Singaporeans will remember Dr. Toh Chin Chye as a fighter. He fought for independence of Singapore and in the later part of his political career as a backbencher against his own party. After Toh Chin Chye stepped down his posts in the cabinet, he became a vocal backbencher often opposing his own party. Most notable was the graduate mothers scheme in which the PAP govt gave priority to children of graduate mothers for primary school enrolment when he defied the party whip and abstained from voting. He also strongly opposed the use of CPF for Medisave arguing that healthcare should be a govt responsibility:
"The provision of health care facilities must be accepted as a social responsibility. It is not that an individual who has the misfortune to be inflicted with some particular disease is solely responsible for searching the facilities to cure his illness. This is a social responsibility which is accepted by governments all over the world. This is part and parcel of the organization of individuals into societies. It is a measure of the degree of civilization." - Toh Chin Chye, Aug 1983
Today, the sick in Singapore and their families shoulder the heaviest burden as a % of healthcare expediture in the developed world while the govt expenditure on healthcare measured as a % of total cost is the lowest in developed countries. You superimpose this on a wealth distribution that is the most unequal among developed countries and healthcare cost that is driven up by govt aspiration to pursue profits as a healthcare hub for the rich from around the world and you will understand how our healthcare system is financed exacerbates the inequality in our society.
Dr. Toh also spoke out against the raising of CPF withdrawal age from 55 to 60. Today, the lockup of the CPF is made more stringent through the implementation of minimum sum and CPF Life. There is also talk of further increasing the withdrawal age to 65[Link]. The approach to push as much responsibility of retirement to individuals and their children (through parental maintenace act). Relying primarily on a provident fund strategy today is only done in 3rd world countries. Due to the large income gap, a big segment of our population trapped in low wage jobs will not be able to accumulate sufficient CPF for a proper retirement. We see an increasing number aged doing tough low paying menial jobs for a living.
3 decades ago, the PAP resisted the ideas of Dr. Toh Chin Chye that would have made Singapore society more equitable and ultimately stronger. It has now become more urgent to reform and fix the system in place.