Political parties talk democracy, population issues at pre-election dialogue

The NUSS Guild Hall in Kent Ridge was the site of much excitement and argument on Tuesday night as representatives of all 10 political parties gathered for a pre-election dialogue.

Moderated by Viswa Sadasivan, Chief Editor of Inconvenient Questions, the dialogue ran over an hour longer than planned as speakers argued issues from immigration to education to democracy. Representatives were Benjamin Pwee from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Steven Chia from the National Solidarity Party (NSP), Sim Ann from the People’s Action Party (PAP), Goh Meng Seng from the People’s Power Party (PPP), Kenneth Jeyaretnam from the Reform Party (RP), Harminder Pal Singh from the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), Paul Tambyah from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), Tan Jee Say from Singaporeans First (SingFirst), Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss from the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) and Gerald Giam from the Workers’ Party (WP).

Although this isn’t the first time NUSS has organised an election dialogue, this year is the first time the media has been allowed to report on the event. Sadasivan also observed that it was not only the mainstream media that was in attendance, but also alternative online websites.

Much focus was placed on the future, with all parties agreeing that the upcoming election is crucial for Singaporeans to determine the direction in which the country will be headed.

The issue of town council management cropped up during the dialogue following a question posed by the moderator to Gerald Giam about what he wished had been different about the debate over Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss also highlighted that lapses had been found within the People’s Association:

However, Sim Ann said that the response within government agencies to lapses had been swift, while questions still remained regarded AHPETC:

Population and transport issues received an airing at the dialogue, as opposition members said the issues of the past election had not been solved:

A question posed from the floor on whether there are trade-offs between democracy and effective governance also received spirited replies:

 

 

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