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Workers’ Party advocates structural reforms amid cost-of-living concerns, PAP amends WP’s motion

During the Tuesday Parliament debate on the motion on cost of living, MPs from Workers’ Party and Progress Singapore Party ardently pushed for structural reforms over one-time fiscal aids.

However, the People’s Action Party which holds a majority in Parliament amended the motion with three amendments introduced by MP Liang Eng Hwa, emphasizing the global cost-of-living concern and the necessity for sustainable policies.

All eight WP MPs and two PSP NCMPs dissented against the PAP MP’s amendments, as they diminish the government’s role in the increased cost of living for Singaporeans and compel the acceptance of the status quo.



SINGAPORE: On Tuesday (7 Nov), cost-of-living pressures were the main focus of discussions in Parliament, as MPs from both the People’s Action Party and the Workers’ Party debated on the measures to better alleviate the pressures on the ground.

While both agreed that aid should be provided to those in need, the parties differed on the approach.

The Workers’ Party advocated for structural changes, and the ruling party highlighted the effectiveness of existing policies for the lower-income groups and expressed willingness to do more if necessary.

WP MPs filed a motion to debate the issue during the Parliamentary sitting on Tuesday (7 Nov), emphasising the recurrent concerns raised by the public during their numerous grassroots interactions, with the cost of living consistently at the forefront.

The motion filed by the WP, titled “𝐂𝐎𝐒𝐓 𝐎𝐅 𝐋𝐈𝐕𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐂𝐑𝐈𝐒𝐈𝐒: 𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐇𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐆𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐬𝐨 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫 𝐜𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐒𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐚𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐬,” underscores the urgency of the matter and aims to initiate a substantive debate in Parliament.

Following Mr Singh’s address, PAP MP Liang Eng Hwa proposed modifications to the WP’s motion.

He suggested that the House recognize the global nature of the cost-of-living issue and urge the Government to persist in implementing policies that collectively alleviate financial burdens on Singaporeans and their families, while maintaining fiscal stability and safeguarding the interests of future generations.

Emphasizing the possibility of a prolonged global high-cost scenario, Mr Liang underscored the importance of addressing present challenges through sustainable and prudent measures.

The amended motion read: ” that the House acknowledges the cost of living as a global concern, and call on the Government to continue pursuing policies that together lower cost-of-living pressures on Singaporeans and their families, without undermining fiscal sustainability and burdening future generations of Singaporeans.”

Despite the efforts of the Workers’ Party, the motion was eventually amended with the approval of the PAP-majority Parliament.

In his round-up speech, Pritam Singh, Workers’ Party chief and Leader of the Opposition, vehemently disagreed with the amendment proposed by Liang Eng Hwa, PAP MP for Bukit Panjang SMC.

He emphasized that the amendment’s assertion of the global concern over the cost of living attempts to diminish the role that the government can and should play in alleviating the burden on ordinary Singaporeans.

Regarding the second amendment, “continue pursuing policies,” Mr Singh argued that it implies satisfaction with the status quo, which the Workers’ Party opposes.

“We disagree, indeed we have proposed specific structure changes to the system we believe will work better than current policies.”

“The Workers’ Party MPs have made concrete proposals in several areas. We urge the Government to conduct a comprehensive review of its policies to better support Singaporeans and their families during this Cost of Living Crisis,” he added.

All eight Workers’ Party MPs, along with two NCMPs from the Progress Singapore Party, recorded their dissent against the amendment presented by the PAP MP.

Workers’ Party MPs address multi-faceted concerns on cost-of-living pressures and social welfare issues

WP MPs participated in the debate, addressing various issues including physical and mental health, transportation, utility expenses, and means-testing within the public healthcare system.

Commencing the discussion, Mr Singh highlighted the Workers’ Party’s consistent emphasis on the cost of living, referencing it as a significant pressure point for low- to middle-income families in his 2022 New Year’s message and on several occasions thereafter.

While acknowledging the government’s temporary relief measures, Mr Singh emphasized the necessity of re-evaluating national policies to ensure their relevance.

“This House must leave no stone unturned, because for some Singaporeans this has become a cost-of-living crisis. ”

He emphasized the party’s proposal to move beyond one-time fiscal handouts and explore possible structural changes to existing policies to reduce cost-of-living expenses for ordinary Singaporeans who will live in an elevated inflationary and interest-rate environment for some time to come.

He said the Workers’ Party’s concerns about the challenges faced by low to middle-income families, especially those with young children and elderly parents to care for.

