Tuesday, 8 September 2015

GE2015 Campaign Day 7: No guarantee PAP will be in government after polls: Khaw Boon Wan

But Workers' Party leaders dismiss this warning, saying they don't plan to take over
By Salma Khalik, Senior Health Correspondent and Tham Yuen-C, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2015

With all 89 parliamentary seats being contested in Friday's General Election, the rally talk last night turned to the possibility of a freak result and a surprise new government.

For National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, anything is possible. Speaking in Sembawang GRC, he said there is no guarantee that the People's Action Party will form the next government.

"There is no 'safe seat' where victory is assured," the PAP chairman said. "We cannot be sure of a PAP government on Sept 12."

#GE2015: No seat is safe during this General Election, says Mr Khaw Boon Wan. "We cannot be assured of a PAP Government on Sept 12," he adds, urging citizens to vote for his party. Updates of key points here: http://tdy.sg/1VIA3kmLive streams of the rallies: http://tdy.sg/1NXmn2D
Posted by TODAY on Monday, September 7, 2015

And even if the PAP did get re-elected, Singapore could end up with a weak government unable to get things done for the people, he added.

But the Workers' Party, campaigning to persuade voters to ensure the opposition is entrenched in Parliament, accused the PAP of using scare tactics ahead of polling.

Its 28 candidates this year make up the biggest opposition slate, but the WP said it had no plans to be the government.

"Until you hear us say, 'Vote for us to form the next government', don't believe our opponents who say that we have hidden agendas and motives and plans," said Mr Gerald Giam, who is leading the WP team in East Coast GRC.

A coalition of opposition parties would also be out of the question, Mr Giam said, adding: "We could not even avoid three-cornered fights in all constituencies."

With just two days of campaigning left and Cooling-off Day on Thursday, Mr Khaw advised voters to assess the various parties' manifestos carefully and objectively and ask serious questions of candidates in their constituency.

"We all do such due diligence when we want to buy a new apartment," he said. "GE is even more important than buying an apartment."

He urged voters not to dice with the future, saying: "We all know how much damage a weak government, paralysed by constant debate, can do to the country and to the people."

He reminded everyone of a key message from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, that this year's GE is about choosing Singapore's leadership for the future.

A wrong electoral decision "may have severe, if not tragic, consequences" and it may not be possible to reverse the outcome, he said.

He also recalled what the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said in 1955: "We take the future for granted only at our own peril. We have survived because we are a practical and realistic people."

Mr Khaw said that message was as relevant today as it was then.

"Our success is because Singaporeans stay as one united people and work closely with the Government," he said, promising that the PAP would, as in the past, deliver on the promises it made.

GE2015: Ong Ye Kung on evolving times
"PAP is ready to build upon our legacy and change with the times": Sembawang GRC candidate Ong Ye Kung. #GE2015FULL RECAP: http://bit.ly/paprallysep7
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Monday, September 7, 2015

Also speaking at the Sembawang rally, PAP candidate Ong Ye Kung said voters have the power to "write the last chapter of the PAP, or write the first chapter of a new PAP".

Contesting for the second time after being defeated at his first outing in Aljunied GRC in 2011, Mr Ong said the ruling party is prepared to "build upon our legacy and evolve with the times".

He made this point while noting that Singaporeans had remained divided after the keenly fought 2011 elections, allowing an "anti-social fringe" to exploit fissures in society, especially online. These were put aside after the passing of Singapore's founding father Mr Lee, which reminded Singaporeans of their past struggles and brought them "back together as one again", he said.

While the PAP raised the possibility of an unexpected result on Saturday morning, the WP pressed on with urging voters to ensure the next Parliament will have opposition MPs.

At the WP rally in Marine Parade GRC, party chief Low Thia Khiang and candidates Pritam Singh and He Ting Ru warned of the dangers of one-party dominance.

Mr Low said the lack of opposition representation would leave Singaporeans so frustrated it could be like "a time bomb waiting to explode".

Mr Giam said some people "may be concerned about scare tactics used by the PAP" and he tried to allay fears the ruling party may end up losing power. The WP's goal this election, he said, was to entrench a credible opposition in Parliament.

Stressing that there was actually no such thing as a freak election result, he said: "Any result in a free and fair election will be the will of the people."

Today, PM Lee is expected to elaborate on the PAP's vision for the future when he speaks at the party's lunchtime rally at the UOB Plaza promenade near Boat Quay. There will be another 11 rallies tonight, including six more PAP rallies, before campaigning wraps up tomorrow.

"Monthly instalments can be paid from CPF. You don't have to take out much cash to service your mortgage. That is how we measure affordability": People's Action Party's Khaw Boon Wan. #GE2015
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Monday, September 7, 2015

Curbs on foreign workers 'meant to serve Singapore'
Manpower cuts, 6.9m planning parameter both in interest of Singaporeans: Swee Say
By Wong Siew Ying, The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2015

The decision to cut back on foreign manpower and the 6.9 million population planning parameter set out in the Population White Paper are two separate issues, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say yesterday.

"These are meant to serve Singapore in two different ways," he said in response to questions from the media, after visiting landed homes in Lucky Heights yesterday morning.

On Sunday, a Workers' Party (WP) candidate, sociologist Daniel Goh, had asked if the 6.9 million planning parameter was still valid, given that the Government has tightened the inflow of foreign workers.

