Categories
Politics

Singapore GE2020: Securing jobs key theme on day two of campaign

With the spectre of an economic crisis looming, political parties made their case for how they would keep Singaporeans in jobs and tackle unemployment on day two of the hustings.

The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has emphasised jobs as one of the key issues in the July 10 general election and it resounded through the day.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pointed to how the Economic Development Board was able to attract $13 billion in new investments in the first quarter of this year, which will generate several thousand jobs over the next few years.

In a video message yesterday, he said this was possible because investors know Singapore’s Government has strong popular support, and can get backing for “policies that will grow the economy, attract talent and investment, and eventually create jobs for Singaporeans”.

“In a crisis, it is even more critical for us to reinforce these fundamentals, in order to attract more investments and jobs to Singapore,” PM Lee added.

Jobs was also a central topic in an election debate between four parties that was broadcast live by Mediacorp last night.

Workers’ Party (WP) candidate Jamus Lim highlighted the party’s proposals for a national minimum take-home wage of $1,300 a month for full-time work, as well as a redundancy insurance scheme.

The scheme would see workers pay $4 a month, matched by employers, into a security fund, and retrenched workers would receive a payout equivalent to 40 per cent of their last drawn salary for up to six months, capped at $1,200 a month.

Progress Singapore Party (PSP) candidate Francis Yuen said Singaporeans have to “get priority in jobs”, by freeing up jobs held by foreign professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs).

“We believe that we need foreign PMETs to complement, but we need to believe that there is opportunity for us to slow it down,” Mr Yuen said.

The former air force colonel also highlighted the need for small and medium-sized enterprises to thrive and prosper, to keep jobs available to Singaporeans.

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan called on the PAP to “stop this foolishness” of bringing in foreign workers, especially PMETs.

It is not sustainable, he said, to bring in foreign PMETs “for the purposes of lowering wages”.

In response, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan noted that 60,000 foreigners have lost their jobs in the first five months of this year. He also highlighted various support schemes and initiatives that have been rolled out to save the jobs of Singaporeans amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Balakrishnan said: “The central focus of our (PAP’s) campaign is jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Dr Chee responded: “I think that’s more an election jingle than a well-thought-out plan.”

Citing the Jobs Support Scheme, Dr Balakrishnan said: “During the circuit breaker, in effect the Government was paying three quarters of the median wage of Singaporeans.”

The minister also pointed to measures like the income relief scheme for the self-employed, and the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package that will create some 100,000 opportunities in the form of jobs, traineeships and paid skills training places.

Parties on the campaign trail yesterday relied on walkabouts in constituencies and other online events to reach out to voters.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, for instance, held an e-rally with members of his East Coast GRC team. Conducted like a panel discussion, the five candidates spoke on national as well as municipal issues, and addressed questions to them on Facebook.

The WP launched the first episode of its “Hammer Show”. The pre-recorded show saw candidates like former Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) Gerald Giam making speeches to viewers.

There was also a talk show segment, where party chief Pritam Singh and chairman Sylvia Lim posed questions to three of the party’s candidates.

In the process, the WP leaders reinforced points that they have previously made – that the vote is secret, that checks and balances are needed in Parliament, and that the NCMP scheme is meant to prevent opposition parties from sinking roots in constituencies and building up a power base.

Elsewhere, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam took aim at the PSP, saying it seemed to be “half-hearted” about contesting in his Nee Soon group representation constituency.

He added that the PSP was offering to trade Nee Soon for some other constituency a week ago – a statement PSP candidate Bradley Bowyer called “far-fetched”. The party had never negotiated ceding Nee Soon to the Reform Party, Mr Bowyer added.

The hustings continue today, with the first of two party political broadcasts to be aired across 19 TV and radio channels from 8pm this evening.

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Politics

Singapore GE2020: Investors confident in Singapore due to quality of government and strong support it has from people, says PM Lee

SINGAPORE – The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) secured $13 billion in new investments in only the first three months of this year – and that money will generate several thousand jobs over the next few years.

It is an extraordinary thing because in an ordinary year, the EDB would attract about $10 billion for the whole year.

So, how was EDB able to do this during a pandemic and a recession?

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said it is because “Singapore enjoys a strong reputation internationally, and investors have confidence in us”.

In a video message posted on social media platforms on Wednesday (July 1), PM Lee said: “Investors know the quality of our government – they have met our ministers and worked with our public service. They also know our government has strong popular support.”

PM Lee added that investors are also confident that the Government can get Singaporeans to “back policies that will grow the economy, attract talent and investment, and eventually create jobs for Singaporeans”.

“These have been the fundamentals of our economic success, and the reason why MNCs (multinational corporations ) have kept faith with us,” he said.

He added that in a crisis, it is even more critical for Singapore to reinforce these fundamentals to attract more investments and jobs to Singapore.

It also important not to lose sight of the long-term mission of making Singapore better, even as the nation deals with the immediate need to get through the Covid-19 crisis.

PM Lee said the recession will be over but the world after the coronavirus pandemic will look very different. Singapore’s external environment will be less stable, the world economy will be less integrated, and not only would the world have changed, it will be a “changing one”.

