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SDP’s proposed policies would bankrupt Singapore, says Vivian

SINGAPORE — Hours after nominations went without a hitch yesterday, the People’s Action Party (PAP) team in Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency fired its first salvo at its challengers from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).

SDP’s proposed policies would bankrupt Singapore, says Vivian

PAP candidates including Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (centre) and Ms Sim Ann (second from right) at Assumption Pathway School before submitting their nomination forms yesterday. Photo: Robin Choo

SINGAPORE — Hours after nominations went without a hitch yesterday, the People’s Action Party (PAP) team in Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency fired its first salvo at its challengers from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).

Giving a preview of its campaign, PAP Holland-Bukit Timah anchor minister Vivian Balakrishnan said his team would dissect the SDP’s policy proposals over the next few days and “awaken Singaporeans to the dangers of such policy prescriptions”.

“You’ll see the bottom of it all is tax, spend, cut essential services and investments, including defence, that will put our country at risk. And ultimately, this leads to bankruptcy and leads to a very big bill to pass to our children, not to mention very high levels of taxation,” he said at a press conference held at the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council office.

He said the SDP’s proposals — which the party’s chief, Mr Chee Soon Juan, has said will be at the “front and centre” of its campaign — are copied and pasted from other parts of the world, where they have failed.

“In other words, the SDP will set us on the road to Greece,” said Dr Balakrishnan, who is Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. The SDP has put out policy papers on healthcare, housing, the economy and other areas in recent years.

His remarks came after Dr Chee told reporters at the nomination centre earlier that the SDP does not want to see “gutter politics” and is looking to “a contest of ideas” with issues at the forefront.

Dr Balakrishnan’s team-mate, Ms Sim Ann, said Dr Chee was not a new face in the political arena, and that Singaporeans of a certain age would know about Dr Chee ousting his one-time mentor Chiam See Tong in the 1990s from the SDP, which Mr Chiam had built. Dr Chee has also spoken ill of Singapore to the international media, added Ms Sim, who is Minister of State for Education and Communications and Information.

“Given this, I think maybe the residents of Holland-Bukit Timah will be circumspect,” said Ms Sim in Mandarin.

Later in the evening, another minister also brought up Dr Chee’s actions in the 1990s. In a televised forum last night featuring representatives from six political parties, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, the PAP’s Marsiling-Yew Tee candidate, said Dr Chee had presented false data in 1996 to a parliamentary committee tasked to verify healthcare subsidies of polyclinics and public hospitals, and was later found to be in contempt of Parliament.

Dr Chee responded by telling Mr Wong not to “cherry-pick” what the select committee had found, and said then Health Minister George Yeo had to “repeatedly apologise for some of the things that the Government had gotten wrong then”. The pair were then asked by moderator Steven Chia to continue discussing the matter in private.

The PAP’s team also presented its manifesto for Holland-Bukit Timah yesterday, covering improvements to the estate that had been made and enhancements in the pipeline. These include more bus services over the next five years and improvements to the roads, as well as the opening of Phase Two of the Downtown Line at the end of this year. The other two members of the PAP slate are Mr Liang Eng Hwa and Mr Christopher de Souza.

In 2011, the PAP team saw off a challenge from an SDP team with just over 60 per cent of the votes. The SDP team comprised Mr Tan Jee Say, Dr Ang Yong Guan, Dr Vincent Wijeysingha and Ms Michelle Lee Juen. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KELLY NG

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