I drafted the letter below to the press yesterday and was about to send it out today with the 113 signatures I collected here overnight. I am so happy there is no need for that now. For those mommies who still have no idea what is going on, read this.
Thanks to all the mommies on this forum, especially those who rallied everyone and stuck their heads out to fight for the benefits that many more parents and babies can benefit from! I am so happy that our voices have been heard. 3 cheers to mommies and mommies-to-be!!!
Enhanced Parenthood Package 2008 – Petition for change of implementation date
We are a group of mothers-to-be, due between August and Dec 2008. Many of us were delighted to hear of the new initiatives announced during the Prime Minister's National Day Rally Speech this year. However, we are extremely disappointed to learn that most of the new policies will only apply to parents with babies born after Jan 2009. We believe that this cut-off date discriminates against many Singaporean mothers like us who are currently expecting and having our babies delivered before Jan 09.
As part of the intention of the enhanced package is to ease the financial burden of giving birth and raising a child in Singapore, we feel that mothers that qualify for the incentives at the time of the announcement should be considered eligible for the enhanced maternity benefits that the government is now offering. We would hence like to appeal to you to consider revising the implementation date so that the new benefits can be enjoyed by as many Singaporean parents as possible.
We understand some of the reasons given for delaying the implementation date, such as giving companies more time to adjust to the new policies. However, we feel that some of the benefits such as the enhanced baby bonus which is coming directly from the government can immediately benefit parents that qualify at the time of announcement rather than those born after Jan 09. We note that under the current guidelines, even a non-Singaporean born before Jan 09 but converts to Singapore citizenship will be eligible for the enhanced baby bonus scheme based on the date of conversion.
Besides extending the enhanced baby bonus to more parents, we also feel that the additional 1 month maternity leave that the government is willing to bear should be given to mothers with babies born after the date of announcement. This can be subject to their employers’ willingness to support the additional one month leave.
Setting a delayed date of implementation for such incentives that can be implemented with immediate effect, and not giving some pro-family companies a chance of supporting their employees with the additional one month maternity leave, does send the message to mothers like us that the government is not sincere about helping Singaporean parents with the financial burden of giving birth and raising a child in Singapore.
We understand that there is a need for a cut-off date and that not everyone will qualify for the enhanced benefits. However, we wish that you consider following the same cut-off date back in 2004, when the last enhancement package was announced, and allow parents who qualify at the time of the announcement to enjoy the new benefits.