GE2020 Singapore: We Compared the Parties' Manifestos So You Don't Have To
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GE2020 Singapore: We Compared the Parties' Manifestos So You Don't Have To

profileXue Miao
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Even though I am not exactly a first-time voter, I haven’t been catching up with the Singapore General Election (GE) in the past few years.

But this year’s different.

Ever since COVID-19 has brought the entire election journey online, the internet has been spammed with various online campaigning activities.

Publications have been churning out the newest updates, with the candidates being highly scrutinised by the public.

The drama level has been higher than Mediacorp these days.

oh my gif
Source: GIPHY

Even our Seedly community hasn’t been spared.

Seems like this is Singapore’s favourite topic right now.

Recently, the different political parties have started introducing their manifestos.

(Apart from Red Dot United, who prefers calling it a ‘Charter’.)

For the uninitiated, a manifesto is a public declaration of policy and aims, especially one issued before an election by a political party or candidate. The manifestos also highlight what our Singaporean political parties’ positions on various important issues are.

However, while the information is readily available on their respective websites, it might be troublesome to dig through every document.

As such, we thought it would be useful to have this information grouped accordingly, to give us a bird’s eye view of each political parties’ key proposals.

There are a total of seven parties who have published their manifestos online, namely:

  • People’s Action Party (PAP)
  • Progress Singapore Party (PSP)
  • Red Dot United (RDU)
  • Reform Party (RP)
  • Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)
  • Singapore People’s Party (SPP)
  • Workers Party (WP)

I think many of us are keen to know what the opposition parties believe in, so let’s break it down.

We’ll be looking at the following election topics:

1. Cost of Living

2. Central Provident Fund (CPF)

3. Education

4. Environmental Efforts and Sustainable Living

5. Goods and Services Tax (GST)

6. Healthcare

7. Housing

8. Jobs and Workforce

9. Tackling COVID-19

Let’s go!


Cost of Living

People’s Action Party (PAP)

Continue with assistance with the cost of living through subsidies and grants, mainly:

  • Care & Support Package – for daily costs
  • Enhanced housing grants – for purchase of HDB flats
  • Transport vouchers – for public transport
  • Education subsidies – enhanced bursaries, scholarships, transport, meal and school fee subsidies. 100% subsidy for ITE fees and reduced fees for SIT and SUSS full-time general degrees
  • Healthcare subsidies – public healthcare subsidies up to 80% and CHAS

Progress Singapore Party (PSP)

  • Increase amount of Workfare and the cash portion to 80% (like wages)
  • After the economy establishes, introduce a living wage to all sectors
  • To peg ministerial salaries to median income

Red Dot United (RDU)

  • Make policymakers focus more on growing the wages of Singaporeans
  • To peg Ministerial salaries to multiples of the Median Gross Monthly Income from Work, instead of the current 60% of the median income of the top 1,000 earners

Reform Party (RP)

  • Child benefit of $300 per child per month for those at or below 1.5 median incomes
  • Seniors’ benefit for over 65 of $500 per month

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)

  • To provide retirees over 65 with a monthly income of $500 under the SDP Retirement Income Scheme for the Elderly (RISE)

Workers Party (WP)

  • Hawker centres should be directly managed by the NEA to keep business costs low
  • HDB to allocate a portion of void deck space to provide for at least one coffee shop for every two precincts
  • Have a robust health and social care system, as elaborated in the categories below

Back to top

Central Provident Fund (CPF)

Progress Singapore Party (PSP)

  • Withdrawal of up to $50,000 at age 55
  • Sale of En-bloc rights
  • Medishield life premium to be paid by the government

Red Dot United (RDU)

  • Allow CPF Members an option to withdraw all their monies in the Provident Fund at retirement age
  • Allow members to borrow from their own CPF accounts to steady themselves during uncertain times
  • Study if more competition by professional fund managers can be introduced to get better returns on CPF savings for members
  • Provide more options for CPF Members, such as incentivising staggered withdrawal of CPF money in 5 or 10-year intervals after retirement age through better interest rates for such savings