In his round-up speech for the motion debate, Mr Singh highlighted the revenue implications of the Workers’ Party’s proposals, emphasizing some as revenue-neutral and others as potentially increasing expenditures.

He brought attention to the government’s strategy to reduce HDB flat prices through taxpayer subsidies, mentioning the likelihood of taxpayers bearing the cost.

“The Workers’ Party believes that we should continue to look beyond short-term relief in addressing this cost-of-living crisis and to relook at prevailing orthodoxies on other schemes so as lower costs for Singaporeans and their families.”

He underscored the Workers’ Party’s advocacy for long-term solutions to the cost-of-living crisis and suggested various proposals aimed at assisting vulnerable workers and seniors during these challenging times.

MP Sylvia Lim urges electricity pricing reform forenergy conservation

Sylvia Lim, WP MP for Aljunied GRC, advocated implementing a time-of-use electricity pricing structure to discourage peak-hour consumption.

Highlighting the urgency for energy conservation, she questioned the effectiveness of the Open Energy Market in reducing household electricity bills. She suggested revisiting tiered electricity pricing and reducing off-peak hour charges.

Calls for improved social safety net assessment

MP Faisal Manap, Aljunied GRC, reiterated his 2014 proposal for the Government to establish a system for evaluating the effectiveness of the social safety net, suggesting the adoption of the International Labour Organisation’s Social Protection framework.

He also recommended exploring the “Minimum Income Standard” for Singaporean households based on reports by local academics, as a means to track outcomes for Singaporeans.

Calls for managing healthcare costs and enhanced support in mental health and long-term care

Sengkang GRC MP He Ting Ru emphasized various pivotal aspects within the health and care ecosystem where the government should intensify efforts to manage the cost of maintaining a healthy lifestyle in Singapore.

Her speech underscored the Workers’ Party’s apprehensions about the implications of rising care expenses on the physical and mental well-being of families. She advocated for increased support in areas such as mental health care and intermediate and long-term care, proposing an alignment of Medisave annual limits with medical inflation.

Enhanced support for vulnerable groups and caregivers

Hougang SMC MP Dennis Tan urged for an enhancement of the current means testing in healthcare to better accommodate an individual’s financial situation and health condition, ensuring more affordable and accessible healthcare.

He appealed for support to be extended to Singaporeans who might require additional assistance beyond the current eligibility criteria, particularly when they do not receive financial aid from household members.

Additionally, he advocated for increased aid for adults with special needs or disabilities, requiring care from family members, especially in aging households, and emphasized the necessity of supporting the caregivers responsible for their well-being.

Louis Chua advocates postponing GST hike and addressing housing supply disparities

Sengkang GRC MP Louis Chua reiterated his proposal for the Government to postpone the planned GST hike in 2024, citing even a one-year delay as beneficial, considering the already achieved revenue growth the GST increase was intended to generate.

Concerning housing, he urged the Government to augment the supply of HDB flats in both the for-purchase and for-rent markets, particularly in light of heightened population growth and housing demand. He emphasized that rectifying the fundamental demand-supply disparity would require adjustments to the supply side of the equation to establish a suitable market equilibrium.

Jamus Lim urges COE reforms to ease financial strain on households and improve accessibility for public transport users

Sengkang GRC MP Jamus Lim advocated for reforms in the COE system to rationalize the exorbitant prices, emphasizing the widespread impact of costly COEs not only on households with genuine car requirements, such as families with children or individuals with disabilities but also on all users of taxis and private hire cars.

He underscored the importance of smoothing out the vehicle quota supply over time and discontinuing the practice of reimbursing early-deregistered COEs at their book value.

He also proposed prohibiting dealers from directly bidding for COEs and suggested treating private hire cars (PHCs) similarly to taxis, allowing them to bid in the open category while paying Category A or Category B prices.

Publicly-owned transport corporation to curb fare hikes

Aljunied MP Gerald Giam proposed the establishment of a publicly-owned, non-profit National Transport Corporation (NTC) to oversee and operate all MRT, LRT, and trunk bus services. Redirecting the current public transport operators’ profits towards commuters, the NTC could potentially curb fare hikes and offer free transport for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Highlighting the potential for significant productivity gains and economies of scale, he underscored how the NTC could benefit both commuters and taxpayers compared to the current public transport model.

Non-constituency MPs from the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) also backed the Workers’ Party’s motion.

PSP Secretary-General Leong Mun Wai has urged a prompt reassessment of the utilization of fiscal resources, including Singapore’s reserves, prior to any tax increases.

