A party of ideas – the SDP Policy Unit one year on

James Gomez

The Singapore Democrats have dedicated ourselves to drawing up alternative policy plans for Singapore. This work is undertaken by the party’s Policy Unit which comprises experts and researchers from across various disciplines. 

The important point is that these people are Singaporeans who have recently joined the SDP family and have dedicated themselves to serving the country without asking for anything in return. 

We don’t enjoy the assistance of highly paid consulting firms or secretarial support to do our research. We commit our time and energy to our projects because we see many things wrong with PAP policies and we want to right them. 

We don’t need high salaries to come up with good and workable policies for Singapore. What we need are dedicated and thinking individuals. We have teachers, social workers, nurses, medical doctors, engineers, academics and even civil servants in the Unit to work on the policy papers. 

As a result, we have been able to come up with a few sound alternative proposals in the last one year. In late 2011, we released our paper on ministerial salaries Ethical Salaries For a Public Centred Government(Report in pdf) – well in advance of the PAP government appointed committee.

In it we proposed that the prime minister’s salary reduced to $56,000 and cabinet ministers be fixed at $40,000. These salaries are to be pegged at the median national wage. 

In February this year, we released our Shadow Budget 2012: Securing Our Future (Budget in pdf) where we provided Singapreans an alternative to the Government’s annual national expenditure. The report formulated by Dr Vincent Wijeysingha and his team, detailed how and why we should re-prioritise state spending. 

At the moment, the Government ploughs nearly one-third of our total budget on defence, foreign affairs and internal security while spending pittance on the well-being of the people. Our budget emphasizes the need to build up our middle- and working-classes which are going to drive Singapore’s progress in the years ahead.  

In April 2012, we launched our landmark SDP National Healthcare Plan: Caring for All Singaporeans (Healthcare in pdf). The Plan, with its nucleus in the SDP Shadow Health Plan launched during GE 2011, was presented by our Healthcare Advisory Panel. 

It calls for universal system where healthcare is made affordable for everyone, and not a profit-oriented industry which is the case currently. The paper is a readily-implementable plan. 

It has generated much national interest and many healthcare economists have welcomed the proposal (watch the video). Our Ground Operations Unit is presently putting together a major walkabout exercise to spread our healthcare ideas on the ground. 

In May 2012, Dr Juwita Rahmat joined the unit as its Deputy Head providing further momentum to the work of the Policy Unit. Presently, hard at work are members of three drafting committees on public housing, the economy, and education. More policy areas are expected to be added moving forward.

I am also glad to announce that the Policy Unit is currently reviewing the recent population scenarios and projections put out by the National Population and Talent Division at the Prime Minister’s Office and Institute of Policy Studies. We will respond to the Government’s White Paper on Population due by end 2012.

Given the failure of PAP policies in many areas, we will continue the important work of coming up with proposals to offer Singaporeans an alternative to the ruling party. I would like to encourage those interested in contributing towards this effort contact the SDP atsdp@yoursdp.org.

Dr James Gomez is the head of SDP’ Policy Unit.

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