SDP unveils 'Four Yes, One No' election campaign to prepare Singapore for post-COVID-19 future

SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan speaks to patrons at the Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre during a walkabout on 3 November 2019. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan speaks to patrons at the Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre during a walkabout on 3 November 2019. (FILE PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) unveiled its “Four Yes, One No” general election campaign on Tuesday (28 April), spelling out its vision to prepare the nation for the post-COVID-19 future.

The party said in a media statement that the campaign addresses the concerns of Singaporeans on two levels: it takes care of the immediate necessities of Singaporeans during and immediately following the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it ensures that the longer-term problems that confront the nation are dealt with.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought major and irrevocable changes to the politico-socio-economic landscape in Singapore,” the SDP said in its statement.

“We spell out a vision that will take Singapore into a post-COVID-19 era which will allow the country to adapt and take advantage of changed circumstances and where the average Singaporean will play a central role.”

The SDP listed out its key election issues in its “Four Yes, One No” (4Y1N) campaign: yes to suspension of Goods and Services Tax (GST), yes to pay retrenchment benefits, yes to provide income for retirees, yes to put people first and no to a 10 million population:

  • Yes #1 – Suspend GST: Given the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, the SDP proposes that the GST be cut to 0 per cent until end-2021. It believes the GST suspension will stimulate the economy and help businesses. “The GST is a regressive tax and will hurt the poor more than the rich. It is not smart economics to raise the GST to 9% as proposed by the PAP,” it said in the media statement.

  • Yes #2 – Pay retrenchment benefits: The SDP will fight for retrenchment benefits to be paid to workers retrenched as a result of COVID-19. Under its RESTART (Re-Employment Scheme and Temporary Assistance for the ReTrenched) programme, if a worker is retrenched, the government pays 75 per cent of his last drawn salary for the first six months, 50 per cent for the second 6 months, and 25 per cent for the final six months (capped at the median wage).

  • Yes #3 – Provide income for retirees: The SDP will push to provide the bottom 80 per cent of over-65 retirees with a monthly income of $500 under its Retirement Income Scheme for the Elderly (RISE). This will also reduce the financial pressure of younger working generations. “The Household Expenditure Survey shows that the average retiree household receives nearly $500 as income from their working children. With retrenchments and pay cuts expected to rise as a result of COVID-19, working adults will find it even harder to provide for their own children and take care of their retired parents at the same time,” SDP said.

  • Yes #4 – Put people first: The SDP will ensure that the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) puts the people's interest as top priority. “By insisting on calling for a general election in the midst of the COVID-19, the PAP shows that it is willing to sacrifice public health and safety for its own political interests,” the party said in its statement. “As a result, the second surge of infections occurred which has affected thousands of Singaporeans and caused a lockdown of the city. The mishandling of the virus spread (e.g. ordering Singaporeans not to wear masks if they are well) and not having addressed sooner the dire living conditions of our foreign workers in their dormitories despite early warnings, has made the situation for Singaporeans much worse.”

  • No to 10 million population: The SDP will push to stop the PAP from raising Singapore’s population to 10 million and displacing local PMETs with foreign ones. “Our current population is 5.7 million and on course to hit 6.9 million in a few years' time. Imagine if the PAP gets its wish to jack the number up to 10 million by bringing in more foreigners,” it said. “Already, it cannot competently contain the outbreak of COVID-19 which spreads faster as the population density increases. Also, our economy has become overly dependent on foreign workers especially PMETs.”

The SDP said it will focus on these ideas and proposals in their general election campaign and will elaborate on them in the coming weeks and months.

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