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Govt is more responsive to people when opposition MPs are elected ones: Pritam Singh

WHEN opposition MPs are voted into Parliament, the government becomes more responsive and sensitive to the concerns of the people, The Workers' Party (WP) chief said on the final day of campaigning.

This is one of three messages WP has been trying to push during its campaign, the party's secretary-general Pritam Singh told reporters on Wednesday evening, during his Aljunied GRC team's walkabout near Kovan Market and Food Centre.

On why the Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) scheme is not a healthy option for Singapore, he said: "I understand Emeritus Senior Minister Goh (Chok Tong) has mentioned it's an outrigger for Singapore's democracy. I think it's an outrigger for the PAP.

"I think Singaporeans will realise that when you vote elected opposition MPs into Parliament, the government is more responsive and more sensitive to the concerns of the people."

He said the NCMP scheme does not allow opposition MPs to embed themselves in the community, which causes them to be disconnected from the ground. Opposition MPs should never be this way; they should instead be even more connected.

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Related to this is a second message that WP has been pushing - that it is important to have a credible opposition party in Parliament to speak up for workers, he said.

In the longer term, the senior-citizen population in the country is going to double, and that will reshape society and the labour force.

"We also know local labour force, resident labour force participation will peak this decade, and that will mean the ratio between locals and foreigners in the economy may be up for review," he said. Under such changes, he said it is important to have a good team of MPs, including opposition MPs, who can work towards good outcomes for Singapore.

Thirdly, against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, the July 10 General Election is a very tough one, with a "real risk" of a parliament dominated by MPs from the ruling People's Action Party, Mr Singh said.

"My concern in that sort of a situation is (that) the solidarity that is required to keep our country together will weaken," he said.

He also urged Singaporeans to be cautious of translating online sentiment to the actual reaction and response on the ground, as it can give a false sense of comfort as to what people's position is on a particular issue.

"Our focus has always been to work hard on the ground because that's where it really matters. The online world is not something we ignore, but, given that it's an important part of people's lives, we can't be absent from it, obviously. So we try our best, but we never make the mistake of interpreting online behaviour and online support as actual support. It would be dangerous to do so," he said.

Instead, the WP team has been very focused on its priorities, Mr Singh said, adding that it has given the campaign its best shot.

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