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New ideas, alternative voices needed for the future: SDP

THIS General Election is a critical one for Singapore's future, which is why voters should elect opposition Members of Parliament, said the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and other opposition parties on Thursday night, in the final round of party political broadcasts on the eve of Polling Day.

In their speeches, various party representatives highlighted the value of alternative policies and the need for opposition voices in Parliament to ensure accountability and transparency.

SDP chairman Paul Tambyah accused the ruling People's Action Party campaign of being "focused on the old tactics of scare mongering and character assassination, without any new ideas to deal with a world which has changed dramatically".

"This election is a critical election about the future of our children and grandchildren," he said. He reiterated the SDP's campaign message of four Yeses - suspending the goods and services tax (GST), retrenchment insurance, retirement income, and putting Singaporeans first - and one No, to a 10 million population.

The SDP's "comprehensive policy papers covering housing, healthcare, population, education and climate change share the common goal of putting people first", he said. By the party's calculations, using slightly more of the return on investment income would more than cover the costs of their policies without touching the reserves, he said.

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The SDP is fielding candidates in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC and Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, as well as the three single seats of Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang and Yuhua. Dr Tambyah reassured residents that the SDP has a comprehensive town council plan for a smooth transition if its candidates are elected, with the party intending to run town councils itself, without the cost of a managing agent.

Also focusing on the future, Peoples Voice chief Lim Tean urged voters to consider what the next five years would look like, saying: "To choose PAP, is to endure another five years equal to the last with no accountability, no transparency, just more inequality, unemployment and immigration."

Noting grievances such as Central Provident Fund policy and the upcoming GST hike, he said that if elected, Peoples Voice MPs will bring accountability and transparency to Parliament and be "unafraid to raise the tough questions, and demand that the PAP explain its policy ideas and plans". The party is contesting Jalan Besar GRC, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, and Mountbatten SMC.

Voters should not fear that Singapore will cease to be well-run if opposition candidates are elected, he added. Police officers, teachers, nurses, and environmental inspectors are "well-earned positions", and these public servants will not lose their motivation to serve even if opposition members fill seats in Parliament.

Both the Reform Party (RP) and National Solidarity Party (NSP) similarly highlighted the role that opposition voices play in demanding transparency and accountability, and reassured residents that their town councils would be in good hands.

Directly addressing voters of Sembawang GRC and Tampines GRC, NSP secretary-general Spencer Ng said that PAP candidates would be part-time MPs and "yes men" in Parliament, agreeing "to policies that will cost you", such as the GST hike.

In contrast, NSP candidates would be full-time MPs and represent constituents in Parliament "to address policies that are fundamentally unsound or unfair to you", he said. "You can decide to give the PAP another five years of blank cheques or a government that is more consultative and responsible to you."

He added that it would not be a great loss if Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli or Education Minister Ong Ye Kung - who helm the PAP teams for Tampines GRC and Sembawang GRC respectively - lose their seats.

As for town councils, PAP candidates rely on external managing agents, he said: "So let us burst this myth that only PAP knows how to run town councils."

RP secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam, addressing voters of Ang Mo Kio GRC and Radin Mas SMC directly, noted that they have shared their frustrations, struggles and even anger with the party, over issues such as depreciating public flat values to job losses.

"It is understandable that you are angry and worried, but now you can hold the incumbents to account through your vote in a positive and constructive manner," he said, in a message recorded in the hotel where he is serving a stay-home notice.

"Fighting Covid-19 and the worst economic crisis since independence, is the biggest issue on all of our minds right now," he said. In line with RP's election slogan to "Build Back Better, Fairer", he said that RP's proposals will benefit all Singaporeans, "from the lowest income to entrepreneurs and small-business owners hit by the recession to the middle classes squeezed from both ends".

He charged that the PAP's response to Covid-19 is "minor tweaks, schemes and measures" and "does not deal with the challenges of slowdown and reversal of globalisation".

As for constituency matters, Mr Jeyaretnam noted that a former general manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council was jailed for corruption, and added: "We are a safer set of hands."

The party political broadcasts provide airtime on national radio and television to political parties that field at least six candidates.

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