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GE2020 party broadcasts: PAP seeks full support of S’poreans, as opposition calls for an accountable, transparent Parliament

SINGAPORE — The second round of party political broadcasts was aired on Thursday (July 9), a day ahead of the General Election with leaders from the seven political parties which qualified to participate giving speeches on why Singaporeans should vote for them.

Only political parties fielding at least six candidates in the General Election are eligible for airtime. The duration of each speech was determined by the number of candidates fielded.

Only political parties fielding at least six candidates in the General Election are eligible for airtime. The duration of each speech was determined by the number of candidates fielded.

SINGAPORE — The second round of party political broadcasts was aired on Thursday (July 9), a day ahead of the General Election with leaders from the seven political parties which qualified to participate giving speeches on why Singaporeans should vote for them.

The messages were broadcast on various free-to-air television channels and over radio from 8pm. The programme was aired on Thursday, which is Cooling-Off Day, when no new advertisements or campaigning besides the party political broadcasts are permitted.

Only political parties which have fielded at least six candidates are eligible for airtime, and the duration of each speech is determined by the number of candidates fielded. Most parties gave the speeches in the four official languages, though some used only three.

The first round of party political broadcasts went to air last Thursday, though with different speakers, except in the case of Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) Dr Tan Cheng Bock and National Solidarity Party’s Mr Spencer Ng, who spoke in both broadcasts. The parties chose who spoke on each occasion.

Representing their parties in the English speech were the Reform Party’s Kenneth Jeyaretnam, the NSP’s Mr Ng, Peoples Voice’s Lim Tean, Dr Paul Tambyah from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), Ms Sylvia Lim from the Workers’ Party (WP), PSP’s Dr Tan and Mr Lee Hsien Loong from the People’s Action Party (PAP).

PAP is contesting all 31 constituencies. In a 13-minute speech, Mr Lee, PAP’s secretary-general, emphasised the need for a strong mandate to guide the country through the “crisis of a generation”.

He pointed out that the party and the people have worked together to overcome past adversities. He said the PAP had fought with the Pioneer Generation through independence and separation, and with the Merdeka Generation to take Singapore from “Third World to First”.

“We need the support of every Singaporean not just to return the PAP to government, but also to give it a strong mandate, to empower it to act decisively on your behalf, and steer the country towards better days ahead,” Mr Lee said.

Most of the opposition candidates spoke of the need for accountability and alternative voices in Parliament, with several urging voters to hold the ruling party to account at the ballot box for decisions that negatively affect Singaporeans.

These included the impending Goods and Services Tax (GST) rise, which is set to go from 7 per cent to 9 per cent sometime between 2022 and 2025, the issue of “depreciating” 99-year flat leases, the level of immigration and the high rate of Covid-19 infection in the migrant worker dormitories.

In her speech, Ms Lim, who is WP’s chairman, invited voters to “imagine a Singapore that is far better than it is now”.

While acknowledging the progress that the PAP has brought to Singapore in terms of its physical infrastructure and efficient systems, Ms Lim said more improvements can be made in creating a more transparent, open and fair society, where diverse voices can be heard.

“The PAP would have you believe that having such an open and fair society with press freedom will cripple a government’s ability to act quickly and firmly,” she said. But, she argued that the responses to Covid-19 from countries such as New Zealand, Australia and Taiwan — which have more robust democracies — show that this is a “false scare tactic”.

“We of the Workers’ Party believe that such positive change in Singapore can happen if enough of us work for it,” she said. “Our younger candidates have joined us because they have imagined a Singapore that can truly be even better.”

Dr Tan of PSP dismissed the PAP’s appeal for a strong mandate, saying that a united Singapore must have a Parliament that reflects all views and an opposition that can push for transparency, independence and accountability in government.

SDP’s Dr Tambyah criticised the PAP for running an election campaign which relied on “old tactics of scaremongering and character assassination”, rather than focusing on providing “new ideas to deal with a world which has changed dramatically”.

This is a summary of the speeches:

REFORM PARTY (2.5 mins)

Speaker: Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, secretary-general

Mr Jeyaretnam spoke from the hotel where he was serving the final day of his 14-day stay-home notice after his return from the United Kingdom on June 25.