Singapore, Mr Lee said, will have to be resilient and adaptable, “to earn our living in this new world”.

That is why this election will be a critical one, he said.

Singaporeans will be choosing the leadership team they want to get them through the Covid-19 pandemic crisis and beyond, he added.

The next elected government has to save jobs and businesses, and persevere with long-term plans to build a better future for Singaporeans, added PM Lee, who is secretary-general of the ruling People’s Action Party.

Two things are critical for Singapore to come through the Covid-19 crisis, he said.

“First, the best possible leadership for Singapore,” he said. “Second, a solidly united population, that gives the leaders they have chosen full support.”

On leadership, Mr Lee said the PAP has worked hard to put together the best team for Singaporeans. This team is anchored by experienced ministers and MPs who have seen the country through past crises, and therefore know “what to expect, what to do, what pitfalls and traps to avoid”.

The party has also added to its ranks new faces who come from all walks of life, he said.

“Indeed, our new candidates this time are among the most grounded, the most organic, the most relatable we have had in years… They reflect our evolving society, and they each have their individual perspectives and passions,” Mr Lee said.

What they have in common are “core values and convictions, and the courage to do right by Singapore, like every generation of PAP leaders before them,” he added.

“The PAP is determined to provide Singapore not only a strong leadership team for the next five years, but a team that has depth, and continually renews itself for the future,” Mr Lee said.

This is why younger ministers were put in charge of the task force tackling the Covid-19 crisis, he said.

“This is not a dry run, nor even a live firing exercise. This is deadly serious real-life crisis management, in an unprecedented global crisis,” Mr Lee said, adding that he is happy that the younger ministers have proved themselves up to the task. “This is what it means to be a responsible steward of Singapore, and of our future.”

But a capable leadership can only succeed if it wins the strong support of the people, Mr Lee said.

He added that Singaporeans must feel that the Government is building up the country not just for the current generation, but as a “sustained effort spanning generations”.

“The world may be uncertain, and many dangers lurk which can derail our plans,” Mr Lee said. “But if our government and people are united, trusting each other and working together with a clear direction, we can overcome any challenge that comes our way, and make steady progress, decade by decade, towards our long-term vision.”

On the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Lee said Singapore is still in the thick of the fight, and must sustain its collective effort to keep the virus from spreading.

On Singapore’s long-term plans, Mr Lee said the pandemic may force the country to “take down some sails, divert around the worst weather” and change its course. For instance, the mega Changi Airport Terminal 5 has been put on hold for at least two years.

But its ultimate destination remains the same, he said. Its plans include building more and better pre-schools, ensuring that healthcare is affordable for the elderly, and preparing for climate change.

“These are ambitious plans, spanning decades with the crisis, we will have to revise some of them,” PM Lee said, adding that the Government is nevertheless resolved to realise these plans. “Because we are determined to always be exceptional, always distinguishing ourselves in an ever-changing world.”

He noted that Singapore is where it is today because generations of Singaporeans have trusted the PAP and worked with it to build the country.

“Your support has been the PAP’s greatest strength. And the PAP has never let you down,” he said. “Now, we must face the crisis of a generation together, and carve out our place in the world anew. I ask you to once again give me and my PAP team your mandate.”

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Politics

Singapore GE2020: Special voting hour for Singaporeans on stay-home notice at home and unwell voters

SINGAPORE – Singaporeans serving stay-home notices (SHN) will be able to leave their homes to vote at their assigned polling stations on Polling Day, but can only do so during a one-hour slot.

In announcing the voting arrangements for the July 10 polls – which is happening amidst the Covid-19 pandemic – the Elections Department (ELD) said that a special voting hour between 7pm and 8pm will be set aside for certain groups of voters. They include those on medical certificate for acute respiratory infection, and those who are detected with a temperature of 37.5 deg C and higher at polling stations on Polling Day.

The arrangements would minimise their contact with others, while still allowing them to exercise their right to vote, the ELD said on Wednesday (July 01).

Covid-19 patients and those who are on quarantine orders, however, will not be allowed to vote; to reduce the risk of community transmission. There are about 350 voters in these two groups as of Tuesday (June 30).

The ELD had consulted the Ministry of Health on the voting arrangements, and permission has been granted for those on 14-day SHN at home and on MC for acute respiratory infection to leave their homes to vote during the special voting hour. As of Tuesday, there are about 360 voters serving their SHN at home.

“They should disregard, and not go to vote at the recommended time-band indicated on their poll cards,” said the ELD, adding that they will be turned away if they show up during regular voting hours and be asked to return later.

These voters will have to abide by strict rules, including travelling to their assigned polling station directly and returning home immediately after voting.

They may walk or use their private vehicle, but should not take public transport. Those who require designated transport can book a taxi from the list of dedicated booking hotlines provided in their SHN.

In addition, those under SHN must call the SHN Helpline (6812-5555) before their departure, to inform the authorities of their intention to leave home to vote.

