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WP’s ability to advance policy alternatives depends on Govt’s willingness to share information: Pritam Singh

SINGAPORE — The extent to which the Workers’ Party (WP) can put forward realistic policy alternatives will depend on the extent to which the People’s Action Party (PAP) Government is open to sharing more information, WP chief Pritam Singh said on Monday (July 20).

Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh noted that while the Government has a 120,000-strong civil service as a potential resource for parliamentary debates, the WP is primarily reliant on its volunteer base for its political work.

Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh noted that while the Government has a 120,000-strong civil service as a potential resource for parliamentary debates, the WP is primarily reliant on its volunteer base for its political work.

  • Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh said the party’s ability to propose policy alternatives depends on its access to Government information 
  • He was responding to National Development Minister Lawrence Wong’s comment that WP must go beyond asking questions in Parliament and propose policies to be debated
  • Mr Singh said that despite WP’s constraints in manpower and resources, it will continue to advocate for the welfare of Singaporeans

 

SINGAPORE — The extent to which the Workers’ Party (WP) can put forward realistic policy alternatives will depend on the extent to which the People’s Action Party (PAP) Government is open to sharing more information, WP chief Pritam Singh said on Monday (July 20). 

He was responding to comments by Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong that with 10 seats in Parliament, WP should do more than just ask questions of the Government, and should put forward serious policy alternatives to be scrutinised and debated.

“While the Government continues to have a 120,000-strong civil service as a potential resource for parliamentary debates, the WP continues to be primarily reliant on its volunteer base for its political work,” Mr Singh wrote in a Facebook post. 

“What remains to be seen is whether the approach of the PAP Government towards greater information sharing will turn in favour of greater openness.” 

The extent to which realistic policy alternatives can be advanced both in public and in Parliament is also a function of the PAP's approach to democratic politics, he added. 

Mr Singh had earlier given the same written reply to The Straits Times, which had asked him on Saturday evening for a response to Mr Wong’s comments.

Mr Wong, the PAP Member of Parliament (MP)-elect for Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency (GRC), had said in a briefing with PAP activists on Saturday that the WP “cannot just continue asking the Government questions”, as it now has 10 MPs which have been elected to Parliament, up from six previously.

“It is also their duty to put forward serious policy alternatives to be scrutinised and debated,” Mr Wong had said. 

Mr Singh, who is now the Leader of the Opposition and MP-elect for Aljunied GRC, said that despite its constraints in manpower and resources, the WP will “continue to advance forward-looking suggestions for the welfare of Singaporeans”.

“This includes proposals such as the redundancy insurance and alternative approaches to Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, both of which were raised in the previous session of Parliament,” he said. 

He also said that his party will encourage public conversations about issues such as the Housing and Development Board lease decay, and also release public working papers to highlight such issues. 

Mr Singh said that although the WP now has 10 MPs in Parliament, it remains far from its medium-term aim of securing one-third of the elected seats in the House, to prevent PAP from having a supermajority and the ability to make constitutional changes at will.

“To achieve this, the WP needs at least 32 elected MPs in Parliament,” said Mr Singh. “Even so, such an outcome would still give the ruling party a very strong mandate with 61 elected seats, allowing it to advance its agenda and policies.” 

Mr Singh added that questioning any Government is a “fundamental role of a responsible opposition”, and that holding the Government to account will “remain fundamental” to the party’s work in Parliament. 

“Whatever the expectations the PAP have of the WP, the WP's purpose and approach in Parliament is to advance and achieve better outcomes for Singapore, and to champion the welfare of Singaporeans,” he said. 

“We will remain steadfast and fully committed to that cause.”

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Pritam Singh Lawrence Wong PAP Workers' Party

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