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Singapore Budget 2015

Singapore Budget 2015

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Be courageous in rewarding innovation, says NMP Kuik Shiao-Yin

In a speech that drew applause from the House, Ms Kuik Shiao-Yin says the SkillsFuture initiative has the potential to be a 'big game-changer' to inject a spirit of innovation back into the country.

SINGAPORE: Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Kuik Shiao-Yin has called on Singapore to be courageous in rewarding innovation - this would involve re-examining and drastically changing what the country measures and rewards at the national level.

In a speech that drew applause from the House on Wednesday (Mar 4), she said the SkillsFuture initiative has the potential to be a "big game-changer" to inject a spirit of innovation back into the country, and be a significant call to action for Singaporeans to unlearn old learning habits, and take their own education and future into their own hands.

‘THERE’S A RADICAL NEW WORLD OF LEARNING OUT THERE’

Ms Kuik said: "But SkillsFuture must not hamstring itself by only allowing us to spend our credit on a safe but limited range of pre-approved courses by pre-approved vendors, representing only pre-approved industries.

"Outside of the WDA (Workforce Development Agency) and MOE (Ministry of Education), there is a radical new world of learning out there, multiple platforms, crazy new formats, unpredictable teachers, a diversity of skills that nobody can predict could be useful or not useful to a person’s development.

“Who would have known that letting Steve Jobs study calligraphy in his 20s would give him the aesthetic sense that distinguished Apple apart from every other tech company in the world? A Singaporean would have said: ‘Study calligraphy got money meh?’ So please let us use SkillsFuture to learn whatever we want, however we want, wherever we want.

“Of course, (we should) put down rules of accountability and all that, but recognise that many of us were already forced to study one way in the education system. Give us the freedom to study in our own way outside of it." 

SPEAKING UP FOR CHILDREN OF SINGLE MOTHERS

Ms Kuik also spoke up for the children of single mothers. She called for them to be considered for some sort of automatic inclusion in support schemes as well.

Ms Kuik became a mother shortly after being sworn in as NMP in September last year. She recalled: “During the madness of caring for a baby, I felt very grateful for whoever fought for the extension of maternity leave from two months to four months.

"For a season, cashflow was tight in my own household. So when I got my notices in the mail about ... the Baby Bonus, first one-for-one savings top-up into (my) child's Child Development Account, and there was subsidised infantcare, I was very grateful for every single one of these policies.

“The news that this Budget provides even more care for working married mothers like me is great. But all this made me consider how much more relief and gratitude a single working mother would feel if she could receive what I had received.

“I admit I am unfamiliar with all the complexities behind the crafting of this policy ... But what I am more familiar with is how the policy makes single mothers feel. Some feel that they are being told that they and their children are not worthy. Some feel that they are being unfairly punished for choosing to take the harder road of going through with the pregnancy rather than aborting their child when their partners chose to run out on them.

“Some of us married mums are friends with such single working mums and we can testify to their work ethic, their refusal to make excuses and how devoted they are to raising their children well. We married mums would look at such single mums and just see women who have chosen to soldier alone in a very tough job meant for two and they need all the support they can get.

“Moreover, the children of single mothers are Singapore’s children too and if we are a nation already struggling to replace ourselves, should we not welcome any new young life that has been given unto Singapore with equal honour? Shouldn’t all Singaporean children be automatically included in the State’s blessing?"

Concluding her speech, Ms Kuik said that if last year's Budget was about embracing the Pioneer Generation, she hopes that this year's Budget and those to come will be about "jumpstarting" the pioneering generations of the future.

"Give us the freedom that allows innovation to happen. Help the needful among us to allow inclusivity to truly bloom. Support our creative efforts that ultimately solidify all our identity as Singaporeans. Thank you DPM and Finance Minister for a Budget that takes meaningful steps forward to a Singapore I want to believe in. I support it and I look forward to even more surprising moves in the future.”