After the General Elections were held in 2011, the PAP’s popular vote dropped to 60.1%, the lowest since independence. Suddenly, there was hope among the politically inclined. It seemed like everyone and their cat overlords could now run for Parliament. WP’s He Ting Ru has 8 after all.
As we enter election season, promising a whole slew of independent candidates potentially spicing up the political landscape, here are the 3 money matters we expect all the Parliamentary candidates to talk about in the lead up to Singapore’s General Election 2015.
1. CPF Issues
If there’s one thing that’s very close to the hearts of Singaporeans, it’s money and retirement. The CPF scheme affects both of these and therefore is always top on our minds when it comes to politics. The role that CPF plays in the upcoming Elections cannot be underestimated, especially when you have the likes of Roy Ngerng reportedly campaigning in Ang Mo Kio GRC under the Reform Party’s banner.
It was arguably the “Return our CPF” rally last year that really showed how much Singaporeans were invested (pun intended!) in the need for a CPF system that offered more flexibility, more returns and more transparency.
Perhaps appropriately, most of these concerns were addressed, somewhat, through the ongoing recommendations of the CPF Advisory Panel. Arguably the biggest change was the removal of the Minimum Sum and its replacement, the three Retirement Sum options.
What you can expect to hear at GE 2015: No matter how many improvements are made to the CPF, there will always be a faction calling for CPF to be dissolved altogether and for the money to be returned to Singaporeans. You will probably also hear calls for CPF to increase the interest rate and lower the payout eligibility age so that more Singaporeans can access their CPF funds.
What you should be thinking about: Just because you won’t be seeing your CPF funds anytime soon should not be reason enough to want to call for CPF to be removed altogether. However, there is nothing wrong in pushing for higher returns, as long as the increase can be substantiated. Also, understanding the fundamentals of CPF and what it’s really meant for would do you much more good than standing at a rally chanting “Return Our CPF!”
Why this topic is important to you: It’s easy to just focus on your own needs when it comes to CPF. Just because you’re getting along just fine without accessing your CPF doesn’t mean it’s not important to you. However, CPF is a nation-wide issue – it deals with important issues like retirement funds and housing loans. Any change in CPF could have far-reaching consequences. So make sure you understand how to best utilise your CPF first.
2. Labour Issues
Over the past four years, the Government has wisely been introducing policies to slow down the influx of foreign talent after the 2011 General Elections. However, these policies also come with the caveat that we “need” immigrants to maintain our economic growth.
What you can expect to hear at GE 2015: You’ll definitely get to hear two sides of the argument. One side will insist that the policies to restrict the supply of foreign labour will come at a cost, and the question is whether companies – both multi-national corporations and small and medium enterprises – will be able to adapt to these restrictions fast enough.
The other side will insist that any drop in foreign labour will only be a good thing for this country in the long-term, and that the fears that the cost of business will increase will not be as big an effect as opposed to the social issues that come with non-Singaporeans making up more than a third of the population.
What you should be thinking about: Don’t just focus on the foreign talent that you’re afraid will steal your job from you. There are many other issues that are entwined with any policies of bringing foreign talent into Singapore. Mainly, the fact that these policies should not be penalising the kind of foreign talent that Singapore needs – such as blue collar workers and domestic helpers.
Also, focusing on maintaining skills that will help you to advance your career will remove any sort of fear of people “eating your lunch” or any other weird analogy associated with foreigners supposedly stealing your jobs. Not sure where to start? Follow us on Facebook for tips on how to further your career.
Why this topic is important to you: Calling for a restriction in foreign talent ends up oversimplifying a very complicated issue. Just because you’re unhappy with the high proportion of non-Singaporeans to Singaporeans doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily ready to face the consequences of a leaner economy.
3. Public Transport
Neither Lui Tuck Yew nor Raymond Lim will be in Parliament after these elections. Singapore’s Transport Minister seems to be similar to Harry Potter’s Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. No one survives their term unscathed. Transport issues have definitely been an important concern over the past four years, which saw some of the most catastrophic breakdowns in SMRT’s history.
What you can expect to hear at GE 2015: There’ll once again be calls for public transport to go back to being run as a public good, and not by privatised companies run by former civil servants. The reliability of public transport will be definitely be called into question.
What you should be thinking about: How much would you be willing to pay for public transport that is, objectively, better than those in other developed countries. Should public transport be run on a profit-based privatisation model or a cost-recovery model? Will a not-for-profit public transport system be as efficient, both in terms of cost and in service quality?
Why this topic is important to you: Public transport, by its very nature, is meant to be affordable and accessible. Yes, we may have one of the best public transport systems in the world, but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore that there needs to be an urgent, long-overdue maintenance review.
What other money matters do you think will be raised in the upcoming General Elections? Let your voice be heard.