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ESM Goh ‘should be voted out for his bad policies’

SINGAPORE — Seen as lending his considerable clout and experience to the People’s Action Party (PAP) team in Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC), Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong was, however, singled out for attack by the Workers’ Party (WP) yesterday.

ESM Goh ‘should be voted out for his bad policies’

A supporter at a Workers’ Party rally at Ubi taking a photo of a candidate on stage. WP chairman Sylvia Lim gave reasons why the PAP should be voted out of Marine Parade during her speech yesterday. Photo: Don Wong

SINGAPORE — Seen as lending his considerable clout and experience to the People’s Action Party (PAP) team in Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC), Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong was, however, singled out for attack by the Workers’ Party (WP) yesterday.

WP chairman Sylvia Lim called on Marine Parade residents to vote against Mr Goh and his team because of “bad policies” implemented during his tenure as Prime Minister between 1990 and 2004.

Speaking at a WP rally in the GRC, Ms Lim reminded voters that Mr Goh had “threatened” voters that their estates will be placed at the back of the upgrading queue if they did not vote for the ruling party. The GRC sizes were also increased to up to six seats, but the PAP has since backtracked by reducing the sizes after realising its “mistake”, Ms Lim added.

The third policy rolled out under Mr Goh’s watch that she criticised was the pegging of ministerial salaries to the private sector, which saw the Prime Minister earning more than S$100,000 a month.

Ms Lim went on to give other reasons why the PAP should be voted out of Marine Parade, including the “senseless” electoral boundary changes.

She pointed out that the Braddell Heights single-seat ward, where Opposition candidate Sin Kek Tong won 47.7 per cent of the vote, was absorbed into Marine Parade GRC after the 1991 General Election (GE).

“Look at the names, Heights and Marine, should they go together?” Ms Lim said.

For this election, the Joo Chiat Single-Member Constituency, where WP candidate Yee Jenn Jong had received 49 per cent of the vote in the 2011 GE, was subsumed into Marine Parade GRC.

“We are told that the electoral boundary changes are due to population trends. I leave it to you to decide whether they are due to population trends or voting trends. Are they taking us for fools?” Ms Lim said.

She also argued that the electoral boundary changes are a waste of money because town councils have to spend money to change signs, or dismantle their offices and build new premises elsewhere. “Why should residents pay for political games of the PAP?” said Ms Lim.

WP chief Low Thia Khiang also criticised the electoral boundaries review committee — chaired by Mr Tan Kee Yong, the Secretary to Prime Minister — saying that it had made Joo Chiat residents “nomads”, as they are now part of a different constituency. He suggested the setting up of an independent electoral boundaries review committee that consists of members with no political affiliations and that reports directly to the President.

Mr Low reiterated that the GRC system slows down the democratic process in Singapore.

Taking issue with the first-past-the-post system here instead of proportional representation, Mr Low said it was “worrying and unhealthy for Singapore” to have a huge majority of PAP MPs in Parliament even though the ruling party received only about 60 per cent of the total vote share in the 2011 GE.

Noting that some 40 per cent of voters had wanted Opposition voices in Parliament, he said: “This lack of representation is making Singaporeans increasingly frustrated and suppressed.”

“It is a time bomb that is waiting to explode,” added Mr Low. He was borrowing an analogy from the PAP, who in 2006 had dubbed four of the WP’s proposals in its 2006 manifesto as “time bombs”.

Mr Low added: “We cannot allow Singapore to fall into a situation where our survival only depends on the PAP or just on any one party. We must not allow the Parliament to continue with a one-party rule, knowing that this will weaken and destabilise our country in future.”

Marine Parade candidate He Ting Ru reiterated that having diverse voices in Parliament would not mean a politically unstable situation.

“Instability is putting all of our faith in one small group of people to have all the answers with no external checks to ensure that they do the right thing for Singapore and Singaporeans,” she said.

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