The gist: MPs discuss making voting easier; children to get more ActiveSG credits

Children aged four to 12 who are Singapore citizens or PRs will receive an extra $100 of ActiveSG credits. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE – Parliament scrutinised the budget of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth on the last day of the debate on each ministry’s budget for the 2023 financial year, and also passed various Bills. Here are some of the key announcements.

1. More help for Malay/Muslim families in rental flats

Project Dian@M3, an initiative to support Malay/Muslim families living in public rental flats by connecting them to the wide range of national and community programmes, will be expanded to six more blocks in three towns – Chua Chu Kang, Jurong and Tampines.

This will cover 500 more households, up from around 250 households today.

Why it matters

Needy families often face complex issues requiring support from many agencies. This is especially true for young families with children, some of whom demonstrate developmental delays or do not attend pre-school regularly.

The Dian ambassadors will visit these families to read to the children and engage them in activities to develop their cognitive and social skills.

The expanded programme will also improve coordination across public agencies and community organisations, and provide more integrated wrap-around support for the vulnerable.

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Children aged four to 12 who are Singapore citizens and permanent residents will receive an extra $100 of ActiveSG credits in their accounts on May 1.

They can be used to offset the cost of programmes such as ActiveSG academies and clubs, leagues and competitions, and cover entry fees for swimming pools and facility bookings.

Those who sign on as a new member between May 1 and Oct 31 will get a total of $200 in credits.

Why it matters

While the one-off $100 ActiveSG credits have been awarded to members since 2014, this move by Sport Singapore will give children increased access to ActiveSG’s facilities and programmes, including K-pop dance classes and activities like Flippa Ball.

This will help young Singaporeans from different social backgrounds to interact and bond over sports outside of school.

READ MORE HERE: Looking for a fitness trainer? A new national registry can help

3. Postal voting for overseas citizens, polling stations at nursing homes

The election laws were amended on Monday to make it easier for some groups of people to vote.

Singaporeans living overseas will be able to vote by post in the presidential election due this year, and polling booths will be set up in some nursing homes to make it more convenient for seniors to vote.

Why it matters

The changes will make it easier for Singaporean to exercise their right to vote. During General Election 2020, Covid-19 travel restrictions had set in across the globe, and some overseas Singaporeans were unable to vote because they could not travel to physical polling stations in specified places.

Singapore’s electorate is also rapidly ageing, and 21 per cent of voters for GE2020 were aged 65 and above, compared with 14 per cent in GE2011.

READ MORE HERE: New election laws to allow postal voting for overseas S’poreans; polling stations in nursing homes

4. Grooming young leaders

Younger people can now join the National Youth Council’s Our Singapore Leadership Programme (OSLP), which aims to help student leaders understand national issues and policymaking considerations.

The programme, which was for those between 25 and 35 years old, will now be extended to younger people aged 16 to 24. 

Why it matters

Started in 2017, the programme helps young people develop their leadership potential, deepen their understanding of national issues, as well as brainstorm and lead ground-up actions with their peers.

To help Singaporean youth who want a greater say in policy-making, the Government is looking at ways to institutionalise their involvement and to have their suggestions considered at national level.

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READ MORE HERE: More training and mentorship opportunities for youth in Singapore

If you have a few more minutes…

Digital cultural concierge

A still-to-be-named online platform that can personalise arts and culture recommendations according to users’ searches and booking history will enter its beta stage and be launched by end-March.

For a start, it will feature only events in public museums under the National Heritage Board, the National Gallery Singapore and Esplanade, but will be expanded to include more listings over the year.

Ticketing platforms like Sistic will be linked up to the platform to allow for seamless booking. The data gathered by it will also help arts and culture providers better understand how to grow their reach.

New arts spaces to open

Renovations will start soon on the five double-storey units at 52 to 56 Kampong Java, which are meant to add more affordable space for artists, and will likely be completed by 2024.

The iconic building at 45 Armenian Street, previously known as The Substation, should also reopen some time in the next two years.

The National Arts Council is convening an advisory panel this year on matters about the venue’s physical design, programme design and funding. 

Correction note: A previous version of this article said the National Arts Council’s cultural concierge will be in the form of an app. NAC has since clarified that it could take other forms, such as a website. We are sorry for the error.

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