AP will tackle 'burning questions'
DPM Teo: Govt looks at everyday concerns and also future needs
By Fiona Chan
DEPUTY Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean kicked off the People's Action Party's (PAP) campaign rallies yesterday by assuring Singaporeans the party will address all their 'burning questions', ranging from the rising cost of living to health- care and education.
In a rousing speech at Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, Mr Teo told voters the Government keeps in mind the everyday concerns of the people even as it plans for their future needs.
'While we cast our eye on the long term, we also remember all the worries, concerns and issues that all Singaporeans face in the short term,' Mr Teo told the crowd at an open field beside Buangkok MRT station.
'We try to do our best to help you lighten your burden, to help you buy your home, to help you look after your parents and grandparents, to help you build strong families, to help you bring up your children and educate them,' he said.
Mr Teo, who spoke in Malay, Mandarin and English, spent a good part of his 20-minute speech discussing inflation.
'Even though the economy has recovered, we are still facing the effects from the very sharp downturn and upturn of economy, which took place in a very short space of two years,' he said.
'This has obviously caused some dislocation in our economy.'
He added: 'I understand the concerns that Singaporeans have over the high cost of living. We are doing everything we can to help.'
But Mr Teo, who is leading a six-member team in the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC against the Singapore Democratic Alliance, observes that 'almost everything we consume is imported', and Singapore is unable to control or subsidise the prices set for these goods in the world market.
Instead, the Government gives out grants, rebates and cash bonuses directly to Singaporeans. This year, the average household will receive $3,000 to $5,000 through these measures, he said.
These are a 'more effective and direct' way of helping families, especially the lower-income and elderly, cope with the cost of living, he added.
Other government plans, including the Workfare scheme to supplement wages, and tax reductions, are also aimed at easing the burden of lower-income and middle-income Singaporeans, said Mr Teo.
These plans are not 'short-term measures' but part of the long-term structure of the economy, he added.
Mr Teo also reminded voters that the past decade has been marked by unexpected crises, from the Sept 11 terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001 and the recent global financial crisis to natural disasters in many countries.
'Can we be sure that the path will be smooth for us in the future? Who knows what challenges and crises there will be in the coming years?' he said.
'That is why we need a strong government, a stable government and a united people to see us through any challenge that may come.'
Mr Teo was the third speaker at the rally, after Dr Ahmad Magad and Dr Michael Lim, both former MPs for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.
Additional reporting by Yen Feng and Jermyn Chow
'We are doing everything we can to help.'
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, saying he understands the concerns that Singaporeans have over the high cost of living.