  • Singaporeans are battling Covid-19 and the worst economic crisis since independence, but not everyone will suffer the consequences of the PAP’s “mishandling” equally, Mr Jeyaretnam said.

  • Referring to the party’s slogan — Build Back Better, Fairer — Mr Jeyaretnam said Singapore will need to be built back in a manner that is better and fairer for all. He contrasted this with the PAP’s approach, which he described as minor tweaks and policies that only defer hardship to some point in the future.

  • He laid out the frustrations he has heard from citizens: Flats diminishing in value, Ang Mo Kio GRC having been “gerrymandered” again and citizens not being able to access the Central Provident Fund (CPF) at age 55. “No wonder you are angry,” he said, a phrase he used several times.

  • Comparing the party with the former Ang Mo Kio Town Council manager who was jailed (in November 2019) on corruption charges, he said RP is a “safer set of hands” that will fight for transparency and accountability.

  • Calling on Singaporeans to vote RP in order not to be “completely silenced” and to hold the PAP to account in a “positive and constructive manner”, he said: “You can be patriotic and vote in a way that visibly records your frustration and marks the PAP scorecard so that they try harder in the future.”

NATIONAL SOLIDARITY PARTY (3 mins)

Speaker: Mr Spencer Ng, secretary-general

  • Mr Ng began by thanking his supporters, adding that the support had given the party the resolve to continue fighting for fairness and accountability in Parliament.

  • Voting for the PAP, he said, will result in costly policies like the impending rise in GST to 9 per cent and more expensive public housing flats. Calling the PAP Members of Parliament (MPs) “yes men”, he said these MPs will continue to be “part-time MPs” who hire external managing agents to run town councils.

  • Mr Ng then went on the offensive against NSP’s opponents in Sembawang and Tampines GRC, criticising the PAP’s Mr Ong Ye Kung, who heads the party’s Sembawang ticket, for charging teachers for parking in schools and Mr Masagos Zulkifli, who heads the Tampines team, for not removing the GST charged on water fees.

  • Unlike the PAP, Mr Ng said NSP representatives will commit to being “full-time MPs” with the expertise to manage the town councils and represent Singaporeans in Parliament. Residents will also benefit from having People’s Association-appointed grassroots advisors in the constituency if NSP is elected, he added.

  • “Your vote holds tremendous power,” he said. “You can decide to give the PAP another five years of blank cheques or a government that is more consultative and responsible to you.”

PEOPLES VOICE (3 mins)

Speaker: Mr Lim Tean, secretary-general

  • Mr Lim criticised the PAP for holding the election in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that Singapore’s campaign period is the shortest “in the democratic world”.

  • He took aim at PAP’s position on CPF, depreciating values of flat leases, rising utility prices, public transport hikes, the impending GST increase, recent hacks on public medical records, an “incessant” increase in immigration and the Government’s handling of Covid-19 infections in migrant worker dormitories.

  • “No government is perfect,” Mr Lim said. But he said that the lack of apologies, resignations and accountability in the ruling party even though its ministers were paid the highest salaries in the world showed what he called the “arrogance of these self-styled aristocrats”.

  • Mr Lim said PV will bring accountability and transparency into Parliament, adding that having opposition voices in Parliament will not lower the standards of the civil and public sectors.

  • “To choose PAP is to endure another five years equal to the last with no accountability, no transparency, just more inequality, unemployment and immigration,” Mr Lim said. “It is time for us to regain our dignity, our country, our future.”

SINGAPORE DEMOCRATIC PARTY (3 mins)

Speaker: Dr Paul Tambyah, chairman

  • Dr Tambyah echoed criticisms against the PAP made by other parties over the holding of the election in the middle of a pandemic, calling the move “reckless and opportunistic”. He added: “We cannot afford to let the ministerial committee leading the pandemic response be distracted by campaigning for the election.”

  • He also chided the incumbent for how it has conducted its campaign, stating that the PAP campaign “seems to be focused on the old tactics of scaremongering and character assassination without any new ideas to deal with a world which has changed dramatically”.

  • He harkened back to a debate earlier in the campaign over a newspaper article which had made reference to the notion that Singapore might eventually have a population of 10 million, and urged Singaporeans to look up The Straits Times story and “decide for themselves” rather than listen to either the SDP or the PAP.