He put forward an “integrated cost of living relief package” comprising five measures: lowering the GST to 7 percent and augmenting the recent support package from S$1.1 billion to S$5 billion to extend assistance to the middle class and SMEs and the implementation of a minimum living wage of $1,800 per month.

While Ms Hazel Poa expressed concerns regarding Singapore’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR), which has dropped to half the replacement rate.

She suggested that it would be prudent to reassess the strategy concerning the national reserves and the extent of their accumulation. “The number of our children and our children’s children is halving with each generation,” she noted. “If our TFR continues to decline due to cost pressures, for whom are we amassing these reserves?”

Chee Hong Tat reassures government’s ongoing support for lower- and middle-income families

Acting Minister for Transport and Senior Minister of State for Finance Chee Hong Tat, joining the debate, reassured the public, expressing, “The Government hears you and understands your worries.”

“That’s why we have been doing more to support Singaporeans to cushion the impact of rising prices. We review our support regularly and step in to enhance it where necessary to provide additional support, especially for lower- and middle- income families.”

These initiatives encompass means-tested U-Save utility rebates, the GST voucher scheme, and the Assurance Package, which aims to counterbalance the effects of the goods and services tax (GST) rate increase. The package has undergone two enhancements since its introduction in 2022.

Mr. Chee reiterated the Government’s commitment to closely monitor trends and assured that it is prepared to take further actions to assist Singaporeans, should the need arise.

“We will do so in a manner which is fair, effective and sustainable for both current and future generations,” he added.

In his address, Mr Chee highlighted the government’s efforts to alleviate the impact of global inflation on households by sustaining a competitive economy to foster job creation and support real income growth.

The early measures taken by the Monetary Authority of Singapore to tighten monetary policy significantly bolstered the Singapore dollar.

Acknowledging the dip in median real income in the first half of 2023, Mr Chee emphasized that sustained economic growth and competitiveness would facilitate continuous income growth for a broad spectrum of workers in the long term.

Reiterating the government’s commitment outlined in Budget 2023, he affirmed full coverage for the increased spending by lower-income households due to inflation and the GST hike. The increase for middle-income households would also be substantially covered.

For instance, the government introduced the $1.1 billion Cost-of-Living Support Package in September, offering relief for all Singaporean households, with additional support targeted at lower- to middle-income families, building on measures introduced in Budget 2023.

Mr Chee welcomed the Workers’ Party’s proposal for a policy review, emphasizing the government’s continuous policy renewal as part of the Forward Singapore initiative.

Notable changes and new proposals, including the Majulah Package for young seniors, the new housing classification model, and the re-employment support scheme, have been announced.


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The PAP is quick to push away their responsibility in the increase of living costs by making it global. What do they win? Nothing and the Opposition will make more gains as the PAP refuse to deal with realities on the ground. LW , you have too many trying to win brownie points and it is going to cost you aplenty. Better to cut of all these “protectors,” of the PAP.

To me, this motion was supposed to be filed by the ruling party to indicate they had felt the ground sentiment but instead they hijacked same to musk their failing. Taking voters for granted is also not sustainable.

By increasing cost fueled by their policies and providing temporary reliefs is also not sustainable as this only inculcate a clutch mentality instead of a more permanent solution.


Long Live Singapore. Loong Leave Singapore (after he pays for all his wrong doings).

We are terrrorized by their prices increase ! What do you think? tsk tsk tsk

Another one of Pappy’s Taiji move just to brush off whatever good suggestions offered by those who have SG voters in mind with regard to ever increasing COL they have to bear.What nonsense arguments advocating “global” cost factor,when it’s evident that the diminishing globalisation effects have already set in.By the way MAS policy to hold down imported inflation through its $ exchange rate strategy(which had resulted in a substantial loss of US$30,800,000,000cents in financial year ending 2023)may help refute the above Pappy’s arguments.The fact remains that the high and rising COL are solely caused by Pappy’s “what wrong with having… Read more »

Tactic deployed by PAP is always to amend motions from opposition parties. 1. Allow the motion to be heard This is to study the idea by other than the PAP themselves. 2. Amend the motion This is to prepare to accept the motion but on terms based on PAP 3. Put the motion to vote This is to show that PAP is democratic, and the motion will be passed regardless of opposition’s protest on the amended text. For 70% of voters here, they do not read, digest beyond point number 3. The PAP knows this, and this is the biggest… Read more »

Singapore PAP government Ministers only know how to increase Singapore cost of living to grab more money to enjoy highly luxury life as a Swiss,the Opposition parties Ministers tell the PAP government to reduce the cost of living which affects their interest, surely they don’t bother about you,uses all the garbage reasons to fight back.