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Sylvia Lim refutes PAP MP’s claims over her speech on supporting young senior

In Tuesday’s debate, PAP MP Christopher de Souza made claims against WP Chair Sylvia Lim, suggesting she overlooked govt’s measures for seniors. Ms Lim, puzzled, had to correct his misinterpretation and set the record straight.



SINGAPORE: On Tuesday (27 February), during her Budget 2024 speech Workers’ Party Chairman and MP for Aljunied GRC Ms Sylvia Lim, brought attention to age discrimination.

She urged the recognition of ‘young seniors’ as valuable contributors, emphasizing their capabilities and significant contributions.

Ms Lim found herself puzzled when, in a subsequent speech, Christopher de Souza, a PAP MP for Holland–Bukit Timah GRC, made several claims against her.

He implied that Ms Lim was suggesting the government was not doing enough for young seniors, failed to acknowledge a “whole raft of measures” addressing the needs of seniors, and asserted that the ageism issue is “unassailable.”

In response, Ms Lim had to address and correct Mr de Souza’s misinterpretation of her speech. She emphasized her speech’s primary focus on addressing ageism in the workplace and urged Mr de Souza to refer to the Parliament Hansard (transcripts of parliamentary debates) for an accurate account of her statements.

It is not known whether Mr de Souza was present in the Chamber when Ms Lim delivered her budget speech.

Ms Lim looking forward to anti-discrimination legislation for safeguarding senior workers

In her Tuesday speech, Ms Lim focused on the critical issue of leveraging the potential of older workers in Singapore.

She underscored the importance of recognizing the value and contributions of older citizens, not just as beneficiaries of welfare but as active participants in the nation’s progress.

Addressing the pervasive issue of age discrimination, Ms Lim shared, “Over the years, I have met many older residents whose job search suggests age discrimination.”

She recounted the story of a resident with extensive experience in healthcare management who struggled to find employment due to his age, illustrating the systemic barriers older individuals face in the job market.

Highlighting the disparity between job vacancies and seekers, Ms Lim noted, “Yet, the fact is that there are jobs waiting to be filled.”

She pointed out that, according to the MOM’s Labour Market Report for Q3 of 2023, the ratio of job vacancies to job seekers was at 1.58, indicating a significant demand for workers that could be met by older individuals if not for ageist hiring practices.

Ms Lim also addressed the evolution of the job landscape, emphasizing that “While there may still be some physically demanding sectors that may not be suitable for older workers, this space has decreased over time.”

She advocated for a shift in perspective, supported by advancements in health and technology, to recognize the capabilities of older workers across various sectors.

Anticipating legislative changes, Ms Lim expressed her support for the upcoming anti-discrimination legislation, emphasizing its potential to make a significant impact.

Mr de Souza suggests Ms Lim overlooked govt efforts to address senior workers issues

Mr de Souza, delivering his budget speech later, aligned with Ms Lim’s stance against disenfranchising senior workers.

While echoing her sentiments, he urged Ms Lim to acknowledge and appreciate the government’s efforts and initiatives in addressing these issues.

In his address, Mr de Souza reiterated several key measures outlined in Budget 2024, notably allocating S$3.5 billion for Age Well SG to foster active ageing and introducing S$4,000 in SkillsFuture credits for mid-career reskilling.

He acknowledged the complexity of implementing measures and policies, recognizing the need to balance competing interests and address financial considerations.

“But at the end of the day, I think, as members of Parliament and members of this house, at least elected ones, have a duty to ensure that these policies and measures meet their intended need on the ground.”

Ms Lim expressed puzzlement over Mr de Souza’s remark against her speech

Ms Lim later expressed her bewilderment at Mr de Souza’s response to her speech, stating, “I must say that I’m really rather puzzled by MP Christopher de Souza’s response to my speech, and perhaps respectfully too, I may suggest that he has misheard me.”

She clarified that she strongly endorsed Continuing Education and Training (CET) and acknowledged the SkillsFuture Level Up program in her speech, contrary to Mr De Souza’s implication that she did not appreciate the government’s efforts.

