PAP ministers warn against SDP's brand of populist politics

DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the PAP’s final rally before the Bukit Batok by-election. Photo: Bryan Huang/Yahoo Singapore.

Two heavyweight ministers took to the stage on the final day of campaigning for the Bukit Batok by-election to warn about the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) brand of populist politics, saying that it will not advance democracy in the country.

Addressing Bukit Batok residents at Bukit Gombak Stadium, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Chan Chun Sing, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said on Thursday (5 May) that the ruling People’s Action Party does not stop people from speaking out against government policies.

But the politics articulated by Chee Soon Juan, the SDP chief who is contesting against PAP’s Murali Pillai in the by-election, is tilted towards “spreading fear and alarm” and “populism”, said Tharman.

“You don’t need to agree with the PAP. But discuss things openly, tell people the truth. Let’s argue what’s best, always go for a better consensus. That’s how we advance democracy,” he added.

Tharman said that the SDP had talked about promises in their planned policies without explaining the consequences to Singaporeans.

Chan, who spoke before Tharman, questioned the comments made by the SDP against government policies. “Be careful, don’t anyhow say things just because it is the elections. It is serious business looking after a country,” he warned.

Chan Chun Sing, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office. Photo: Bryan Huang/Yahoo Singapore

The labour chief added that the government is open to having robust discussion with Singaporeans about its policies.

“It’s not just about having another opposition for opposition’s sake. If it’s just for a new voice in Parliament, today, even without going to Parliament, we have many voices,” said Chan.

Other ministers including DPM Teo Chee Hean, Law Minister K. Shanmugam and Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim were also at the stadium to give support to Murali.

Chan also spoke about Murali’s commitment to the residents in Bukit Batok, saying that the lawyer is a sincere person who has the interest of the residents at heart.

“Do you see him boasting on his Facebook page about going on house visits? The work of an MP is never done. We work to make sure the needs of our residents are met,” said Chan.