Out of the box

Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC)
Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC)

A wide range of issues, from mental health to pop culture, was raised by MPs yesterday, the last day of the Budget debate. They quizzed the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh picks five life-improving ideas.

AN ACADEMY FOR ALLIED HEALTH WORKERS

Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) wanted the Health Ministry to sponsor an academy that focuses on the training and professional development of allied health workers such as physiotherapists, dietitians and speech therapists.

This Allied Health Academy would help them keep up with medical advancements and share best practices, he said.


RECOGNISE ARTS EXPERTS DOING BACKEND WORK

Each year, the National Arts Council lauds artists by honouring them with the Cultural Medallion or the Young Artist Award.

But Nominated MP Kok Heng Leun wanted recognition to be given as well to practitioners who work in the wings. Citing art historian and critic T.K. Sabapathy and TheatreWorks producer Tay Tong, he said: "Because they are not practising artists, even if many within the arts community may find them deserving of the Cultural Medallion, they can't be considered under the current scheme.... So how can these silent heroes and heroines be recognised?"


DEMENTIA DATABASE

The Health Ministry should look at creating a database of senior citizens with dementia, said Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson). This can help the community better identify and help them.

"At present, we know of only those elderly folk who were identified through our local screening exercise. There are others who are already diagnosed but may not be known to us," she said.


EXPORTING LOCAL CULTURE

Through their documentaries, television serials and music, Japan and South Korea have built significant followings in Singapore.

They showcase their culture, food and way of life.

"It is through such projection of soft power that they subtly exert their influence and project their respective country's interests," said Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC).

He hoped the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth could explore ways to project Singapore culture overseas, like a dedicated Singapore channel or a "Singapore Hour" programme on its attractions, multicultural festivities and food.


WAYS TO SLASH SUGAR INTAKE

Mr Chen Show Mao (Aljunied GRC) called for warning labels on containers of sugary processed foods, such as candy and soft drinks. It would be similar to the warnings on tobacco packets that discourage smoking, he said.

Mr Chen also suggested making it a requirement for retailers to display signs encouraging shoppers to choose low-sugar options.

He also wanted the Health Ministry and the Trade and Industry Ministry to team up and support local food manufacturers who produce low-sugar snacks and drinks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Out of the box'. Print Edition | Subscribe