Mr Lim stressed that the 6.9 million population number was not a target but more a tool to help plan long term for infrastructure, such as housing and public transportation. "In fact, we don't want what happened in 2011 to be repeated in the future," he said. "Remember, as a result, we had to rush our HDB construction and so on."

Cutting back on foreign worker numbers, meanwhile, is meant to ensure that the growth of foreign manpower does not outpace that of the local workforce.

Another objective, Mr Lim said, is to "strengthen the Singapore core" in every major sector of the economy.

"Therefore, I would say that the two are not in contradiction. In fact, both are trying to serve the interest of Singaporeans," Mr Lim added.

Mr Lim also disagreed with the WP's idea of freezing the growth of foreign manpower, a point the party made in Parliament previously. And in its latest manifesto, the WP proposed keeping foreign workforce numbers constant if a 1 per cent resident workforce growth target is achieved.

Going by that proposal, Mr Lim said, there would have been "zero growth" in foreign manpower in Singapore in the last three years.

That will hurt local small and medium-sized enterprises, which account for 70 per cent of the workforce here.

Mr Lim is leading a four-member People's Action Party (PAP) team that includes Senior Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan, Minister of State Mohamad Maliki Osman and two-term MP Jessica Tan, to contest in East Coast GRC against a WP team that Dr Goh is part of.

Mr Lim told reporters that his team will focus on national issues at its second rally.

East Coast GRC, which the PAP team won with a 54.8 per cent vote share in the 2011 General Election, is expected to be hotly contested again this year.

PAP warns against RP's 'seductive' policy proposals
By Rachel Chang, The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2015

The People's Action Party's West Coast GRC candidates took aim yesterday at policy proposals of their Reform Party (RP) opponents, calling them "ad hoc" and "seductive, but jeopardising a fundamentally sound system".

Singling out the RP's calls for a cap on foreign worker numbers and an "auction" system to allocate foreign worker permits to businesses, Mr S. Iswaran, Second Minister for Trade and Industry and Home Affairs, said that these proposals would severely constrain the local manpower base and damage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

PAP West Coast GRC candidate S. Iswaran says at press conference: "The question that needs to be put to other side is: What is the sum impact of your proposals on local businesses, especially SMEs, local workers and local taxpayer?" - ST VIDEO: JOANNA SEOWFollow the press conference at our #GE2015 live blog: str.sg/Z7Pd
Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, September 7, 2015

The 150,000 SMEs would not have the resources to "outbid" big companies for foreign worker permits, he noted, and would have to downsize or close down.

The PAP Government has always emphasised job creation in its policies, such as by funding the training and upgrading of workers, he said.

The opposition party has also called for the establishment of a minimum wage, which PAP candidate Patrick Tay, another member of the four-person slate, said could hurt low-wage workers.

The unionist said the labour movement has opposed the minimum wage call because it could discourage employers from sending workers for training or raising their salaries as companies need only meet the minimum.

There is also the challenge of deciding at which point to set the minimum wage - too high and it runs the risk of pricing out workers, too low and the move would be useless, he said. He said the labour movement preferred to advocate a "progressive wage model" in which companies commit to wage rises tied to productivity increases.

Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, who co-anchors the PAP team in West Coast with Mr Iswaran, noted that the RP's proposals call for a spike in spending without explaining how it is to be funded.

The RP says its proposals for monthly child and senior support, and to defray MediShield Life premiums, would cost $6 billion.

Mr Lim said that sum had the "potential of ballooning" as Singapore ages.

Referring to the various opposition suggestions, he said: "Everybody's very happy talking about the spend side, but nobody has presented what we are doing to address the growth challenges facing us and how we generate the resources to develop Singaporeans."

CPF scheme 'a sustainable safety net system'
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2015

Some six in 10 of today's CPF members aged 55 and older will enjoy 6 per cent returns on their savings, while some eight in 10 will earn at least 5 per cent.

People's Action Party (PAP) candidate Foo Mee Har laid out these statistics at a press conference yesterday to refute Reform Party's statement that the Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme gives Singaporeans only 2.5 per cent in interest on most savings.

She and her three West Coast GRC teammates, who are taking on a Reform Party (RP) slate, said that the CPF scheme was a sustainable safety net system.

The PAP candidates dismissed the RP's proposal to replace it with a permanent pension of $500 a month.

Ms Foo highlighted enhancements to the CPF system made this year after a review of the system.

These include raising the salary ceiling from $5,000 to $6,000 to increase the amount of salary that can attract CPF contributions, and an additional 1 per cent interest on the first $30,000 of balances for older Singaporeans.

She said that these measures addressed retirement adequacy and kept the system sustainable.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office S. Iswaran criticised his opponents' proposals for being ad hoc and questioned how the party planned to foot the bill.

#GE2015: If Singaporeans were allowed to withdraw their CPF savings at 55, "there will be a group in difficulty and then we have to find other ways to help them," says S Iswaran, in response to The Reform Party's policies listed in its manifesto. http://bit.ly/1QkotsR
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Monday, September 7, 2015

Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang also said that returning all CPF savings at the age of 55, as the RP has called for, will be good if every person can look after himself.

"But what if they can't? Then where is the social safety net for such people who cannot look after themselves?" he said, adding that they would have to manage for another 30 years, and noted that Singaporeans' lifespans are getting longer.

"And the Reform Party recognises that, because if they believe that if you return (CPF savings) to the people at 55, they all take care of themselves, then they don't need that extra $500 to be given to every senior citizen above 65."