During normal voting hours from 8am to 7pm, temperature checks will be done. Those found to be running a fever, with a body temperature of 37.5 deg C and higher will not be allowed to enter, and will be asked to return later.

During the special voting hour between 7pm and 8pm, there will be no temperature screening “since voters with fever are allowed to vote during this special voting hour”, the ELD said. However, polling equipment, including the self-inking pens and contact surfaces, will be sanitised after each voter.

There will also be a smaller team of election officials manning the polling station. These officials will don full personal protective equipment.

Candidates and polling agents are allowed to observe during the allocated hour, but will not be required to wear the PPE “as they will not come into close contacts with voters”, said the ELD.

Voters who are well are advised to stick to their recommended voting time-band, the ELD said.However, they will still be allowed to vote if they turn up during the special voting hour, as the law allows for voting from 8am to 8pm.

Polls will close at 8pm sharp, after which the ballot boxes will be sealed and delivered to their respective counting centres.

Those who are unable to vote because they are unwell can apply for their names to be restored to the Registers of Electors after the election, without any penalty.

For Covid-19 patients and those under quarantine orders or SHN, ELD has their records and their names will be automatically restored to the registers after the election without penalty.

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Politics

Singapore GE2020: Tactical surprises signal keen contests as parties vie for votes

One would have thought an election campaign held in the midst of Covid-19 would be calmer. The run-up to GE2020 so far has been anything but that.

The major parties had kept their cards close to their chest, leaving candidate introductions till after Parliament was dissolved and the Writ of Election issued.

Restrictions on mass campaigns have made social media a key battleground in what some see as an Internet election. One of its first casualties was People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate Ivan Lim, who withdrew his candidacy last Saturday, following a concerted online campaign against him over his alleged past behaviour.

Since then, several other candidates, from both the PAP and the opposition, have come under criticism for their past comments and actions.

In a departure from the past few general elections, the PAP did not publicly confirm its line-ups in constituencies where it expects a tough fight – till it was time to file nomination papers yesterday.

Many voters take national issues into account at the ballot box, and this time round, the pandemic as well as concerns over jobs and the handling of the economy will remain on top of voters’ minds.

But representing neighbourhoods matters as well – explaining why the PAP strengthened certain line-ups and kept its cards close to its chest to prevent any late switchovers from its opponents.

It kept its key masterstrokes till the very end: In East Coast GRC, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat helms the PAP team against a team from the Workers’ Party (WP) which has – as a party – been targeting the GRC since GE2006.

In West Coast GRC, Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran is joined by Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee as they face a challenge from former PAP stalwart Tan Cheng Bock, who was MP for Ayer Rajah from 1980 to 2006 and is adept at electoral campaigning.

As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted in a post-nomination press conference at PAP headquarters: “These are tactical deployments which we do have to keep to ourselves until we judge the moment is right.”

The PAP was not the only party to do so.


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressing voters with his Ang Mo Kio GRC team – (from left) Mr Darryl David, Ms Ng Ling Ling, Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin and Mr Gan Thiam Poh – at the Deyi Secondary School nomination centre. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

The WP, traditionally the largest opposition player, did the same with the 21 candidates it fielded in four GRCs and two single-member constituencies (SMCs), announcing only its Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC line-ups before yesterday.

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), which fielded 11 candidates in two GRCs and three SMCs, similarly kept its late switches a secret – moving chairman Paul Tambyah to Bukit Panjang single-seat, as well as more recognisable members Benjamin Pwee and Tan Jee Say to Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC and Holland-Bukit Timah GRC respectively.

Dr Tan’s Progress Singapore Party (PSP) was registered last year but is the opposition party that is fielding the largest number of candidates this election – 24 – in four GRCs and five SMCs.

It also announced where it is contesting in advance, although questions were raised over whether Mr Lee Hsien Yang would eventually be fielded. He wasn’t.

The stakes are high – for both the ruling party and the opposition parties.

Yes, during a crisis there can be a flight to safety, PM Lee noted.

But the PAP is aware that this is not the happiest of times, he added.

“People are feeling the pain and the uncertainty because of the crisis, some acutely. The opposition is making the most of that,” he said.

“They’re well organised and prepared and will not roll over or go away. The PAP will have to fight for every vote and win every heart.”

WP chief Pritam Singh made a similar point to reporters in the party’s Hougang stronghold yesterday, saying: “The WP is always up against an opponent which is much more well resourced, and which always fights hard in every election. Obviously I want our candidates to do well, and to fight equally hard.”

Several other opposition leaders have said the crisis could see votes swing in favour of the PAP.

Mr Singh had, in launching his party’s manifesto on Sunday, also spoke of the risk of a “wipeout” of an elected opposition presence in Parliament.

Others have therefore sought to argue on the need for checks and balances, and one call making the rounds – on social media – is “32 seats to save Singapore”, referring to the number of opposition MPs needed to deny the government a two-thirds majority, which is required to amend the Constitution. It is also a figure that could alarm voters in the middle.

For its part, the PAP is keen to drive home the point that there will be a guaranteed minimum of 12 opposition MPs through the Non-Constituency MP scheme – with full voting rights, including on motions of confidence.

