How SDP’s policies can help: The case of Fandi Ahmad

Singapore Democrats

In January 2012, Mr Fandi Ahmad, who was much loved forhis prowess in the local footballing scene, gave aninterview to the Today newspaper in which he recounted some of the hard timesthat have befallen him and his family.$CUT$

Mr Fandi rose to fame in the 1980s whenhe helped Singapore to win the Malaysia Cup in 1980 and then took his skills to Europe, playing with some of the big names in the footballworld.

Passed over for foreigners

When his playing career ended, hereturned to Singapore to try his hand in coaching and business.

Unfortunately, the path was less straightforward. He was passed overfor national coach by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and a couple of business ventures he entered failed.

Mr Fandi was unhappy with FAS’ attitudeas he felt that the Association was not respectful of his talent. Calling the organisation “incompetent”, he said: “To tell you the truth, I was ready tocontinue then. But they (the FAS) never got back to me. They only didso in March, three months later, and offered excuses like they couldnot contact me earlier.”

He is not alone. Another localfootballing great, Mr Terry ‘Captain Marvel’ Pathmanathan (photo on right), feels thesame way.

Also ignored for the national coaching position, Mr Pathmanathan said: “Maybe it’s the thinking the FAShas – believing local coaches are inferior to foreigners. I’m tiredof saying that local coaches should be given a chance.”

He added: “I don’t think we’re short on localoptions…FAS has no respect for localcoaches. After all I have done for my country as a player and as acoach, this is what I get?”

Fandi’s and Pathmanathan’s treatment reflects a bigger problem where foreign workers are often unjustifiably hired over locals under the PAP’s foreign talent policy.

Such discrimination will not be allowed under the SDP’s alternative immigrationpolicy wherethe FAS would have to demonstrate why Messrs Fandi orPathmanathan do not have the requisite skills before it is allowed tohire a foreign coach.

Read also SDP unveils six-point plan to control population

This does not mean that the Association is bound to employ a local. It does, however, mean that FAS would have to justify itsstance. At the very minimum, our homegrown talent would not be treated so shabbily.

A family tragedy

In 2008, Mr Fandi’s wife, Ms WendyJacobs, slipped and fell in her home. She suffered head injuries and had to undergo extensive medical treatment and care. Thistook a toll on the family’s finances.

Mr Fandi admitted: “The medical bills aremounting for me and made worse by the fact that her condition is notcovered by insurance.”

If the SDP’s healthcare policy had beenin place, Mrs Fandi would have paid an annual premiumbased on their income at the prevailing time (which would haveworked out to a fraction that they pay to their Medisave) into one national fund which would then pay the bulk of the bills.

In return, she would pay only 10 percent ofher hospital bill and would be afforded complete treatment, with the patient and her family given peace of mind.

Read also The SDP healthcare plan made simple

Such a policy wouldcertainly not burden the Fandi household (they have five children). No family should be financially ruined just because one of its members meet with an major illness.

Buying an affordable home

Under financial strain, Mr Fandihad to sell his terrace house and buy an HDB flat. But even thatwas not easy. He said: “I am in the process of applying to buy aHDB flat. But I don’t have enough in my CPFsavings. So things are a bit complicated.”

The SDP’s housing policy would allow MrFandi to buy a 5-room flat for about $200,000 under the Non-OpenMarket (NOM) scheme. Such a price is much more realistic and affordable for the Fandi family, or for that matter, thousands of families across Singapore.

Under the NOM scheme, Mr Fandi wouldthen not be able to re-sell his flat on the open market but only backto the HDB. The trade-off would be that he would not have to sink his life’ssavings into finding a home for his family.

Read also SDP proposes non-open market flats in housing policy

Policies have the ability to help or hurt people. This is why the SDP has drawn up workable solutions that focus on helping our people and raising their quality of life as opposed to policies that are oriented towards profit-generating for the Government.

If a national soccer hero like Mr Fandi Ahmad can be hurt by current policies, what more the average Singaporean?