GE2020: More opposition MPs will make government more responsive to the people, says Pritam Singh

Workers' Party doorstop at Kovan Market on 8 July 2020. (PHOTO: Nicholas Yong/Yahoo News Singapore)
Workers' Party doorstop at Kovan Market on 8 July 2020. (PHOTO: Nicholas Yong/Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — The presence of opposition Members of Parliament in the House makes the government more responsive and sensitive to the concerns of the people, said Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh on Wednesday evening (8 July).

“It’s going to be a very tough election. There is a real risk of a parliament dominated completely by elected PAP MPs. Is that a good outcome for Singapore? I would suggest it’s not.”

Speaking to reporters at Kovan Market on the ninth and final day of campaigning for the 2020 General Election (GE), Singh was flanked by his predecessor Low Thia Khiang. The latter is not running for office but has actively campaigned on the ground for the WP.

Responding to a question on whether the party has accomplished its goals in the campaign, Singh emphasised three main messages the party had tried to put out.

Firstly, the importance of a credible opposition party in parliament speaking up for workers, particularly in light of issues such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the increasing elderly population and the peaking of resident labour force participation within the decade.

Secondly, the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme, which has been the subject of much debate in the campaign, does not allow opposition MPs to embed themselves in the community. “You don’t get that sort of feedback directly from your don’t even have any place to conduct your MPS (and you are) disconnected from the ground. An opposition MP should never be like that.”

Alluding to the former prime minister Goh Chok Tong’s comment the NCMP scheme is an outrigger for Singapore’s political system, Singh said, “I think it’s an outrigger for the PAP.”

Thirdly, the prospect of an opposition wipeout in Parliament, leaving the House dominated by People’s Action Party (PAP) MPs.

Asked about his assessment of the ground sentiment, Singh would only say, “I don’t want to get ahead of myself.” He also cautioned against over-interpreting online sentiment, as it is “dangerous” to equate online behaviour and online support with actual support.

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