PM Lee stressed yesterday: “Whatever happens… there’s no possibility of the opposition being shut out from Parliament.”

Expect this to be an argument reiterated – as well as countered – over the coming days, with the possibility of further tactical surprises.

On the one hand, a strong government has enabled Singapore to respond swiftly to Covid-19 and marshal close to $100 billion over four Budgets to manage the healthcare response and save jobs.

On the other, more alternative voices and checks will help strengthen Singapore’s resilience and response to future crises like the present.

This will be the first election without physical rallies. But expect the messages to be driven home with vigour – whether on nightly TV programmes starting with party political broadcasts tomorrow and constituency political broadcasts over five days starting from Friday, or over online rallies by parties making their pitch to voters.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Politics

Singapore GE2020: Set up just a year ago, PSP fields biggest opposition slate

The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) emerged on Nomination Day as one of the most prominent opposition parties here – fielding the most candidates among any opposition party and having its A-team in West Coast prompt the People’s Action Party to reinforce its own slate.

Despite being set up just a year ago, the party is contesting nine constituencies, or 24 of the 93 seats up for grabs this time. It has also not been shy about its ambitions.

Asked about its large slate of candidates at a press conference last Friday, assistant secretary-general Leong Mun Wai said: “Dr Tan (Cheng Bock) always mentioned that he wanted to mentor the next generation of politicians for Singapore… He said one day, PSP will become the government, so we have to work hard towards that.”

The party has also repeatedly urged voters to deny the PAP a two-thirds majority in Parliament in the general election on July 10, taking a line firmer than that of the Workers’ Party, which says denying the PAP a super majority is a medium-term goal.

The PAP’s decision to move Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee from Jurong GRC was also a sign of the seriousness with which the PAP considers the threat of PSP.

Mr Lee, 43, will join Minister for Communications and Information S. Iwaran, 58, in West Coast GRC to lead a PAP team against what has been dubbed the PSP’s A-team, helmed by Dr Tan himself.

Dr Tan, 80, the PSP secretary-general, was the PAP MP for Ayer Rajah from 1980 to 2006 before the ward was merged with the five-member constituency.

When asked at the Nan Hua High School nomination centre yesterday if he felt Mr Lee’s move was due to the perceived threat posed by the PSP, Dr Tan said: “I’m not going to question why they did that.

“But if they say I (am) somebody quite good, quite strong, so they are trying to put all their heavyweights to come to West Coast, well, that’s good.”

The PSP had also drawn some attention heading into Nomination Day as it dangled the possibility of Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the estranged brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, contesting the election. The 62-year-old was ultimately not fielded.

Political observers told The Straits Times that the battle for West Coast will be key for the PSP as Dr Tan stands a chance of winning.

The PAP’s move to bring in Mr Desmond Lee only raises the stakes.

Political analyst Loke Hoe Yeong said the move is a certain sign that the ruling party sees Dr Tan as a formidable candidate, though he was unsure about the extent of the veteran’s influence.

“While Tan Cheng Bock can depend on a strong showing for him in his old Ayer Rajah ward, it is less clear how enthusiastically voters from the rest of West Coast GRC will respond,” Mr Loke said.

Former PAP MP Inderjit Singh similarly said the outcome in West Coast could determine the future of the PSP.

“The PSP’s best chance is to win West Coast but I know the PAP is also ready to go all out to win. We can expect PM Lee spending time campaigning (there).”

“In other areas the PSP is contesting, they may be able to erode the PAP’s majority but they will be uphill battles because the PAP has the incumbency advantage and the PSP teams are generally novices,” he added.

Mr Singh said he believes Dr Tan wants the PSP to become a serious alternative to the PAP in the future.

While the 2011 presidential election candidate is still expected to be the main pull, the fact that the PSP has been able to attract a mix of professionals, entrepreneurs and former military men helps project an image that it is not just a one-man party, he added.

Associate Professor Chong Ja Ian from the National University of Singapore’s political science department, said the PSP is different from other new parties as it appears to be better resourced in terms of personnel and finances, and has individuals with experience engaging in grassroots, campaigning, and parliamentary work.

“If they have the ability to contest multiple seats, I do not see why they would want or need to hold back. Doing so can also establish the PSP as a serious political party that may have staying power beyond one election cycle,” he said.

But Mr Singh stressed that the future of the PSP will depend heavily on how it performs in this election. “If the PSP fails to secure any seats in Parliament, I am not sure if Tan Cheng Bock can keep everyone together. If the PSP wins some seats, I think the PSP can grow into a serious contender in the future and may attract more good people to join them,” he said.

  • Additional reporting by Fabian Koh and Lim Minzhang

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Politics

Singapore GE2020: Key election battles in East and West Coast, Aljunied and Sengkang GRCs

SINGAPORE – There were no horns, party umbrellas or whistles on Nomination Day owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the battle for Singapore’s 17 group representation constituencies (GRCs) served up some twists and 11th-hour surprises on June 30 as candidates from the 11 political parties headed into the nine centres around the island.