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)

  • Abolish the Retirement Sum Scheme, with the funds returned to Singaporeans at the age of 55
  • Introduce an “opt-in” clause for members who wish to have their CPF funds retained and returned in instalments

Singapore People’s Party (SPP)

  • To have a fundamental re-think of the CPF scheme to ensure it serves its purpose
  • Allow for partial withdrawals on compassionate grounds, with prerequisites to be widened and dealt with on a case-by-case basis
  • Making CPF investment returns public, and on years when the returns are better than expected, the Government to distribute the increased returns to contributors as a bonus

Workers Party (WP)

  • Lower CPF payout eligibility age and CPF Life eligibility age to 60
  • Introduce a special dividend from the Government Investment Corporation (GIC) investments for CPF members, paid into the Special Account (SA)
  • Relax rules on the transfer of CPF funds before the age of 55 (including Medisave), provided the Minimum Sum has been met, to allow transfers to older relatives in one’s extended family

Back to top

Education

People’s Action Party (PAP)

Special Education Needs (SEN)

  • Make special education more affordable
  • Open new Special Education Schools to cater to different special needs
  • increase work and care options for SEN students beyond age 18

Pre-Schoolers

  • Enhance subsidies to make preschool as affordable as primary school
  • Increase the government share of supported pre-school places to 80%
  • Double the number of MOE kindergartens to 60
  • Raise pre-school quality through the National Institute for Early Childhood Education

Students

  • Provide greater support and guidance to students from vulnerable backgrounds
  • Accelerate the National Digital Literacy Programme
  • Make Home-Based Learning (HBL) an integral part of education
  • Reform higher education to introduce more inter-disciplinary learning, complemented with lifelong learning in specialized areas
  • Deepen the professional expertise of our teachers with SkillsFuture for Educators

Reform Party (RP)

  • Free university education for those who have served NS

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)

  • Proposes to abolish the PSLE, and complementing it with the broadening of curricula and reduction of workload
  • Scrap school and class ranking

Workers Party (WP)

  • Widen access of universities to students from all backgrounds, particularly those from underprivileged backgrounds and no family history of attending university
  • Raise the targeted percentage of graduates per cohort to 50%
  • Reduce form class sizes in schools to 20-25 students
  • Less popular schools to receive further baseline funding, on top of the current per capita funding
  • Improve access to enrichment programmes for low-income children
  • More infant care centres to directly reflect the population demographic of the district they are located in
  • Extend fee and financial assistance to all preschools, instead of just those run by anchor operators and the Ministry of Education
  • 10-year through-train programme (10 YTS) from Primary 1 to Secondary 4
  • Introduce a SkillsFuture education loan disbursing zero-interest loans from the state
  • Teach for Singapore scheme where a cadre of teachers will be trained in both educational and social work, who can provide academic guidance and holistic care to at-risk students

Back to top

Environmental Efforts and Sustainable Living

People’s Action Party (PAP)

  • Produce more clean energy by deploying more solar panels on building rooftops and reservoirs, and converting food waste to energy at Tuas Nexus
  • Reduce greenhouse emissions
  • Plant one million trees and new mangrove areas to preserve our carbon sinks
  • New green towns, green corridors, nature parks and park connectors
  • Introduce more home improvement and neighbourhood upgrading initiatives
  • Strengthen coastal and inland flood protection against climate change and rising seas
  • Significantly increase local food production with our 30 x 30 Express strategy

Red Dot United (RDU)

  • Singapore to collaborate with the region in bringing clean solar and wind power
  • Study the feasibility of renewable energy, and ensure that they do not cause environmental problems
  • Scale back the rapid pace of deforestation in Singapore and increase the pace of planting trees
  • Increase public education in the 3Rs “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”
  • Implement waste management schemes and sustainable neighbourhood recycling programmes
  • Support the move towards more energy-efficient public transportation such as electric vehicles
  • Better enforce the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act to mitigate air pollution problems
  • Agree to spending on social infrastructure for climate change purposes

