National Solidarity Party (NSP) candidate Kevryn Lim gave an impassioned speech at the party's Circuit Road rally last night, calling for parenthood benefits for single parents and maternity leave for single mothers.
The 26-year-old, herself a single mother, became tearful as she said: "Let us fight for equal rights and leave no Singaporean behind. In the pledge, it says 'based on justice and equality'. These people are also Singaporeans and they should not be discriminated (against)."
Unwed mothers get only half the amount of paid maternity leave as their married counterparts, and can apply for a Housing Board flat only when they are 35. They are not eligible for tax rebates or Baby Bonus.
Ms Lim, who is separated from her Australia-born Singaporean husband, has a 2½-year-old son.
Speaking in Cantonese and then in English, she described one unwed mother she met on a walkabout who was not eligible for the Baby Bonus and was scraping by on $1,000 a month, while another resident, a single father, was still sleeping on his parents' sofa.
Said Ms Lim: "At the National Day Rally, when (Prime Minister) Lee talked about Baby Bonus, maternity leave, paternity leave, he never mentioned single-parent families. Why are they left out? They also hold a Singaporean passport!"
She went on: "I would like to ask the Government to also give 16 weeks of maternity leave to single mothers. Single parents should also enjoy Baby Bonuses. There should be parenthood benefits, tax benefits for these single parents as well."
Ms Lim, who is part of the NSP team fielded in Sembawang GRC, was the ninth out of 11 speakers at the rally for MacPherson SMC, which is seeing a three-cornered fight between the NSP's Cheo Chai Chen, Ms Tin Pei Ling from the People's Action Party and Mr Bernard Chen of the Workers' Party.
Mr Cheo had come under fire last week for saying Ms Tin's weakness was that she was a new mother. He later said he meant it as a joke.
Speaking in Mandarin at the rally, he also pressed the issue of supporting single mothers. "We are seeing more and more of these families and the Government should pay attention to this problem."
The other speakers reiterated concerns such as the influx of foreign workers and the withdrawal age for Central Provident Fund savings.
NSP secretary-general Lim Tean, 50, who is part of the team contesting Tampines GRC, called on the Government to release statistics on how many Singaporeans are displaced from their jobs by foreign workers each year.
LONG WAIT FOR ANSWERS
On the point of CPF, they don't allow you to withdraw at 55. That's why I say "I Ask Heaven". Why? If we go and ask the minister or the PAP MP, it's useless. Many people go to the Meet-the-People Session, and when they ask about this, there is no answer. It's because they are part-time MPs, just collecting their allowance. If you want to meet them, it's very difficult. They will tell you, "I'll write a letter for you". Who doesn't know how to write a letter? Is there any resolution from their letters? No, it just drags on. On our walkabouts, many residents tell us they are told to wait three months, and three months more. It's like that song "Three Years". You wait until you can't stand it anymore.
SINGAPORE DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE CANDIDATE IN PASIR RIS-PUNGGOL GRC ARTHERO LIM, who had released a Hokkien music video on the CPF that is sung to the tune of I Ask Heaven from Taiwanese TV serial Love. At a rally last night, he quoted a Mandarin song on how the Government has locked away people's CPF savings.
24-HOUR POLYCLINICS, PLEASE
My mother had to go to hospital three times in the last three years, and each time we refused the option of waiting for 36 hours due to overcrowding, because of the risk of infection for the elderly. The last time, my mother had to sleep in a bed along the corridor. It was not this bad in the 80s and 90s... Old people have health problems, especially in the night. Polyclinics should run 24 hours to ease the bed shortage in hospitals for people with less severe illnesses.
PEOPLE'S POWER PARTY CHIEF GOH MENG SENG, who is leading a team in Chua Chu Kang GRC, on why there needs to be better healthcare for the elderly.
LEGACY WILL GROW
We will keep on reaching for that star in the black sky, that shimmering distant star of liberty. If we are close to touching it, it's because we stand on your shoulders. Your legacy and walk on earth will not only remain, but it will grow.
SINGAPORE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHIEF CHEE SOON JUAN, paying tribute to late opposition leader J.B. Jeyaretnam at a lunchtime rally.
LOTS OF MONEY IN THE RESERVES
(Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister) Tharman (Shanmugaratnam) is not totally truthful when he says he's maxed out the total (social) budget. It's dangerous to have a finance minister who doesn't tell you the whole truth... Tharman says we've maxed out our social budget - that is nonsense. We have lots of money in the reserves... hundreds of billions of dollars of your money.
SINGFIRST CHIEF AND TANJONG PAGAR GRC CANDIDATE TAN JEE SAY, speaking at a rally last night, where he said the Government has accumulated huge surpluses from land sales and returns from investing CPF funds