The Singapore People’s Party (SPP) and People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates contesting at Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC appealed to voters on Friday (4 July) night in some of the first constituency political broadcasts of GE2020 which aired in a national broadcast.
The SPP team for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC comprises the party’s secretary-general Steve Chia, Melvyn Chiu and Williiamson Lee. The fourth member of the team, Osman Sulaiman, was not present.
During the broadcast, Mr Chia outlined six main points to voters on what they can expect from SPP if they make it into Parliament, starting with the party’s commitment to being full-time MPs if elected as well a promise to hold public officers to greater accountability.
Mr Chia said, “We will become MPs who will always be available to you to attend to your concerns.”
He later said, “Parliament is the place where laws are being made. There is a need for more conversations and debates on policies and issues that affect you… we want to hold public officers to greater accountability.”
Mr Chia went on to ask voters, “Do you really one to give PAP another 70% of the vote?” noting that his party believes that the people want diversity of views and a balanced parliament to “protect against power abuse”.
Mr Chia then said that the PAP has “failed to solve” many growing concerns such as stagnating wages, rising cost of living, depreciation of HDB flats, and competition for employment with foreign talent.
He said about jobs, “We are not being xenophobic here but we believe that a balanced approach should be taken so that Singaporeans do not feel short changed.”
He also highlighted the issue of income inequality, saying, “Ministers are paid millions while the
gross median wage of Singaporeans remain at just over $4,500 per month last year. There is no job security and there is no minimum wage to fall back on. Why?”
He noted that SPP is proposing a minimum wage law that would protect workers.
Moving on, Mr Chia talked about transparency and accountability, pointing out the still-unrevealed amount in the national reserves as well as the often debated salary of Temasek CEO Ho Ching’s annual salary.
“This is just one of many governance issues that needs to be addressed and the only way to answer that is to ask the hard questions in Parliament,” said Mr Chia, hinting that SPP would do just that.
Finally, Mr Chia stressed on the point that other opposition parties have talked about before, which is that they “believe that the Constitution should not be easily amended to suit the objectives of the PAP“.
“It is thus crucial that we deny PAP the power to rubber-stamp policies and change the Constitution to suit their advantage,” he added.
He continued, “Together with other non-governing parties, we seek to deny PAP a two-thirds majority in Parliament.”
Conversely, SPP’s opponents and incumbents focused their constituency political broadcast by talking about what they have done for the ward over the years.
The four-men PAP team comprises incumbent MPs Ng Eng Hen, Chee Hong Tat, Mr Saktiandi Supaat and Mr Chong Kee Hiong.
Mr Ng Eng Hen, who spoke first for the group, highlighted the elderly fitness stations and playgrounds as well as new covered-walkways, renovated markets, lift replacements, and the new 3-generation mega recreational park that is due to be completed within a year. He also mentioned the new community club built in Bishan and the upgrading of existing ones in Toa Payoh West and Thompson.
He then went on to address the country’s COVID-19 recovery. He said, “I want to speak honestly and plainly when I say that the next few months will be difficult as the COVID 19 outbreak has affected our economy badly.”
“The PAP government has promised to do all it can to reduce retrenchments and has taken extraordinary measures to draw out more than 50 billion dollars from our reserves to help companies keep their workers through wage support self-employed persons too are included in these schemes,” he added.
Mr Ng also warned that despite all the help, some businesses and companies may not survive while vulnerable residents may lose their jobs.
He then promised the PAP’s assistance. He said, “Together we must help residents through this difficult period. Especially with those with financial difficulties, we promise our assistance.”
The other PAP candidates went on to mention various existing programmes that they have implemented from the Estate Upgrading Program in Thompson, Fulton and Pemimpin estates to Equal Start which provides enrichment classes for children, the Block Ambassador Program and the Quick Action Aid.
Mr Chee specifically talked about the National Jobs Council’s creation of jobs for Singaporeans, saying that they intend to bring their services “closer to residents” by setting up SG United Jobs & Skills centres in both Bishan and Toa Payoh to organise job fairs and job related services.