Reform Party (RP)

  • Aim to reduce absolute emissions to reach as close as possible net zero in 2050, with a target of 40% by 2030
  • Proposing a Response to Climate Change Act: A legal framework to coordinate the actions required to reach the stated aim of net zero by 2050
  • Look at incentives in the form of tax breaks, expert training and guidance for the purpose of adapting and retrofitting existing buildings rather than demolition
  • Phasing out of HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) in favour of refrigerants with lower global warming potential
  • Household green grant for HDB residents wishing to adopt new greener air-conditioning models and maintenance for existing ones
  • Introduction of composting into the waste cycle via the addition of community composting sites
  • Invest significantly in research on renewables, particularly in the area of reliability of battery storage
  • Expand the adoption of point-to-point electric car share clubs with a commensurate expansion in the provision of charge stations
  • Propose that COE be reduced to 5% of its current rate for all car owners who exchange a petrol or diesel engine vehicle for an electric one and 10% for those who buy an electric vehicle
  • All registered Singapore school children from kindergarten to age 16 to be issued with passes for free travel by bus
  •  All Singaporeans over the age of 65 to be given similar passes along with passes for those with special needs and their carers and those with driving difficulties
  • Sovereign Wealth Funds, Temasek and GIC  to make public the companies in which they invest each year and commit to ceasing investments in fossil fuel and other damaging industries, and change the weighting of their portfolios to a majority investment in low carbon industry by 2025

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)

  • Ramp up the switch to renewable energy like solar power and accelerate conversion to electric vehicles to stem the poisoning of the atmosphere through greenhouse gas emissions
  • Curb population escalation in Singapore, disagreeing Singapore’s population to be raised 10 million
  • Firmly enforce the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, prosecuting business entities operating in Singapore that are linked with companies engaged in forest-burning in Indonesia
  • Prohibit companies from manufacturing products that depend on single-use packaging
  • Incentivise Singaporeans to recycle and reducing waste

Singapore People’s Party (SPP)

  • Mandatory public disclosure to be made for all SGX listed companies on their carbon emissions portfolio, investments in carbon-intensive operation and resources and a roadmap to divest from them
  • Mandatory environmental impact assessments and disclosure, with reports made available on a public depository
  • Introduction of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for electronic waste by 2021, with it being  extended to packaging waste by 2025
  • Introduce environmental education into education system

Workers Party (WP)

  • Target a minimum of 10% of our energy to come from renewable sources by 2025
  • Introduction of a single-use plastic charge, phased in over 5 years

Back to top

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

People’s Action Party (PAP)

  • Increase from 7% to 9%, but not before 2022

To help Singaporeans to cope with the GST increase, PAP will:

  • implement a $6 billion Assurance Package which will pay for the GST increase for 5 years for most households and 10 years for lower-income households
  • Enhance the GST permanent voucher scheme
  • Continue to have government absorb GST on publicly subsidised healthcare and education
  • Provide social assistance for those who need more help

Progress Singapore Party (PSP)

  • No to tax and fee increases for the next five years
  • Exempt basic necessities from GST

Red Dot United (RDU)

  • No to GST hike in the next five years

Reform Party (RP)

  • Suspension of GST for this year and next
  • Conduct a review with a view to eliminating it on certain essential categories of spending like food, utilities, and medicines

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)

  • GST to be cut to 0% until end 2021

Singapore People’s Party (SPP)

  • No to GST hike
  •  Tap on various other mechanisms such as a higher income tax for the top 1% or re-introducing estate duty

Workers Party (WP)

  • No to GST hike
  • Revenue shortfall from this can be met by tapping no more than one-fifth of the land sales collected by the government, or by increasing the Net Investment Returns Contribution by up to 10%

Back to top

Healthcare

People’s Action Party (PAP)

