Publichouse.sg’s editor, Elaine Ee, sat down with the National Solidarity Party’s (NSP) Nicole Seah for over an hour to talk about these – and other issues such as social services, politics and civil society.
Ms Seah was an election candidate for the NSP in last year’s General Election, standing as part of her party’s team in Marine Parade GRC. The issue of the needy, including the elderly, was one which she had raised during the hustings.
Watch the video below.
Here’re some excerpts from the interview:
On the very poor in Singapore:
“I think the irony of this whole perception is that the poor in Singapore, and I would say the bottom 20th percentile, I would think that they’re actually really very well taken care of. The issue with taking care of the poor in Singapore is that, at the moment, the policies are perhaps sufficient to take care of them but the hands and legs are not enough. So, what we’re referring to are perhaps the community workers, the volunteers, the social workers. In terms of that, a lot more has to be done to alleviate it, the workload that social workers have, or to work towards recognising social work as a profession so that you can attract more young Singaporeans to the fray.
Attracting social workers and volunteers
“That’s the issue that we’re experiencing right now with the MacPherson Project. Out of perhaps every five volunteers that walk through the door, only one stay on as core tutors and the rest of them kind of like drop out along the way. [I’m not] blaming them or anything, everyone has his own commitments, but it’s very tough to just rely solely on volunteer workers. So, the important thing really is to start attracting more people to social work as a profession.”
Coping with an ageing population:
“It’s also about continuing to strengthen the hands and legs, the people who will help deliver on the policies that the ruling party has put forward. Which is why we need to push professions such as social work out to show people that, hey, it’s not as bad as you think it is, it’s not as demanding as you think it is. That there’s fulfilment in doing a profession such as this… There needs to be a lot more public education on that as well.”
“I think in the past when I first came onto the scene, when I first joined politics, I would have definitely said yes, I’m sure the government can afford it, they can just like, cut defence, cut some other areas and give it to the needy. But now we see that the situation is not as simple as that… Apart from the burden of needing to help this widening group of poor people in Singapore, there’s also the issue of building up the social infrastructure which has obviously been eroding in the past few years… “
Abuse of the system:
“No matter what kinds of perimeters you have in place, in any society… there’re bound to be people who will take advantage of the system and work around the loopholes. So that’s an unpleasant [issue] but it’s something that will always be present no matter what scheme you launch or implement or try to safeguard.”
NOTE: Next week, Ms Seah shares her thoughts on politics and civil society. Hear what she says about the anger which Singaporeans have about various issues.
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Here's Part 1 of the video interview with Ms Seah: