Mr Pritam Singh and Ms Sylvia Lim at the Workers’ Party Members Forum 2020

While speaking at the Workers’ Party Member’s Forum 2020 on Sunday (19 January), the party’s Secretary General, Pritam Singh highlighted the role of opposition is to make sure that the ruling party, People’s Action Party (PAP), does not have a “blank cheque to do whatever it wants”.

He added that his party aims to secure a third of parliamentary seats in order to ensure that the ruling party cannot change the Constitution at its pleasure like it can do today.

As an example, Mr Singh cited the 2017 Presidential Election, where the Government reserved the position for the Malay community. He opined that the urgency to amend the Elected Presidency was politically manufacture by the PAP.

He said, “The real risk appeared to be Tan Cheng Bock’s potential participation in the last Presidential elections, and the election of a President who was unlikely to be the PAP’s preferred choice.”

Mr Singh made the remarks in his speech, entitled “Why should I vote for the Workers’ Party?, highlighting the importance of the balance of seats held by parties.

He pointed out that the “numerical balance that the Prime Minister dismisses, on the contrary, absolutely counts because the PAP cannot change the constitution at its pleasure unless it has more that 2/3 of the seats in Parliament, like it can today”, and added that if PAP has less than two-third of the seats in Parliament, it will have to rationally persuade Singaporeans.

“It is an inherent checking mechanism in our parliamentary democracy against any ruling party that chooses to put its political interests first.” reminded Mr Singh.

In his speech, Mr Singh also made special mention of how significant, are the financial resources that the PAP government has at its disposal to implement effective policies for our people, along with how it timed its policy tweaks to coincide with the political calendar, with more to come at Budget 2020.

Noting that the party is not in control of the national purse strings and what some Singaporeans ask to its members regarding what can the opposition do for them, Mr Singh was candid about how no opposition in any parliamentary democracy anywhere in the world can pass bills or to release data and statistics, for example on the number of PRs in the economy.

Upon hearing what Mr Singh said, many netizens pledged their support towards the party and highlighted their wish to have more seats in Parliament to be filled by opposition members. Penning their thought in the Facebook pages of Channel News Asia, The Straits Times and TOC, online users said that PAP is in power for too long which resulted in them becoming very “arrogant” and “self-serving”, which is not great for democracy.

“One party rule also has no transparency and accountability. There must be checks and balances in place for the good of our country, this is how I feel, my opinion,” wrote Helen Chee.

Other online user penned their support for the party, with one user named Francis Cheng said that he is happy with WP’s latest manifesto as it makes “good sense to campaign on check and balance where executive branch is separated from the legislature”.

Dins Abdullah opined that WP needs to stay in power while waiting for other Opposition parties to join the party in Parliament. This is so everyone “can work hand in hand to check on PAP policy”.

Some netizens said they want a party which can “walk the ground with all his people” and “caring”. This is important so that they can understand the public’s problems and lead them well, which ensures a future that is more “desirable, satisfactory and effective”. Robert Tan added that these opposition politicians should not come to serve for the high salaries and huge bonuses.

A few of them highlighted their eagerness to meet WP’s candidates and urged the party to introduce them soon. “Now that you have spoken, do make it a reality. We sure look forward to such candidates coming on stream and to be tested”.

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