Friday, 28 August 2015

GE2015: PAP unveils its slate for Marine Parade GRC

ESM Goh seeks clear mandate for Govt's plans
It took Singapore more than luck to have a good government in the last 50 years, he says
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent, The Straits Times, 27 Aug 2015

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has asked voters to give the ruling party a strong mandate to endorse what the current Government has been trying to do.

The 74-year-old, who is fighting his 10th election in Marine Parade GRC, noted that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's government had listened to the people since the last election and accelerated many plans and programmes.

So if Singaporeans are happy with what has been done, they should give the ruling party "a strong mandate to continue with what they are trying to do", said Mr Goh, who handed over the baton to PM Lee in 2004. Otherwise, the electorate will be "repudiating" what the Government has been doing.

The elder statesman is part of the five-member slate in Marine Parade, which was unveiled by anchor minister Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday.

Also in the line-up are incumbent MPs Seah Kian Peng and Fatimah Lateef. Mr Edwin Tong, who was part of Moulmein-Kallang GRC that no longer exists on the electoral map, rounds off the team.

Despite serving for nearly 40 years, ESM Goh told reporters that he is not retiring yet to ensure that there will be smooth leadership transition to fourth-generation leaders like Mr Tan, who is the Social and Family Development Minister.

Noting that governments can be categorised into the good, the bad and the ugly, ESM Goh said it took more than luck for Singapore to have a good government in the last 50 years. "I think it's actually man-made by a group of people who believe in Singapore," said ESM Goh, adding it is important for voters to give a good government a clear mandate.

"We have a good government, don't ever cause disruption to what we have been trying to do, which is national leadership transition and the continuity of good government."

When asked what a clear mandate is, he said that the party never fixes a percentage and "you will see it... hear it when the time comes".

In the last general election in 2011, the People's Action Party (PAP) won 81 of the 87 seats with a total vote share of 60.1 per cent.

This time around, the PAP is likely to be challenged by as many as nine opposition parties in all 89 seats, with the Workers' Party targeting 28 seats, including Marine Parade GRC.

But ESM Goh said that while the opposition would just be "throwing all kinds of distractions", the Government should stick to its own narrative.

"It's not just the track record which (the Government) can show the people, but they have a very good storyline moving forward to excite the new generation, to get them to build Singapore for the next 50 years. So just stay on track on the story."

Likewise, Mr Tan said the PAP government has to stay focused and do what is right for its people.

"So we do not just come alive during the GE. We do not keep quiet on significant and major issues (in Parliament) but only to come and make fiery, inspirational speeches during the hustings.

"It is about consistency, it is about reliability. Our work never stops. So we believe in actions and not just words. Rain or shine, election or no election, I think our track record speaks for itself."

Some of the points I shared when we introduced our team in Marine Parade GRC.WHAT IS THIS GE ABOUT?We are here to...
Posted by Tan Chuan-Jin on Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Credit to opposition? It's just a rooster's boast: ESM Goh
By Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 27 Aug 2015

Opposition parties and some Singaporeans believe that having more alternative voices in Parliament after the 2011 General Election led to the Government adopting more redistributive and inclusive policy measures.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday countered this view, likening it to the fable of the rooster which crows when the sun rises. "The rooster goes around boasting that its crowing causes the sun to rise," he said at a press conference to announce the PAP line-up for Marine Parade GRC.

"That's what they are doing."

Asked about this at a press conference to introduce Workers' Party (WP) candidates in the afternoon, WP chairman Sylvia Lim said: "I think we leave it to Singaporeans to judge whether they feel the Government has become more responsive since 2011." The WP won five-MP Aljunied GRC in 2011.

Mr Goh, who was prime minister from 1990 to 2004, said that policies and programmes change over time to adapt to new situations and meet the changing needs of people.

He noted his predecessor, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, was focused on building Singapore's reserves for a rainy day. But when Mr Goh took over in 1990, he assessed there were sufficient reserves and budget surpluses could be shared through schemes like Edusave, Medifund and estate upgrading. And by the time Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took over, the reserves had grown.

To a question asked during press conference this morning on whether opposition presence in Parliament for the past 4...
Posted by People's Action Party on Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"So it is quite right that PM started, not after 2011, but from the day he took over, to have more schemes to benefit the people," he said.