While the line-ups went largely to plan, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) chose to beef up its teams with two big moves in hotly-contested constituencies in the east and west.

All 17 GRCs will be contested this time, with all but one seeing straight fights on Polling Day. Many of the constituencies have retained their anchor ministers from the PAP, but three of the hottest battlegrounds in East Coast, West Coast and Sengkang will see new ministers at the helm.

DPM HENG MOVES TO EAST COAST

The biggest surprise came in the East Coast GRC, as Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who has been Tampines GRC MP since 2011, moved there to lead the team in what has been tipped to be the toughest fight in this election.

The PAP team comprising Mr Maliki Osman, Mr Tan Kiat How, Ms Cheryl Chan and Ms Jessica Tan had arrived earlier in the day at St Anthony’s Canossian Primary School nomination centre without a fifth member, as veteran Lim Swee Say has retired from politics, leaving the constituency without an anchor minister.

Mr Heng was spotted at the centre only at around 11.30am, half an hour before nominations closed, before his candidature was confirmed.

In his speech to voters on Tuesday (June 30), he said: “Covid-19 has plunged the world into a period of profound uncertainty with a major crisis on many fronts – healthcare, economic, social, and geopolitical. The People’s Action Party has a plan to enable us to overcome this crisis, has a plan to emerge stronger from this.”

He added in a Facebook post: “We cannot afford a gap in East Coast in these uncertain times. We need a full team that can take care of the residents and position them to come out of this crisis stronger than before.”

They will face the Workers’ Party (WP) team comprising Mr Kenneth Foo Seck Guan, 42; Mr Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, 54; Mr Terence Tan, 48; Mr Dylan Ng, 44; and Ms Nicole Seah, 33.

WP has contested in East Coast in the last three elections and chief Pritam Singh, who is standing in Aljunied, said that Mr Heng’s move was “an important signal that they (PAP) take our challenge in East Coast very seriously”.

“I would say we take their challenge equally seriously and that’s why we’ve put together a strong slate of candidates in the East Coast team,” he added.

PAP’s Tampines GRC line-up was confirmed without Mr Heng, and Dr Koh Poh Koon, the incumbent MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, will be joining the team consisting of Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Mr Desmond Choo, Mr Baey Yam Keng, and Ms Cheng Li Hui.

LEE JOURNEYS TO THE WEST

Another minister who made a big move on Tuesday was Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee, the incumbent MP for Jurong GRC, who has joined the West Coast GRC team comprising Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, Ms Foo Mee Har, Mr Ang Wei Neng – who also moved from Jurong GRC – and new face Rachel Ong.

The hotly-contested West Coast will see the two ministers and their colleagues going up against the Progressive Singapore Party’s (PSP) “A team” headed by its 80-year-old chief Tan Cheng Bock. The team includes PSP assistant secretary-general Leong Mun Wai, 60, and vice-chairman Hazel Poa, 50, a former secretary-general of the National Solidarity Party.

The other members are Mr Jeffrey Khoo Poh Tiong, 51, Asia-Pacific chief marketing officer of global insurance and reinsurance broker Ed; and Mr Nadarajah Loganathan, 57, a retired senior Singapore Armed Forces officer and co-founder of a skills training firm.

The contest in West Coast will also see former parliamentary colleagues Mr Iswaran and Dr Tan facing off in a constituency that the former has served in since 1997. The latter is back on familiar stomping ground as he was the PAP’s MP for Ayer Rajah from 1980 to 2006 before it was merged with West Coast.

Mr Iswaran said in his speech: “We, as the team, have worked through the years to look after your needs, and care for you. Vote for us, your PAP team, so that we can continue to work together to protect our lives, our jobs, and our future.”

Dr Tan said he would not question why the PAP had moved Mr Lee to West Coast, adding: “In politics, it’s that way… But if they say I must be somebody quite good, quite strong, so they are trying to put all their heavyweights come to West Coast, well, that’s good.”

NO ‘SUICIDE SQUAD’ IN ALJUNIED

The site of a historic opposition victory by the WP in 2011, Aljunied is set to be the scene for another fierce battle as WP has fielded its strongest slate of chief Pritam Singh, party chairman Sylvia Lim, incumbent MP Faisal Manap, Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera and Gerald Giam. They will face rival PAP candidates Victor Lye, Chua Eng Leong, Shamsul Kamar, Alex Yeo and Chan Hui Yuh.

After a near-loss in 2015, where WP captured 50.95 per cent of the votes, the party is missing stalwart Low Thia Khiang and Chen Show Mao as both are stepping down.

It remains to be seen if WP’s popularity will be hit by its legal troubles, as the High Court last October found that Mr Singh, Ms Lim and Mr Low had breached their duties to Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, which was said to have made millions in improper payments under their watch. The trio have appealed against the ruling.

Mr Singh said: “It’s going to be a difficult election. There have been some commentaries in the media about the real risk of a wipeout.

“It took us 16 years (after independence) before one seat fell to opposition in 1981, and it took 23 years after the enactment of the GRC system for an opposition to break through in one GRC.

