SDP launches updated manifesto ahead of next general election

(From left) SDP media management head Benjamin Pwee, vice-chairman John Tan and chairman Paul Tambyah. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) yesterday launched its manifesto, titled The Way Forward, outlining its alternative policy proposals.

It is the first political party to do so ahead of the next general election, which must be held by April 2021.

At the launch event held at The Colonial @ Scotts, the party said that several of its proposals, including those for healthcare and education, have been updated.

SDP chairman Paul Tambyah took aim at the current healthcare system in Singapore and said it "waters down" the principle of universal healthcare.

"Universal healthcare means that healthcare is available to those who need it at the point of need, without them having to think about how they are going to pay for it," said Dr Tambyah, who is a professor of medicine at the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

But MediShield Life, for example, carries a deductible of up to $3,000 that has to be paid by the patient before any payouts kick in, he said.

Dr Tambyah said the current system has "multiple complicated schemes", including Medisave, MediShield Life and Medifund, as well as CareShield Life and the Pioneer and Merdeka Generation Packages.

The SDP's proposal is to replace these schemes with a simpler single-payer National Health Investment Fund, to which Singaporeans would contribute about $50 a month on average, depending on their income. The rest would be funded by government spending.

There is no need to tap additional sources of funding as the current healthcare budget is close to the party's forecast, Dr Tambyah added.

SDP media management head Benjamin Pwee said the party's education policies have also been updated and will aim to reduce Singaporeans' dependence on private tuition.

Some of the education policies outlined in the manifesto include abolishing the Primary School Leaving Examination, reducing class sizes and scrapping school and class rankings.

The SDP's proposals, including those in other areas such as cost of living, housing and ministerial salaries, can also be found on its revamped website.

Addressing the 100 or so members of the public at the launch, Mr Pwee said the manifesto is not "a statement in stone" and called for feedback on the proposals.

"Talk to us, send us your comments. We want this to be a dialogue," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 29, 2019, with the headline SDP launches updated manifesto ahead of next general election. Subscribe