Paternity leave, HDB for singles welcomed

Fann Sim
Long-standing issues such as paternity leave, pre-school education and housing for singles were addressed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally. (Photo from PM Lee's Facebook)

Some Singaporeans felt that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally Speech on Sunday finally addressed some of their long-standing issues.
Willynn Ng, mother to three girls, welcomed the change of heart indicated by Lee on providing paternity leave.
“I think the move is great. Paternity leave will allow husbands to accompany their wives and children on appointments and check-ups, and it allows the daddy to take time off to accompany their children. It’s a pro-family move and might encourage more Singaporeans to have kids,” Ng said.
However, some felt that Singapore is not truly ready for parental care to be implemented in the truest sense.
Eugenia Koh, 34, working mother of two, said, “Yes, the policy can be passed but how many companies will be ready for these fathers to apply for the leave in peace and without any discrimination when it comes to work appraisal?” Koh said.
Some parents meanwhile lauded the move to establish a new statutory board to oversee pre-school education as outlined by Lee during his two-hour speech.
“It's positive that some kind of common regulatory standards are put in place. Currently the guidelines are very vague and curriculum standard is not in place,” Koh said.
“However, looking at how MOE is with the current primary school curriculum, as a parent of a one-year-old and five-year old, I only hope this move will not be ripping away the creative and fun elements some preschools are strong in achieving which most fail to do so in our primary school class room,” she added.
Singles also cheered the statement by Lee that National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan will actively look into helping them get access to HDB flats directly. Currently, single Singaporeans can only buy HDB flats on the resale market with a grant from the government, but not directly from HDB.
Lim Yu Hui, a 24-year-old who is looking to buy a flat as a single, said it’s good that the government is looking into this issue but there are some questions that need to be answered.
“If singles are allowed to buy from HDB, does it mean anyone above 21 is eligible for it? If anyone single above 21 can buy from HDB then I think the supply won’t be enough as those from well-off families can buy,” Lim said.
In his wide-ranging speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he is worried by some of the nasty views expressed online and anonymously and how it might damage Singapore's international reputation.
Readers Yahoo! Singapore spoke to mostly agreed with what PM Lee said but questioned what measures could be taken to discourage vitriolic views online.
Nurulia Vittoria Sadi, 24, a production assistant, said, "Something can be done but then it's [going to be] extremely hard because it’s the online world. However, if the government were to intervene and set more regulations, it will go against human rights. The solution lies on educating the people, because ultimately you can't control over the internet"
21-year-old undergrad Joreen Chua agreed. “It’s pretty difficult to control the online community. You can try to ban or delete them but they will always find a way around it,” Chua said.
“Perhaps the only possibly way to tackle it is to solve the root of the problem and helping them to accept the foreigners, which is tough too,” she added.