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WP seeks support for younger candidates for renewal of the party

Party chairman Sylvia Lim called Singaporeans to help build up another party which can take over in case the PAP fails down the road. Seated behind her are the WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang (second from left) and the party's younger members, who are being fielded in contests in this GE.


THE Workers' Party (WP) on Sunday urged voters to support its younger team in order to sustain the checks against the ruling party, which it says could fail down the road.

The call came even as the party's younger vanguard - including the team being fielded in East Coast group representation constituency (GRC) - held firm that the GE2011 election had forced the government to re-examine its immigration policy.

At the WP rally in Simei on Sunday evening, party chairman Sylvia Lim threw her support behind the party's candidates in East Coast GRC, where the People's Action Party (PAP) team had secured the lowest winning margin among the GRCs in the 2011 election.

"The future of the Workers' Party is in the hands of the young people sitting behind me," said Aljunied GRC incumbent Ms Lim, who reminded the crowd that she was turning 50 this year, and that the party needed younger people in order to renew itself.

"Is the PAP still the same today? The PAP has been in power for so long. They take it as their right," she said, urging Singaporeans to "build up another party which can take over if the PAP fails".

She argued that even if all 28 WP candidates were elected into Parliament, the proportion of elected Members of Parliament from the party would be about 30 per cent - and that this would not amount to the gridlock which the PAP has often cited as a concern.

"Stability does not come from suing those who criticise you," she said, adding that Singapore will be stronger with political diversity.

WP chief Low Thia Khiang also argued that the pursuit of growth in Singapore should be equitable, and that the low birth rates were a result of the high pressure and stress felt by Singaporeans; the PAP, he said, had used the low fertility rate to justify its foreign-talent policy.

"Singapore does not need blind, economic growth. It needs equitable growth," said Mr Low, who was the last to speak on Sunday evening.

Turning the focus on the "Singaporean core", he said: "Singaporeans must take charge of their lives, or you risk someone dictating it for you."

He asked whether Singaporeans felt secure in their jobs, and added: "How many times have you heard that this is the bitter medicine you must take?"

Gerald Giam, who is among the party's four-man team for East Coast GRC, argued that the liberal immigration policy meant that knowledge-building had taken a backseat, since "cheap" foreign labour was available. He added that Singaporeans were told that foreign workers would create jobs; instead, they "started realising that they were being squeezed out of jobs", he claimed. It took the "big shock" of GE2011 for the government to change its tack.

"Hence came the big sorry," he said.

His East Coast GRC campaign mate Leon Perera said that the ruling party had "airbrushed" its policy mistakes in what he called "the lost decade before 2011". But "they are Olympic gold medallists when it comes to claiming credit", he added.