"After 2011, he did more. But is it because of more people from the opposition in Parliament? Or because the needs of the people have changed? PM understood, you see, that there are many problems: ageing society, aged population, family size being kept small, and so on."

Mr Goh added: "What have they offered? If they have offered alternatives which we adopted, we copied, then you can say we did what they told us to do. They have not done so."

As for the view that more opposition will mean more checks and balances on the Government, Mr Goh said the PAP Government was its "own check".

"For many years, the PAP was the only party in Parliament. Has the PAP gone corrupt in those years?"

Referring to the accounting and financial lapses in the Workers' Party's Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), he said: "You just look at the town council in Aljunied. One term, no check, what happened?"

"The integrity of our leaders, of our MPs, that's where the check comes from. Not this seductive line of check and balance," he added.

"They are seducing the people and if the people are not careful, they get seduced and you know what happens when you are seduced. You will pay a price."

In the 2011 General Election, the PAP team in Marine Parade GRC got 56.6 per cent of the votes against a relatively unknown National Solidarity Party (NSP) team.

This time round, the WP is set to challenge the incumbents, and the GRC is seen as a keenly contested electoral battleground.

Asked about this, Mr Goh said: "Opposition parties come and go like nomads. Nomads will not have interest in the people's welfare. They are looking for plunder."

"In Marine Parade's case, since the 1990s, there were three or four parties which have come and gone. Now a new tribe is coming. Do they really have interest in Marine Parade's people's welfare?"

"I've spent 40 years there. I built up a community," he said, adding he would leave it to voters to decide whether he had done a good job.

As for the prospect of a contest from a stronger WP team, Mr Goh said: "Strength is relative. They are stronger than NSP, there's no doubt about that.

"But there's a certain arrogance in them. They came: NSP, out you go," he added, referring to how the WP brushed aside NSP's intention to contest the GRC.

"Would that same arrogance be able to replace me and my team in Marine Parade? Let them try."

Strong support for Edwin Tong in Joo Chiat
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 27 Aug 2015

Although Joo Chiat ward will be new to Mr Edwin Tong, he can count on the support of two heavyweights: Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin.

Mr Tan, leader of the People's Action Party (PAP) team in Marine Parade GRC, made the commitment at a press conference yesterday to introduce the constituency's line-up for the polls on Sept 11.

The media had asked if the team expected a tough fight, now that first-term MP Mr Tong has been moved unexpectedly to Joo Chiat, which the People's Action Party (PAP) won by a whisker in the 2011 general election (GE).

Said Mr Tan: "What we will do is to bring to bear our weight and influence to support Edwin. Not that he necessarily needs it, but (for us) to understand the issues better so that we can also see how best to address some of those concerns."

He stressed that his team works together to solve tougher issues in each other's wards in the five-member GRC, whose boundary was redrawn to include Joo Chiat and exclude MacPherson.

Joo Chiat was a single-seat constituency in the 2011 GE. PAP veteran Charles Chong went in as a newcomer to the constituency and won by getting just 388 more votes than Workers' Party (WP) candidate Yee Jenn Jong.

Yesterday, Mr Tong had mixed feelings about his move. While it is "quite difficult leaving Jalan Besar", he said he was excited at the chance to work with the Marine Parade team.

"Coming to a new place is not easy. There will be a lot of ground to cover, and I will have to work very hard and very fast," said Mr Tong, who was an MP for Jalan Besar in the now-defunct Moulmein-Kallang GRC.

For the past two weeks, he has been walking the Joo Chiat ground, sometimes going down more than once a day, he said.

Taking note of such local municipal issues as estate improvement, congestion, parking and bus services, he said that if elected, his past experience as a town council chairman will be put to good use in dealing with them.

He was chairman of the Moulmein-Kallang Town Council.

Mr Tong also pledged, if elected, to raise broader national issues in Parliament, like the rising cost of living. Joo Chiat residents have told him, he said, that living in private property should not preclude them from getting government help.

ESM Goh, a former prime minister, said Joo Chiat voters may have felt neglected by the government in the 2011 election as they live in private property.

"These people have paid taxes, they are retirees. So they felt ignored. They therefore sent the message 'Please do not take us for granted'."

The Government has since introduced the Pioneer Generation Package, which is not restricted by income or dwelling, he noted. "There are other issues going forward where I would... tell ministers, don't make a distinction."

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