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Tambyah considers PAP's 'inability to engage on issues' his 'biggest regret'

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The Singapore Democratic Party, which is fielding 11 candidates for the polls, was out in full force on Wednesday working the ground in Bukit Batok, Yuhua and Bukit Panjang.

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The Singapore Democratic Party, which is fielding 11 candidates for the polls, was out in full force on Wednesday working the ground in Bukit Batok, Yuhua and Bukit Panjang.

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The Singapore Democratic Party, which is fielding 11 candidates for the polls, was out in full force on Wednesday working the ground in Bukit Batok, Yuhua and Bukit Panjang.

THE ruling party's "inability to engage on issues" is opposition candidate Paul Tambyah's "biggest regret" this election.

If there's one thing the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chairman could change, he would hold a debate with the incumbent People's Action Party (PAP), Dr Tambyah said during a visit to Bukit Panjang on the final day of a nine-day campaign.

"We need to engage on the issues, rather than the name calling and using dubious laws like Pofma (the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act), and things like that. So if there's one thing I would change would be to actually have a debate," said the infectious diseases expert who is contesting the Bukit Panjang single seat.

Dr Tambyah's comments over the PAP government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in migrant worker dormitories have resulted in correction directions issued by the Pofma office to several media outlets that published his statements.

Dr Tambyah said he and Progress Singapore Party chief Tan Cheng Bock had offered to debate with the PAP on appropriate responses to the pandemic, but the latter did not oblige.

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Dr Tan is a medical doctor and a former PAP parliamentarian.

"Dr Tan and I offered to debate with Minister Chan Chun Sing, and then he wanted to know what we were going to say. This is like, it's like so typical of the PAP," Dr Tambyah said with a laugh, while addressing reporters at Fajar on Wednesday.

"It's like, you know, I'm going into a football game and I want to know the opposing team's lineup and their strategy and how they're going to attack us," he said.

Dr Tambyah reiterated his disagreement with the government calling the polls amid a pandemic.

"You really want the ministerial committee to be focused on the pandemic... It's very, very hard to do two things of this level of importance at the same time," he said.

Dr Tambyah offered a mixed response on the rising number of unlinked cases of Covid-19 infection in recent days. It shows that there is active tracking for cases, he said.

"You know, there's always a fear that they could do a Donald Trump and stop testing, and they won't find anything. So the fact that they are finding new cases is a 'the glass is half empty, and the glass is half full', kind of thing. At least there's water in there."

While acknowledging that his team has run a "really outstanding" campaign despite atypical restrictions, he is not optimistic about the outcome. A majority of voters would probably not have seen any of the party's materials, he said.

The SDP was the first political party to launch its manifesto – in September 2019. Among other things, it has been campaigning to suspend a planned increase to the goods and services tax, as well as advocating retrenchment benefits and income for retirees.

The party, which is fielding 11 candidates for the polls, was out in full force on Wednesday working the ground in Bukit Batok, Yuhua and Bukit Panjang.

Party chief Chee Soon Juan said he hopes everyone can pay attention to real issues in this last hoorah.

"(There are) these issues going forward, it concerns you, and you're not going to be able to address any of these issues if you keep paying attention to mudslinging," said Dr Chee.

For more of our Singapore GE2020 coverage, go to bt.sg/ge2020

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