Ms Lim emphasized that the main focus of her speech was on addressing ageism in the workplace, citing government statistics from the Ministry of Manpower’s Fair Employment Practices reports that highlight age discrimination as the main form of discrimination needing attention.

Ms Lim then posed a counter-question, asking whether Mr de Souza had encountered older residents facing age discrimination in the workplace.

In response, Mr de Souza asserted that he did not mishear Ms Lim’s speech and reiterated the belief in a “winning formula for seniors” through fiscal measures and the efforts of MPs on the ground.

However, Mr de Souza did not address Ms Lim’s question on whether he comes across older residents facing age discrimination in the workplace.

Sharp exchange over interpretation of Ms Lim’s remarks

In response to Mr de Souza’s comments, Ms Lim advised him to refer to the Hansard to accurately capture her statements and emphatically stated her disagreement with the accusations made against her.

Mr de Souza then clarified that he was not accusing Ms Lim but rather “summarizing” Ms Lim’s point about the difficulty of ageism and emphasized the role of MPs in bridging the gap between fiscal policies and real-life impacts.

“I agree that it is a difficult issue, I agree that it is an issue on the ground, I don’t agree that it is unassailable, ” Mr de Souza said.

Again he emphasized the need for MPs to act as bridges, translating fiscal policies into real-life examples that demonstrate how these policies have worked and positively impacted families.

“I believed that the winning formula, particularly for backbenchers, is to fulfil their calling by actively bridging the gap between policies and the actual experiences of the people on the ground.”

Ms Lim then promptly called out Mr de Souza’s miss-characterisation and clarified that she never said ageism is “unassailable:”

“In fact, in my speech, I expressed the hope that the upcoming anti-discrimination legislation would move the needle and be a game changer.”

Later, Mr de Souza found satisfaction with Ms Lim’s clarification, and Speaker Mr Seah Kian Peng then reminded MPs that their remark will be recorded in Hansard.

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Hahaha Not permanent?!? From inception of 3% upward. It is a permanent features. Every time the elite empire not enough money, they raise it. One Heng can have so many biz empires. What happen to helping other establish a foothold in life … Nada, self serving elites wanna say otherwise. Withhold resources and depress wage for their citizens unless you wanna agree to slaves terms of giving and taking back. Pui!!!

At liberty to say whatever they want without being held accountable.
When it black, they just simply make accusations and statement as though its a fact,
and say its white.

They believe that they have the upper hand, with the public unable or unwilling to search through
parliamentary speeches to determine the facts. SPH pretends nothing worth reporting.

For such actions by the PAP, you lose 1 vote from me.

How does one address the unassailable ageism? Is it by counting your age backwards de Souza?

Otherwise do not use words like unassailable in this context to bluff the 60% sheep’s!

garment allows so many foreigners and FT’s arh…..tsk tsk tsk

Whose fault? If garment don’t allow foreigners, Singaporeans at least stand a chance, dio boh? LOL

Sylvia Lim= I vote for you.

Nowadays 1 salary do 2 or more person’s jobs? what do you think? bao kah liao arh? tsk tsk tsk

Well done Sylvia Lim !!

We are only left with security guard jobs, cleaners, cashier, retail, jobs? when we are old.tsk tsk tsk

Vote wisely.
Don’t make the same mistakes over and over and over again. tsk tsk tsk

Declaring budgets does not address the problem on the ground. The PAP MPs are totally lost on what is happening on the ground so they think they gain ground by attacking the opposition. Another self goal by a PAP MP. Kudos 👏 once again to WP

The PAP Administration just want to PRIDE themselves as Helpful esp when they tricked Sheeps that their giving of chicken wings, candies are damn big deal.

Whats wrong with helping ANY SGpn – is it a crime a sin to need help whatever age one belongs to? The PAP Administration is picky and want to be seen to be wise – the plan for future unborn, the failure to indict MANY MORE Keppel Corpn Bribery employees, the lackadaisical decisions to rent BW Bungalows to selected pple ALL POINTS to the OUT of TOUCH with REALITY of PAP Millionaire Scoundrels.