During Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) 4th Meet PSP session on Wednesday night (17 June) via Zoom and Facebook Live, party member Kala Manickam was asked several questions on topics regarding migrant workers, voting age, National Service as well as new Singapore citizens.
One of the viewers asked about her opinion on Singapore’s migrant workers’ dormitories.
The question was:
“How do you think our foreign workers’ dormitories are being managed? And do you think they deserve an apology? Do you think apologies should be demanded?”
Since the abysmal living conditions at migrant workers dormitories was highlighted to members of the public by the media as the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread, more Singaporeans started to become concerned about the workers’ well-being.
Mdm Manickam expressed that the migrant workers’ dormitories in Singapore are not managed well and that the living conditions the workers are exposed to are “unbearable”.
Apart from making her stand clear, Mdm Manickam believed that the migrant workers do deserve an apology. She referred to the incident where Nominated Member of Parliament Anthea Ong asked Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo if the Government would apologise to the migrant workers.
The PSP member recalled how Ms Teo refused to issue an apology because “she had done everything possible”.
Back to the viewer’s question on demanding an apology, Mdm Manickam agreed that Singaporeans should “humbly request” for an apology instead of demanding for it. Stating that the migrant workers are not “totally responsible” for having to stay in that environment, she believed that Singaporeans also “played a part” in it.
Stringent process to become a new Singapore citizen
Another question that was addressed to Mdm Manickam was about “xenophobia” in Singapore with reference to tighter measures imposed on new citizens:
“I’m a new citizen. I’ve resided here for many years. I genuinely love this country. I’m afraid imposing tighter measures might create a xenophobic environment in Singapore, what does PSP have to say about this?”
In response, Mdm Manickam explained the Party’s plan regarding the review on the new citizenship process. She expressed that the Party is not going to “make it much easier”, instead, there will be a “stringent process”.
She agreed that new citizens should stay in Singapore for at least five years to be eligible to participate in voting. Furthermore, if a person is about to be given a Singapore citizenship, he or she will be observed for a few years on their contribution to the nation. The observation on new citizens would focus not only on the economical contribution but also their “heart and soul” to be Singaporeans. Mdm Manickam further explained all these observations to allow the Government to decide on the person’s citizenship, according to PSP’s proposal.
Therefore, she urged the people who have already gained their Singapore citizenship to be “vigilant” about current affairs and prevent the current situations from occurring for future generations.
Lowering of voting age
Other than that, Madam Manickam revealed that PSP stands for lowering the voting age to 18 years old in order to attract more youth to be involved in politics.
She went on to explain that the lowering of the voting age was because youth these days are “more mature” and that the Party wants them to take up certain responsibilities and ownership in the current affairs in Singapore.
Stance on National Service
The former army officer was then asked about National Service and if the Party would support women’s participation in the service.
With a background in the Singapore Armed Forces, Madam Manickam supported women’s participation in the National Service. She believes that the Army is a “fantastic place” to develop one’s discipline and intellectual thinking, adding that her sense of confidence was developed during her time in the armed forces.