The India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) debate “has nothing to do with race”, said Progress Singapore Party (PSP) in a statement on Monday (19 July),
Denying speculation regarding fragmented views within the party on the issue of CECA, PSP in a Facebook post said that the party’s leaders have reiterated PSP’s stance that the CECA debate is about the jobs of Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMET).
“The focus is on the fair treatment of Singaporeans and protection of Singaporeans’ jobs and wages,” said PSP.
This stance was “re-emphasised” in an 18 July closed-door meeting among PSP Secretary-General Francis Yuen Kin Pheng, party chairman Dr Tan Cheng Bock, and several party members, said the party.
“The discussion and exchange of candid views between party leadership and members concluded with a unified stand of commitment and support for the party’s leaders and two Parliamentarians Mr Leong Mun Wai and Ms Hazel Poa Koon Koon,” said PSP.
Reaffirming its commitment to “stand up for and speak up for all citizens’ concerns and livelihoods”, PSP said that it will continue to push forward “the importance of protecting, growing and developing our Singapore core, the foundation of our economy and future of our country”.
It was reported by TODAY last week that some PSP members have raised concerns about the party’s stance on CECA, following the brief exchanges between the Ministers and its Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs) in Parliament on 9 July.
TODAY had quoted several PSP members in its report, who said that the emphasis on CECA during recent Parliamentary debates could give the impression that PSP was singling out a certain race and nationality.
TODAY also reported that some members who spoke to the media outlet agreed that the issue of CECA should not have been the focus whenever the topic of PMET jobs surfaced.
Mr Abhijit Dass was quoted by the media outlet as saying that there are “racial undertones” in the way CECA has been raised in Parliament by PSP.
Mr Dass said that “the real problem in Singapore is not about CECA”, as India nationals are important to the functioning of the economy due to the skills they bring to the workforce.
“It is totally a racial undertone, but (the party) doesn’t realise it,” said the former pilot.
According to TODAY, these members had planned to take up the issue with the party’s leadership on Sunday (18 July).
TOC understands from its sources that neither the members who had such thoughts nor Mr Dass were present at the meeting.