Reddit users ask SDP members about election campaign proposals, stance on migrant labour, LGBT issues
- SDP chairman Paul Tambyah and member Alfred Tan took on questions posted by Reddit users
- People asked how it intends to fulfil proposals to revive Singapore’s economy and jobs market
- They also wanted to know how it plans to fund its various proposals
- The session is yet another way that the party is trying to reach out to the online community
SINGAPORE — For about six hours on Thursday (June 25), the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) spent time engaging with online users during an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit, a website that hosts online forums.
It was questioned about its views on foreign manpower in the country, its position on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, as well as how it intended to carry out some of the promises it is making for its election campaign, among others.
SDP’s chairman Paul Tambyah and member Alfred Tan took on the questions posted by Reddit users.
For its stance on LGBT and whether Section 377A — the law that criminalises sex between men — should be repealed, the SDP members did not answer any of them.
It refers to the party’s proposals to say “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.
Some online users wanted to know how SDP intends to revive the Singapore’s economy and jobs market, which have been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, and its assessment of the Government’s handling of the crisis.
ABOUT MONEY AND WHERE TO GET IT
Several people also questioned how SDP would get the funding necessary to finance its various programmes, which includes suspending GST until the end of 2021, providing 18-month payouts to workers retrenched due to the pandemic, and giving retirees S$500 every month.
Mr Tan clarified that the idea to suspend GST is only for the period where the economy needs assistance to get back on its feet after being battered by the crisis.
Reinstating estate duties, a tax on assets and capital gains could help raise funding for its programmes, he added.
Increasing the Net Investment Returns Contribution to Singapore’s national reserves from the current cap of 50 per cent to 60 per cent would also help.
Citing the example of a Founders’ Memorial that is being built and an S$800,000 bin centre in the civic district, he said: “We can also better scrutinise the government budget and seek to reduce waste and imprudent spending. Looking at how past projects had been approved and implemented, there should be better debate and justification for expenditures and capital spend."
USE OF ‘DIVISIVE’ LANGUAGE
Responding to a feedback by a new Singapore citizen on how the language used in SDP’s pamphlets is divisive and potentially xenophobic, Dr Tambyah said that SDP believes in treating both Singaporeans and migrants equally and fairly, unlike the ruling People’s Action Party, “which tries to divide the people of Singapore and also the migrant workers from the community in which they live”.
“This means that there is a minimum wage, minimum standards of living that apply equally to Singapore citizens and migrants alike. That way, qualified migrants who believe in our country are welcome.
“We do not want to exploit migrant workers simply because the meagre salaries that they earn here translate into larger sums of money back home,” he added.
Many questions on climate change were also raised, with both members responding that the party is advocating for a shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
STAYING ACTIVE ONLINE
The GE will be held on July 10 and SDP is planning to field 11 candidates in five constituencies. Political parties have to submit the names of the candidates they are fielding on June 30, which is Nomination Day.
Observers have said that GE2020 will be an unprecedented one, being held during a pandemic with rules on what activities can and cannot take place, such as political parties not being allowed to campaign through mass rallies.
SDP has been active on its online channels by posting YouTube videos and organising forums through several Facebook live sessions during the eight-week circuit breaker in April and May when people had to stay home to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Reddit session on Thursday — the first organised by the party — is another effort by the party to engage with voters virtually.