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First-term MPs outline priorities for 2nd half of their term in office

When Parliament re-opens on Friday, the government will set its direction for the rest of its term. Ahead of the sitting, three first-term MPs - Ms Tin Pei Ling, Mr Pritam Singh and Dr Chia Shi-Lu share their priorities going into the second half of their term in office.

SINGAPORE: When Parliament re-opens on Friday, the government will set its direction for the rest of its term.

Ahead of the sitting, Channel NewsAsia spoke to three first-term Members of Parliament (MPs) - Ms Tin Pei Ling, MP for Marine Parade GRC; Mr Pritam Singh, MP for Aljunied GRC; and Dr Chia Shi-Lu, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC.

They shared their priorities going into the second half of their term in office. 

About one in three residents in MacPherson is above the age of 50.

It is an aging town, and quite ironically, it has the youngest MP in Parliament - Ms Tin.

Ms Tin told Channel NewsAsia she would continue to voice her concerns over issues like healthcare costs and mental health.

But moving forward, she said she would also like to champion initiatives that promote youth development.

The drawings at the void decks of some flats in MacPherson are the result of a community project that gives young people an opportunity to, literally, brighten up the neighbourhood.

Ms Tin said: "I believe that as a young person myself, I want to make sure that young persons today and tomorrow will have the space and the opportunities to shoulder on greater responsibilities, that they have a greater stake in building Singapore, whether it's in the public sector or the private sector.

"For me, because of my personal journey, I feel a stronger sense now more than ever wanting to succeed in what I am doing...

"I hope that if I as the youngest Member of Parliament for Singapore, if I can do well taking on this huge responsibility, I hope that will give confidence, give recognition to other capable, talented young Singaporeans out there so that people will also be more willing to give them the opportunities to showcase their talents, take on more responsibilities, whether it's in the public sector to service the community or to take on leadership roles within the private sector as well."

Ms Tin went on to say: "This is something that I gather from my friends...and of course from personal experiences also.

"I think one of the things that sometimes young people have to grapple with is the need to establish ourselves, the need to prove that we are willing to work hard, willing to take on responsibilities, willing to take on the challenges.

"Sometimes, some of my friends will share they get remarks from maybe clients and maybe colleagues around them about how - 'you're still young, why should I listen to you?'

"And that can be very discouraging. Obviously young people need to work hard, need to build their experience, that is something we cannot escape.

"But I think to be really willing to give young people a chance to even try, to experiment, to see even if their idea works...To give them that space, I think that's invaluable as well.

"It's also giving them that platform to build up, to become that next pipeline of leadership."

To this end, Ms Tin has started a youth leadership programme called MY Dream Team, short for "MacPherson Youth" Dream Team, in her ward.

Over the years, the group has been at the forefront of organising the area's annual Countdown party.

For opposition MP Pritam Singh, he said he would continue to serve the needs of his residents to the best of his ability.

Like MacPherson, Eunos is also a mature estate made up of many smaller and rental flats.

A lot of the programmes initiated in Eunos are geared toward elderly and low-income residents.

Mr Pritam said having a voice in Parliament has been helpful in giving him a platform to air their concerns, as well as raise alternative viewpoints.

He said he would continue to press on issues close to the hearts and minds of Singaporeans such as immigration, retirement adequacy and healthcare costs.

He said: "The ones that are always on top of people's minds are immigration and population issues so those are always going to be on the front foot.

"There is also the new Fair Consideration Framework that is going to be introduced very shortly and I think there is going to be a lot of interest in that.

"That is something I'm going to look at quite closely as well, particularly with regard to implementation because ultimately it has to work in favour of Singaporeans.

"There is of course the big issue of MediShield Life premiums. A lot of Singaporeans are concerned about what those figures will actually translate into.

"There is also the question of CPF retirement savings for older people, which is probably going to be more of an issue as the years go by.

"And, closely linked to that will be even something as important as HDB prices. Now, we have delinked BTO prices from the resale market. So, one way of bumping up retirement income is to see whether there could be some discounts made on the sale of HDB flats.

"So, a bit of transparency. Now that we've delinked prices, is there a possibility of right sizing of prices a little bit more in the interest of Singaporeans?"

Over at Queenstown, another estate with a high proportion of elderly residents, its MP Dr Chia also has healthcare financing on his mind.

He wants to see more help given to alleviate heathcare costs as Singaporeans get older.

He said: "I always feel that in tandem with an aging population, and in tandem with our Asian values of respecting the elderly, financing should be ramped up and calibrated according to a Singaporean's age."

Dr Chia said that an older Singaporean "should probably get a little more help than someone who is younger".

But beyond that, Dr Chia said he also wants to make good some of the commitments to residents, following feedback sessions.

One of them is to preserve Queenstown's heritage while developing it with modern amenities.

Dr Chia said: "There is this tension. Because of its location, it is a very desirable area to live in because of its proximity to town so there is a lot of pressure from people wanting to live here.

"But it is very dense, it is very old. And when we look at redevelopment, it is difficult because there is no open or green space or wide space - whatever you may call it - for us to develop.

"We are not a new town. So if we develop, then it will affect existing structures. That is of concern to residents especially if they hold certain memories, certain historical or personal importance.

"But if we don't do that, then we don't get the improvements or developments that we seek.

"So it's difficult to manage this, because on one hand we are trying to hang on to what we feel dear, on the other hand, we all agree that we need to develop as a town.

"How do we bring about these developments while at the same time remaining true to who we are and yet not causing too much inconvenience and upheavals to residents?"

Looking back on their time in Parliament, all three MPs said they have no regrets choosing politics.

For them, there is a sense of mission, the desire to serve and to do good for their residents and Singapore.

And as they approach the second half of their term in office, there seems to be a deeper conviction in the path they have chosen.

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