Sunday 16 August 2015

GE2015: PAP wants to win Aljunied, fix 'mess' at AHPETC: DPM Teo

Vote for a party whom you trust to manage your money and town council: DPM Teo
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean asks if the Workers' Party is eyeing Fengshan SMC to raid its reserves.
By Edric Sng, Channel NewsAsia, 14 Aug 2015

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has thrown down the gauntlet to the Workers' Party (WP), asking the Opposition party to prove that it is "at least able to run a town council", in a sharp reference to the ongoing court case faced by the WP-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC). He also questioned WP's motives in eyeing the neighbouring constituencies such as Fengshan SMC.

"When elected you have two responsibilities: One is contribute to national policy-making, one is to manage your town council well," Mr Teo said on Friday (Aug 14).

Mr Teo - MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC - gave the example of how Punggol East SMC, which used to be managed under the same town council as his constituency but broke away when the WP wrested control of the ward in a 2013 by-election, went from being in a town council with a surplus to one with a deficit.

"Essentially what happened was this: Hougang town council was running a deficit, they took over Aljunied, a town council which was in surplus (following the 2011 General Election). They took over Punggol East from Pasir Ris-Punggol town council which was also in surplus. Now the whole Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council is in deficit," he said.

"How did that happen, how did a large surplus turn into deficit? Where did the money go?

"Residents of Punggol East used to be part of my town council. I was very sorry to hand them over. But we handed it over in good order, with surpluses, to WP. Now they're part of a town council that is in deficit. I feel quite bad about that too."

Mr Teo said he wondered if other constituencies eyed by the WP at the coming General Election - the party has indicated it will field 28 candidates, spanning five GRCs and five SMCs - would face the same issues.

Referring to a post by WP chairman Sylvia Lim on her recently-started Instagram account, the Deputy Prime Minister said: "Now we see the chairman of the town council saying that Fengshan SMC looks quite delicious. What's going to happen? You're going to swallow up Fengshan? For what purpose? To serve the residents of Fengshan? Or is Fengshan delicious because you want to add it to the pot? And help the town council with the deficit?”

In her first post on Instagram On Tuesday, Ms Lim posted a picture of herself at Fengshan hawker centre with the caption, “The taste of Fengshan — heavenly!” The post was accompanied by the hashtag #reasonstowin.

On Aljunied - where a team helmed by former Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo was defeated by a team led by WP Secretary-Chairman Low Thia Khiang in 2011 - Mr Teo said that the People's Action Party wanted the chance to "sort out the mess" that the town council is in.

"For the 45 per cent who voted for the PAP in Aljunied the last time round, I'd like to say sorry that we were not able to serve them. Our focus would be to go in and sort out the mess that is the town council. We would like to have a team that can help sort out these issues before the hole becomes bigger - before you come into difficulties that will be very hard to recover from."

He added: "You must be able to at least run a town council. I don't think that's a very high expectation. There are very capable people in the WP. Lawyers, people well trained in international finance. But what has happened?

"I think its important we resolve this issue. It's not something we like to bring up, but something I think is important to bring up."

"So when exercising our vote, be sure. There will be enough people voting for the Opposition. Make sure you vote for a candidate and a party whom you really want to place your future in the hands of. Make sure they're the ones you want to manage your money and your town council."


Mr Teo also took aim at the Workers' Party's track record in Parliament, saying their silence on some issues stood in contrast to their boisterous rallies.

"Some people come alive during an election. Some campaign very well. Wonderful rallies getting people worked up. It's easier to get people riled up and unhappy. Even I know how to do that. It's much harder to get people to work together on a difficult project - to make trade-offs, strike balances, then unite and work together. That's much more difficult.

"During the elections you can have a party that does all kinds of rabble-rousing, inflaming emotions, influencing the way people vote. But when they get elected into Parliament, these fierce issues which they talk about during elections ... they're silent, even when they can engage the Parliament directly."

The Deputy Prime Minister also fired a salvo at WP chief Low Thia Khiang, who on Wednesday said he was "disappointed" that Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, whom he called "a hardworking minister", would not be running for Parliament in the coming elections.