Mr Iswaran also dismissed as "ad hoc" the RP's proposal of reducing the number of years of national service and replacing it with a professional army, saying that this would worsen the manpower crunch.

"We already know the manpower challenges we face. Their proposal is to freeze foreign manpower, and at the same time you want to have additional draws on Singapore's limited manpower now to create this professional army," he said.

"I think you don't need to be a very sophisticated demographer or statistician to work out the sums. The numbers just don't add up," he added.

RP chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam later responded by suggesting that those serving national service be used "more productively" and paid market wages.

"(The Government) can spend more money on higher tech armaments and drones, asymmetrical warfare, rather than having so many foot soldiers," he said.

Hold all parties to same standard: Eng Hen
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2015

People's Action Party (PAP) organising secretary Ng Eng Hen fielded questions from reporters before greeting residents at Bishan MRT station yesterday morning.

Dr Ng leads the PAP's Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC team against a Singapore People's Party team.


"Vote for the person whom you trust, who has a track record - looking at what that person you trusted in the last term has delivered.

Over the last 50 years, has the PAP served you faithfully? Have we abused our authority? Have we ensured that what we promised, we deliver? Have we been accountable?

There will always be problems, but have we owned up to the problems, have we tried to fix them? That should be the standard not only for the PAP, but for all parties."


"This is just standard fare for general elections. Political parties of all stripes and colours will say that during elections.

The question is, can they add (to policies)? Can they take care of your town for the next five years, and take care of you? Can they form the government?

No political party is out just to remain as they are.

They are there to try to form the next government.

This is a process which will continue. If Singaporeans feel the PAP Government has been working for them, improving their lives, we ask them to continue to trust us.

And we will deliver what we said, as we always have."


"Residents will feel very upset about that because they are basically saying, 'You can go and speak for me but when I have a problem, ask somebody else'.

This is the same line that other parties are using. 'Vote for me and let the Government work.' It doesn't work that way.

You have to take care of your residents' needs, and if you don't know the problems of your residents, how can you speak for them?"

PAP rallies

Future of PAP 'in hands of voters'
They have power to write its last chapter, or a new PAP's first chapter, says Ong Ye Kung
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2015

Voters have the power on Sept 11 to "write the last chapter of the PAP, or write the first chapter of a new PAP", said Sembawang GRC candidate Ong Ye Kung last night.

Mr Ong was referring to the possibility of the People's Action Party (PAP) not being returned to power on Polling Day.

In a stirring appearance at the PAP's rally in Woodlands, the second-time candidate said the ruling party is prepared to "build upon our legacy and evolve with the times".

With technology changing politics and governance at a rapid pace, Singaporeans need to work together more than ever, said the former top civil servant who entered politics in 2011, only to lose as part of the PAP's Aljunied GRC slate.

Unity and consensus - and the PAP's role as the party that stands for a united Singapore - were the themes that dominated his speeches last night in Malay, Mandarin and English.

He said he felt that Singaporeans did not "come back together" after the 2011 polls as they usually did after every general election.

An "antisocial fringe" has exploited the fissures that emerged in Singapore society, he said, citing incidents like graffiti in public housing estates, an "illegal bus-driver strike" and "protests in Hong Lim Park when children were performing on stage" in the past four years.

"We see people setting up websites to tell lies in order to make profits," he said. "We see vitriol and negativity on the Internet."

Then, earlier this year, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's death at the age of 91 acted as a catalyst. "Singaporeans paused, reflected, and we came back together as one again," he said.

In this, Mr Lee gave his "last gift to us", said Mr Ong.

Listing an agenda he said he wanted to see as a voter, Mr Ong gave a glimpse into his policy priorities as a potential fourth-generation political leader.

He wants to see academic credentials junked as the yardstick on which job applicants are judged, and a government that helps every child with quality pre-school education.

He wants a strong defence force - "don't cut the budget!" - so that Singapore stands tall and proud in the international community of nations.

"I want the Singapore economy to be vibrant so that we as a country will always have the dignity to make our own living, and not depend on large powers," he said.

"I would like to see a genuine diversity of opinions when we make national policies, so that when we move forward, we have a stronger consensus.

"I don't want democracy for democracy's sake or debate for debate's sake. I don't want to blindly follow Western liberal systems like (in) the United States, because even they know that their system is not quite working," he said.

"I want a government that is capable and stable and runs the country well, because if we don't have that, then we can't have everything I just listed above," he concluded.

In his Mandarin speech, he spoke about his late father, Mr Ong Lian Teng, a former MP of the Barisan Sosialis, which split from the PAP in 1966.

He said of Singapore's early politicians: "They gave their youth to this place, to build a society that belonged to them. Building a better future for our descendants is our responsibility and that is why I entered politics."

Three other Sembawang GRC candidates - former backbenchers Lim Wee Kiak and Vikram Nair, as well as new face Amrin Amin - focused their speeches on municipal improvements in the constituency.

Dr Lim said that the team had plans to add facilities to make health and fitness "an integral feature of life" there, while Mr Nair said a major development near the Causeway Point hub is slated for the coming decade.

Mr Amrin recalled a frugal childhood and said: "I am here today because of the Singapore system. Things are not perfect but we should work together and never lose sight of how we got here."

