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Eight parties make their first of two scheduled radio and TV broadcasts

PAP's Radin Mas SMC Rally.


EIGHT of the political parties taking part in next week's general election (GE) went on national radio and TV on Thursday night for the first of two planned party political broadcasts.

As has been the practice since 1980, the Media Development Authority (MDA) allocated prime air-time slots to parties that field at least six candidates under a recognised party symbol.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, secretary-general of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), said that while Singapore could be confident about the future, there were many challenges that lie ahead.

He cited the threat of terrorism, the impact of political unrest and uncertainty in the region, and how the recent drastic swings in stock markets in many countries showed the fragile confidence in the global economy.

Singapore needs a "capable and strong" government to respond to the challenges and opportunities that come its way.

As he has done many times of late, Mr Lee reminded citizens that their vote in the Sept 11 GE would mean they would be choosing the team to form the next government.

"The PAP is fielding a team which I hope will include the next generation of leaders for Singapore. I ask for your support to put together the best possible team to serve you," he said.

"A capable and multi-racial team with different skills and backgrounds, and the commitment and passion to lead Singapore. Then we can secure our future beyond me and my present colleagues," he added.

With a week to go before Polling Day and amid the "excitement and noise" of the campaign, Mr Lee called on Singaporeans to remember that the country's future is at stake.

The Workers' Party (WP), incidentally, chose not to have its top leaders read out the broadcast. Instead, the opposition party was represented by National University of Singapore sociologist Daniel Goh.

The 42-year-old, a candidate for the WP's team in East Coast GRC (group representation constituency), made the point that Singapore's formula for success in the last 50 years was to allow the PAP to "monopolise power, exercise control over every aspect of our society, and set the direction for us".

This, he added, was largely based on the mentality that there was only a small talent pool that could lead the country.

Mr Goh, however, stressed that the talent pool of today has grown through education and exposure, with many Singaporeans doing well in their fields and having gained global recognition.

"For Singapore to become an outstanding smart nation in the next 50 years, we must build and nurture confident professional, business and people sectors unfettered by unhealthy political monopoly," said Mr Goh.

He asked voters to decide if an imbalanced Parliament was ideal for the future.

"Your vote is your power. Use it to empower yourself. We understand that to exercise the power of your vote, you need an alternative party deserving of your support. The Workers' Party is your credible choice," said Mr Goh.

The National Solidarity Party's new secretary-general Lim Tean said his party would champion for Singaporeans' right to access their Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings in their retirement, as well as fight to narrow the "massive" inequality gap here.

"This election presents Singapore with the clearest political choice of half-a-century. It's your choice between two fundamentally different philosophies of government and Singapore's future. It's about whether Singaporeans deserve better from their government," he said.

Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) said his party wants to be a "constructive opposition" to provide alternative ideas and solutions for the country.

He spoke of how the SDP has drawn up alternative policies in areas such as housing, population and healthcare to give voters a reason to vote for the SDP, and not just against the PAP.

Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam promised to secure a "fairer share" of the national wealth for Singaporeans, and said he would push to introduce measures such as an old-age pension, a minimum wage, a cap on foreign worker numbers, and to abolish MediShield Life premiums for those below 18 and above 65.

The other speakers on Thursday were Tan Jee Say, Lina Chiam and Harminder Pal Singh of the Singaporeans First, Singapore People's Party and Singapore Democratic Alliance respectively.

The only political party that didn't get a slot was the new People's Power Party, as it had fielded less than the minimum of six candidates for the GE. The two independent candidates, Han Hui Hui and Samir Salim Neji, did not qualify as well.

The second and final round of party political broadcasts will take place on Sept 10, which is the designated Cooling-Off Day and the eve of Polling Day.

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