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GE2020 party broadcasts: PAP has ‘delivered what we promised’, but opposition warns against an unchecked ruling party

SINGAPORE — The first party political broadcast kicked off on Thursday (July 2), with candidates from seven political parties giving speeches on why Singaporeans should vote for them in the General Election (GE) on July 10.

Only political parties that have fielded at least six candidates are eligible for airtime, and the duration of each speech is determined by the number of candidates fielded.

Only political parties that have fielded at least six candidates are eligible for airtime, and the duration of each speech is determined by the number of candidates fielded.

  • The first party political broadcast began with candidates from seven political parties giving speeches
  • Only parties fielding at least six candidates are eligible for airtime
  • The duration of each speech was determined by the party’s number of candidates
  • The ruling PAP emphasised its track record over the past five years, asked for a clear mandate to lead country through storms ahead
  • Most opposition candidates spoke of the perils of an unchecked PAP

 

SINGAPORE — The first party political broadcast kicked off on Thursday (July 2), with candidates from seven political parties giving speeches on why Singaporeans should vote for them in the General Election (GE) on July 10.

Aired in the four official languages, the messages were broadcast on various free-to-air television channels and over radio from 8pm.

Only political parties that have fielded at least six candidates are eligible for airtime, and the duration of each speech is determined by the number of candidates fielded.

Representing their parties in the English speech were the Reform Party’s Charles Yeo, Mr Spencer Ng from the National Solidarity Party (NSP), Peoples Voice’s Michael Fang Amin, Dr Chee Soon Juan from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), Mr Pritam Singh from the Workers’ Party (WP), Dr Tan Cheng Bock from the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), and Mr Heng Swee Keat from the People’s Action Party (PAP).

PAP is contesting in all 31 constituencies. In a 13-minute speech, Mr Heng, PAP's first assistant secretary-general, emphasised the party’s track record over the past five years and set out what it wanted on July 10: A clear mandate to lead Singapore through the storms ahead.

He explained how PAP has “delivered what we promised” in GE2015, from fixing the train problems to uplifting lower-income workers.

Mr Heng said in past turning points of Singapore’s history, the PAP has needed “strong partnerships” between the people and the Government to realise its plans. In the same way, GE2020 had been called to allow Singapore to emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic, he added.

“We will create a better future together. To work together effectively, we must all pull in the same direction. A strong and capable government will help us achieve this, even more so during a crisis,” Mr Heng said.

Most of the opposition candidates spoke of the perils of an unchecked PAP, with several urging voters to hold the ruling party to account for issues that negatively impacted their constituents.

These included issues such as the impending increase to the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is set to rise from 7 per cent to 9 per cent sometime between 2022 and 2025, the presence of social inequality, the issue of “decaying” 99-year flat leases, immigration, and the rising cost of living in Singapore.

Referring to its slogan, Make Your Vote Count, Mr Singh, who is WP's secretary-general, spoke about the importance of opposition representation in Parliament, highlighting how in the past parliamentary term, his party has raised issues that “PAP Members of Parliament cannot, and will not, raise”.

He said: “PAP self-checking can fail. If the wrong people show their true colours only after reaching our highest offices, Singapore is finished.

“We must not be an aristocracy where power is held by the few. We must be a democracy where power is in the hands of the many,” Mr Singh added.

Dr Tan of PSP criticised the two-thirds parliamentary super-majority of PAP, stating that prosperity did not flow to all Singaporeans in the past 20 years when PAP enjoyed a strong hold on government.

SDP's leader Chee said: “The future for Singaporeans, young and old, are looking increasingly bleak. Trust the PAP? Trust doesn’t come from what you say, it comes from what you do.”

Party political broadcasts have been a feature of election campaigns since they were introduced in 1980.

The second party political broadcast will air from 8pm on July 9, which is the Cooling-Off Day, the eve of the polls when no advertisements or campaigning are permitted. 

The following is a summary of the various speeches.

REFORM PARTY (2.5 mins)

Speaker: Mr Charles Yeo, candidate for Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency (GRC)

  • Singapore faces a choice as it recovers from Covid-19. “Continue as before with a system that works for an elite few while the majority struggle, or change and build back a Singapore that is better for all and fairer in every sense.”

