In a lengthy speech delivered by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Parliament on Wednesday (2 Sep), he called people who did not vote for the People’s Action Party (PAP) as “free riders“. This rightly incited the ire of Pritam Singh, who as Leader of the Opposition (LO), refuted PM Lee’s assertions.
Following this, Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Sengkang GRC Jamus Lim took to his Facebook to raise his points on why those who voted against the PAP are not “free riders”.
Earlier today (4 Sep), Progress Singapore Party (PSP) member Francis Yuen also shared his thoughts on this matter, saying that it is not helpful at a time of crisis to disunite the people by labeling voters of alternative parties as “free riders”.
Mr Yuen, who contested in Chua Chu Kang GRC in GE2020, believes that the role of the Government is to “serve the country and its people”. Hence, leaders of the ruling party are expected to “treat all citizens equally irrespective of whether they voted for or against their party”.
“Every citizen has a constitutional right to choose at the ballot box who he or she wants to vote for. This is a fundamental right and the voter has no obligation whatsoever to explain the reasons for his or her choice. To make assertions about intentions that are not true and worse still, casting a derogatory label on voters for the alternative parties is utterly disrespectful,” he stressed.
In his post, Mr Yuen also noted that the energy in Parliament ought to be focused to “rigorously debate pressing issues at hand”, adding that now is the time for all parliamentarians to “unite and pull in the same direction”, and not be distracted in the House by misguided comments.
“Questions and views across the aisle from the alternative parties have been fair and germane to the challenges confronting Singapore at the present moment. Whether these be on the status and use of our national reserves, or issues on jobs and PMETs, or effectiveness of our social safety net, the discussions should be civil and steered to generating new ideas to solve problems and stimulate robust debates on these ideas,” he continued.
Mr Yuen went on to say that alternative party members in the House must be “given relevant information and data” if they are to take steps forward in having open and meaningful discussions.
“Not answering their questions or worse, questioning their intent behind what they need to know will not bring about fair and rigorous debate. No one wins and our country receives the short end of the stick. This is not the new dawn that Singaporeans envisage,” he asserted.
Now that the election is over, Mr Yuen calls on all parties to collectively seek out real solutions to address the country’s problems so as to navigate through the crisis and beyond.
“For the coming parliamentary sessions, let’s hear about plans for jobs, the economy, social safety net and concrete strategies for the future, instead of the petty ‘free riders’,” he remarked.