“It’s an uphill battle and it’s going to be a difficult fight. But we have to put people who are committed who can do the whole stretch.”

While some commentators have called the PAP team a “suicide squad”, Mr Lim Boon Heng, a former MP who is now an adviser for the GRC, disagreed. He said: “If it was a suicide squad, how did (the PAP team) pull off a marginal loss (in 2015)? It is about whether you have the heart to serve people.”

NEW GROUND, NEW BATTLE

The newly-formed Sengkang GRC is the scene for the fight between a PAP team led by labour chief Ng Chee Meng and WP’s He Ting Ru. The constituency combines Sengkang Central ward from Pasir Ris-Punggol with Punggol East SMC and part of Sengkang West SMC, and covers the Anchorvale, Compassvale and Rivervale neighbourhoods.

The PAP team consists of former Pasir Ris-Punggol MP Ng, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin, and new face Raymond Lye, who is a lawyer.

They will come up against rival WP candidates He, economist Jamus Lim, 44, equity research analyst Louis Chua, 33, and social activist Raeesah Khan, 26. Aside from Ms He, the other three are newcomers taking part in their first election.

In his thank you speech to supporters, Mr Ng said: “We humbly ask for your support so that we, the PAP, can lead the country out of this crisis. Not just for ourselves, but for our children, our grandchildren. We want to ensure that every Singaporean has a good job, and can look forward to better jobs for the future.”

“We want to walk with you, we want to engage you, so we can hear you and build a Sengkang town that is the most liveable place for all of us.”

Mr Amrin added that “this time of crisis is not a time for experiment(ing)” as he noted that the PAP “have a good track record, and we have been on the ground”.

Dr Lim, an associate professor of economics, said the WP would be sharing with residents the party’s aspirations and vision for a “thriving, happy and inclusive society in Sengkang”. He said: “We have listened as you shared with us your stories, your fears and concerns, and your dreams and hopes. This in turn has informed our ideas, plans and policies.”

Both Punggol East and Sengkang West were contested by the opposition in previous elections, with the PAP’s Charles Chong winning the former by a slim margin of 51.76 per cent in 2015 against WP’s Lee Li Lian.

OTHERS TO WATCH

The Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC will be the stage for the first multi-cornered election fight in a GRC since 1992, with the PAP, Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) and Peoples Voice to contest the five-member ward.

Some pundits had expected a head-to-head tussle between PAP and the SD, but Peoples Voice threw its hat into the ring with candidates Jireh Lim Kay Cheow, Prabu Ramachandran, Mohamed Nassir Ismail, Gilbert Goh Keow Wah and Vigneswari V. Ramachandran.

The PAP team will comprise Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, 65; Senior Minister of State for Transport and Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary, 47; and newcomers Mohamed Sharael Taha, 39; Yeo Wan Ling, 44; and Desmond Tan Kok Ming, 50.

The SDA team features Mr Desmond Lim Bak Chuan, 53; Mr Harminder Pal Singh, 48; Mr Abu Mohamed, 69; operations manager Kelvin Ong, 34; and electrical engineer Kuswadi Atnawi, 57.

For only the second time in Singapore’s election history, Tanjong Pagar GRC will see a contest as the PAP team led by Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing goes up against the PSP slate helmed by its organising secretary Michael Chua.

Mr Chan will be joined by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah, 57; Ms Joan Pereira, 53; and two first-timers – Mr Alvin Tan, 40, LinkedIn’s Asia-Pacific head of public policy and economics; and former public servant Eric Chua, 41.

The PSP team is led by Mr Chua, 55, who runs a private firm in the environmental sector, and includes lawyer Wendy Low, 43; technologist Harish Pillay, 60; senior trainer Abas Kasmani, 67; and new face Terence Soon, 29, a Singapore Airlines pilot.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Politics

Singapore GE2020: 'Significant opposition presence' in Parliament regardless of election outcome, says PM Lee

SINGAPORE – A “significant opposition presence” is guaranteed in Parliament, regardless of what happens in the general election, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (June 30).

In a virtual press conference, he noted that the expanded Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) scheme now guarantees there will be 12 opposition members in Parliament, even in the event that the PAP wins all the seats.

“NCMPs do have full voting rights, exactly the same as elected MPs. They can vote on budgets, they can vote on constitutional amendments, they can even vote on motions of confidence,” he said.

“So whatever happens, a significant opposition presence is guaranteed. There is no possibility of the opposition being shut out from Parliament.”

Given this, said Mr Lee, Singaporeans should not vote for “compromise candidates” that would weaken the national team.

They should scrutinise the candidates and parties carefully, vote for the candidate or GRC team whom they think can do the best job for them in their constituency, and whose party will serve Singapore best if elected, he added.

In response to a question, he acknowledged that opposition parties would nonetheless want to try “very hard” to win elected seats and not just have “high, good, losing results” in all the constituencies. 

“But as far as the Constitution is concerned, as far as Parliament’s operations are concerned, there is no difference between NCMPs and elected MPs in terms of their rights and privileges,” he said.

