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Singapore

 

Parliament: Policies should be more in tune with human behaviour to go further: Baey

Published on May 29, 2014 4:45 PM
 
Supply chain manager Mujib Shakir (right), chats with Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng during a citizenship ceremony held at the Asian Civilisations Museum on Sep 1, 2013. The Government can do better in its policymaking so that policies can be more easily understood by people on the ground, said Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Government can do better in its policymaking so that policies can be more easily understood by people on the ground, said Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) on Thursday.

Policies would also go further if they were more in tune with human behaviour and psychology, he added in Parliament.

For example, though the Pioneer Generation Package had been widely lauded at first, "it did not take long before the feeling of confusion cast its shadow over their initial elation", he said. This dissipated some of its initial goodwill.

But instead of the package's MediShield Life subsidies and Medisave top-ups, some of which may not be used by healthy seniors, it could have given pioneers free class "C or B2" ward treatment for common chronic diseases, suggested Mr Baey.

This might probably cost the Government the same amount, but would have given a great assurance to the 450,000 pioneer Singaporeans as it was easier to understand.

This was an example of how "with more attention paid to psychology and how people and society think, perceive and behave, we will achieve far great mileage that the Government duly deserves," he said.

If policies are too precisely engineered to maximise the benefits and minimise wastage and abuses, they may lose some of their intended effectiveness, he warned.

He added that many times, Singapore's policies were water tight to prevent a small minority of people from taking advantage of the system. "However, by doing so, we are also passing on the onerous requirements to the vast majority," he added.

Moreover, Singapore's tendency to "attach monetary values to activities" and evaluate policies based on their costs and benefits is ineffective, because it ignores other psychological and behavioural perspectives, he added.

For example, despite decades of imposing fines on littering, Singapore is no closer to reaching the standards of cleanliness in Taiwan, Japan or Switzerland, he said. Neither have financial incentives raised Singapore's total fertility rate.

"I believe that the Government can place trust in our people to do the right thing for themselves and their families, and for our country," said Mr Baey.

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