Additional reporting by Lydia Lam

'Third parties trying to barge in'
PAP's relationship with S'poreans built over time, not on politics of envy or division: Vivian
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2015

The People's Action Party (PAP) and Singaporeans have had a 50-year relationship, but there are now third parties trying to "barge into our home", said Holland-Bukit Timah GRC anchor minister Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday.

The PAP takes politics seriously but some people think of elections as a game, where some win and some lose, or as entertainment or a debate. But the PAP has built up a relationship with Singaporeans over time.

"A relationship is not a one-night stand," Dr Balakrishnan said. "It's not just finding the most interesting, the most entertaining partner but it's about someone (with) whom you're going to spend another 50 years or more."

People trust the PAP government to do what is good for them and for the country, he said, whether the PAP does the popular or unpopular thing. The opposition, however, will campaign on the basis of the politics of anger, envy, jealousy and class division, he said.

"We see a party coming to our home, telling us 'you should be angry, you should be feeling shortchanged, you should be feeling jealous, and you should have a political system based on paralysis and gridlock'. They call it checks and balances," he said.

"There is a proper way of having checks and balances but actually what they're trying to do is to barge into our home."

In his 50-minute speech at a rally beside Commonwealth MRT station, Dr Balakrishnan, who is Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, stressed that Singapore is special and the PAP has played a part in making it so.

He listed a strong armed forces, healthy reserves, respectful bilateral relations, one of the world's lowest yet progressive tax regimes, and one of the world's best healthcare outcomes as some of the successes the nation can celebrate. Among the achievements of its education system is that the Institute of Technical Education here has better facilities than some universities in First World countries, he added.

While there is much to be happy about, there are also challenges Singapore faces, such as climate change, globalisation and disruption due to technology. A technological revolution could lead to unemployment and inequality, wiping out jobs.

And many more people may need social assistance, he said, if demographic trends continue.

"Many opposition politicians like to talk about 6.9 (million) and they use it to hit us on the head with.

"My greater fear is that our population will never go anywhere close or never go much beyond six (million)... The greater threat, in fact, is stagnation, ageing and shrinkage," he said.

He drew a link between this demographic challenge and the need for Singapore to have its own unique model of social assistance, which emphasises personal and family responsibility and targeted subsidies.

It is unlike the Western welfare model as it is sustainable even with an ageing population.

In this way, those who need help can get help and the reserves are not raided, said Dr Balakrishnan.

"The Singapore system is not perfect, it can be improved. But don't make the mistake of completely dismantling a model that works," he said. "It has worked and, with appropriate modification, it will continue to work and it will serve us well."

Additional reporting by Yeo Sam Jo

SDP not interested in serving, does not walk the walk: Liang Eng Hwa
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2015

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) is not interested in local issues and serving residents, its People's Action Party (PAP) opponents in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC charged last night.

"They are only interested to get into Parliament for the glamour, for them to make some noise there, for them to give flowery speeches," PAP candidate Liang Eng Hwa said at his party's rally near Commonwealth MRT station.

#GE2015 PAP candidate Liang Eng Hwa says some opposition candidates could also enter the Singapore Book of Records for the speed in which they conduct their house visits.He also says: “Clearly from the campaign so far, our opponents have shown that they have no interest in local matters. They are only interested in getting into Parliament for the glamour."Follow our live blog (str.sg/Z7Pd) or Twitter (twitter.com/STcom) for updates.
Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, September 7, 2015

Members of Parliament serve dual roles of tackling national issues and taking care of residents' day-to-day lives, said Mr Liang, and parties that are unable or unwilling to do both should step aside.

"Clearly, from the campaign so far, our opponents have shown that they have no interest at all to look at local matters," he said of the SDP.

Mr Liang also reminded the crowd of the SDP's proposal to the Workers' Party (WP) during the 2013 Punggol East by-election: that if the SDP wins, its candidate will enter Parliament, and the WP can run the town council.

"Do you want a team of candidates who just want to give speeches in Parliament and not bother about local issues?" he asked. "Or do you want a team of MPs who are passionate and capable of doing both?"

Fellow PAP candidate Sim Ann noted that the SDP team had not made proposals for local improvements in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. "They don't have the slightest interest in our everyday lives."

Mr Christopher de Souza, another PAP candidate, did not call out the SDP explicitly, but spoke on the importance of forging relationships with residents.

He told the story of one young resident with a troubled life, whom the PAP "partnered" on his journey, with financial help and advice. The young man went on to do well, getting a place in a top engineering course in a university in Europe. Mr de Souza helped him to look up scholarships and was his referee. "Politics is about lives, not talk," he said.

Mr Liang also clarified his earlier objection to the SDP's proposal of a minimum wage for foreigners. SDP candidate Paul Tambyah had said on Sunday that the objection bordered on xenophobia.

Mr Liang said paying above the market wage to all foreigners will push up business costs, hurting Singaporeans when the costs are passed on. He noted that foreign workers still want to work here as they find the pay and conditions attractive. "I have no issue if employers wish to pay their foreign workers higher pay. I'm happy for that.

"But it has to be based on skills, based on the value that the worker can provide, and the ability of employers to pay those higher salaries, not because Professor Paul Tambyah said 'You must pay this salary'."

Tambyah's wish for split in PAP draws flak from candidates
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2015

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate Paul Tambyah's stated wish for a split in the People's Action Party (PAP) came under fire from his opponents in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC last night.

