This year’s budget was debated by MPs for more than 50 hours over a period of eight days. This is the longest amount of time spent on debating the budget since 2013. But unfortunately, some of the members of parliament are fixated by what Sylvia Lim said and are demanding an apology.
MPs prepared a total 530 questions in all for these debates, which is why 52 hours were set aside primarily for this purpose. Here is a summary of their discussion:
According to Grace Fu, Leader of the House, this record emphasizes that the nation indeed faces wide-ranging and serious issues, including job security, which remains on people’s minds despite last year’s economic recovery. Moreover, a significant portion of the debate also involved social inequality and addressing issues that would cause society to become more caring. Recent developments concerning this have come to light, such as a survey from the Institute of Policy Studies that demonstrated how social networks have grown around class differentiators such as what schools people attend, or what kind of housing they live in, and also a book written by Teo You Yenn, a sociologist, which focused on inequality.
Ms. Fu, the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said that even while Singapore develops technology in order to grow businesses further, as well as global competitiveness, the question of not leaving anyone in society behind must also be addressed.
In her speech that capped the budget debates, Ms. Fu mentioned that much time was given to the budgets for the ministries of Culture, Community and Youth, Manpower, and Trade and Industry.
Two and a half days were spent in discussing Singapore’s Budget as a whole. For the remainder of the time, Parliament debated on the budgets of the 16 ministries.
Some of the questions the MPs asked involved the support that vulnerable sectors of the workforce needs, helping businesses stay competitive, and helping to develop unity in a multiethnic, multi-religous society made up of several classes.
Other questions from the MPs involved national security—both cybersecurity issues and external threats. Issues such as the provision of housing for newlyweds and the regulation of personal mobility devices were also discussed.
Ms. Fu also mentioned that Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin and Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok) emphasized the need for ideals and practicality for the country to advance, saying, “To tackle the problems of today and prepare ourselves for tomorrow, we must be bold and embrace change. We must have that grit and bias for action that makes us an exceptional nation. This would not be the case if we had no ideals.”
Ms. Fu also said that Singaporeans need to contribute in developing “the ideal Singapore,” and that progress means that each person does his part in building the future—even while facing the challenges of an aging society, wage inequality and disruptive technology.
All Singaporeans must then do their part to build a powerful and entrepreneurial society, what Ms. Fu called “a smart nation with a heart”.
And all of that is not what got into the consciousness of our nation, what we remember most is the “brow-beating” of opposition MP Sylvia Lim.