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SINGAPORE — Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has claimed that the Workers’ Party (WP) is “playing with voters” by refusing to say whether its General Election (GE) candidates will accept or reject the roles as Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs) if they are defeated at the polls.
In a speech put up on his Facebook page on Sunday (5 July), Heng criticised the WP’s stance in wanting voters to believe that the opposition party will be wiped out from Parliament if voters do not vote for them at this GE.
“They are asking you to vote for them, and if you do not, they claim that they will become extinct, and there’ll be no opposition voices in Parliament,” said Heng, who is also the People’s Action Party (PAP) first assistant secretary-general.
“Is it really extinction that the Workers’ Party fears? Or is the real motive of the Workers’ Party to expand, to win more seats in Parliament?
“The Workers’ Party has refused to say whether they will accept NCMP seats in the next Parliament. They are playing games with voters. Voters are entitled to know what Workers’ Party’s stand is. They should not be made to think that the Workers’ Party will refuse NCMP seats, the opposition risks extinction, and so vote for them.”
WP has two questions to answer regarding NCMP: Heng
The NCMP scheme has been a hot topic during the GE campaigning period, with the ruling PAP saying that it guarantees opposition voices in Parliament, but opposition parties saying it prevents their politicians from sinking roots in a constituency.
Some opposition candidates, such as Progress Singapore Party secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock, have said that they would refuse to take up the post if offered. None of the WP candidates have made such an assertion yet.
“The Workers’ Party should answer two questions now,” said Heng, who is contesting in the East Coast group representation constituency (GRC). “First, does the Workers’ Party agree that with the NCMP scheme, there can be no opposition wipe out? Second, if offered NCMP seats, will Workers’ Party candidates accept?
“The Workers’ Party talks a lot about transparency and accountability, this is what they need to do, to be transparent and accountable to voters.”
No strong mandate if opposition wins one-third of seats: Heng
During his speech, Heng also took issue with WP secretary-general Pritam Singh’s assertion that, even if the opposition has one-third of the parliamentary seats, the PAP will still have a strong mandate.
“What will Singaporeans think if they wake up next Saturday to find that PAP has lost four GRCs and two SMCs (single-member constituencies)? What would investors and other countries think?” he said in his speech.
“Do you seriously believe they will say, ‘Good, the PAP has won a strong mandate again’? Or will they see a government severely weakened, a people divided and a nation whose confidence has been shaken?”
He ended his speech by asserting that opposition voices will not be wiped out in Parliament, and that voters should vote the PAP to give it a strong and clear mandate to form the next government.
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