At the SDP's lunchtime rally yesterday, Professor Tambyah called Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam the most brilliant of the current ministers, and said "many of us in the alternative parties... hope that, one day, DPM Tharman will have a falling-out with PM and will come out to lead a grand coalition of opposition parties - Pakatan Rakyat Singapura - to present a real alternative to the current PAP Government".

"SDP says that many of us hope DPM Tharman would have a falling out with the PM. And it hopes he'll come out to lead Pakatan Rakyat Singapura. I ask the discerning voter ... do you think that seeking division in Cabinet is a responsible desire?": People's Action Party's Christopher de Souza. #GE2015LIVE UPDATES: http:bit.ly/paprallysep7WATCH LIVE: http://sgvotes.sg
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Monday, September 7, 2015

Last night, PAP candidate Christopher de Souza fired back, saying: "I ask the discerning voter, watching this tonight, do you think that seeking division in Cabinet is a responsible desire?"

It is not, he said at his party's rally next to Commonwealth MRT station. "It is a serious misjudgment to desire such discord."

#GE2015 PAP candidate Vivian Balakrishnan on what SDP's Paul Tambyah said about secretly wishing that DPM Tharman would have a fallout with PM Lee Hsien Loong and join the opposition. In a swipe at SDP chief Chee Soon Juan, Balakhrishnan said he had just one message for the SDP: "In the PAP, we do not have a tradition of backstabbing our mentors".Follow our live blog (str.sg/Z7Pd) or Twitter (twitter.com/STcom) for updates.
Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, September 7, 2015

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, anchor minister in the PAP slate, said Prof Tambyah's comment "reveals the mentality, the mindset, and the attitude that they have to politics".

"I have just one message to send to the SDP: In the PAP, we do not have a tradition of backstabbing our mentors," he said, to cheers from the crowd. It was a shot at SDP chief Chee Soon Juan, who ousted veteran opposition politician Chiam See Tong from the SDP - a party Mr Chiam himself had founded.

The PAP does not have that tradition because "if... you offer yourself as a leader within the PAP, it's not about you", added Dr Balakrishnan. "It's about Singapore first, party second."

Dr Chee also came under attack from PAP candidate Sim Ann, who criticised his "unreasonable" behaviour in her Mandarin speech.

He likes to "make rules for others" such as not allowing anyone to bring up his past, even when it is common knowledge, she said.

#GE2015 PAP candidate Sim Ann says SDP's Chee Soon Juan likes to "chut pattern", meaning someone who is full of antics. In a speech dripping with sarcasm, she tells the crowd: "If Dr Chee says he is second when it comes to 'chut pattern', no one else would dare to claim first." Follow our live blog (str.sg/Z7Pd) or Twitter (twitter.com/STcom) for updates.
Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, September 7, 2015

Last Tuesday, Ms Sim noted how Dr Chee had "kicked" Mr Chiam out of the SDP in 1993, while Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong pointed out in a TV forum that Dr Chee had given false information in 1996 to a parliamentary committee on healthcare subsidies of polyclinics and public hospitals.

Last night, Ms Sim said Dr Chee's tactics included calling himself names, then claiming the insults came from others. She was referring to Dr Chee's claim that if the PAP could not convince voters, its members would call him "a liar, a gangster, a psychopath", even though neither Ms Sim nor Mr Wong had done so.

The SDP does all this to distract voters from their policy proposals which will not benefit the people, concluded Ms Sim.

Party's solo candidates slam SDP over 'populist' proposals
By Charissa Yong and Carolyn Khew, The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2015

Two solo candidates from the People's Action Party (PAP) came out swinging last night, slamming the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) for proposing policies they said were populist and not in Singapore's interests.

The SDP's proposals for free healthcare, services and education will lead Singapore to spend more than it can afford, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu, who is defending her seat in Yuhua against the SDP's Jaslyn Go.

The SDP's values and policies "point to three words: spend, spend and spend", said Ms Fu at a rally in Jurong East Stadium.

There is a flip side to having free healthcare, food and fuel subsidies, minimum wage and unemployment benefits, said the two-term MP. "What they're not telling you, voters, are these: Other countries (with these policies) have high taxes. Not Singapore. Other countries have oil, gold and timber. Not Singapore."

She added: "Other countries have low growth, even no growth. Not Singapore. Other countries have governments that borrow heavily and have depreciating currencies. Not Singapore."

She also cited high youth unemployment of up to 50 per cent in other countries, strikes that last for weeks and gridlocked parliaments unable to pass laws and function.

On why the SDP was not highlighting these nasty consequences, Ms Fu said: "They are interested in politics only. They want to get into Parliament and they will sacrifice the long-term interests of Singapore, if necessary, to get elected."

"The SDP is using emotions, populist policies and leading Singapore down the slippery road that many other countries are trying to come back up from but cannot," she said, adding that it was a path of no return.

But with the PAP at its helm, Singapore has achieved much in the last 50 years, including clean water, high rates of home ownership, rising salaries and a world-class port.

"Our policies work. They may not be the most popular, but they are the best policies for us.

"They're built on core values like meritocracy, multiracialism, self-reliance and honesty that have served Singapore well," said Ms Fu.

Her colleague David Ong, a candidate for single-seat Bukit Batok, picked up on the theme in his rally speech in his first solo battle.

How Bukit Batok is run and how Singapore is effectively managed boils down to good governance, as demonstrated by the PAP, he said.

