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Dennis Tan: Advocating senior support, disabilities, and green transition in Budget 2024

Dennis Tan, Workers’ Party MP, emphasizes the need for robust support in seniors’ care, disabilities, and green transition during the Budget 2024 debate. He raises concerns, proposes measures, and advocates for comprehensive policies for a sustainable future.



Dennis Tan on Budget Debate Speech

SINGAPORE: In the Budget 2024 debate on Monday (26 Feb), Dennis Tan, Member of Parliament (MP) from the Workers’ Party (WP), expressed his views on supporting senior citizens, addressing issues for adults with disabilities, and the green transition.

Mr Tan conveyed this perspective during the debate, referencing Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong’s earlier Budget speech.

Deputy Prime Minister Wong emphasized the importance of preventive care for seniors, leading to the government’s allocation of $3.5 billion for the next decade to kickstart Age Well SG.

One key component includes an expanded network of Active Ageing Centres (AACs) offering a wider range of programs.

Mr Tan anticipates more details on AACs’ plans and raised concerns about staffing.

He asked the Ministry of Health (MOH) about the current staffing situation, recruitment efforts, and guidelines for AACs 2.0.

Highlighting the mix of staff and volunteers in AACs, Mr Tan acknowledged the integral role of volunteers.

However, he emphasized that volunteers may not always possess the expertise and professionalism required by AAC professionals

In relation to seniors who may not engage with AAC activities, Mr Tan questioned Age Well SG’s plans for outreach.

He emphasized the importance of addressing loneliness, especially for those living alone, and suggested studying approaches to enable AACs to maintain regular contact with this group for necessary support.

Regarding infrastructure improvements, Mr Tan highlighted Deputy Prime Minister Wong’s mention of silver upgrades to residential estates, including therapeutic gardens and senior-friendly amenities.

He looks forward to more details on how these amenities will be available in residents’ homes and common spaces.

In addressing seniors’ mobility and safety, Mr Tan urged a reconsideration of covered linkways and proposed collaboration between LTA and town councils to connect heavily utilized bus stops with nearby housing estates.

Still focusing on seniors, the Budget will provide Singaporeans born in 1973 or earlier with a Medisave Bonus of $750, and double this at $1,500 if they are part of the Majulah Generation and their residence has an Annual Value (AV) of not more than $25,000.

Mr Tan raised concerns about the Medisave withdrawal limit, especially for seniors with multiple chronic illnesses.

He suggested increasing the cap for Medisave withdrawal limits to alleviate out-of-pocket expenses, considering the elevated inflation and the recent 20% increase in the Silver Support Scheme.

“Can the Government consider raising the Medisave withdrawal limits from say $500 to $600 and from $700 to $840 for chronic cases as well and that those suffering from multiple illnesses to be granted further extension of the caps on a case-by-case basis?” Mr Tan asked.

Mr Tan advocates enhanced support and resources for adults with disabilities

Mr Tan welcomed Deputy Prime Minister Wong’s announcement of increased support for adults with disabilities, particularly the expansion of spaces in Sheltered Workshops and Day Activity Centres, and the launch of more Enabling Services Hubs.

“I believe that as a society there is a lot more that we can and should do for adults with disabilities among us, in particular adults with serious special needs, as well as their caregivers,” he stated.

He shared details from a parliamentary question (PQ) he filed earlier in the month, expressing concern about the limited number of Day Activity Centres and residential homes for adults with autism.

Mr Tan emphasized the importance of continuous training beyond Special Education (SPED) schools, proposing increased resources for education, skills training, and studies to expand work training opportunities for these adults.

Addressing the challenges faced by senior caregivers, Mr Tan raised questions about the long-term care of special needs adult children and suggested the need for more residential homes with structured care.

He proposed a balance between residential and home care, allowing special needs adults to go home on weekends and providing respite for family caregivers.

In another PQ from November, Mr Tan inquired about elderly caregivers for adults with intellectual disabilities and proposed early identification and support programs.

Mr Tan stressed the importance of developing and implementing support programs for elderly caregivers, involving multiple agencies and stakeholders to ensure timely checks and support.

Mr Tan reiterated his previous suggestion for Active Ageing Centres (AACs) to play a coordinating role, especially for elderly caregivers of adults with disabilities.

He emphasized the need for an expanded AAC that caters to different needs, including mental health and disabled persons, to serve as a central point for support and coordination.

Mr Tan advocates for robust green transition strategies

In the continuation of his Budget debate speech, Mr Tan addressed the crucial issue of the Green Transition.

Mr Tan reiterated the importance of a detailed roadmap for retraining workers as Singapore undergoes decarbonization.

He raised concerns about the availability and affordability of sustainability-related courses for both businesses and workers, focusing on the quality of education to be provided.

Highlighting the core concept of ‘capacity building’ in development, Mr Tan emphasized the necessity of upskilling to ensure a just transition and prevent any worker from being left behind.

He acknowledged Singapore’s significant investment in lifelong learning and upskilling since the launch of SkillsFuture in 2015, particularly focusing on adult education to accelerate the nation’s green transition.

While commending positive developments, such as new programs at NUS and NTU, Mr Tan stressed the need for policy and industry validation for all courses.

He urged institutes of higher learning to internalize SkillsFuture reports and assess skill future needs in green sectors, ensuring courses provide sufficient time, emphasis, and coverage on Singapore’s specific challenges.

Mr Tan raised concerns about hiring practices at universities, advocating for a shift towards recognizing contributions beyond traditional publication metrics.

He emphasized the importance of hiring experts with real-world experience in solving sustainability challenges to drive Singapore’s success in the green transition.

Addressing the growing demand for Singapore to contribute regionally and internationally, Mr Tan called for more Singaporeans to step forward with the right knowledge, skills, and attitude to grow the sustainability talent pool.

He stressed the urgency of building a pool of sustainability educators to keep pace with the quick journey of manpower transition and meet the 2030 and 2050 goals.


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Dennis Tan has raised very relevant issues and befitting a lawyer, his points are moderate and well thought. (1) his view on having sufficient experienced staff to man the Active Aging Centres. Volunteers may not have the necessary skills and knowledge required. The G would do well to listen to him (2) increasing the amount of medisave withdrawal to mitigate cash outlay especially for those with multiple medical issues. I would go a step further – do away with the different classification in using the medisave (there are 3. Seniors have an additional Flexi- Medisave) Just consolidate the total amount… Read more »