SINGAPORE — Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, the People’s Action Party (PAP) anchor candidate for Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (GRC), is a “serial over-spender” and has a “poor track record” as a Member of Parliament, said several members of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) who are contesting the same constituency.
“Vivian Balakrishnan is very incompetent with numbers. He has over-budgeted for the Youth Olympic Games and he has also spent a lot of money on this latest Smart Nation initiative... he is a serial over-spender,” said the SDP’s Tan Jee Say during a media doorstop at the Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre on Sunday (5 July).
Tan, who rejoined SDP just before Nomination Day on 30 June, was referring to Singapore’s 2010 Youth Olympic Games, the organisation of which was overseen by Dr Balakrishnan during his term as Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports. Its budget of $104 million was exceeded by more than three times.
Dr Balakrishnan, who is currently Foreign Minister and Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, later explained that this was due to the Games being the first event of its kind and the fact that there was no past model for reference. The budgeting of the Games was also brought up by SDP’s secretary-general Chee Soon Juan during a live television debate in which Dr Balakrishnan was participating as well.
“We are concerned that (Vivian) is in charge of the Smart Nation Initiative. We have to keep our eye on the number,” said SDP candidate James Gomez, making reference to the government’s plan to holistically embrace the use of technology in Singaporeans’ everyday lives.
Tan also accused Dr Balakrishnan of being negligent in taking care of the needs of residents in the Holland-Bukit Timah area. “If you (Vivian) have been going around Holland-Bukit Timah, why do some of the older flats not have lift upgrading?” he asked.
Tan, who dissolved his own SingFirst party prior to the General Election, had stood in the 2011 Singaporean presidential election and finished in third place out of four candidates.
Responding to a question on the issues he would raise if he gets into Parliament, Tan pointed to the government’s spending on citizens in response to the COVID-19 crisis and its promise of creating 100,000 new jobs and skills upgrading opportunities for those impacted by the pandemic.
“They’ve talked about skills upgrading for the last umpteen years but what has it brought to us? We still depend on foreign workers. Where are the jobs for our people with the skills? None,” he said.
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