The PAP does what is right instead of what is popular, said Mr Ong, whose opponents are the SDP's Sadasivam Veriyah and Mr Samir Salim Neji, an independent.

"Populist government becomes a game of always promising low taxes and big government entitlements, with the resulting deficits kicked down the road for the next generation to bear," said Mr Ong.

"Good governance is very much about being an effective government. A government that gets things done for its people and serves the interests of its people, and not the party," he added.

Mr Ong gave a progress report of his efforts over the past four years in Bukit Batok, the ward of Jurong GRC he helmed as a first-term MP.

Covered linkways have been built and flats upgraded, with a hawker centre, an eldercare centre and two early childhood education centres on the way, he said to cheers.

More than 9,000 students have benefited from education bursaries and free tuition programmes, and more than 1,000 needy senior residents receive financial and social assistance each year, he added.

Ms Fu said: "What you want is an effective MP but, more importantly, an MP who... can run an effective town council, who cares about you and your family, your well-being and future, and who will not just use you to get into Parliament."

Election poster, national flag in bin
By Goh Yan Han, The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2015

Another case of an offence related to election posters has surfaced, this time in Aljunied GRC.

People's Action Party (PAP) candidate Victor Lye posted yesterday on his Facebook page a photo of a poster of his Aljunied GRC team inside a metal bin meant for offerings, along with a state flag.

He said: "What kind of people would have done this? What kind of politics have we coming to us?

"What kind of politicians have such hooligans as supporters? Whither Singapore..."

What kind of people would have done this? What kind of politics have we coming to us? What kind of politicians have such hooligans as supporters? Whither Singapore...
Posted by Victor Lye Thiam Fatt 赖添发 on Sunday, September 6, 2015

Several photos of torn election posters have been circulating on social media over the past few days.

Last Wednesday, in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, at least six posters put up in Sengkang East Way were found torn.

The posters have since been replaced.

On Sept 6, the police issued a statement on their Facebook page confirming that three men between the age of 20 and 36 are assisting them with investigations into the cases of defaced election posters.

Under the Parliamentary Elections Act, it is an offence for any person to alter, remove, destroy, obliterate or deface any election posters or banners.

The punishment for such an offence is a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months.

Constituency close up: Marine Parade GRC

PAP, WP gear up for stiff contest
Both parties working the ground hard in GRC that has hived off MacPherson and absorbed Joo Chiat

By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent and Chong Zi Liang, The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2015

Eunos market stallholder Helen Lim beams as she presents Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong a big bouquet of purple orchids.

The 60-year-old, who has lived in Eunos for 18 years, raises her fist and tells him excitedly: "I hope you will be elected!" After he moves on, she tells The Straits Times: "He has done so much over 40 years, listening to our needs and helping us. How can we not repay him and vote for the PAP?"

Over in Siglap, private investor J.M. Tan is still mulling over his vote. He knows what the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) has done over the years, but wants more opposition in Parliament. "Even if things become more unstable politically, having a diversity of voices who can represent us is a better outcome for Singapore in the long term," said the 52-year-old.

Both Madam Lim and Mr Tan are voting in Marine Parade GRC, where the five-member PAP team led by Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin includes Mr Goh, the former prime minister and an MP there since 1976. The PAP team is being challenged by the Workers' Party (WP).

Minister Tan told The Straits Times: "WP is the main opposition party of weight and has a strong brand name, but we have done as much as we can and made the adjustments that had to be made and are continuing to do so."

In the 2011 General Election, the PAP retained the GRC with 56.6 per cent of the vote against a National Solidarity Party team whose star was Ms Nicole Seah, then 24. The PAP's vote share was below the 60.1 per cent it scored nationally.

Mr Tan, 46, who entered politics in 2011 and is touted as a fourth-generation leader, says the MPs shook off the 2011 setback and got to work right away to win back voters, visiting residents and organising community events and dialogues on top of weekly Meet-the-People Sessions. "The work is not done in the GE period. It cannot be," he said.

House Visits
Good to catch up with friends and residents of Kembangan-Chai Chee :)#GE2015 #PAPwithU #PAP4U #PAP4SG
Posted by Tan Chuan-Jin on Monday, September 7, 2015

The PAP's efforts did not go unnoticed. Sales manager Carol Soon, 36, a Kembangan resident of more than 20 years, said: "I've seen them a lot more in our estate in the last few years. They'd ask for our feedback and follow up. You could see they were trying to do more."

Boundary changes this year affected the five-member GRC. Its MacPherson ward was hived off as a single-member constituency, and the previous Joo Chiat SMC was absorbed into it.

Aside from Mr Tan and Mr Goh, the PAP team this year includes backbenchers Seah Kian Peng, Fatimah Lateef and Edwin Tong. Since Nomination Day, they have gone door to door to distribute fliers and meet residents, with each clocking more than 15km a day.

"The reception has been warm; people come out and express their appreciation for what we have done," Mr Tan said on Sunday, the halfway mark of the nine-day campaign period.

Mr Goh, 74, is fighting his 10th elections. On the campaign trail, it is clear he is highly popular with young and old alike. Many want to shake hands and snap a selfie with him. Some residents of his Marine Parade division are pleased that he is staying on.

Housewife Salbiah Haron, 67, who has lived there for 40 years, said: "I've supported Goh Chok Tong always and I'll continue because he has always done a good job. He has built a good community here."

