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GE2020: PAP says SDP’s population size falsehood renders campaign 'pointless', calls into question its integrity

SINGAPORE — The People’s Action Party (PAP) has hit back at Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan over his election slogan which is based on its claims that the incumbent party plans to increase Singapore’s population size to 10 million.

GE2020: PAP says SDP’s population size falsehood renders campaign 'pointless', calls into question its integrity

Clockwise from right: Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Dr Jamus Lim, Dr Chee Soon Juan, Mr Francis Yuen and moderator Jaime Ho from Mediacorp in a live televised political debate on July 1, 2020.

  • SDP’s “Four Yeses, One No” slogan a key plank in GE campaign, says PAP
  • SDP chief Chee “further twisted” facts in TV debate
  • It then claimed “victory” in calling for Government not to raise population size

 

SINGAPORE — The People’s Action Party (PAP) has hit back at Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan over his election slogan which is based on its claims that the incumbent party plans to increase Singapore’s population size to 10 million.

The 4Y1N slogan, which stands for “Four Yeses, One No”, is part of SDP’s election campaign. It proposes saying “yes” to retrenchment benefits, an income for retirees, putting people first and suspending the Goods and Services Tax (GST), while saying “no” to a population of 10 million.

In a press statement on Thursday (July 2) night, a PAP spokesperson said the slogan, which it described as “a key plank in the SDP’s election campaign”, is a “falsehood (which) renders the campaign pointless, and calls into question the integrity of the whole party”.

The dispute between both parties over the campaign slogan first emerged on Wednesday during a one-hour live debate on television which featured representatives from four political parties — PAP, SDP, the Workers’ Party (WP) and the Progress Singapore Party (PSP).

Dr Chee and PAP’s Vivian Balakrishnan had crossed swords when the former asked about what he claimed was the Government’s plan to increase Singapore’s population to 10 million.

During the debate, Dr Chee said: “Over and above all this, Mr Heng Swee Keat… in an interview, toys with the idea of bringing our population to 10 million. Singaporeans are deadly worried about this proposal.”

This drew a sharp rebuke from Dr Balakrishnan, who said that Dr Chee was peddling a falsehood and that the Government had no such plans.

After the debate, Dr Chee posted on his Facebook page a March 29, 2019 article from The Straits Times, which reported Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat’s remarks made at a forum, where the 10 million figure was said by Dr Chee to have been mentioned.

On Thursday morning, daily broadsheet The Straits Times clarified that Mr Heng “did not say that Singapore should plan for 10 million people, nor did he mention the figure”.

During the event, Mr Heng had referred to former chief planner Liu Thai Kher’s comments that Singapore should go for an even higher population number than 6.9 million.

But in a statement on Facebook, Mr Heng said he did not endorse Mr Liu’s view, but instead “had explained that our population size was not just about physical space, but also about social space and how we can preserve a sense of togetherness”.

Following Wednesday night’s televised debate, SDP issued a press release declaring that it has “achieved victory on our call for the ‘no’ to a 10 million population”.

It stated how Dr Chee had “pressed PAP candidate Vivian Balakrishnan to categorically state that the Government will not raise Singapore’s population to 10 million”.

In response to this, the PAP spokesperson said Dr Chee is “further twisting the facts” by claiming that it had succeeded in “extracting a promise from the PAP that it had no intention to increase the population to 10 million”.

“Dr Chee first conjures a bogey out of thin air to befuddle, frighten and divide Singaporeans,” the statement said.

“When it is pointed out to him the bogey doesn’t exist, he claims someone else had ‘toyed’ with the idea first. And when it is shown conclusively that someone else had done no such thing, he waves his arms triumphantly in the air, proclaiming, ‘see, I slayed the bogey’.”

The spokesperson then added that Dr Chee has “staged this drama many times before” and cited an incident in 1996 where he had “refused to apologise for his use of wrong data on healthcare subsidies at a Parliamentary Select Committee”.

“A leopard does not change its spots. The new Dr Chee — of which there have been many — is still the old Dr Chee,” said the spokesperson.

Related topics

SDP PAP Chee Soon Juan Vivian Balakrishnan Singapore General Election SGVotes2020

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