SINGAPORE (Aug 3): Former presidential hopeful Tan Cheng Bock says job security will be one of the key priorities for the new Progress Singapore Party amid slower global economic growth and rising job displacement as a result of technological disruption.
Speaking at the first official launch of the party to the public at Swissotel Merchant Court on Saturday, Tan says policies need to be in place to support those who have been displaced or are unemployed.
While there has been a lot of effort to retrain the local labour force, these initiatives may not be sufficient. The party wants greater integration between training and jobs available to ensure employability of a retrained workforce.
To prepare a future-ready workforce, education system and vocational training must also match future job needs.
Tan further calls for a review of the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, signed in 2005, which promotes greater trade activities between the countries.
Tan says that the agreement has allowed for free movement of Indian professionals to work in Singapore, creating unhappiness among local PMETs. “I want the government to publish the balance sheet of the programme outlining how Singapore has benefited from it,” he says.
One of the party’s priorities include support for home-grown companies. Local companies should also compete together overseas, rather than against each other, similar to the local corporates in Japan and South Korea, says Tan.
The party, however, unveiled relatively few details of the policies it wants to fight for.
Tan and his team also made passing mentions on reducing the voting age to 18, following the practice of over 85% of countries in the world.
Other issues brought up include rising healthcare cost and low birth rates.
For the former, Tan says there need to be strong political will and a mindset change to shift funding to primary and preventive care.
Singapore’s government has in fact in recent years made some initiatives in that direction, though primary care is still dominated by private providers.