In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has launched its “Four Yes, One No” or 4Y1N Campaign for the general election (GE) which is the party’s vision for Singapore in a post-COVID future.
The campaign addressed concerns on two levels, noted the party. First, that the immediate necessities of Singaporeans are taken care of during and immediately following the COVID-19 pandemic. Second, that the long-term problems faced by the nation are dealt with.
In a statement on the website on Tuesday (28 April), the party stated that the pandemic “has wrought major and irrevocable changes to the politico-socio-economic landscape in Singapore”, which the party wishes to address.
One of these includes the rise of retrenchments and pay cuts in the aftermath of the crisis which will result in more income and social inequality. For this, the party says that it has set out a plan to protect the ordinary people from being further exploited and disadvantaged.
“We spell out a vision that will take Singapore into a post-Covid19 era which will allow the country to adapt and take advantage of changed circumstances and where the average Singapore will play a central role,” said the party.
As such, the party announced that this campaign will be the focus of their GE run.
Four Yes: Suspend GST, retrenchment benefits, income for retirees, and putting people first
The first ‘Yes’ is a suspension of the GST. The party proposes the GST to be cut to zero per cent until the end of 2021 given the economic fallout from the pandemic, explaining that the regressive tax will hurt the poor more than it does the rich.
The party hinted that a suspension of the GST will stimulate the economy and help businesses, adding, “It is not smart economics to raise the GST to 9% as proposed by the PAP.”
The second ‘Yes’ is on retrenchment benefits. Specifically, SDP says it will fight for retrenchment benefits to be paid to those who were retrenched as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the party’s RESTART (Re-Employment Scheme and Temporary Assistance for the ReTrenched) programme, the Government pays 75 per cent of a retrenched worker’s last drawn salary for the first six months, 50 per cent for the second six months, and 25 per cent for the final six months. This will be capped at the median wage.
The next ‘Yes’ is providing income for retirees, which SDP said it will push for. Specifically, the party noted that it will push to provide retirees over 65 with a monthly income of S$500, which comes under the party’s Retirement Income Scheme for the Elderly (RISE). The scheme will support the bottom 80 per cent of retirees, which includes those who rely on financial support from their working children as well as those who do not have working children.
Referring to the Household Expenditure Survey, SDP notes that the average retiree household receives an income of nearly S$500 from their working children. However, as retrenchments and pay cuts are expected to rise in the aftermath of COVID-19 economic fallout, working adults will face an even tougher challenge of providing for their own children as well as their retired parents.
“By providing $500 for the average retiree, RISE will also reduce the financial pressure of younger working generations,” asserted the party.
The final ‘Yes’ in the 4Y1N campaign is putting people first. The SDP remarked, “By insisting on calling for a GE in the midst of the Covid-19, the PAP shows that it is willing to sacrifice public health d safety for its own political interests.”
The party went on to say that this resulted in the second surge of infections which has affected thousands of Singaporeans and caused a city-wide lockdown.
The statement said, “The mishandling of the virus spread, eg. ordering Singaporeans not to wear masks if they are well, and not having addressed sooner the dire living conditions of our foreign workers in their dormitories despite early warnings, has made the situation for Singaporeans much worse.”
“SDP will ensure that the PAP puts the people’s interest as top priority,” it emphasised.
One No: No to 10 million population
The ‘No’ aspect of the campaign is a rejection of the 10 million population target that is often talked about.
This is two pronged, as the SDP noted that a denser population would make outbreaks more difficult to contain and that more foreigners in the country would make the country even more dependent on foreign talent than it already is.
“Imagine if the PAP gets its wish to jack the number up to 10 million by bringing in more foreigners,” said the SDP.
“Already, it cannot competently contain the outbreak of Covid-19 which spreads faster as the population density increases. Also, our economy has become overly dependent on foreign workers especially PMETs.”
The statement added, “SDP will push to stop the PAP from raising our population to 10 million and displacing our PMETs with foreign ones.”
The party concluded that it intends to focus on these ideas and proposals in its GE campaign and will elaborate on them in the coming weeks and months.