[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Friday, March 28, 2008

[Neighbourhood Dialogue]
1. Last night, I attended a dialogue session with residents living in the private housing estate at Serangoon 6th milestone. Lim Hwee Hua got the Neighbourhood Committee there to organise the event at a house in Flower Road which was attended by some 100 residents. After gobbling down my chicken rice, we had a lively exchange which went on till 10pm. As there was no media present, I was quite frank with my replies.

2. Rising costs in Singapore, especially for SMEs, was a hot topic. Increased levies, higher rentals and salaries, spiralling energy prices, 2% point rise in GST - they all add up. One struggling entrepreneur poured his heart out. Another asked why the Government could not be more generous since we had so much reserves.

3. I said that, while our reserve appeared large, they were tiny compared to the natural resources which other countries had. Kuwait alone has 100 billion barrels of oil underground, not counting what might be underwater. If oil is US$50 a barrel, that's a cool US$5 trillion. We have nothing here. Our ageing population is also a big worry. Even at present levels of servicing, our healthcare costs will shoot up as Singaporeans grow older. If we don't provide now and instead depend on taxes to finance increased expenditure in the future, the young will leave for greener pastures. Then we'll all be in trouble.

4. Mas Selamat was a big issue with one resident asking bluntly who should take responsibility for the unbelievable escape. Education was another major subject. When a retired teacher suggested that local universities require students to take H3 papers, I protested, speaking as a parent. An eloquent young man alerted us to the danger of chemical pollution causing cancer, raising specifically the level of chromium-6 in the environment. As I knew nothing about chromium-6, I promised to check and get back to him.

5. Before I knew it, the MC said, time's up, last question. Some residents stayed back to chat. At 10.15pm, I took my leave not wanting to overstay my welcome.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG


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