Ministry of Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth Committee of Supply 2017 – Cuts by WP MPs and NCMPs

(Delivered In Parliament On 9 March 2017)

Aspirations of Malay/Muslim Community – Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap

Pada November tahun lalu, dewan in telah membahaskan rang undang-undang Perlembagaan (pindaan) Republik Singapura. Salah satu isu mendapat perhatian dan hangat dibahaskan adalah mengenai cadangan untuk mengadakan pilihanraya presiden khusus untuk kaum minoriti.

Suruhanjaya Perlembagaan telah membangkitkan cadangan ini kerana mereka berpendapat bahawa terdapat keperluan untuk menangani isu persepsi dimana kaum minoriti tidak boleh menjawat pejabat tertinggi di negara ini, iaitu Presiden. Dewan ini dan masyarakat Singapura telah terbahagi kepada dua pihak, yang meyokong dan yang tidak menyokong. Pihak yang setuju dengan cadangan untuk diadakan Pilihanraya Presiden khusus untuk kaum minoriti, berhujah bahawa ia adalah perlu untuk berbuat demikian sebagai melambangkan dan mewakili perlembangan Singapura yang berbilang kaum. Bagi pihak yang menentang, hujahnya adalah bahawa pelaksanaan itu akan melemahkan prinsip meritokrasi.

Parlimen, terkecuali AP-AP Parti Pekerja, telah membuat keputusan meluluskan cadangan untuk mengadakan Pilihanraya Presiden khusus bagi kaum minoriti dalam menyokong pandangan Suruhanjaya Perlembagaan iaitu Pilihanraya Presiden khusus bagi kaum minoriti akan dapat menangani masalah tanggapan-tanggapan yang negatif tentang kaum minoriti tidak layak untuk memegang jawatan tertinggi negara. Perdana Menteri didebat yang sama juga telah mengumumkan bahawa Pilihanraya Presiden akan datang dikhususkan bagi kaum Melayu.

Keputusan yang diambil untuk mengkhususkan Pilihanraya Presiden bagi masyarakat Melayu, pada saya dan juga ramai yang lain, tidak boleh dinafikan, mengkompromi prinsip meritokrasi. Saya juga berpendapat, keputusan yang diambil dengan mengadakan Pilihanraya Presiden khusus sebagai satu usaha untuk isu tanggapan negatif, menunjukkan satu sikap iaitu dimana ada kemahuan disitu ada jalan.

Saya telah mengatakan beberapa kali didewan ini, bahawa salah satu aspirasi atau keprihatinan masyarakat Melayu-Islam Singapura adalah rasa atau tanggapan diskriminasi, tidak diberi peluang yang saksama serta adil. Sebagai contoh, masih terdapat keprihatinan dikalangan masyarakat kita tentang individu Melayu-Islam tidak diberi peluang yang saksama untuk memegang jawatan Jeneral didalam pasukan tentera dan jawatan ‘Permanent Secretary’ dalam kementerian. Menteri Yaacob menyebut serta mengakui hal ini. Dalam sebuah sesi dialog yang dianjurkan oleh REACH, Menteri mengatakan dalam bahasa Inggeris “The Malay community is concerned not just about the president, but also Malay permanent secretary, Malay general…because we want to see representation across the entire Singaporean life” Saya ingin menambah, masyarakat Melayu Islam juga prihatin tentang agar dibenarkan pemakaian tudung bagi muslimah semasa berkhidmat dalam kumpulan seragam seperti tentera, pasukan Home Team dan jururawat.

Seperti yang saya katakan awal tadi, ‘dimana ada kemahuan disitu ada jalan’. Seikhlas hati, saya mengharapkan pihak pemerintah dapat melakukan sesuatu dalam menanggani keprihatinan-keprihatinan masyarakat Melayu-Islam secara keseluruhan.


Tuition Centres at CCs – Daniel Goh

Madam, Community Clubs are meant to be common spaces for shared activities to promote the social bonding of all Singaporeans regardless of race, language or religion. However, the number of private tuition centres that have sprung up in the CCs raise several questions.

First, are these private tuition centres offered subsidised rent for operating within the premises of the CCs, and if so, what is the basis for the subsidy? If the private tuition centres are paying competitive market rent, then the question is, is it right for CCs to monetize the common space for private ends? What are the communal activities that are being displaced by the tuition centres?

The more fundamental question is whether this contradicts the Government’s education policy. Two years ago, then-Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat, said, “Singapore needs to make the transformation from a “scarcity mentality” that focuses on a single pathway to success to an “abundance mentality” with multiple pathways. He was responding to concerns raised by members of this House regarding Singapore’s pervasive tuition culture. CCs should not be reinforcing this tuition culture.


Regardless of Race, Language or Religion – Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap

In November last year, this house debated the Republic of Singapore Constitution (Amendment) Bill. One of the contentious issues debated was on the proposal to have a reserved minority presidential election.

The Constitution Commission has mooted this proposal as they viewed that there is a need to address the issue of perception of minorities not able to access the highest office in the land. The house was divided on this issue and so was the nation. Those supported this proposal argued that it is necessary to do so to symbolize Singapore’s constitution of multiculturalism. As for those opposed, the argument is that, such implementation will undermine the principle of meritocracy.

