Singapore GE2020: Climate change, social inequality, and BTO flat prices tackled in WP's third e-rally

SINGAPORE -Addressing climate change would not only make the future more liveable for today’s young voters, it would also provide opportunities for job creation and economic growth, said the Workers’ Party (WP) in its third e-rally on Friday (July 3).

The 35 minute-long talk show, broadcast on Facebook at 8pm, tackled other issues of concern for young voters, including social inequality, and the affordability of Build-To-Order (BTO) Housing Board flats.

“Climate change is not an isolated issue and is connected to social and economic development,” said Ms Raeesah Khan, part of the WP’s slate for Sengkang GRC.

Developing a green economy in Singapore, for example, could create jobs while ensuring the economy grows in a more robust and ethical way, she said.

“We need to include a variety of stakeholders in this conversation: not only consumers but also industries,” said Ms Khan, who at 26 is the youngest candidate being fielded by the WP this general election.

“This would allow for implementation of policies surrounding the use of green energy on an industrial level… ultimately, creating a green economy.”

Ms Khan, a social activist, was one of four WP candidates who were quizzed on issues that concern young voters by moderator Nicole Seah – who is part of the team contesting East Coast GRC – on the third Hammer Show.

The others included chief technology officer Gerald Giam, who is being fielded in Aljunied GRC, as well as lawyer Fadli Fawzi and digital product owner Nathaniel Koh, both of whom are part of the WP’s Marine Parade team.

Mr Koh touched on the issue of inequality, and how institutional structures disadvantaged families in the lower-income groups.

For example, he said he has met families on house visits who have children placed in primary schools far from home.

“Every cent matters. Public transport or school buses cost money,” said Mr Koh, 36. “So, how can we improve this situation? Can we have the children from low-income families placed in a school near their home, so they can reduce the cost of travelling to school?”

Mr Fadli also noted that the mandatory home-based learning for students because of the Covid-19 pandemic had shone a light on the inequities that have an impact on learning outside of school.

He said: “We should also think about the informal social ecology which affects young kids.” For example, a child from a big family may not have a room in which to study or do his homework, he said.

On the cost of  BTO flats, Mr Koh noted that they are currently priced on two criteria. One, they are priced lower than resale flats in the vicinity. Two, prices are determined by the attributes of the new flat, such as its size, and floor level.

But Mr Koh said that these criteria could be subjective.

Instead, BTO flat prices, especially in non-mature estates, should be based on the median monthly household income of Singaporeans, said Mr Koh. “I think that objective criteria will make affordability more sustainable in the long term.”

Mr Giam said that expensive flats could have knock-on effects for Singapore’s fertility rate.

He said: “The problem with expensive flats is that couples will end up delaying their marriage because… they can’t afford to find a flat right away. So they delay marriage and that has a knock-on effect on things like childbearing.”

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