GE2020: Red Dot United's manifesto aims to lift Singaporeans' self-reliance, ‘reduce anxiety’
SINGAPORE — Singapore’s youngest political party, Red Dot United (RDU), on Sunday (June 28) released its manifesto for the General Election, highlighting issues such as the cost of living, proposing more flexibility in the area of education, and unveiling plans to tackle the country's low fertility rate.
- Youngest party Red Dot United aims to reduce Singaporeans’ anxiety
- Party wants greater funding and flexibility in areas such as education, health
- Aims to tackle Singapore’s low fertility rate by being more family friendly
- Wants any GST rise put on hold for at least five years
SINGAPORE — Singapore’s youngest political party, Red Dot United, on Sunday (June 28) released its manifesto for the General Election (GE), highlighting issues such as the cost of living, proposing more flexibility in the area of education, and unveiling plans to tackle the country’s low fertility rate.
The party’s 12-page manifesto, titled A Charter for the Future — Captains of Our Own Lives, highlights three areas in which it hopes to help Singaporeans through its policies:
Creating more options for Singaporeans
Improving lives and reducing anxiety
The party presented these ideas at a Zoom session with the media, involving the five candidates who will be contesting Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC). This is the only constituency where Red Dot United is running at the July 10 GE.
Red Dot United had previously stated it would run in the GRC only if no other opposition party did so. At the zoom session on Sunday, party secretary-general Ravi Philemon, 52, said that he had spoken to all other opposition parties and that no other opposition party was running there.
The manifesto stated that Singaporeans could become "captains of their own lives and families" by developing a greater sense of self-reliance.
"In the past, we allowed the Government to intrude into our lives and families as some of these were necessary for social cohesion. But five decades of paternalistic governance has inhibited independent thinking and creative expression," the party said.
One way to achieve this is to give Singaporeans greater flexibility and more options, it said.
PROPOSED CHANGES TO CPF WITHDRAWAL ON RETIREMENT
For example, the party proposes that citizens who have reached retirement age (55 years old) should be able to withdraw all their money from their Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts.
Party candidate Alec Tok, 55, said: "Allowing those who have reached 55 to withdraw from their CPF is in itself an act of empowerment and a way to return independence of options and choices to Singaporeans."
The party called for a review of spending by public institutions such as the National Arts Council, whose bin centre has generated some controversy, and projects such as the Budget Terminal at Changi Airport.
MORE FLEXIBILITY IN EDUCATION
In the field of education, Red Dot United called for a flexible curriculum to help students experiment and pursue their interests, in areas such as sports or the arts, or other academic and technical domains.
Students in alternative education programmes such as home-schooling and those run by religious institutions should also be provided equal funding pegged against government expenditure per student, it added, among other measures.
REDUCING ANXIETY AMONG SINGAPOREANS
Red Dot United said that “reducing anxiety levels among Singaporeans” was another key aim of the party.
"We cannot see the present clearly, much less the future, when we are constantly worrying about issues like our jobs, our healthcare expenses, and our retirement adequacy."
One policy cited by the party to reduce anxiety is to make the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) mandatory for all Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats in order to ease homeowners' concerns over lease decay.
Under Sers, introduced in 1995, older estates approaching the end of their lease life are upgraded, and the owners are offered compensation and a new HDB flat.
In the area of employment, Red Dot United said it would review free trade agreements such as the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between India and Singapore to assess how Singaporeans have benefitted from it.
The party will also advocate for a “Singaporean first” hiring policy by reevaluating the effectiveness of the Fair Consideration Framework, overseen by the Ministry of Manpower, to “assess if it is an effective mechanism to ensure Singaporeans have access to good jobs”.
ADDRESSING COST OF LIVING CONCERNS
To address healthcare expenses, Red Dot United looks to provide subsidised doctor consultations without means testing, so that ailments such as diabetes and hypertension can be identified early.
Another way to keep the cost of living in check is to ensure that there is no rise in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in at least the next five years. The Government has said the GST is set to rise from 7 per cent to 9 per cent between 2021 and 2025.
Red Dot United called for Singapore’s sovereign wealth funds to acquire companies in selected industries and reserve some jobs at these companies for Singaporeans. Singapore's state-owned investment entities include Temasek Holdings and GIC.
The party also called for action on climate change, such as exploring the feasibility of installing wind turbines and solar panels in public places.
LOW FERTILITY RATE
Red Dot United chairman Michelle Lee, 43 said that the party also plans on increasing Singapore’s fertility rate, which sank to 1.14, its lowest level in eight years, in the middle of last year. A fertility rate of 2.1 is generally regarded as the “replacement rate” — that is the rate at which the mother and her partner are replaced.
"(The Government) tried to bypass the problem entirely by bringing in more foreigners to work in Singapore as if it doesn't matter. But it does matter — these are our own people," Ms Lee said.
"It's quite telling since our birth rate is at the lowest it has been in eight years. Our young people do not want to have children and bring them up in Singapore."
Red Dot United hopes to bring in policies such as increasing paid parental leave and ensuring that more flats are made available to young people by lowering the age at which singles can buy HDB flats to address the issue.