Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh said in a Facebook post on Wednesday (13 November) that it’s difficult for opposition parties in Singapore to be united as different parties have different philosophies.
In his post, Mr Singh also shared a Channel News Asia (CNA) article titled “Lam Pin Min calls out ‘irresponsible and abhorrent’ actions of opposition party member at PMD rider dialogue”.
On Tuesday, opposition politician Mr Goh Men Seng, Secretary-General of the People’s Power Party, gatecrashed the Meet-the-People (MPS) session of Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min while he was having a discussion with over 300 PMD riders over the ban.
Mr Goh had reportedly asked Dr Lam why the government did not ban cars given that there were many car accidents, prompting Dr Lam to rebut his remarks.
While attempting to draw a line between Mr Goh’s action and the WP, Mr Singh said opposition unity “remains a real challenge”. Echoing the same point raised by fellow party member Low Thia Khiang in 2013, Mr Singh noted that although many Singaporeans wish that the opposition unite and coordinate their efforts, but it’s very difficult to be achieved in reality.
“In 2013, on the back of the Punggol-East by-election, Mr Low delivered a rally speech on why opposition unity in Singapore was difficult, if not impossible. Indeed, many Singaporeans hope the opposition can unite and coordinate their efforts so as to become a more relevant political force. Intuitively, the argument makes sense,” he wrote.
He added, “But the reality is that different parties and individuals have different philosophies, both ideologically and in terms of how we engage the issues of the day.”
Mr Singh went on further to state that his party believes that an opposition exists in order to play an “important check and balance role” as well as be an integral part of Singapore’s “parliamentary democracy, no matter which party is in Government and whoever is represented by the opposition.”
Moreover, the main objective of WP is not to destruct political opponents, but rather to provide a better Singapore for all Singaporeans, Mr Singh said. “The way the WP approaches opposition politics is a reflection of this.”
He added that WP believes that this approach is something that is endorsed not just by Singaporeans, but by People’s Action Party (PAP) supporters as well.
“I accept these are broad statements. But not every opposition part believes the same thing. As a small political player in our landscape, the WP must get its political purpose right. To a large extent, this explains why opposition unity – notwithstanding friendly discussions and relationships amongst opposition members – remain a real challenge,” Mr Singh opined.
WP’s take on PMD footpath ban issue
Speaking about the recent Personal Mobility Devices (PMD) ban on footpaths in Singapore, the WP’s chief said “PMDs will make a comeback in Singapore, provided the regulations are fine-tuned and the infrastructure catches up”. However, he emphasised that fixing the infrastructure is easier said than done.
Mr Singh also mentioned that he along with MP Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap visited the late Madam Ong in the hospital after her bicycle collided with an e-scooter last month in Bedok North. The 65-year-old woman, unfortunately, died in the hospital four days after the accident.
“Her condition was critical, her family distraught. In the course of our work, the AHTC MPs and councillors also meet residents who are fortunately not hospitalised, but suffer painful injuries arising from collisions or report near misses, with the safety of children coming up frequently,” he wrote.
Although the party stand by the public in terms of their safety due to PMDs, Mr Singh also noted that the food delivery business, which heavily depends on PMDs, has also helped support the rice bowls of low-income Singaporeans.
“The food delivery business has provided Singaporeans, especially the low-income and those who seek to supplement their income with on-demand work. In many cases, the opportunities provided by Grabfood, Foodpanda etc. go a long way to support families where breadwinners find it difficult to secure a job. PMD food delivery is an honest job,” he wrote.
Mr Goh response to the spat with Dr Lam
Separately, Mr Goh also took to his Facebook today (14 November) to tell his side of the story about the incident at Dr Lam’s MPS.
He said it’s “utterly silly and irrational” for people to think that he voiced out his opinion against the PMD ban just to “win more votes” for his party.
“Someone ask me whether I am just being opportunistic in voicing out against the PMD Ban now. In fact, a lot of my detractors and PAP people are accusing me of “politicising” the issue to “score political points”!, he wrote.
He added, “I would be utterly silly and irrational to think that by standing to voice my opposition of the PMD Ban could “win more votes” for my party or myself.”
He explained that there are the main reasons why he decided to speak up against the ban, and the first being that PMD creates a new sub economic culture an opportunities to help those socially disadvantaged group of people to earn a decent living.
“It empowers them to earn a decent wage for their family and indirectly, reduces social problems in our society. Most people won’t want to beg for money or ask for handouts if they can have the opportunity to earn a living for themselves through their own labour. What they need is just an opportunity and PMD has opened up such opportunity which they would never have in the past,” he explained.
Secondly, Mr Goh also asserted that this group of socially disadvantaged people need a “strong voice to make their plight heard”.
If that’s not all, the opposition politician also noted that the current government is incompetent because they refuse to spend more money to build enough infrastructure that will allow both PMD users and pedestrians to safely use the facilities, without competing with each other.
“Last but not least, I believe that if a proper Ecosystem is set up with proper licensing, infrastructure, regulations and training workshops, we can overcome the problems and minimize the inconvenience and incidents caused by PMDs,” he wrote.
He continued, “This is especially so for delivery riders because if they know that their misbehavior in using PMD on the footpath could cause their rice bowls and the only source of income, they will observe the rules very carefully and be more considerate when they are empowered with the knowledge of proper protocol in PMD usage.”
Mr Goh also boldly stated that he is willing to stake his entire political future for the PMDs riders as he believes this is the right thing to do, although he claims that “PAP will definitely start to paint me (him) black just to make sure that the majority who supported the ban would continue to vote them and not my party”.
As such, Mr Goh hoped that all PMD users, especially delivery riders, will support him and prove PAP wrong. “Prove the Whole Singapore that you are responsible and considerate PMD users. It is a fight which must be won by right actions, not just words,” he said, concluding his post.