Book publisher Tan Wu Cheng, 76, a resident for nearly 40 years, said: "He comes here very often for teh tarik sessions and other activities to mingle. I find him very warm in his interactions with us."


The WP team acknowledges it is a tough contest. Team leader Yee Jenn Jong said: "Sometimes you're up against giants. I signed up for this knowing who the likely opponents are." The 50-year-old's team has lawyer Terence Tan, chocolate factory owner Firuz Khan, corporate lawyer He Ting Ru and wealth manager Dylan Ng.

In 2011, Mr Yee lost to the PAP's Mr Charles Chong by just 388 votes in Joo Chiat SMC, now absorbed into Marine Parade GRC. As soon as he learnt it was no longer an SMC, he decided to move too, and asked his party bosses for "a very passionate team, one with commitment". Of the five WP candidates, Mr Yee, Mr Tan and Mr Firuz live in the GRC and are familiar with it.

Known as "son of Joo Chiat", Mr Yee got to be on first-name terms with several residents in Opera Estate and Siglap, and many would invite him to street parties and other functions. The Joo Chiat ward has more than 22,000 voters who all live in houses and condominiums. Some feel that as private estate dwellers, they have been neglected by grassroots leaders and left out of government social help schemes.

Lawyer Shamin Dhilawala, 50, a resident of 20 years, said: "There is a tendency to leave estates like ours alone... but Jenn Jong made a difference. He understands and listens to us and has tried to help us."

Mr Tan Kee Guan, 53, a regional controller in a finance company who has lived in the Siglap area for 15 years, said it will be harder to decide his vote now that Joo Chiat is in Marine Parade GRC.

Describing his dilemma, he said: "I am not voting for only one person but a team that includes a minister... The question is whether we have people who can make laws or whether we want to give a chance to those who tell us they are willing to speak up."


The PAP's Mr Edwin Tong, a lawyer and one-term MP who moved to the GRC this year and will look after Joo Chiat, has pledged to do more for private estate dwellers.

The 46-year-old started making his rounds - on his bicycle - after the PAP assigned him there three weeks ago. He has had to start from scratch, introducing himself and working with a new team of party activists and volunteers.

The message he works hardest to get across is that while he is new in the GRC, he is not inexperienced. He was chairman of Moulmein- Kallang Town Council before that GRC was erased in the boundaries review. "It is a challenge but I'm trying my best," he said.

The WP team is on the move as well. Mr Yee started walking the ground in the Marine Parade and Kembangan-Chai Chee divisions more than a year ago as he could not be sure Joo Chiat SMC would survive on the electoral map. "Part of the SMC was in East Coast GRC in 2006, then became Joo Chiat SMC in 2011, and it's Marine Parade now. Three elections, three constituencies," he said with a sigh.

With Polling Day approaching, every opportunity to interact with voters is precious, he said. After the WP rally in Nee Soon GRC last Friday, he went for supper with his wife at Dunman Food Centre and ended up shaking hands with people there.

He said he has become familiar with local issues such as the need for more parking spaces in Joo Chiat and more exercise facilities for the elderly in Chai Chee.

After residents complained about stagnant water in a large drain near Siglap Centre, he took pictures and sent them to the PUB, which fixed the problem within a few days. "If I become an MP, it becomes easier to push for things like that. But even as an active citizen, I've been doing so," he said.

Businessman Tan Chuen Kiat, 43, who has lived in Marine Parade division since 2006, said the PAP has taken good care of the estate and made improvements such as a much-needed multistorey carpark. Singapore as a whole had also progressed well, he said.

But he felt the ruling party was "missing a personal connection" with the people, something he experienced with the WP when Mr Yee knocked on the door of his HDB unit a few weeks ago.

He also sees merit in the argument that having more opposition MPs in Parliament after 2011 had spurred the PAP Government to do better.

"I'm very, very torn," he said. "It's too bad my vote can't be split into two, one for each party."

Additional reporting by Audrey Tan

Mountbatten: Condo voters hold court as lawyers face off a second time
Both candidates are finding it tough to reach 42% of the ward's voters living in condos
By Toh Yong Chuan and Wong Kim Hoh, The Straits Times, 8 Sep 2015

Both are lawyers in a face-off. Their battleground, though, is not the courtroom but the single-seat ward of Mountbatten.

And their challenge is to win the support of the large number of voters who live in the constituency's condominiums.

In one corner of the ring is the People's Action Party (PAP) candidate Lim Biow Chuan, a 52-year-old partner at a small law firm who is defending his Mountbatten seat.

During the 2011 General Election, he beat National Solidarity Party (NSP) candidate Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss with 58.6 per cent of the vote.

Now, Mrs Chong-Aruldoss, also 52, is back for a rematch under the Singapore People's Party (SPP) colours.

That, itself, has added an interesting twist to the contest.

Many have noticed that SPP is her third party. She started out as a member of the Reform Party (RP) in 2010, before she joined NSP in March 2011 and became its secretary-general two years later.

Last year, she made a bid for the party's presidency, but lost by a majority vote.

Perceptions of her as a party-hopper do not faze her, she said. She meets them head on.

"I want you to know that I worked very hard at NSP; I would probably even have done more work for Mountbatten if not for the fact that I had to spend a lot of time serving out my responsibilities.

"I wanted it to be a party active in the political landscape and not just during election season," she said.

"When I was not endorsed, I could not carry on," she added.

