Why WP isn't more 'rebel-rousing and vociferous': Sylvia Lim

Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim on Monday addressed criticism the opposition group has been too moderate and too ideologically similar to the People's Action Party.

Responding to a question raised in a large governance forum organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, Lim said the opposition party differed very much from the ruling party in the areas of transparency and accountability, civil liberties, social justice and healthcare.

"I disagree that ideologically we are close," the Member of Parliament for Aljunied group representation constituency said, adding that the differences can be seen from the party's manifesto available online.

Acknowledging that some people perhaps wanted them to be "more rebel-rousing and vociferous" in objections to government policies, she said party members feel they have to take the positions they feel are correct and sustainable.

"If we find that we have no support for the things we are doing then it is fine for us to review and do things differently, but so far as we can see we do have some public support, and I believe that Singaporeans as a whole group appreciate the opposition politics of the sort that we offer them," she said.

Speaking to an audience of about 1,000 people from government, schools and civil society, Lim also tackled criticism over statements that the WP is not yet ready to form the next government following the decisive win of its candidate Lee Li Lian in the Punggol East by-election on Saturday.

"That is just the honest position," she said. "At the same time, of course, within our capacities as MPs in charge of the area, we will have to make sure that our residents' interests are taken care of, fought for, and we manage the towns well so as not to let them down, and I think we are quite incremental in our approach."

Her comments follow those made by WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang a day after WP candidate Lee Li Lian swept to victory in Punggol East by garnering 54.5 per cent of the votes against the PAP candidate Dr Koh Poh Koon's about 43 per cent share in a four-way contest, who cautioned against making too much out of the victory.

"We can't take the by-election result as one that is going to be a trend in the future," he said.

As to the role of the WP, Lim said Monday that their belief is that political competition is a safeguard to improving Singaporeans' lives.

"We (the WP) provide competition at elections by requiring the government to convince the voters that it is performing. It is also our responsibility outside of election time is to promote good governance," she explained.

However, she said as political parties they have to constantly check against getting too embroiled in partisan politics, as opposed to remaining focused on the well-being of the people.

"We should guard against excessive one-upmanship and ask ourselves where lies the greater good," she noted, sharing her positive experience of contributing ideas that were accepted and taken into consideration by ministries toward the revision of proposed legislation ahead of public policy debates.

Lim also said that her party "will continue to assist the government when we can and when it is appropriate".

"While as political parties we fight electoral battles, I think it is possible to operate in a culture of mutual respect and give and take," she said. "It is possible for different political parties to coexist in this ecosystem for the benefit and survival of Singapore."

  • 2015 Chevrolet Trax small SUV rolls back to America 5 hours ago
    2015 Chevrolet Trax small SUV rolls back to America

    For the past two years, car shoppers from Acapulco to Winnipeg could wander into their Chevy dealers and kick the tires on a city-sized sport utility vehicle named the Trax — and about 90,000 have done so. Today, Chevy revealed the version of the Trax it will bring to the United States, for those less well-heeled buyers who want the shape of an SUV without the window sticker they usually carry.

  • Ford Transit Skyliner concept revives the ultra-luxury van 8 hours ago
    Ford Transit Skyliner concept revives the ultra-luxury van

    “Once you do stand-up, you don’t want to go back.” No, we’re not talking about comedy, but rather an emerging trend in luxury transport that’s bringing us ever taller, more capacious, more pimpdillyicious limousines. The quote came from a Ford designer, Tim Stoehr, predicting an increase in interest in limos based on big vans like the new Transit. Of course, these are nothing new; up-fitters have taken quite kindly to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and apparently Ford is chomping at the bit to get in on the action, too. So Ford enlisted the help of the largest Ford dealer in the world, Galpin Auto Sports in Van Nuys, Calif., to help design and build its first super-lux Transit concept, dubbed the Skyliner.

  • Driving the 2016 BMW X5 eDrive, the plugged-in SUV 13 hours ago
    Driving the 2016 BMW X5 eDrive, the plugged-in SUV

    Automakers worldwide have gradually (some would say grudgingly) attempted to make their high-profit and highly popular SUVs as efficient and clean-running as their lower weight passenger cars — namely through the grafting of a plug-in hybrid system.

  • Amazon to release smartphone later this year: report
    Amazon to release smartphone later this year: report

    Amazon is preparing to release a smartphone in the second half of 2014, thrusting itself into a market already crowded with Apple and Samsung models, The Wall Street Journal reported. The company aims to announce its new product by the end of June and ship to customers by the end of September in time for the holidays, the Journal said in a Friday report, citing unnamed people briefed on the matter. Amazon, it said, hopes to differentiate its phone from other models with a screen that displays hologram-like three-dimensional images, which can be viewed without special glasses. Earlier this month the retailer unveiled a new media streaming device, Amazon Fire TV, which it touted as simplifying the experience of watching video online.

  • Malaysia flight's co-pilot tried to make cellphone call - report
    Malaysia flight's co-pilot tried to make cellphone call - report

    Investigators probing the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 suspect that the co-pilot of the jetliner tried to make a call with his cellphone after the plane was diverted from its scheduled route, Malaysia's New Straits Times reported sources as saying on Saturday. The newspaper cited unidentified investigative sources as saying the attempted call from co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid's phone was picked up by a cellphone tower as the plane was about 200 nautical miles northwest of the west coast state of Penang.