  • Dr Tambyah then reiterated SDP’s “4Y1N” election campaign theme, in which the party proposes saying “yes” to retrenchment benefits, to retirement income for low income seniors, to putting people first and to suspending the GST, while saying “no” to a population of 10 million.

  • On how SDP’s policies could help Singaporeans, Dr Tambyah said: “It is much better to have the cash in the hands of the people rather than corporations and hope some of it trickles down to the rest of us.”

WORKERS’ PARTY (4.5 mins)

Speaker: Ms Sylvia Lim, chairman

  • Ms Lim invited voters to “imagine a Singapore that is far better than it is now” — in which, among other things, diverse voices are listened to and really heard, government policies are not “pre-decided and bulldozed through” and opposition parties are “accepted as Singaporeans who love our country, rather than nuisances to be fixed”.

  • While she credited Singapore’s physical infrastructure and efficient systems to the PAP’s founders, she argued that there is room for positive improvements in the more “intangible aspects”, such as in areas of transparency, creativity, fairness and happiness.

  • While PAP would have voters believe that “having such an open and fair society with press freedom will cripple a government’s ability to act quickly and firmly”, Ms Lim argued that the manner in which countries such as New Zealand, Taiwan and Australia have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic shows that such rhetoric is a “false scare tactic”.

  • These countries are economically successful and have competent governments, she said, while being “robust democracies where changes of the party in power at election time are considered normal”. Some of them also rank highly, along with Singapore, as countries with low levels of corruption, she added.

  • WP believes that “such positive change in Singapore can happen if enough of us work for it”, and this is also why many of its younger candidates have stepped up to join the party as they, too, “imagined a Singapore that can truly be even better”.

PROGRESS SINGAPORE PARTY (5 mins)

Speaker: Dr Tan Cheng Bock, secretary-general

  • This election is not about the problems of today, but also about the solutions of the future, Dr Tan said. “It is about protecting lives and livelihoods, and rallying together as one nation to defeat the Covid-19 crisis,” he said.

  • Addressing PAP’s call for a strong mandate, Dr Tan said “their idea of a Singapore Together is domination” with no elected opposition, referring to the consultative movement launched by the PAP’s Heng Swee Keat last year.

  • A truly united Singapore, he added, is not just the PAP view but “a Singapore that is truly of one heart and one mind”. It is a country where there is trust between the people and the government, he said, which is why PSP pushes for transparency, independence and accountability.

  • “PSP can be that elected opposition for you,” Dr Tan said, adding that the party would serve as independent eyes in Parliament to scrutinise the billions of reserve dollars earmarked for Covid-19 recovery measures. It would support the reshaping of national policies from a community healthcare angle, as well as push its proposals for CPF, housing and prioritising local businesses and workers.

  • Dr Tan thanked all voters and said the party never takes its support for granted: “If we stand together as Singaporeans, there is not a force in this world that can tear us apart. I believe this with all of my heart. And you must believe this too.”

PEOPLE’S ACTION PARTY (13 mins)

Speaker: Mr Lee Hsien Loong, secretary-general

  • This election is unlike any Singapore has had, Mr Lee said. With the economy hit hard by Covid-19 and with the full economic impact still to come, he added that Singapore will need a strong and capable government to take decisive action to prevent another outbreak and to save jobs and businesses.

  • “Jobs are our top priority,” Mr Lee said, as he laid out various plans the Government has implemented to shore up the economy and support workers. This includes the Jobs Support Scheme, loans and rental waivers to small and medium enterprises, the Covid-19 Support Grant and the Self-Employed Income Relief Scheme.

  • For those out of a job, the National Jobs Council will lead the creation of 100,000 new jobs and training positions in the coming year, made possible because of S$13 billion in new investments, which Mr Lee attributed to the confidence investors have in Singapore.

  • To position the country beyond the crisis, PAP will press on with economic restructuring and upgrading of the workforce, he said. The party also aspires to achieve a more harmonious and inclusive society, he added, with plans to improve education, healthcare and transport and to prepare for the “existential threat” of climate change.

  • “But to get there, we first have to make it through the immediate crisis,” Mr Lee said. “We give ourselves the best chance of success if we rally together, choose a competent, experienced and committed team to lead the country, and give it our full support.”

Related topics

political broadcast Singapore General Election SGVotes2020

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