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GE2020: PSP’s Tan Cheng Bock counters PAP which said opposition parties have no plans to tackle Covid-19 crisis

SINGAPORE — Progress Singapore Party (PSP) chief Tan Cheng Bock hit back at criticisms from People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates, saying that he has talked about the Covid-19 crisis many times during the ongoing General Election (GE) campaign. This was in response to PAP taking a dim view of the various opposition parties’ manifestos because they have few or no plans to guide Singapore through the crisis.

The Progress Singapore Party and the People's Action Party doing their rounds of campaigning at Ayer Rajah Market and Food Centre in the West Coast Group Representation Constituency on July 4, 2020.

The Progress Singapore Party and the People's Action Party doing their rounds of campaigning at Ayer Rajah Market and Food Centre in the West Coast Group Representation Constituency on July 4, 2020.

  • PSP chief Tan Cheng Bock shot down PAP candidates’ remarks that the opposition has no plans for the Covid-19 crisis
  • He said that he has talked about the pandemic many times during campaigning
  • PSP’s manifesto has proposals and voters will decide if they are good or not, he added
  • SDP chairman Paul Tambyah said that the Covid-19 cluster at a Tampines housing block is a concern

 

SINGAPORE — Progress Singapore Party (PSP) chief Tan Cheng Bock hit back at criticisms from People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates, saying that he has talked about the Covid-19 crisis many times during the ongoing General Election (GE) campaign. This was in response to PAP taking a dim view of the various opposition parties’ manifestos because they have few or no plans to guide Singapore through the crisis.

Speaking to reporters during a walkabout in Pioneer Single Member Constituency (SMC) on Saturday (July 4), Dr Tan said: “I have already mentioned many times that Covid-19 is a very important aspect of this whole election. In fact, I would say, this election is a Covid-19 election.

“If you don’t control the Covid-19 (situation), all the borders are closed to us. Where are we going to get the people coming here to invest? Where are you going to get those people to come here as tourists? These are very fundamental basic things.”

He then said: “If you don’t control it and just play politics with (the pandemic), you are putting all Singaporeans at risk.”

Earlier on Saturday, Mr Chan Chun Sing, PAP’s second assistant secretary-general, said that there is a “glaring” lack of discussion among the opposition on plans related to Covid-19 in their manifestos, even at the halfway point of campaigning now.

Mr Chan said that a responsible political party or candidate should have a comprehensive plan on the “core issue” of how to get Singapore through this crisis.

His views were echoed by Mr K Shanmugam, PAP’s treasurer who is leading a team in the Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency (GRC) and who spoke about the importance of political parties spelling out how they would tackle the Covid-19 crisis.

Mr Shanmugam also said that PAP had made jobs a top issue in its manifesto because the current crisis meant that the world could be facing its most serious recession in a long time.

Dr Tan said that whether PSP's manifesto is lacking is up to voters to decide, not the PAP candidates.

Among other things, PSP has proposed a post-Covid-19 resurgence strategy, which would include bolder economic stimuli and stronger support for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

“We feel that our manifesto is crafted in the interest of Singaporeans,” Dr Tan added. “It is up to (PAP’s) interpretation and if they think that we have done a lousy manifesto, it is not for them to say. It is for the people to decide.”

Dr Tan then went on the offensive and said that PAP is often talking about getting jobs, but it does not talk enough about lives and livelihoods.

“(The PAP Government has) to go back to the drawing boards and study all the rules and regulations pertaining to the… small- and medium-sized industries, for example. Is it in line with the coronavirus (situation)?” he asked.

“We (at PSP) look at the big picture. Not just jobs, jobs, jobs.”

During an e-rally on Saturday night, Dr Paul Tambyah, chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), also criticised PAP for holding an election in the midst of a pandemic. 

Dr Tambyah, who is an infectious disease expert, chided National Development Minister Lawrence Wong for choosing to spend his time campaigning for the election rather than monitoring the recent Covid-19 cluster at a public housing block in Tampines.

“(That cluster) is a great concern to anyone who studies the environmental transmission of viruses. To have the ministerial committee which is in charge of the response to the virus distracted by competing in a GE is the peak of irresponsibility,” Dr Tambyah said. 

“Minister Wong and his team that is handling the outbreak need to be out there in the field, monitoring the investigation, understanding the virology and the mathematical models built around this cluster in Tampines instead of walking around Marsiling.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY TESSA OH

Related topics

SGVotes2020 Singapore General Election Tan Cheng Bock Paul Tambyah Covid-19

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