The decision to have a reserved presidential election for Malay community, to me and also to many, has to certain extent compromised the principle of meritocracy. I am also of the view that the approach taken by government in mitigating the issue of perception of inequality by implementing a reserved Presidential Election for Malays shows that if the government has the will to do and choose to do it, it can be done.

I have said this a few times and I am going to repeat it again. One of the concerns of the Malay-Muslim community that is still lingering in our minds is the feeling of being ‘discriminated’, not being given equal and fair opportunities. For example, there are still concerns from the community that a Malay individual is not able to assume a rank of a General in the Army and a Permanent Secretary in ministries. Minister Yaacob acknowledged these concerns during his interaction with tertiary students at a recent REACH organized event. Minister Yaacob said “The Malay community is concerned not just about the president, but also Malay permanent secretary, Malay general… because we want to see representation across the entire Singaporean life”. To add on to Minister’s points, I would also like to say that the Malay-Muslim community is also concerned about Muslim’s ladies not able to wear ‘tudung’ while serving in our uniform groups, SAF, Home Team and Nurses.

As I have mentioned earlier, when there is a will there is a way. I sincerely hope that the government will address the Malay-Muslim community concerns in entirety.


Emigration of Singapore Citizens – Leon Perera

Madam, according to one recent survey of 1,050 Singaporeans by Ipsos and SSI, 42% of would emigrate if given the chance. I have two suggestions.

Firstly would the government consider a scheme to incentivise emigres to return home. For example, New Zealand offers a one-off temporary tax exemption for certain types of foreign income, for returning New Zealanders who did not reside in the country for 10 years prior. Malaysia has a similar Returning Expert program.

My second point is on the management of the arts sector, which also comes under MCCY. Having a free and vibrant arts scene is probably not the number one consideration for most people’s migration decision, but nor is it completely irrelevant.

Here I would like to return to a theme I spoke about twice last year, which is the conditions for government support for the arts.

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is a wonderful Singapore graphic novel that has won many, many local and international awards. Yet the NAC withdrew its publishing grant, citing that “its retelling of Singapore’s history…potentially undermines the authority and legitimacy of the Government and its public institutions.”

Madam managing the arts sector in this way risks creating a climate of self-censorship and politicization of the arts. In so doing, it reduces one liveability factor and makes Singapore that much less attractive as a home for all its people, regardless of political viewpoint.

The same survey I cited showed 59% valuing “being just and fair to all” and 52% valuing “being progressive.”

I would like to urge the government to remove political conditions attached to arts funding, with exceptions solely for art works that promote criminality, racial or religious tensions.


National Stadium – Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap

Our former which is also our first National Stadium was opened in July 1973 and officially closed on 30 June 2007.   

For a period of 34 years, the former national stadium had livened up to its name and status as a National Icon. It has hosted a total of 18 National Day Parades, 2 SEAP and 1 SEA GAMES and many memorable sporting tournaments such as the Malaysia Cup. Our National Stadium was also the birthplace of our popular ‘Kallang Wave’. I think everyone can attest that our former National Stadium had brought Singaporeans together, feeling the oneness, shedding tears of joy and despairs especially during soccer matches that involved our national football team.

Our current National Stadium is built on a Public-Private Partnership model. It has been opened for almost 3 years. Within these periods, there have been media reports, citing challenges faced by event organisers as well as some of our National Sports Associations such as FAS to secure National Stadium for football matches involving our national team. There was also a media report on Mindef, as NDP’s organiser, had to go through challenging negotiations with SportsHub Pte Ltd for 2016’s National Day Parade. I understand one of the challenging factor faced by event organisers and our National Sports Associations is the rental fee.

I do hope ministry will be able to facilitate in mitigating the present challenges faced by events organiser and our National Sports Associations especially FAS, so that 30 years down the road, Singaporeans would have the same recollections of fond and nostalgic memories similar to that of our first National Stadium.

Singapore Football – Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap

Madam, I have 2 questions for ministry with regards to Singapore Football.

Firstly, I have asked ministry during COS debate 2015 for an update on Football Association of Singapore (FAS) goal for Singapore football. The last goal was set in 1998 by our former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, a popular one indeed, Goal 2010, to qualify for World Cup 2010. In reply, ministry shared that there is a task force that is looking at setting out the goals and the strategic directions for the Singapore Football in the coming years. May I have an update on what have been done so far and whether is there any goal set.

Mdm, My second question is on the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

In ministry’s reply to my colleague Ms Sylvia Lim’s query during the Debate on President’s Address on 29th January 2016, it was mentioned that Football Association of Singapore (FAS) would be having their AGM in June 2016.

As reported in media on 8th November 2016, FAS had an Extraordinary General Meeting a day before, on 7th November, and the meeting had decided to postpone its first ever election of council for over 30 years to a date before May this year. Can the ministry share (i) the exact date for the FAS’s council election and (ii) what causes the delay in the election of FAS’s council.