The meeting was chaired by Secretary-General Benjamin Pwee, and attended by CEC members and candidates including Chairman Mohd Hamim, Treasurer Juliana Juwahir, candidates Nadine Yap, Chia Ser Lin and Edwin Fernandez, as well as key leaders, volunteers and supporters from academia, the Malay-Muslim community, and the banking, legal, education and arts profession.
The three-and-a-half hour discussion was very lively and intense, and key issues raised included employment, foreign workers, wages, PMETs, local SMEs and entrepreneurs, social support, and Malay-Muslim issues.
Topics that the group identified, that will be included as key issues in DPP’s election campaign rallies, include the following:
– Employment: The group noted the increasing number of non-citizens being employed, not just in the private sector, but also in the civil service and GLCs, even at senior management levels. The group proposed additional policy measures to ensure a “Singaporeans-first” domestic job market, especially in middle-to-upper management in the civil service and GLC, as well as the private sector.
– Foreign workers: The group recommended that restrictions to foreign workers in Singapore be designed by industrial sectors, to allow sectors like F&B where fewer Singaporeans are trained for or are interested to do, to employ more foreign workers. And for sectors like engineering, healthcare, banking, to have tighter restrictions, to allow Singaporean PMETs to take on these middle-income jobs more easily
– Re-skilling: the policy group also recommended that better, more hands-on, apprentenceship-based re-skilling programs be designed for middle-aged workers, rather than classroom-based, taught WDA/WSQ-type programs that do not fit these middle-aged workers’ learning styles. This was raised by DPM Tharman sometime back, and more could be done to make it mainstream and commonplace.
– SMEs: the policy group proposed a range of practical support for SMEs, including setting up an SME assistance centre, a job-matching program, a revolving loan fund, an incubation program, and a mentor-coaching program, to help owners and managers of SMEs to get back on their feet and become self-sustainable in their businesses
– entrepreneurs: the policy group noted the lack of sustainable support for local entrepreneurs and start-ups in traditional, non-tech businesses and industries, and pointed out that grants, subsidies and handouts are not sustainable policy solutions. It proposed a number of policy measures at ground level, to complement the government’s existing range of solutions, to better help local entrepreneurs start a business and earn a living. This includes those in the design, arts, construction, manufacturing and other sectors.
– CPF/retirement: the policy group recognised the new initiatives that the government has implemented over recent years in this area, but proposed a wider range of options and retirement savings programs that Singaporeans can choose from. They proposed to call on key leaders in the private sector insurance and investment industry, to come up with better investment and insurance schemes under the CPF structure, to fill in the current gaps in the CPF system.
– Malay-muslim issues: the policy group identified and re-affirmed areas where the Malay-Muslim community has grown and developed, like good PSLE results in the Madrashah schools, the number of top-quality Malay-Muslim professionals working overseas, and a younger generation of community leaders stepping forward to lead community self-help organisations. The policy working group also considered ways to help identify and challenge more quality Malay-Muslim PMETs, to step forward as next-generation community leaders, and together find new solutions for the Malay-Muslim community
The DPP CEC will be incorporating these recommendations from its Policy Working Group, into the joint DPP-SPP Manifesto for the joint team to Bishan Toa Payoh, and will also be championing these issues during the upcoming election rallies where appropriate.
STATEMENT BY DPP
16 Aug 2015