Said Mr Teo: "I think those are really crocodile tears. I think it's very characteristic of Mr Low to squeeze the most political mileage out of anything. Mr Low was about to field a team to contest Mr Lui, and I'm sure if his party has contested where Mr Lui stood, he wouldn't be saying nice things about him. I'm sure they're crocodile tears."

Civilised Politics? WP?
One of our readers sent us this video.Low Thia Khiang claimed that DPM Teo's comment was uncivilised politics.So the reader compiled past videos of how civilised Workers' Party were in the past.What do you think?
Posted by Squeaky Hammer on Sunday, August 16, 2015

'Is this the kind of politics we want?': WP chief on DPM's 'crocodile tears' comment
"Let Singaporeans judge and see this is the standard of the PAP in politics," says Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang. 
By Justin Ong, Channel NewsAsia, 16 Aug 2015

The Opposition Workers’ Party (WP) secretary-general Low Thia Khiang on Sunday (Aug 16) responded to Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean’s accusations that he was shedding “crocodile tears” over the departure of Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew from the Cabinet.

"I think it's very characteristic of Mr Low to squeeze the most political mileage out of anything," DPM Teo had said in an interview on Friday. "Mr Low was about to field a team to contest Mr Lui, and I'm sure if his party has contested where Mr Lui stood, he wouldn't be saying nice things about him. I'm sure they're crocodile tears,” he added.

Mr Low said on Sunday: "With due respect, if DPM wants to comment that way, let Singaporeans judge and see this is the standard of the PAP (People’s Action Party) in politics."

He was speaking after a walkabout at Chong Pang, where WP chairman Sylvia Lim also revealed that the party’s existing MPs would defend their seats in Aljunied GRC and Hougang and Punggol East SMCs.

“Is this the kind of politics we want in the future? What do we want the future of Singapore to be? Do we want to be more civilized in our political engagement? We are not a Third World country. I think voters will have to decide what they want Singapore to be,” Mr Low added.

Last week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and other senior members of the Cabinet had tried to persuade Mr Lui to change his mind on his decision not to contest the coming General Election, but Mr Lui stuck firm to his decision.

Mr Low later expressed disappointment over the loss of Mr Lui, whom he called “a hardworking minister” and questioned the move, saying: “I thought the standard ethos of the PAP is that resignation doesn't solve the problem."

On Sunday, Mr Low again praised Mr Lui and reiterated that him stepping down would be a loss to the Cabinet. “I've known him for a number of years in Parliament. He's down-to-earth and answers questions matter-of-factly and in detail, and it shows he's hands-on … (and) prepared to work the ground. Neither does he attack or bully or intimidate the Opposition. I find him responsible and accountable. I appreciate that.”

All 7 MPs to defend their seats: WP
Workers' Party puts an end to speculation that a big gun might contest elsewhere
By Chong Zi Liang, The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2015

All seven Workers' Party's (WP) MPs will stay in place to defend their seats in the next election, party chairman Sylvia Lim said yesterday, ending speculation that at least one of its big guns was heading to another constituency.

Explaining the decision, she said the team intended to seek a new mandate for another term.

On the Aljunied team in particular, she said: "We feel that it's meaningful for us to continue in Aljunied, continue the work that we've done. We know residents have stuck by us, encouraged us to continue, so we feel that it's meaningful for us to remain as a team."

This also applies to the two single-seat wards it also holds: Hougang and Punggol East.

But the WP MPs will also help its candidates who are contesting other constituencies, Ms Lim said.

Her announcement at a walkabout in Nee Soon GRC yesterday confirmed a Straits Times report on Saturday that the line-up in WP-held constituencies would remain unchanged.

There has been growing speculation that the WP might send one of its "big guns" out of Aljunied to boost its chances of winning in a neighbouring constituency.

Talk of Ms Lim moving to Fengshan spiked after she posted a photo online of her eating at a hawker centre in the single-seat ward.

Ms Lim and WP chief Low Thia Khiang also turned up the rhetoric.

They pushed back on the People's Action Party's (PAP) characterisation of the next election being about picking a leadership team for the future - and not about how many opposition MPs there were, given that the Constitution guarantees there could be up to nine non-constituency opposition MPs in Parliament.

They also rebuffed Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean's criticism of how the WP ran its Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council, which has been caught out over accounting and governance lapses.

