The Workers' Party fired fiery salvo after salvo against the ruling People’s Action Party at its second by-election rally at Punggol East on Tuesday night.
Referring to the controversial sale of management software by PAP town councils to Action Information Management (AIM), which is owned by the ruling party, party chairman Sylvia Lim said that even though the software was created using taxpayers' money, it was sold to an entity belonging to PAP.
She said after the party won the contest at Aljunied GRC in 2011, they were able to “dig into documents” pertaining to the running of town councils.
“There were aspects which showed how political, town management had become,” she said to an estimated crowd of about 7,000 people at an open field in Rivervale.
“For instance, I have come across a few contracts signed by town councils, carrying a clause allowing for termination of services if there should be a change in the composition of town council management, in other words, change of political management”.
The party chairman questioned the intention of such a clause, and asked if the ruling party was so determined to “trip” incoming opposition, even though such an arrangement may not be in the public interest.
She said it was akin to sending soldiers to war, but taking away their ammunition in the field.
PM Lee has since called for a review by the Ministry of National Development over the saga and Lim said her party will await its findings.
Explaining why WP did not broach the subject earlier in 2011, Lim said the party was “obsessed” with taking over the town council quickly and effectively, and pointed out that if the WP was not elected into Aljunied GRC, the issue would not have come to light.
While some of the directors of AIM have defended the sale, Lim said clarifications were still far from satisfactory.
The recent AIM controversy, Lim said, showed the importance of political competition in safeguarding the public’s interest.
WP chief Low Thia Khiang and other members also hit back at PM Lee's weekend comments that the party has not been a strong voice in parliament and lacked alternative proposals.
Low then listed out what each of the elected MPs and NCMPs have brought up in parliament since the last general election in 2011, ranging issues from healthcare, education and transport.
“We invite the public to search the parliamentary reports or visit the WP website,” he said.
“Perhaps, he (PM Lee) has not been paying attention to what the WP has been raising. Is this because we only have six MPs in parliament and our voice is not loud enough?” he asked.
Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh also took issue with the PM's comments, saying that he wasn’t commenting as a Prime Minister when he accused the WP of not coming up with alternatives, but rather as the PAP’s secretary-general.
Vote WP and get two for one
Hougang MP Png Eng Huat also took to the stage, telling the crowd that PAP candidate Dr Koh was wrong in telling the media that it’s a fallacy to believe that by voting for WP, residents will get two people looking at their needs.
“I have bad news for Dr Koh. This is a fact. You will have two MPs serving you when you vote for the WP, because this has been the case in Hougang for 20 years. PAP has designed a system which will make its candidates look good no matter what the outcome of the election is.
“If they lose, they just become grassroots advisers. If you go around Hougang today, you may think that the 2012 Hougang by-election was won by the PAP. You can see the defeated PAP candidate’s photos on posters and banners greeting residents all year round – because he is the grassroots adviser,“ said Png.
Grassroots advisers get resource support from the People’s Association, said Png and so, claimed that by voting for his party, Punggol East residents will be getting a two-for-one deal.
Pushing hard on issues
The WP candidate Lee Li Lian said she will push for issues that matter to the residents if elected to Parliament and brought up the transport woes in the area.
She questioned why bus fares went up considering profits from bus operators had been high.
As for the lack of amenities, she said the lack of eateries and wet markets causing higher expenditure for
the families in the ward.
“I was asked this question during my walkabout: Li Lian, if I vote for you, will the renovations (at Rivervale Plaza) be delayed again? My answer was, (me being elected as your MP) will not and should not be the excuse for any further delays. The needs and interests of the residents must come first beyond any partisan disagreements,” she told the crowd.
“Let us not forget the renovation was stalled under a PAP MP,” she said.
WP will hold a third and final rally on Wednesday and are expected to lead the crowd in their traditional final-rally pledge taking.
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