Party activists throw up ideas to shape policies

PM Lee Hsien Loong at his opening address during the PAP Convention 2015 at the Singapore Expo.
PM Lee Hsien Loong at his opening address during the PAP Convention 2015 at the Singapore Expo. ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN

Around 1,500 People's Action Party (PAP) members at the party convention yesterday heard a range of ideas from fellow activists on shaping lifelong learning, caring for the aged and disabled, sustainability and ways to engage people.

Plans are being made to help put some of these ideas into action.

Community engagement, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the convention at the Singapore Expo, was key for Singapore's future.

"What will strengthen us further is not to have all problems solved by Government, but to have Singaporeans doing things together, for one another," he added.

Mr Lee and other party leaders were in the audience as panels of activists presented their views and ideas on key issues for the near future.

One suggestion from the panel on lifelong learning was to encourage learning across generations, with senior citizens taking an active part in mentoring younger people.

Mr Lee said this was a useful idea for the national SkillsFuture initiative, which aims to spur a culture of continual learning and upgrading.

The suggestion also stood out for MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling, who said: "The elderly have always had a role to play in our society, and even more so now, as they can impart skills and pass on their experiences accumulated over time to the juniors."

Mr Lee also noted that, given Singapore's ageing society, it is important that those above 65 "should have a chance to continue working, and we should encourage them".

The panel on caring suggested helping seniors to age "in place" - at home and in their estates - and to professionalise care-giving jobs so the elderly can be looked after "with a human touch but also more efficiently".

Mr Lee said these are suggestions the Government will follow up on.

Central Singapore District mayor Denise Phua pointed out during the discussions that care-giving is not just about the elderly, but also about the needy and the disabled.

Mr Lee agreed, citing his recent visit to the Enabling Village in Lengkok Bahru which trains people with disabilities and helps them find jobs.

He noted how the FairPrice outlet there had worked to serve customers and staff with disabilities better, such as with lighter trolleys that can be fitted on wheelchairs.

"It's a very nice effort by many groups... coming together to do something," he said. "We are family. We all have a place in our home."

Mr Benjamin Tay, chairman of the PAP Policy Forum which helped to organise the presentations, said the topics were inspired by Mr Lee's speech at the swearing-in of the new Cabinet in October, when he spoke about the Republic's next chapter.

"They are parts of an overarching national conversation, and we will look to implement some ideas if they are worthwhile," he said.

Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Christopher de Souza said it was good that activists had a platform to spell out at the micro level what could be done to, say, encourage greater recycling among residents, as details matter on the ground.

"And unless activists are given a platform to voice out their suggestions, the wider party will not know."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2015, with the headline 'Party activists throw up ideas to shape policies'. Print Edition | Subscribe