  • The Reform Party wants substantial Government spending to mitigate the immediate economic effects of the crisis, as well as to “create lasting change” in Singapore’s economic model.

  • “There should be an end to the cruel policy of austerity. We want vastly improved social safety nets, universal health care, cash payments to families, a seniors pension and a minimum wage,” he said.

  • He introduced party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam as someone “good with numbers and tenacious in pursuit of accountability” as well as “equally diligent working through your problems at the individual and community level”. Its candidates are a “safe pair of hands” to manage a town council.

  • “This is the first election when you don’t have to go out to vote. But if you want to see positive change then it is imperative that you come out to vote,” he said, referring to the circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

NATIONAL SOLIDARITY PARTY (3 mins)

Speaker: Mr Spencer Ng, secretary-general

  • An elected government must be able to find solutions while being accountable to Singaporeans. “This accountability cannot be achieved if PAP has the super-majority in the parliament. No one is immune to mistakes,” he said.

  • The Government should be consultative and seek people’s opinion on all major decisions. To be a voice for those “who have been given lesser thought”, NSP wants to champion policies regarding “labour, housing, population, retirement and as well as cost of living”.

  • The Government must consider all Singaporeans first, and ensure they have priority for quality jobs. “We have witnessed the large supply of foreigners flooding our country to compete for jobs. Consequently, it has depressed our wages.”

  • On reducing the cost of living, NSP wants to make housing affordable, noting how “many of our young are caught in a mire of housing debts”. He asked: “Is this what we want for our future generations?”

  • The party questioned the necessity of the impending increase in GST, stating that it is a regressive tax, and should be abolished for basic necessities. It also wants the Government to “honour our legal rights to withdraw our Central Provident Fund (CPF) (monies) at 55 years old.”

PEOPLES VOICE (3 mins)

Speaker: Mr Michael Fang Amin, candidate for Jalan Besar GRC

  • Taking aim at social inequality and ministerial salaries, he said GE2020 is “the clearest choice our people have had in 61 years between a vision of a future where the rich become richer, and that of the middle class and those who aspire to the middle class, who are squeezed and left behind”.

  • “Due to the PAP’s disastrous immigration, housing, CPF, jobs and healthcare policies, the state has become richer while the common man has become poorer,” he said.

  • Calling the promise of ever-rising property values a “false promise”, he said: “(Minister for National Development) Lawrence Wong has told you that at the end of 99 years, your apartment is essentially worth zero and returns to the state.”

  • He said many are rightfully aggrieved that foreigners have taken up job roles that they previously held. “The standard of living of your family has plunged and you may even be in financial difficulties, because you have lost your jobs.”

  • Peoples Voice will fight for Singaporeans "to have the best-paying jobs in our country", he said, calling for a freeze of all S-Passes and a “dramatic reduction” in the number of Employment Passes. “There are many Singaporeans who are well-qualified to do the jobs that are paid S$2,400 and above, and are deprived of doing them because these jobs are presently done by foreigners. We need to regain our country, our dignity and our future by restoring the balance of power in favour of the Singapore people.”

SINGAPORE DEMOCRATIC PARTY (3 mins)

Speaker: Dr Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general

  • PAP’s secretary general Lee Hsien Loong has not kept his promise in the last election to lessen the burden of people’s cost of living, Dr Chee said. “He has increased our cost of living by raising water prices, town council fees, healthcare costs, electricity rates, bus fares, school fees — you name it. Soon, he will raise the GST.”

  • He also criticised “astronomical” ministerial salaries. “Prime Minister Lee collects about S$200,000 a month. Even the junior entry-level ministers are paid S$100,000 a month. How long do we average Singaporeans have to work to earn that amount?”

  • As an alternative vision for Singapore, SDP had launched a campaign to suspend the GST until end-2021, introduce a retrenchment benefit scheme for retrenched workers, and provide a S$500 monthly income for seniors, among other plans.

  • “Through the decades, SDP has never wavered in our commitment to speak up for you. To us, politics is not about self-glorification. Neither is it about enriching ourselves. Rather, it is about speaking up for you, our fellow citizens,” he said.

  • SDP wants to be the kind of opposition that the people want: A competent, constructive, compassionate and responsible opposition that does its homework, criticises the PAP when it is warranted, but gives credit where credit is due.

