The crowd at the Reform Party (RP) rally last evening (4 Sep 2015) was initially sparse, but people slowly trickled in, and soon, the candidates were addressing a crowd of about 1,000 people in the Yio Chu Kang stadium.
Ms Noraini Yunus spoke about Singapore’s high cost of living, foreign workers and the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Speaking in Malay, she mentioned the competition parents face when registering their children for primary school.
Moving on to the minimum wage issue, Ms Noraini singled out an argument claiming that a minimum wage would reduce the chances people with disabilities have when seeking low-wage employment. She shared that there are many people with disabilities in her workplace who hold managerial positions, proving that there is no need to give them special consideration before instituting a minimum wage.
Ms Noraini also spoke about LGBT rights, especially within the Muslim community. “Religion is someone’s right to practice,” she said, urging people not to overly focus on people who identify as LGBT as they are already dealing with the conflict between their religion and sexual orientation. She added that it is important for the Muslim community to be aware of the trickiness of such situations.
Mr Osman Sulaiman, an entrepreneur who had contested the previous election with the RP, shared the party’s intent to introduce a child benefit of $300 a month per child to encourage families to have more children, as well as to champion the return of Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies at 55 years old instead of the current age of 65 years old.
The tone of the rally took a somewhat xenophobic turn when Mr Gilbert Goh took to the stage. Known for organising protests against the Population White Paper, Mr Goh emphasised the perceived unfair advantages that the People’s Action Party (PAP) government has given foreigners relative to Singaporeans. He said given the influx of foreigners, those campaigning during the elections have to first check if someone is Singaporean or not before handing him or her a flyer. He also referred to the Little India riot and the SMRT bus strike as problems caused by foreigners in Singapore.
Playing off a widely-publicised gaffe he made on Nomination Day, human rights lawyer M Ravi told the crowd: “Vote for the PAP…if you want 6.9 million population. Vote for the PAP if you want rising costs. Vote for the PAP if you don’t want to withdraw your CPF at 55. Vote for the PAP if you want the floodgates of foreign labour to be opened.”
Mr Ravi also highlighted the fact that a $38 million upgrading project in Ang Mo Kio was unveiled after Parliament was dissolved, later linking to the concept of loyalty to the PAP. He asked, “If you are not loyal to the PAP, they say that you are not loyal to the country. Is PAP equal to Singapore? Therefore, it is important that loyalty is earned. It is not demanded, it is certainly not bought.”
“If the government is afraid of the people, that is when it is a democracy. If the people are afraid of the government, that is dictatorship,” Mr Ravi said, ending his speech to cheers from the crowd.
Mr Roy Ngerng did not disappoint those who expected him to address CPF issues, He told the crowd, “Today we will represent ourselves to go into Parliament. I will go into Parliament, I will research on policies, and I will debate on them. My team will speak up and fight for you to make policies that will protect Singaporeans.”
The RP’s main manifesto promises to fight in Parliament for a minimum wage, introduce a child benefit of $300 a month per child to encourage families to have more children, introduce an old-age pension of $500 per month for those over 65 years old, and to to return CPF monies to citizens at the age of 55.