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PAP Policy Forum

Friday, 23 Dec 2016

PAP Policy Forum

Multi-agency approach benefits vulnerable groups

At the PAP Policy Forum on Social Security and Silver Support, Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said grassroots leaders and neighbours could be a big help

Activists and fellow-residents can ― and should ― complement the work of social workers among the vulnerable groups of our society. That was a recurrent theme in Minister Tan Chuan-Jin's dialogue with about 120 activists gathered for the PAP Policy Forum on Social Security and Silver Support on Sept 3.

He cited cases of residents in his Kembangan-Chai Chee ward who have benefitted when grassroots organisations worked with non-government organisations as well as with agencies such as the Institute of Mental Health. Mr Tan, who is the Minister for Social and Family Development, also called for Singapore to become a more inclusive and caring society where no Singaporean is left behind.

Issues such as social isolation and loneliness of elderly people living on their own were raised at the dialogue. Several activists suggested setting up a buddy system for such elderly residents. Mr Tan noted that regular contact would allow the buddy, for instance, to arrange for early treatment if the elderly person were to develop any health problems.

A common concern among the activists was people's impressions that eligibility criteria for the Silver Support Scheme was arbitrary. One example cited was the case of elderly people living in private property and were excluded from the scheme, despite their financial difficulties.

Explaining the government's stance, Mr Tan said: "It is difficult to justify using taxpayers' money to help someone who spent all his savings on a landed property that could be worth $3 or $4 million, and now wants financial assistance compared to someone who bought a four-room HDB flat but has savings to live on."

Future Matters

What does the future economic landscape look like for Singapore? How do we capture the opportunities that arise from new technologies? How can our workforce adapt to the rapidly changing world order?

These issues on the Future of Singapore's Economy were discussed at the PPF dialogue on July 30 by about 120 activists and a panel chaired Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry). Other panelists were Mr Liang Eng Hwa, Government Parliamentary Committee Chairman for Finance, Trade and Industry; Associate Professor Tan Khee Giap from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy; and Mr Peter Ho, CEO of engineering solutions company HOPE Technik, whose products include the Red Rhino, a car-sized fire-fighting vehicle.

To harness the opportunities arising from disruptive technologies, the participants highlighted that a deep understanding of technology was required, and to do so would require attracting talent and developing expertise. They also emphasised the importance of preparation, based on past experiences and reasonable

rojections, while leaving room for uncertainty. New technology must be embraced and adopted early, to secure a competitive advantage.

Mr Iswaran pointed out: "While it is not practical for everyone to start a business, the process of innovative thinking can be applied extensively in various degrees. It all begins with a shift in the individual's mindset, which shapes a society's culture."

Mr Liang, who is MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, was optimistic about the benefits of new technology. He suggested that "Uberisation" in areas such as job-matching could make the process more effective. This refers to the business model of using online matching platforms to match job seekers with employers, which would be particularly useful to solve manpower issues during holiday seasons.

This article was first published in the December 2016 issue of Petir Magazine.