Straits Times: Govt has made 3 commitments on MTL: Low Thia Khiang

• BY CAI HAOXIANG

WORKERS’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang said in an e-mail statement in Chinese yesterday that the Government’s reassurances about the mother tongue issue meant it has made three commitments on its teaching and standing.

One, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will never again review the weighting of mother tongue languages in the Primary School Leaving Examination, nor will it find other avenues to do so.

Two, the MOE committee set up to review the teaching and testing of the mother tongue languages will only chart the directions for their teaching in the next 10 to 15 years, and not re-examine their value in the education system.

Three, the mother tongue at primary level holds the same weighting in terms of teaching hours and examination marks as other subjects.

Mr Low said this final undertaking is based on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s statement that the mother tongue will continue to be the cornerstone of Singapore’s education policy in the future, as it was in the past.

He then pointedly added: “If the MOE feels I have misunderstood, please immediately clarify to avoid creating the wrong impression again (and cause) people to feel happy for nothing.”

Mr Low’s statement comes a day after PM Lee and Education Minister Ng Eng Hen held a media conference addressing the mother tongue weighting at the PSLE.

The opposition MP, a former secondary school Chinese-language teacher, also scoffed at Dr Ng’s acknowledgement that his recent remarks gave the wrong impression that the mother tongue weighting at the PSLE may be cut.

Dr Ng had said on Tuesday: “I think I should have chosen my words more carefully and apologise for creating that wrong impression.”

Mr Low said: “I am perplexed and find it hard to understand how Dr Ng said he made the wrong choice of words to create the wrong impression. Is it possible that Singaporeans who care about education and Chinese-language education… all misunderstood Dr Ng’s meaning?

“Is it because newspapers reported it wrongly, leading to the mistaken impression of the public, or did Dr Ng and PM Lee wake up in the nick of time and quickly took good advice to prevent this issue from becoming a burden in the next general election?”

Noting that Dr Ng had demonstrated a strong command of English when speaking in Parliament, he added: “I am surprised he couldn’t find the right words.”

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Posted in 2010 05. Comments Off on Straits Times: Govt has made 3 commitments on MTL: Low Thia Khiang

Straits Times: WP supports call to raise employers’ CPF rate

• BY JEREMY AU YONG

THE Workers’ Party (WP) supports labour chief Lim Swee Say’s recent call for employers to raise their contributions to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts of workers.

In a Labour Day message released to the media yesterday, the opposition party said it was time for employers to “reward workers for the sacrifices made during the economic crisis”.

It also made a call for the National Wages Council, which is due to release its annual wage guidelines this month, to recommend a pay rise.

Two weeks ago, Mr Lim, who is secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress, had urged the Government to restore part of employers’ CPF contribution rate.

His call was made after Singapore’s economy grew by an exceptional 13.1 per cent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year.

Since his call, the Singapore National Employers Federation has come around to the idea, fuelling hopes that an increase is on the cards.

Currently, bosses put in 14.5 per cent of a worker’s pay towards his CPF.

The WP message also noted that the Government’s move to slow the inflow of foreign workers has eased anxiety and reduced resentment on the ground.

But the party said it was still concerned about the size of the foreign worker population, which last year numbered around 1.25 million.

“This is because it causes stress on our infrastructure and social facilities. Furthermore, overpopulation also leads to unfair competition for the Singaporean worker. WP will continue to monitor these issues,” it said.

The message also noted the widening income gap and the need to upgrade the skills of low-income workers as continuing challenges for the Government.

Posted in 2010 05. Comments Off on Straits Times: WP supports call to raise employers’ CPF rate