SINGAPORE — Seven political parties took to national television on Thursday (2 July) to broadcast their campaign manifestos to the public, in the first of two party political broadcasts (PPBs) scheduled for this General Election (GE).
The amount of airtime allocated is determined by the number of candidates fielded by the party. The order of the PPBs is also determined by the number of candidates fielded, with the broadcast of the party fielding the least number of candidates aired first, and that fielding the largest number of candidates aired last.
Here was how the English broadcasts transpired:
The Reform Party (RP) wants to see substantial government spending to combat not only the immediate economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis, but also a lasting change in the economic model. It is calling for vastly improved social safety nets, such as universal health care, cash payments to families, a seniors pension, and a minimum wage.
“When we build our recovery, we face a choice,” said Charles Yeo, RP candidate for Ang Mo Kio group representation constituency (GRC). “Continue as before with a system that works for an elite few while the majority struggle, or change and build back a Singapore that is better for all and fairer in every sense.”
National Solidarity Party
The National Solidarity Party (NSP) believes Singaporeans deserve a government which can hear everyone’s voices. The government should be one which is consultative and seeks the opinion of the people for all major decisions.
“It is our responsibility to choose a government, which has the ability to find solutions for the challenges we are facing and at the same time accountable to Singaporeans,” said Spencer Ng, NSP candidate for Sembawang GRC.
“This accountability cannot be achieved if PAP (People’s Action Party) has the super-majority in the Parliament. No one is immune to mistakes. The opposition can offer perspectives which the PAP may miss out.”
NSP has called for the government to ensure Singaporeans have priority for quality jobs, reduce the cost of living, abolish the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and honour Singaporeans’ rights to withdraw their CPF savings at 55 years old.
Peoples Voice (PV) wants to deliver a fairer and more prosperous society for the many, and not just the privileged few. It has called for a need to regain “our country, our dignity, and our future” by restoring the balance of power in favour of the Singapore people.
It is thereby advocating a freeze of all S-Passes and a dramatic reduction in the number of the Employment Passes.
“There are many Singaporeans who are well qualified to do the jobs which are paid S$2,400 and above, and are deprived of doing them because these jobs are presently done by foreigners,” said Michael Fang Amin, PV candidate for Jalan Besar GRC.
“A government is like a father to its citizens. And a father who provides for alien children whilst allowing the breakfast, lunch and dinner of his own children to be stolen is a bad father.”
Singapore Democratic Party
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) said that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has not kept his promise to lessen the burden of the cost of living for Singaporeans. Water prices, Town Council fees, healthcare costs, electricity rates, bus fares, school fees – all have increased, and the Goods and Services Tax will follow suit soon.
“Trust the PAP? Trust doesn't come from what you say, it comes from what you do,” said secretary-general Chee Soon Juan, who is running for Bukit Batok single-member constituency.
SDP has drawn up an alternative vision for Singapore, crystallised in its “4 Yes 1 No” campaign: yes to suspending the GST until end-2021, yes to introducing a retrenchment benefit scheme for retrenched workers, yes to providing a $500 monthly income for the elderly, yes to putting the people first, and no to having a 10 million population.
“Through the decades, the SDP has never wavered in our commitment to speak up for you,” Dr Chee said. “To us, politics is not about self-glorification. Neither is it about enriching ourselves. Rather, it is about speaking up for you, our fellow citizens.”
The Workers’ Party (WP) said that, amid the COVID-19 fear, the PAP could end up with 100 per cent of the elected seats in Parliament. However, it does not need all elected seats to have the mandate to govern.
It said that any vote to the WP will count in three ways:
It will raise issues that PAP Members of Parliament (MPs) cannot or will not raise.
It will prompt other sincere and capable people to come forward in future elections to contest for the WP.
Having “rational, responsible and respectable” WP MPs in Parliament will help safeguard the country.
“Our long-term dream is for Singapore to have a healthy democracy where there are two or three parties who could form a competent and honest government,” said party secretary-general Pritam Singh, who is also a candidate for Aljunied GRC.
“We have seen from the experiences of other countries that power can fall into the wrong hands. The PAP is not immune to such a risk. PAP self-checking can fail. If the wrong people show their true colours only after reaching our highest offices, Singapore is finished.”
Pritam added that the party’s candidates could have pursued a much easier path by joining the PAP or by simply staying out of politics. However, they have taken this far more challenging path because they love the country.
“A vote for us is a vote for checks and balances to safeguard Singapore for coming generations,” he said.
“We must not be an aristocracy where power is held by the few. We must be a democracy where power is in the hands of the many.”
Progress Singapore Party
The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has urged Singaporeans to vote for transparency, accountability and independence by voting for the party.
Secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock has assured the voters that PSP candidates have the abilities to look after their constituencies. If voted in, the candidates will ask the tough questions to ensure the government is transparent and accountable to the people.
“Having a PAP monopoly in Parliament is not a formula for success. For the past 20 years, the PAP has had a strong monopoly. However, prosperity has not flowed to all Singaporeans,” he said.
“Many PMETs are still out of work and their jobs are displaced by foreigners. The previous mandate did not always mean good outcomes for Singaporeans.”
With the government spending billions of reserves on post-COVID-19 recovery measures, Dr Tan asked who will check how the money is spent, if the PAP dominates Parliament. He said that the government is already struggling for answers during the COVID-19 crisis, as seen by the “explosion of dormitory cases” in April.
“They do not have all the answers. For years you have heard the PAP say that you can’t do it without them. I want you to know, that you can do it. We can do it together,” he said.
People’s Action Party
The PAP is seeking a clear mandate to lead Singapore through the storms ahead, and believes the lives, jobs and future of Singapore are at stake in this GE. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, candidate for East Coast GRC, said that the COVID-19 crisis has left Singapore highly exposed to profound uncertainties ahead.
“It is unclear how bad it can get. The economic crisis has caused severe disruptions, with no end in sight,” he said.
“In some countries, the pandemic has further divided people, even leading to riots and unrest. All these pressures have sharpened geopolitical tensions, making an already troubled world more volatile.”
In a more fractious world, Singapore has to do its best to stay relevant, competitive and secure. Heng, who is PAP’s first assistant secretary-general, said the party’s urgent priority over the next few years is to protect lives and save jobs.
It has provided wage subsidies, job creation, care and support packages to help with daily cost of living, and extra support for the hardest-hit Singaporeans. In the long term, it will step up efforts to transform and grow the economy, and deepen links to the world to enable business, including small and medium enterprises, to expand beyond Singapore’s shores.
“To make sure that no Singaporean will be left to walk alone, we will continue to build a more fair and just society,” Heng said.
“But just as at past turning points in our history, for plans to become reality, we need strong partnerships among Singaporeans, and between our people and the government. This is what has given us an edge in this crisis thus far.
“Your ideas, your passions and your energies will be our strength. And with this strength, we will emerge stronger as an economy, as a society and as one people. We will create a better future together.”
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