  • Expand the polyclinic network from 20 today to 32 by 2030, including new polyclinics in Bishan and Bidadari
  • Redevelop the Singapore General Hospital and rejuvenate the National University Hospital
  • Complete the Novena Community Hospital by 2022 and build a new integrated acute and community hospital in the East by 2030

Red Dot United (RDU)

  • Provide heavily subsidized quarterly-to-annual doctor consultations without means testing, where all preventive health measures such as vaccinations and screenings are carried out at the same time
  • Improve Medifund to provide support for needy Singaporeans
  • Adopt a proactive regulatory-change framework for Medical Technology (MedTech) usage especially in home care, providing considerable cost reductions in health care
  • Expand the scope of Medisave for use in more areas of outpatient consultations
  • Improve transparency of Standard Drug List (SDL) of subsidised drugs
  • Separate dispensing from medical treatment in the private sector
  • Establish a watchdog agency to examine healthcare costs and abuses of the system, or consider a national health insurance scheme, incentivising government regulation of healthcare costs

Reform Party (RP)

  • Universal healthcare

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)

  • Maternal and child care services should be largely free and funded by the government from the taxes
  • Primary healthcare services – for chronic illnesses, these should be paid through a risk-pooling system so that the cost of running these services will be shared by all in the community
  • Running costs of the hospitals to be paid from taxes
  • Funding for hospice care should also be from taxes and donations from donations from family members of the care receivers and donors, with the bulk of the running cost of such services funded by the MOH
  • Home care for the non-ambulant chronic sick should be funded similar to hospice care
  • Propose $1.5 billion a year to support these infrastructural and manpower expansion programmes
  • Suggesting a single-payer universal healthcare system in which the government manages a central health investment fund

Workers Party (WP)

  • Make medicines more affordable by having a central buying agency that is tasked to negotiate better prices with manufacturers
  • Remove Medishield Life annual claim limits, and replaced with a lifetime claim limit
  • Lower the cost of Intermediate and Long-Term Care (ILTC) with more subsidies
  • Widen the use of Medisave for those over 60, as most outpatient treatment is not covered by Medishield Life

Back to top

Housing

Progress Singapore Party (PSP)

  • En-bloc redevelopment for all old flats
  • Peg new flat prices to income levels
  • Bring down housing costs for young Singaporeans to free them for entrepreneurial pursuit

Red Dot United (RDU)

  • Make en-bloc redevelopment programme mandatory
  • Lower the minimum age to 30 for singles under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme (SSC) and the Joint Singles Scheme (JSS)
  • Establish greater transparency in the cost of building HDB flats with a breakdown of land cost and building cost to ensure affordability

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)

  • Proposal of the Non-Open Market (NOM) flats, flats that do not include land costs in their price to be introduced into the public housing system in Singapore
  • Implement the Young Families Priority Scheme (YFPS), a targeted priority scheme that grants balloting priority for first-timer families with children or couples
  • Increase the inclusiveness of public housing by enabling single-parent families with children as well as singles to purchase and own their flats
  • Increase the range of lower-income Singaporeans for housing rental
  • Enhance the Lease Buy-Back Scheme to more effectively assist needy senior citizens to have a secure retirement
  • Barring Permanent Residents and non-citizens from buying or renting NOM flats

Singapore People’s Party (SPP)

  • Extend the lease buyback scheme
  • Extend Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) to all estates
  • Abolish ethnic quotas

Workers Party (WP)

  • Allow BTO flats for singles at 28, instead of 35
  • Abolish ethnic quotas for citizens’ homeownership of HDB flats
  • Introduce HDB reform to tackle lease decay

Back to top

Jobs and Workforce

People’s Action Party (PAP)

  • Set up the National Jobs Council to protect and create jobs
  • Create 100,000 new job opportunities, comprising jobs, traineeships, mid-career pathways and courses under the SG United Jobs and Skills Programme
  • To boost employment of Singaporeans aged 40 – 60 with programmes and incentives
  • Encourage the hiring of senior workers with grants and credit support
  • Improve jobs and earnings for lower-paid Singaporeans through enhanced workfare support and extending the Progressive Wage Model
  • Provide education, training and career support for young jobseekers
  • Work with employers to hire persons with disabilities, including through the Enabling Employment Credit

