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PAP focuses on plans; SPP presses need to ask tough questions in Parliament

IN A constituency political broadcast aired on national television on Friday evening, the People's Action Party (PAP) team fielded for Bishan-Toa Payoh, led by Ng Eng Hen, ranged from what has been done for the nation to the improvements made in Bishan and Toa Payoh, while their opponents, the Singapore People's Party (SPP), made the case for having representation in Parliament.

In his speech, Defence Minister Dr Ng reminded residents that Covid-19 will be the fourth major global crisis the country has faced. 

"Through each major crisis (the terrorist attacks in 2001, SARs in 2003, the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, and the current Covid-19 pandemic) the residents of Bishan and Toa Payoh rallied together and worked with community leaders, he said. "Through it all, in the midst of fear and uncertainty, we have continued to improve our town and the lives of our residents." 

He said his team will continue to improve Bishan and Toa Payoh if elected, but also stressed that the coming months will be difficult. 

"The PAP government has promised to do all it can to reduce retrenchments and has taken extraordinary measures to draw out more than S$50 billion dollars from our reserves to help companies keep their workers through wage support. Self-employed persons too are included in these schemes," he said.

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Despite this, some businesses and companies may not survive and vulnerable residents may lose their jobs. 

"For those with financial difficulties, we promise our assistance, especially for students, through the community scholarship, ComCare and our welfare funds," he said. 

Chong Kee Hiong and Saktiandi Supaat from the PAP slate talked about the various programmes introduced by the team over the years, and about the plans to enhance the bursary programme to provide targeted help to more families.

This is the third time the PAP will be taking on SPP in Bishan-Toa Payoh. The two parties went head-to-head in the 2011 and 2015 General Elections; the PAP won on both occasions, with 56.9 per cent and 73.6 per cent of the vote, respectively.

Representation in the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC is being reduced from five to four MPs for the coming General Election; a new single-member constituency, Marymount, has been carved out from Bishan North. 

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat rounded up the PAP's broadcast, stressing that the party holds jobs for Singaporeans as a top priority.  

He said SGUnited Jobs and Skills Centres will be set up in both Bishan and Toa Payoh to organise job fairs and provide job-related services for residents, and encouraged job-seekers to visit the centres. 

The SPP's secretary-general Steve Chia outlined six reasons to vote for his party. 

In the first, he pledged that the party would commit its elected representatives to becoming full-time MPs. He also said that the team will ensure competent professional management of the estate and town council, and that in Parliament, it would hold public officers to "greater accountability". 

He also stressed that his party would raise issues that matter to residents both in Parliament and on the ground. Some of the issues they highlighted include stagnating wages, higher cost of living and foreign talent. 

"Income inequality is getting out of hand ... SPP proposes that there should be a minimum wage law to protect you," he said. 

He also argued that there should be greater transparency and asked why the total amount in Singapore's national reserves is a national secret. 

"You have the PM's wife as CEO of Temasek Holdings and whose salary is yet another national secret," said Mr Chia. "We need more transparency and better accountability. This is just one of many governance issues that need to be addressed, and the only way to answer that is to ask the hard questions in Parliament." 

Rounding up, he said his party believes that "the constitution should not be easily amended" to suit the objectives of the PAP. 

"The government pushes through their reasoning for a Malay minority in this presidential election. But are you convinced? It is thus crucial that we deny PAP the power to rubber-stamp policies and change the constitution to suit their advantage." 

SPP Candidate Melvyn Chiu stressed that the party would raise important questions in Parliament. 

"Remember, you are voting for aMember of Parliament, you are voting for someone who best understands you. You are voting for someone who dares to speak up for you. You are not voting for a minister," he said. 

The SPP's four candidates are Mr Chia, Mr Chiu, party vice-chairman Williamson Lee and Osman Sulaiman. 


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