Singaporeans must develop spirit of taking care of one another: Chan Chun Sing: 8 Sep 2013

BUKIT BATOK: Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said on Sunday the challenge for the nation is to find a way to have consensus on the various policy initiatives which the government has outlined.

Mr Chan said one way to achieve this is for Singaporeans to develop the spirit of taking care of one another.

He said this at a dialogue session as part of his ministerial community visit to the Bukit Batok Division.

The concept of sharing in the community comes in many forms and Mr Chan said cooking is one way to achieve it.

He recalled the days when families in kampongs would share food with their neighbours.

Mr Chan stressed as Singapore evolves, the principle of sharing becomes more important to narrow the gap between the haves and have-nots.

He explained: "When it comes to sharing, we must also as a society agree amongst ourselves that for those who have less, we should help them more... If everybody in society demands the same amount, then there is no sharing… We must agree that for those who have less, we must try to do more to uplift them… (And) more importantly, our focus must be to uplift them so that their children have a better chance to get out of the situation that they may be in. This is key and fundamental to how we have come about with our policies all these years."

The Our Singapore Conversation process may be over but the ministerial community visit in Bukit Batok decided to continue with the process whereby different groups were formed to discuss key challenges in the areas of education, housing and healthcare.

Residents wanted to know more details about MediShield Life, which is undergoing a revamp to offer universal coverage.

Janet Lee, a kidney transplant patient, said: "I am… on long term medication and... I notice it (medical cost) is climbing up and up all the while and so with this new scheme, especially the MediShield (Life) and CHAS (Community Health Assist Scheme) -- can it include blood test?”

Mr Chan gave the assurance that the Health Ministry would need some time to work out the details of MediShield Life -- especially the premium amounts -- and more details are expected in a year's time.

He said: "We know the health care costs are (increasing), the drugs are getting more expensive (and) some of the procedures are getting more complicated. This government will endeavour to do what we can to make sure that all the basic needs of our people are taken care of in terms of housing, health care. This has been the promise for the last 40-50 years and this will continue to be our promise.

“But this government cannot do this alone. We need everybody to work with us. We cannot manage health care costs unless people all keep themselves healthy to the best of their ability...

"This is why the most important word in (Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s) National Day Rally speech is the word 'together'. There is nothing we cannot achieve as fellow Singaporeans if we stay together.”

Mr Chan also emphasised that achieving the vision of a better Singapore for all cannot be done with just the government playing its part.

He added that those who have more will also have to contribute much more back to society. 

Asked by reporters about his recent promotion to full Minister in the Cabinet, Mr Chan said there is a lot of work to be done as a team as the challenges which Singapore has to overcome are tremendous.

Prime Minister Lee promoted Mr Chan to Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Defence from 1 September.

Mr Chan said: "We need teamwork and we will continue to attract good people to come in and strengthen the team, because to lay out a vision that is 20-30 years, he will require many more people to come forth and join the team so that we have the best ideas and people with the correct values to come forth and serve."