Progress Singapore Party (PSP)

  • Job priority for Singaporeans
  • Introduce quota for Employment Pass
  • Lower quota for S Pass and Work Permit
  • Review free-trade agreements (FTAs) like the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
  • Reduce dependence on foreign labour through curbing easy supply to push employers to invest in equipment or processes for higher productivity, and move towards higher value-add and higher-wage model

Red Dot United (RDU)

  • Review of FTAs like the CECA to show how Singapore and Singaporeans have benefited from this agreement
  • Assess the bearing of Employment Pass system
  • Offer more protection to workers working under the gig economy, through means such as revising the Employment Act
  • Ensure a Singaporean-First hiring policy by reevaluating the effectiveness of the Fair Consideration Framework
  • Introduce an award scheme for Human Resource managers with good compliance track record for prioritising jobs for Singaporeans
  • Reserve some jobs for Singaporeans in selected future growth sectors to enable capability transfers and to grow local expertise

Reform Party (RP)

  • Unemployment benefit of up to six months, based on 75% of last drawn salary with a cap of $2500 per month
  • Minimum wage of $10 per hour which will ensure more jobs go to Singaporeans
  • Better wages for foreign workers
  • Employment pass minimum salary to be raised to at least $5,000 per month with a cap on total numbers

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)

  • Legislate minimum wage

Singapore People’s Party (SPP)

  • Commission a nationwide study to determine the amount needed to maintain a basic standard of living. Thereafter, a national minimum wage should be instituted and pegged to this amount
  • Unemployment insurance to be mandated for all Singaporean workers
  • Employers to give employees retrenchment benefits in accordance with the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) guidelines
  • Review of FTAs to ensure that they serve the best interests of the Singaporean worker
  • Abolish retirement age

Workers Party (WP)

  • Introduce a national minimum wage of $1,300 per month for full-time work
  • Abolish retirement age
  • Address the gender wage gap where employers with 10 or more employees should be required to report to MOM the gender pay gap for the same job description
  • Making Careshield Life premiums gender-neutral
  • To provide paid re-entry programmes to make it easier for mothers or informal caregivers seeking to re-enter the workforce
  • Anti-discrimination legislation to be formally instituted to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age and against Singapore citizens
  • Provide employers with incentives for hiring more Singaporeans, such as tax incentives or reduction in government charges

Back to top

Tackling COVID-19

People’s Action Party (PAP)

  • Free in-patient treatment for COVID-19 at public hospitals. In total, we have allocated $20 billion to MOH in the recent budgets
  • Invest in R&D for Covid-19 treatments and vaccines, and ensure these are available to all Singaporeans who need them
  • Ensure everyone can obtain protective items such as face masks
  • Complete health clearance of migrant workers
  • Build additional migrant worker housing with new operating models and improved standards

Progress Singapore Party (PSP)

  • Create a stronger social safety net through improving financial assistance for those unemployed due to COVID-19
  • Increase ComCare payout

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)

  • To provide retrenchment benefits, where the government pays 75% of his/her last drawn salary for 1st 6 months, 50% for 2nd 6 months, and 25% for the final 6 months (capped at the median wage) under the SDP RESTART (Re-Employment Scheme and Temporary Assistance for the ReTrenched) programme

Workers Party (WP)

  • Expand testing for COVID-19 (to larger communities)
  • Implement effective contact tracing while safeguarding privacy
  • Offer free vaccinations for COVID-19
  • Implement a single portal to allow every citizen and company to view the support they have received from government schemes, and the schemes they are eligible
  • Addressing gaps in support schemes, such as relief of HDB public rent till lockdown restrictions are lifted
  • Support for local enterprises

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About Xue Miao
A millennial who is learning to adult. She doesn't believe in the rat race and hopes to live on a farm someday.
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