WORKERS’ PARTY (4.5 mins)

Speaker: Mr Pritam Singh, secretary-general

  • PAP is certain to form the next Government, even when Singaporeans are openly unhappy. Mr Singh said: “If you live where the Workers’ Party is contesting, the PAP does not need your vote to form the government. But we need your votes.” With the Covid-19 crisis, PAP could end up with all seats, he added.

  • WP has raised issues that PAP would not. “Since 2015, we have brought up topics in Parliament such as the GST test balloon, the Keppel Offshore and Marine scandal and the constitutional amendment on the Reserved Presidential Election, among many, many others. Not a single PAP MP filed a parliamentary question on the corruption disclosures at Keppel Offshore and Marine. Only WP MPs did.”

  • A vote for WP would encourage other sincere and capable people to come forward in future elections to contest for WP. “Your vote shows our party stalwarts and volunteers that their efforts at parliamentary research, meet-the-people sessions, house visits and food distribution are recognised. Your vote will bring in new volunteers and candidates.”

  • Singapore needs “protection against complete dominance of Parliament by one party, which could allow a tiny number of people to control everything”. Its long-term dream is for a healthy democracy of two or three parties who can form a competent and honest government.

  • Mr Singh said: “Your vote for the WP is a vote for a contrast of voices and the questioning of the PAP when needed. It is a vote to encourage new blood to contest in future elections. Finally, a vote for us is a vote for checks and balances to safeguard Singapore for coming generations.”

PROGRESS SINGAPORE PARTY (5 mins)

Speaker: Dr Tan Cheng Bock, secretary-general

  • Introducing himself as the PAP MP for Ayer Rajah for 26 years before he stepped down in 2006, Dr Tan, 80, said that he is standing for election “because the PAP is not the same as before. It has lost its way”.

  • PSP has experience running town councils and “will know how to look after your constituency”. The party knows how to take care of Singaporeans, he said.

  • If elected to Parliament, PSP MPs “will ask the tough questions on your behalf”. Singaporeans have a right to information that the Government is refusing to answer, such as some aspects of the national reserves, Dr Tan said.

  • A PAP monopoly is not a formula for success, he added. PSP can stop PAP from having a majority of more than two-thirds in Parliament if elected. “If the PAP has a two-thirds majority, they will have the power to change important laws like the Constitution at will, whenever they wish.”

  • The election is about the post-Covid-19 recovery of Singapore. “The world has changed dramatically. The PAP policies made before Covid-19 no longer apply today. Before Parliament was dissolved, you saw how the PAP Government struggled to find the right answers. You saw how their boasting in January failed to prepare Singapore for the explosion of dormitory cases in April,” Dr Tan said.

PEOPLE’S ACTION PARTY (13 mins)

Speaker: Mr Heng Swee Keat, first assistant secretary-general

  • GE2020 will be like no other, Mr Heng said. “Our lives, our jobs and the future of Singapore are at stake. The PAP is seeking a clear mandate to lead Singapore through the storms ahead,” he said, adding that the PAP has delivered what it promised to do in 2015.

  • Decisive action is needed to save jobs and livelihoods due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he said, setting out what the PAP Government has done to that end. “In a more fractious world, we have to do our best to stay relevant, competitive and secure. We face severe challenges, not just over the next few months, but for many years to come. That is why we are calling the General Election now.”

  • To make sure that no Singaporean will be left to walk alone, PAP will continue to build a fairer and more just society. In the long term, beyond 2100, it is also putting in place “bold plans” to live sustainably, and protect Singapore against climate change and rising sea levels.

  • “But just as at past turning points in our history, for plans to become reality, we need strong partnerships among Singaporeans, and between our people and the Government. This is what has given us an edge in this crisis thus far,” he said. “Your ideas, your passions and your energies will be our strength.”

  • PAP is up to this task — its leadership is tried and tested. “Together with the 4G (fourth-generation) leaders, we have a leadership team that is ready to take on whatever lies ahead. And as in past elections, we have many promising new candidates, to renew the bench and broaden the range of perspectives that we can draw on,” he said.

Related topics

political broadcast Singapore General Election SGVotes2020

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