“They are the same, and we expect the (NCMPs) to participate as actively as elected MPs,” he said, adding  that the Workers’ Party NCMPs have been especially active in Parliament, even at the risk of overshadowing the elected MPs at times. 

In his opening remarks at the press conference, Mr Lee stressed the high stakes of this election, pointing out that Singapore needs to have the best team to see the country through the Covid-19 crisis.

“Vote for the party with the experience and the commitment, and the ideas to take us home,” he said, reiterating the key theme of the PAPs manifesto – lives, jobs, and the future.

“Everything depends on which government you choose and the mandate that you give it.”


PHOTO: PEOPLE’S ACTION PARTY

The PAP, he said, expects a tough fight because of the pain and uncertainty felt by people due to the pandemic.

Mr Lee added that the opposition party deployments – including to hot seats such as the East Coast and West Coast GRCs – did not come as a surprise.

“(The opposition parties) have been active for the last few months, and we have seen which constituencies they have been interested in, where they have been campaigning harder. And what they have done is generally in line with what the tea leaves have shown,” he said.

“We try to make an assessment of where our most important contests may be, and where we can best re-deploy our chess pieces – so that in every constituency, we have a team which fits the needs of that constituency, and would be able to give good service to its residents and put up a good fight in the campaign. That is the reason for all of our deployments.”

He added: “The opposition are well organised and prepared, and will not roll over… The PAP will have to fight for every vote and win every heart.”

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Politics

Singapore GE2020: Vote to end the PAP's supermajority, says Lee Hsien Yang

SINGAPORE – Singaporeans must vote to end the ruling People’s Action Party’s supermajority in Parliament, Progress Singapore Party member Lee Hsien Yang urged voters in a video message posted on Facebook on Monday (June 29).

Mr Lee, whose brother Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is secretary-general of the PAP, criticised the Government on a range of issues as he called for more diversity in Parliament.

“Make your vote in this Covid-19 election count. Choose a Singapore where the daily struggle and sacrifice pay off for all, not just for the natural aristocracy,” he said, appearing to reference the Workers’ Party election campaign slogan Make Your Vote Count.

“Vote to end the supermajority. Singapore wants different.”

Mr Lee, 62, was unveiled as a PSP member last Wednesday. He has since been on party walkabouts, including in Tanjong Pagar GRC, but has kept mum on whether he will contest the July 10 election. He was not among the 24 candidates confirmed by the party to stand in the nine constituencies it intends to contest in its first election since its founding in March 2019.

In his video message on Monday, Mr Lee said the PAP’s supermajority has given the party too much power.

He said: “The PAP vision of meritocracy has become a fiction. Many Singaporeans feel they are running a rat race in a maze designed by the Government, which decides who to dispense rewards to. The chosen few are given a nice big slice of cake. For those who are not scholars or generals or privileged, there are only crumbs.

“In this maze, the PAP Government of today can create dead ends, move walls, close off the exits. It can use Pofma to silence, and defamation suits to ruin and bankrupt those who disagree. It can choose to retain a long-outdated discriminatory law. It can prosecute a single person for an illegal public assembly. The PAP can change the Constitution and deny Singaporeans a chance to elect the president. It can do this because the PAP has an overwhelming majority of the seats in Parliament.

“It can crush HDB owners’ dreams. It can sit on CPF savings. It can hike GST to raise revenue for a government that has undisclosed billions in secret reserves. It can expose us to the risk of Covid-19 by prioritising politics over our lives. It can dismiss the risk of infection in crowded dormitories for foreign workers. It can baldly tell us, in Singapore, no one will walk this journey alone.”

The PAP’s supermajority in Parliament has also led to group-think and a lack of rigour in discussion and debate on policies that shape the country, he added, as he asked voters to choose the opposition so that there is accountability. 

He also said the Government suffered from “eunuch’s disease” – using a term he attributed to former senior civil servant Philip Yeo – with no leaders and only paper shufflers who “exist to keep the emperor happy”.

In a related Facebook post, Mr Lee also accused PM Lee, with whom he has been embroiled in a dispute over the fate of their father’s home, of not keeping his word when he became prime minister in 2004, to expand the space for expression and create an open and inclusive Singapore.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Politics

Singapore GE2020: Lawrence Wong continues to head PAP's Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC team, new face Hany Soh replaces Ong Teng Koon

SINGAPORE – National Development Minister Lawrence Wong will continue to anchor the People’s Action Party (PAP) team in the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC at the upcoming election.

He will be joined by Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, backbencher Alex Yam and new face Hany Soh.

Two-term MP Ong Teng Koon is not contesting this election.

Mr Wong, 47, announced the slate at a walkabout in the Marsiling ward of the GRC on Sunday (June 28). He had co-anchored the constituency with Madam Halimah Yacob in 2015, when they won 68.7 per cent of the votes against a team from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).

Mr Zaqy, an incumbent in Chua Chu Kang GRC, is already a familiar face in Marsiling-Yew Tee. The 45-year-old has been helping out as a grassroots adviser after Madam Halimah left in 2017 to contest the presidential election, becoming Singapore’s first woman President.

