by Benjamin Cheah/

Mr Goh Meng Seng

The National Solidarity’s debut rally was a direct challenge to Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and his team at Marine Parade Group Representative Constituency. Immigration, dissatisfaction with the Government, and rising costs of living took centre stage, with speaker after speaker slamming Mr Goh and the People’s Action Party. The crowd roared with approval, and booed when Ms Tin Pei Ling’s name was mentioned.

The NSP brought out its big guns for the rally. Among them were party Secretary General Goh Meng Seng, Jeanette Chong Aruldoss, and quasi-media celebrity Nicole Seah. Every speech virtually followed the same formula: point out the flaws of government policy, stoke up anger against the PAP, and encourage voters to vote for the Opposition. The sole exception was the speech by Mohamad Shafri, who used his time to praise his fellow party members. The speeches seemed planned to work up the crowd and generate buzz, leading to Ms Seah’s climatic speech.

Much of the rally can be divided into attacks on the PAP and the NSP’s platform. The most popular point of contention was the influx of foreigners into Singapore. Gilbert Goh said that one in three jobs in Singapore were taken by foreigners, while highly educated Singaporeans were forced to go jobless or take up low-paid jobs like driving a taxi. The second most popular point was the rising costs of living. Just about every speaker provided examples, ranging from Mr Yip Yew Weng’s account of ever-increasing prices of food to Mr Goh’s recount of rising prices of HDB flats. This point was paired with the assertion that the current Goods and Services Tax is too high. The speakers attacked Mr Goh Chok Tong’s 1984 promise that Singapore would achieve a ‘Swiss standard of living’ by 1999, painting a picture of ever-increasing costs and a country that alienates its own citizens.

The NSP’s election platform was scant on details. Most of the speakers encouraged voters to vote for the NSP in lieu of talking about policies. Mr Yip said that NSP wants to reduce GST to 5% and make essential goods and healthcare exempt from GST. Ms Seah elaborated on the NSP’s other ideas in her speech. The most concrete proposal was to push for public transport subsidies for the elderly and disabled.  She also said the NSP promises ‘compassionate lower prices’ for first-time home owners, and refuses to treat upgrading works to win votes. Other promises were more nebulous. The NSP promises to ‘make Singaporeans the priority’ instead of GDP growth and ‘grow wages’. No further details were provided. Most conspicuous was the lack of concrete ideas to address the rising number of foreigners the NSP was so concerned about.

The speakers also brought up the passing of David Goh, Mr Goh’s brother. Mr Goh said that his brother, who was his principal election agent, died of fatigue early this morning. The late Mr Goh was reportedly busy putting up posters the night before. His last wish, according to Mr Goh, was to see greater opposition representation in Parliament. Mr Goh said he will continue to work hard and fulfill his brother’s wish.

Ms Nicole Seah

Near the end of her speech, Ms Seah summed the essence of the rally in three points. The PAP had made promises that they have failed to keep, and people are suffering for it. The people deserve to hold the government accountable for their mistakes, and for their voice to be heard. Therefore, she concluded, vote for the NSP.

Throughout the rally, the crowd cheered on the speakers. Ms Seah received the most attention, mounting the platform to cries of ‘Nicole Seah!’ and ‘NSP!’. The crowd jeered at every mention of the PAP, with a few members shouting vulgarities in Hokkien and English. Most of their displeasure was reserved for Ms Tin Pei Ling: when Ms Aruldoss mentioned her name, the crowd broke into loud boos. It seems that the NSP has a solid base of fans in Singapore. But how the crowd’s reaction will translate into votes remains to be seen.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like

Dr Chee Soon Juan: Multi-party system must replace one-party rule for Singapore's future survival

Dr Chee Soon Juan, the Secretary-General of Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), commented on…

Thailand denies PM aided Malaysia 1MDB graft scandal

Thailand’s government threatened legal action on Monday against a banned opposition party…

女佣处境如现代奴隶 客工组织质问港新马改革意愿

上周,本地一对经理夫妻因为虐待缅甸藉家庭女佣麦麦丹,妻子被判坐牢47个月罚款4000元,丈夫则判坐牢24个月和赔偿女佣3000元。 劳工组织关注东南亚区域外籍女佣的境遇,过去一些东南亚国家的女佣远赴中东工作,以为能获得优渥薪资,却惨遭虐打、被迫超时工作,有者也面对性侵等威胁。 但是,近年来劳工组织也接获举报,那些在香港、新加坡和马来西亚等地工作的女佣,也面对一定的歧视、乃至如同奴隶般的待遇。 新加坡客工维权组织,情义之家(HOME)执行董事诗娜坎瓦坦言,这类对女佣不公的事件虽一再发生,但是在改善保障女佣的努力方面,却仍有差距。 她分析,有可能因为维持现状反而在经济上对所有人有利,致使改革的动力匮乏。对政府而言,福利和关怀组织可以照顾那些低薪女佣。 坎瓦说,新加坡每五个家户就有一家有请女佣。但在我国女佣也面对着种族和性别上的歧视。“他们是隐形的,被关在门后,为国人做不愿亲自下手的肮脏工作。” 这也致使本国一直缺乏动力去修法,以更好地保障这些低收入客工的处境。 在香港,女佣甚至连“二等公民”都不是 香港国际移工联盟主席恩妮列达莉(Eni Lestari)则指出,在香港,客工比较像是三等、四等公民,甚至连阶级都没有。 “我们的生活如同现代奴隶,因为我们的法律权益不被认可,待遇差过其他劳工。” 早年只有富裕家庭才有帮佣,如今中等收入家庭也可负担得起,加上女性投入职场,对女佣的需求增加。在香港,家中没有帮佣,有49巴仙的25-54岁妇女会投入职场。有请帮佣则比例可提升至78巴仙。…

MSS report: Average sea level 14cm higher than pre-1970 levels

Global sea levels continue to rise as the world warms and the…