Pritam Singh: Let me explain why I oppose the parking fees for teachers

The government recently announced that season outdoor parking for teachers in schools will cost $75 a month during school terms, and $15 per month during the school holidays in June, November and December.
Here is what Pritam Singh had to say about the ‘policy change’.
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ST photo

Parking for Teachers
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Democratically elected governments make policy (read: political) decisions all the time. Policies can change because fundamental assumptions may shift over time, people’s views change, governing philosophies change, priorities shift and so forth. The decision to charge teachers for parking is one such example of a policy change.

Lee Kuan Yew’s once famously told Ngiam Tong Dow there was nothing wrong in making money, and indeed, there is nothing wrong in doing so. Parking in schools was not implemented in the past. Even though this could have been a prospect, it was not implemented. The reasons are unknown to me, but I hazard they were a combination of economic and philosophical, but ultimately, political ones.

Does the Government extract the full market price of parking from government grassroots leaders for community volunteerism? No. Has it completely abolished the pension scheme for civil servants? No. Because a decision has been made to draw the line somewhere.

Where do we draw the line? Do we draw it at the altar of economic logic?

Practically speaking, passion aside, indirect perks and incentives (and disincentives) have a powerful nudging effect on policy objectives.

But from my vantage point, some public sector professions and services – and I count teachers among them – must always be seen in an elected Government’s eye through a lens that recognises their direct and indirect contributions towards nation-building. It is a question of political philosophy and reasonable people can and will have different views. To that end however, I stand against charging parking fees for teachers who drive cars or motorcycles.

-Pritam Singh (WP)

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