Saturday 14 June 2014

Collective responsibility fundamental to S'pore's future: Tharman

By Olivia Siong, Channel NewsAsia, 12 Jun 2014

Taking more collective responsibility and preserving an egalitarian ethos will be fundamental to Singapore's future, says Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

One example of this is the new national health insurance scheme MediShield Life, where collective responsibility is demonstrated by Singaporeans paying premiums and the government giving subsidies to those from the lower- and middle-income group.

"We must not say that we're putting in place a scheme where everyone will be helped but we don't in fact make sure that we can fund it and we can sustain it. Too many countries have done this and we must avoid that fundamental political deceit. When we say collective responsibility, it means we find the way of funding it, we decide on what's the fairest way of sharing the burden," he said.

But Mr Tharman stressed that collective responsibility should not come at the expense of the future generation. He was speaking at the People's Association Youth Movement awards on Thursday evening.

Held once every two years, the awards recognises youth who have made contributions to community building.

Mr Tharman stressed that the country needs to ensure there is enough revenue to balance its budget in the next 10 to 15 years, while also spending carefully.

This means citizens also have to take greater personal responsibility.

Mr Tharman said: "Spend prudently, target our subsidies at those who need them the most - which means the lower-income group and the middle-income group, which is our approach in MediShield.

"Avoid doing what many other countries have done where they provide subsidies to almost everyone, including the wealthy elderly at great cost. It's also about personal responsibility because through personal responsibility we also reduce the overall cost, whether it's in healthcare spending or in other areas."

Eleven Youth Clubs, 10 individuals and nine project committees were recognised at the awards ceremony.

One of them is the Kim Seng Community Club Youth Club, which took home the top youth club award.

"Nowadays, the youth are very busy with their studies and their enrichment programmes. For us, our challenge is to brainstorm new and creative activities to engage the youth, so they can contribute back to the needy residents," said Kimberly Toh, who is chairman of the Youth Club.

Make effort to be inclusive: Tharman
By Melissa Lin, The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2014

YOUNG people have to make a conscious effort to be inclusive and mix with peers from different educational and social backgrounds.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam told youth grassroots volunteers yesterday that egalitarianism - the belief in human equality - came naturally to the earlier generations as most people were poor.

"Now we have a society (where people have) different jobs, different wages, different salaries," he said at the People's Association Youth Movement Awards, which recognise outstanding youth volunteers for their contributions to the community.

This means that activities should be aimed at attracting people of different races and social backgrounds, he added.

Mr Shanmugaratnam, who is Minister for Finance too, also spoke about the importance of collective responsibility and "preserving the ethos that we are all in this together".

The launch of the national health insurance scheme MediShield Life is a way in which the Government and citizens share the burden of health-care costs, instead of shifting it to the next generation, he noted.

"Taking more collective responsibility and preserving an egalitarian ethos in Singapore are fundamental to our future," he said.

The awards ceremony, which took place at Orchid Country Club in Yishun, is held once every two years. There were 30 winners across six categories yesterday.

Winning a Special Award was the Kim Seng Community Centre (CC) Youth Executive Committee (YEC) for its project which aimed to improve the homes of elderly residents sustainably. For instance, youth volunteers gave out induction cookers to 80 elderly residents after finding out that many were using gas cookers or worn-out cooking equipment which could pose a fire hazard, said committee chairman Kimberly Toh, 34.

Mr Mohamed Noh Iskandar, chairman of Nee Soon East CC YEC, clinched an Individual Youth Award (Meritorious).

The civil servant, 26, has helped to organise many activities and initiatives, including the annual Project Give, where YEC members collect recyclables and sell them to rag-and-bone men. The money raised goes towards buying daily necessities for the needy.

His win came as a surprise.

"I didn't expect to win anything. It's a nice feeling."

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