Ms Lim said it was for voters to decide if they are satisfied with constitutionally guaranteed NCMPs, or whether they want elected MPs for their constituencies.

On Mr Teo's remarks on the town council, she said the WP would "leave our residents and the public to judge... whether we've short-changed our residents, be it in estate cleanliness, maintenance, lift breakdowns and so on".

As for the town council's financial position, this would be made clearer at the end of this month when its accounts are submitted.

Mr Low, at the same event in Nee Soon GRC, was in a sparring mood as he spoke of the tone of political discourse after Mr Teo said he shed "crocodile tears" over Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's retirement from politics at the next polls.

Mr Low said last week that he was surprised and disappointed over Mr Lui's impending departure.

But last Friday, Mr Teo, in an interview with reporters, said the WP chief was being disingenuous: "Mr Low was about to field a team to contest Mr Lui, and I'm sure if his party has contested where Mr Lui stood, he wouldn't be saying nice things about him."

Mr Teo added: "It's very characteristic for Mr Low to squeeze the most political mileage out of anything. I think the reasons that Tuck Yew decided to step down are known to everyone. He was quite clear... So frankly I think it's crocodile tears."

Yesterday, Mr Low said in Mandarin that it was apparent his remarks did not sit well with PAP leaders as "good advice is hard on the ears".

"As a DPM, with due respect, he wanted to comment in that way," Mr Low said of the crocodile tears comment.

"Let Singaporeans judge and see (that) this is the kind of standard of the PAP in politics. Is this the kind of politics that we want in the future? What do we want the future of Singapore to be: do we want to be more civilised in our political engagement? We are not a Third World country. But I think the voters will have to decide."

The WP's walkabout in Nee Soon yesterday included its likely candidates there. They include voluntary welfare organisation manager Kenneth Foo, 38; funeral service company executive Bernard Chen, 29; sales consultant Cheryl Denise Loh, 32; trainee lawyer Shaneet Rai, 27; and property agent Ron Tan, 30.

Ms Lim told reporters that the WP would introduce its candidates after the National Day Rally on Aug 23.

Move shows WP takes PAP seriously: ESM Goh
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2015

The Workers' Party's (WP) decision for its incumbent Aljunied GRC MPs to defend their seats in the next election shows that they take the People's Action Party (PAP) team there seriously, said Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday.

"It doesn't matter who they send," he said, adding that the PAP will send a team that is right for the GRC, although this does not mean that the prime minister and deputy prime minister will contest the GRC.

This was a reference to calls from some quarters for the PAP to field a heavyweight team there.

He was speaking to reporters at a Hougang Street 21 coffee shop after a two-hour visit to the opposition- held GRC.

The WP unseated the PAP in Aljunied GRC in the 2011 General Election, with 54.72 per cent of the vote.

Mr Goh, an MP for Marine Parade GRC, said he was visiting the constituency to give moral support to the team, which has been working very hard over the last few years.

He was flanked by the five chairmen of the PAP branches in Aljunied GRC who have been identified as the likely slate there: Mr Victor Lye, Mr K. Muralidharan Pillai, Mr Chua Eng Leong, Ms Chan Hui Yuh and Mr Shamsul Kamar.

Also present was former PAP chairman Lim Boon Heng, a special adviser to grassroots groups.

Mr Goh said his visit was a signal to residents that the PAP remains very interested in their welfare and will address their concerns.

"We are here to serve them and we want to have another chance to serve them better than the current MPs. I believe we should be able to do well," he said.

He said that he was well-received by residents he met at the Serangoon Gardens Food Centre, Serangoon North Avenue 1, Hougang Mall and Kovan Hub. But he added that any personal goodwill they had towards him may not necessarily translate into votes for the PAP.

He advised his party colleagues in Aljunied GRC to have a softer approach, instead of worrying about infrastructure: "It is important, but more or less done. The way forward is community bonding," he said.

He added that the PAP will decide on the final line-up to be fielded in the GRC.

Mr Lye said that regardless of the WP's decision, the group of five has been in the GRC "for the people. And we're going to remain here and do our best for the people, and that's what matters".

WP must now walk the talk, take action

AHPETC paid Managing Agent estimated S$1.6m a year more than other TCs: MND

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