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PAP giving voters a 'false choice': WP's Sylvia Lim

Opposition parties rebut PM's comment they were silent on Covid-19

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(Above) PSP chief Tan Cheng Bock and SDP chairman Paul Tambyah had earlier proposed a TV debate with Mr Lee and Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on the government's Covid-19 response, but were turned down.

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(Above) WP chief Pritam Singh said his party's stand was already in Chapter 1 of its manifesto.

Singapore

VOTERS are being presented a false choice by the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) because there is no reason the government will not be effective in tackling Covid-19 even if there were elected opposition MPs in Parliament, Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim said.

"If you look at what's been happening around the world, you will see that there are actually many examples of countries that have been dealing quite effectively with the virus, which are robust democracies," Ms Lim told reporters ahead of the party's outreach activities in Sengkang GRC on Tuesday.

She noted, for example, that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden's party does not have a majority of the MPs in Parliament.

"The fact is that Singaporeans know that when there is a need to come together, they will, and they will support the government in handling the Covid-19 crisis - regardless of who they vote into Parliament," she said.

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Ms Lim, who is contesting in Aljunied GRC, was responding to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's online Fullerton rally, where he asked for a strong mandate at the July 10 General Election. He also said the opposition has been "completely silent on how to tackle Covid-19" so far.

To that, WP chief Pritam Singh said: "It's a very convenient thing for the prime minister to brush everybody with the same paintbrush, but it's Chapter 1 of our manifesto. And that should tell you how significant Covid-19 is as an issue for the Workers' Party."

Asked about Mr Lee's expressed commitment to see Singapore through the crisis together with Senior Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Mr Singh said: "You do hear these murmurings on the ground - the confidence people have in the 4G leadership, particularly how they handled Covid-19; for some people, there's a belief that it leaves more to be desired. So I don't think that it is an out-of-the-ordinary comment that we hear from members of the public.

"And indeed, it is also noteworthy that PM spoke about Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean and Senior Minister Tharman still at the helm of the ship. I think there's a significance in those comments."

During the session, WP's team for Sengkang GRC also spoke to the media for the first time since its youngest candidate Raeesah Khan apologised for two controversial posts on social media that are now under police investigation.

Team leader He Ting Ru said the matter has come up in their interactions with Sengkang residents, who have expressed both support and concern for the matter.

Mr Pritam added that while he understood the sentiments of those who want Ms Raeesah to offer a further explanation, he cannot let police investigations be prejudiced by further comments, adding that a review of the matter will be conducted.

Separately, leaders of Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and Progress Singapore Party (PSP) who were both on the campaign trail in Bukit Panjang SMC on Tuesday morning have also responded to Mr Lee's comments at the Fullerton rally, where he had asked what contribution the opposition could make if they were to be elected.

Speaking to the media, SDP chairman Paul Tambyah said: "For the last few months, we've been giving comments, suggestions. We've also said explicitly that holding an election during a pandemic is very reckless and dangerous."

Dr Tambyah, who is contesting in Bukit Panjang Single-Member Constituency (SMC), and PSP chief Dr Tan Cheng Bock had previously proposed a live televised debate with Mr Lee and Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on the government's Covid-19 response, but the suggestion was turned down.

Dr Tan said: "The important thing is that they think that we're so incapable of managing Covid-19, but we're going to tell them, 'Look, let's let Singaporeans decide whether we have the capabilities and also the experience'."

Dr Tambyah added that he comes from the perspective of a specialist and researcher, while Dr Tan brings his experience as a general practitioner on the frontline. Together, they offer a "broader picture and a fuller understanding" of how to deal with the pandemic.

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