She has now parked her allegiance with SPP, where she said she has the support of Mr Chiam See Tong - the party's first elected MP - and his wife Lina. But the battleground where she returns to face her old rival presents a logistical challenge like no other.

At the heart of their battle are the 102 condos and private apartment blocks in Mountbatten where about 42 per cent of its 24,143 voters live. This translates to about 10,000 voters.

Nationwide, only 12.2 per cent of the residential population live in condos and apartments.

Elsewhere in Mountbatten, about 2,000 voters (8 per cent) live in landed properties and 12,000 (50 per cent) in Housing Board flats.

"These condos are difficult to get into," said Mr Lim.

At the mid-point of the nine-day election campaign on Saturday, Mr Lim said had visited 28 of the 56 blocks of HDB flats in his ward.

But he was not able to visit a single condo because the residents' committees frown on political activities in their compounds.

He had to resort to standing with his volunteers in Tanjong Rhu Road and Meyer Road to distribute fliers to residents walking out of the condos instead. "In 2011, we were even chased away by security guards when we were standing in the public roads," he said.

Mrs Chong-Aruldoss also finds walkabouts at condos more daunting than those at HDB blocks.

"I've got a feeling this is going to be difficult! Tanjong Rhu's much more spread out than the main population catchments, so we've got to fan out across the estate," she said on Facebook last week on her walkabout in Tanjong Rhu.

Besides walking the ground, Mrs Chong-Aruldoss is relying on social media to reach out to voters, including those who live in condos. She set up a Facebook page Jeannette for Mountbatten and updates it regularly. She wrote: "While social media alone's not going to win an election, I find it a great way to share what it's like being a candidate with you guys."

The co-founder of Archilex Law Corporation is funding her own campaign. "The last thing I want to do is to consume Mrs Chiam's resources," she said.

Mrs Chong-Aruldoss also has to take on an incumbent who has relentlessly pounded the streets.

Mr Lim said that in the last four years, he has visited more than 40 condos in the ward after the residents invited him for dialogues. But he noted he was there as an adviser of the grassroots organisations affiliated to the People's Association, not as an MP to canvass votes.

Mrs Chong-Aruldoss feels it is unfair that her opponent can use his position as a grassroots leader to interact with so many residents, while she could not get access to them at all.

"I am not against the grassroots leaders who have altruistic intentions," she said. "It's the system I'm up against."

Despite Mr Lim's efforts, there are 10,000 or so condo voters that he has not been able to reach in this campaign. To convince them, he said, he will have to rely on the record of his work in the last five years.

In the House, the chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education has sought to reduce the stress on students. As president of the Consumers Association of Singapore, he has also championed the "Lemon Law" and gone after dishonest retailers.

In Mountbatten, he has built fitness corners, playgrounds and covered walkways, improvements that also benefit private home owners.

Mrs Chong-Aruldoss is campaigning on enhancing social mobility, preserving Mountbatten's heritage, keeping food costs in the area under control and having a professionally-run town council if elected.

She also points to her deep personal connection with Mountbatten. It was where she lived in the first eight years of her life; it is also where she and her husband first set up home when they got married in 1989.

And while she may not have met as many residents as Mr Lim over the past four years, she is heartened that some of them have made the effort to reach out to her.

Some days back, she was about to tuck into her plate of chicken rice at Jalan Batu hawker centre when a man suddenly plonked himself on a seat next to her.

The retired banker living in Meyer Road had found out she was doing a walkabout in Kampung Arang and wanted a copy of her manifesto. He also wanted to assess her.

"I want to make sure that whoever speaks on my behalf in Parliament is not an idiot," he said.

For this campaign, Mrs Chong-Aruldoss held a rally on Sunday, while Mr Lim is holding a rally tonight at a sports field at the Singapore Sports Hub.

The battle, meanwhile, is also being fought on many fronts - from the personalities of the candidates to the upgrading of the estate.

Mr Lim said he has walked each of the 56 blocks of HDB flats in the constituency at least twice since 2011, keeping an eye on the state of the roads and drains and other problems flagged by residents.

Retired businessman Kho Kok Chew, 73, who lives at Block 6, Jalan Batu off Mountbatten Road, said that Mr Lim is a common sight in his estate: "He is always walking around the HDB blocks."

During a three-hour walkabout at markets and hawker centres on Saturday, The Straits Times saw elderly residents going up to Mr Lim and peppering him with questions such as whether their children who are overseas can vote and asking for lifts to be built at an overhead bridge. An old woman even asked for help retrieving a seniors' discount card that she said FairPrice retained and threw away.

At the Kallang Estate Market, a young resident in her 30s walked up to Mr Lim and showed him a photo of a clogged drain near the market. Mr Lim, who is the Marine Parade Town Council chairman, waved at a volunteer to take down the details. "I will sort it out, don't worry," he said.

The resident, who would give her name only as Ms Ng, told The Straits Times: "I will be keeping a lookout to see whether the clogged drain is cleared."

As for Mrs Chong-Aruldoss, one thing she knows is that she would dearly love to be in the position that Mr Lim has enjoyed over the past four years or so - in Parliament.

"Because any man outside the House will not be very effective. You can be a blogger, you can write letters to the Forum, but you have a voice only if you've been elected."

Mr Lim would not be drawn into commenting on his chances on Friday. "The decision really lies in the voters' hands," he said.

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