Mr Yam, 39, will be standing for a third term as an MP. He is currently the executive director of the PAP headquarters and also serves as adviser to the United Workers of Petroleum Industries of the National Trades Union Congress.

Ms Soh, 33, is a director at MSC Law Corporation. During a session introducing new PAP candidates this week, Ms Soh said she came from the Normal (Academic) stream at Bendemeer Secondary School.

She later obtained a diploma in law and management from a polytechnic, and worked as a paralegal before saving enough money to pursue a law degree overseas.

Ms Soh will replace Mr Ong in the Woodgrove ward if elected.

Mr Ong, 43, first stood for elections in 2011. He is the son of former Nee Soon MP Ong Ah Heng.


(Clockwise from top left) National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, new face Hany Soh and backbencher Alex Yam. PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG, PAP

The Singapore Democratic Party, which will contest Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC again, has yet to announce its team.

It was conducting its walkabout at Marsiling MRT station on Sunday morning, just minutes from where the PAP walkabout was taking place.

Three likely candidates – Bryan Lim, Damanhuri Bin Abas and James Gomez – have stepped up walkabouts in the constituency in recent days.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Politics

Singapore GE2020: 10 constituencies to watch on July 10

Fierce fight expected in Singapore’s only opposition-held GRC


The Workers’ Party, led by Mr Low Thia Khiang (at podium), celebrating its victory in 2015. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN FILE

From the site of a historic opposition victory in 2011 to the scene of a nail-biting near-loss for the Workers’ Party’s A team in 2015, Aljunied GRC has been in the heat of battle for two elections running and looks set to be so again.

This time, the incumbents will be heading to the polls without their stalwart, former leader Low Thia Khiang, and the WP’s star catch of 2011, Mr Chen Show Mao. Both are stepping down; Mr Low – who is recovering from a fall – after 29 years as an opposition Member of Parliament, first as the MP for Hougang and then as leader of the Aljunied GRC team.

Taking no chances, given the razor-thin 50.95 per cent share of the vote that it won by, the WP has decided to field its A team of party chief Pritam Singh, party chairman Sylvia Lim, Mr Faisal Manap and two seasoned Non-Constituency MPs, Mr Leon Perera and Mr Gerald Giam, in Aljunied GRC.

READ MORE HERE

No easy fight for East Coast


The Heartbeat @ Bedok complex in East Coast GRC. PHOTO: ST FILE

In the last 14 years, the Workers’ Party (WP) has tried three times to win over East Coast residents to its cause. But despite getting closer in 2011, when the national mood swung against the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), voters remained ultimately unconvinced.

This year, the WP is mounting a fresh challenge. But much has changed in both camps since the last time Singaporeans went to the polls.

For the PAP team, this year’s general election marks the end of an era. Mr Lim Swee Say, the constituency’s anchor minister, is likely to retire. But the identity of his successor is perhaps the party’s best-kept secret so far.

READ MORE HERE

New GRC has the unpredictability factor


Sengkang GRC, which covers Compassvale, Rivervale and Anchorvale, is the only completely new group representation constituency. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

The peaceful neighbourhoods of Anchorvale, Compassvale and Rivervale could soon be the stage for an intense political battle between the People’s Action Party (PAP) and Workers’ Party (WP).

These areas in north-east Singapore make up the new Sengkang GRC – which contains WP stomping grounds and may well see a close fight in the July 10 general election.

As Dr Chong Ja Ian, associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s political science department, explains: “It’s a new GRC, but includes areas where there has been a heavier WP presence. That means little is known about how that GRC votes, so it may allow for a more intense contest.”

READ MORE HERE

West Coast GRC could see hottest fight in some time


Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran at a West Coast Chingay event in 2018. PHOTO: S. ISWARAN

West Coast GRC, which hugs the south-western waterfront of the island, is set to experience some ripples this election.

With the latest electoral boundaries review, the constituency – which stretches from Tuas to Sentosa – will go from having four members to five, taking in almost 50,000 more voters.

The constituency is held by the People’s Action Party team led by Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, 58. It is expected to undergo key changes, with long-time anchor and former minister Lim Hng Kiang, 66, set to step down, along with the addition of one new member.

READ MORE HERE

6 single seats to watch


Single seats to watch are (clockwise, from top left) Marymount, Kebun Baru, Yio Chu Kang, Potong Pasir, Bukit Batok and Punggol West. PHOTOS: LIANHE ZAOBAO, CHONG JUN LIANG, KUA CHEE SIONG, ST FILE

The newly carved-out seat of Marymount is likely to see a straight fight between the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the Progress Singapore Party (PSP).

A three-cornered fight had been brewing, until the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) announced yesterday it will not be contesting the general election.

Carved out of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, the new constituency has 23,444 voters. It covers areas Manpower Minister Josephine Teo is currently looking after. But with Mrs Teo tipped to stand in Jalan Besar GRC, one-term PAP MP Chong Kee Hiong is expected to stand in Marymount.

READ MORE HERE

Source: Read Full Article