Fifty years of being an independent country and having seen how we have evolved over the years with my fellow Singaporeans is just amazing. Yes, the political hand did play a significant part in the direction we took, but if we are to continue to thrive and get even better, we need to relook and reassess many things.
As the next general elections is looming (some say September 12 2015), here are my list of things I want to have a conversation around as well as action taken. These are in no particular order, except that these were listed over several weeks. I have diliberately left them unorganized/unsorted.
1. Withdrawal of the Internal Security Act. Failing which, a mandatory judicial review within 48 hours of anyone arrested. And they have to be presented in court within 30 days or be released.
2. Formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission: At fifty years of independence, we should be looking at reviewing al the dark days and getting a closure to all of them – no exception. Yes, it will hurt people along the process, but we need to clean and clear the deck.
3. No walk overs. All seats will be contested. Even if there is only one candidate, that candidate must get at least 25% votes in favour or else the seat is vacant. Democracy has to be seen to happen and not be something that is manipulated via technicalities. This applies to the silly GRC system as well.
4. Full disclosure of all the assets of GIC and Temasek. No excuses.
5 Set up of an Independent Electoral Commission
6. Removing the pre-requisites for being a President – anyone born in Singapore and above the age of 40 can run for president.
7. Live and archived broadcast of all parliamentary proceedings – warts, sleepy heads, yawns and all. [UPDATE 4 January 2021: parliamentary proceedings are live streamed https://www.mci.gov.sg/parliament/live-stream and will be on youtube.com for apparently six months only – need to archive it for posterity]
8. Freedom of Information Act
9. Removal of GRCs
10. Release of all government records after 30 years.
11. MPs will focus only on municipal work and bringing up issues in parliament. This means that other than the Prime Minister and a Deputy Prime Minister (as elected MPs), every minister shall be nominated and qualified people who were NOT ELECTED into parliament. Such nominations will be done AFTER the elections and these nominees will be confirmed by parliamentary committees convened for this purpose. The term of a minister so chosen will be for the duration of the government. This is to give separation of executive from municipal issues.
12. No pensions for MPs
13. All government systems will be built using open source software and where they don’t exist, to fund technology to meet it. The code will be available for anyone to use.
14. Review Instruction Manual to bring it up to date.
15. Removal of 2nd language as a requirement. Languages such as Tamil, Malay and Mandarin shall be taught at levels that should encourage their usage but not to the extent that is being done today. Students can optionally decide to take on a full 2nd language load if they want to. PSLE to be reviewed to level the playing field to ensure that social mobility is achievable and elitism to be contained.
16. Removal of licensing of newspapers etc. No government oversight.
17. Fixed dates for elections. No longer at the whim and fancy of the government of the day.
18. Mayors to be abolished. No practical value. If Mayors have to be kept in place, they must be elected positions not held by MPs.
19. All town council software systems will be publicly funded and built using open source and available to anyone – not party specific.
20. People’s Association restructured to have NO political links. The MP of an area is the advisor to the local grassroots organizations and the People’s Association works with the elected MP at all times.
21. Review of all HDB designs to that the apartments are of a decent size and not shoebox sizes
22. Proper labelling of GMO foods
23. Giving the consumer advocacy more authority – from a legal perspective.
24. Review of ALL government scholarships with a view to reduce the “bond” period to no more than 3 years after graduation. This is to free up people for the private sector.
25. Proportional representation in parliament. This is the best way
26. No Trans Pacific Partnership without national referendum
27. Outlawing of software patents.
28. Residential use of down link satellite systems.
29. Singaporean astronauts by 2020.
30. Smart power generation via Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. This is critical is we are to achieve our Smart Nation vision which is power hungry.
31. During elections, the “party political broadcasts” will all be of the same duration of ten minutes per party contesting and ten minutes for each independent. Similarly for presidential elections – each candidate gets the same amount of time.
32. Exit polls encouraged – the best part of these polls is that, in most cases, these polls are completely wrong but by specifically not allowing for it, there is no empirical evidence.
33. Removal of death penalty
34. Removal of 3/4 tank rule
35. Allow dual/multiple citizenships
36. ASEAN Day, August 8th, to be officially observed – starting from 2017, the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN.
37. Introduce a National Thanksgiving Day starting in 2015.
38. SAF Day to be renamed National Service Day and to encourage donning of uniform by all NSmen (SAF, Police, SCDF) during that day.
39. Removal of election deposit (all elections).
40. All Singapore Standards documents (coming out of SPRING Singapore) should be make available in electronic format at no cost.
41. Reinstate sale of chewing gum – educate on how to dispose them and we will be just fine.
42. Remove REITs to mitigate the excessive rental rates. Or create a rent control scheme to manage the runaway rents.
43. Hawker center rentals to be controlled by NEA and have to always be affordable.
44. Introduce Pay-As-You-Bid for COE bidding. The base line for each category will continue to be what it is today and that is the number that will be used for all subsequent considerations regardless of what the PAYB paid.
45. Singaporeans living outside Singapore will be exempt from Medishield Life.
46. Automatic forgiveness of National Service defaulters after they reach age of 50.
47. Removal of censorship of Internet sites and films. Rating of films to continue.
48. Removal of no alcohol law (introduced after the Little India incident)
49. Review the ORBAT of the SAF and Police to reduce the number of BGs and ACs. There are too many of them.
50. All tax payer funded research (and code developed) must be made available on a GPL-like license for anyone to use at no cost.
Hope these propsals will come into effect in my life time.
Make it happen then. We need your help.
I will Harish do my part at the next polls.
software: 13, 19, 50