.50 to $3.00 per meal?…”

    Dr Vivian Balakrishnan replied: “How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?”

    Clearly the Minister did not even understand a simple question asked by a fellow PAP MP. How is he going to understand the people?

    If he cannot comprehend the voice of a fellow DR, will he be able to hear the voices of the people and comprehend their sufferrings?

  5. Indeed Minister Balakrishnan sounded ridiculously condescending in that line, and although you linked to the full transcript, I would find TOC more credible if you had set it more fully in context instead of sniping with this one-line soundbite. Public assistance in Singapore may appear pretty pathetic, but at least it is a start – a departure from previous times. I don’t agree with quite some of what the Minister said, then again, I don’t agree with making it seem like all he said was condescending.

    The major failure of the opposition and its supporters was that it always painted a picture that’s the other extreme of what the PAP does. From your casual voting of PM Lee’s performance where most people voted “very bad” I think there’s a need to be even more responsible in writing and attract readers who are actually pro-PAP instead of just preaching to the converted.

    For example, what not include what Sylvia Lim said of PA (from Al Jazeera via LittleSpeck)

    Singapore’s government has now acknowledged there is a problem and in this year’s budget it introduced what it calls “bold” new welfare payments.

    Sylvia Lim, a member of parliament for the opposition Workers Party, says this represents something of a sea change in Singapore’s policy towards welfare.

    “This is quite radical for Singapore,” she says.

    “We have always lived under this system where you have to earn every cent that you get basically and now the government recognises that there are some people who just can’t earn enough now.”

  6. Kelvin said

    I supposed this Minister’s pay is higher compared to the US President. Do you think this Minister is more talented than the US President? Clearly the answer is ‘No’. MCDS is able to spend millions of dollars to build a so called ‘temporary stadium’ in Sentosa, why can’t they give extra $ to its citizens, not forgetting the fact that the Government as well as its Ministers are being selected by the people of Singapore, and they are only given a ‘Mandate’ to manage this lovely country – Singapore.

  7. Mr YAP said

    What else can these PA recipients turn to beside the government? Is there any charity that can provide them a lifeline? Are we Singaporean willing to pay more tax to help follow Singaporean in dire needs? Unlike tax payer in Europe, we do not pay as much tax as they do.

  8. Alex Har said

    Applaud Lily Neo. Viv’s reply is insightful…thouygh it comes with an attitude, who ask you to be poor? It reveals that perhaps low wage workers salaries are much too low.

    Of course many of us also feel that the high end workers earn to much. I guess it a distribution issue from those who are unemployable to those “highly employable”

    It’s probably better, just, motivational and probably more cost-effective to adjust income relationships along this entire chain…and to minimise the number of peole dependent on adhoc charity

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