Sunday, 6 September 2015

GE2015 Campaign Day 5: Election about Singapore's future and delivering on plans: PM Lee

He urges voters to back PAP if they trust it to put its plans and promises into action
By Janice Heng, The Sunday Times, 6 Sep 2015

The General Election is about Singapore's future, choosing the Government and setting the direction for the country, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

But beyond voting in people with integrity, it is also about a vision and concrete plans for the future, and whether they can be delivered, Mr Lee said, in taking stock of his party's campaign at the mid-point of the hustings for the Sept 11 polls.

The People's Action Party has been trying to get across the finer points of its policies in areas such as housing, healthcare and education, and will continue to do so, he told the press at the party's Bedok HQ. Mr Lee said voters seem receptive to the PAP's message that this election is about electing the right government and the right people.

"But this election, apart from people and integrity, is also about our vision and our plans for the future, and also whether we're able to deliver on these plans," he said.

These plans, in the PAP manifesto, are the product of years of work and public consultation, not plans "which sprang out of nowhere one day, a few weeks before the elections". He added: "No need for intermediaries, no need for co-drivers - just the people, working directly with the PAP and our team."

The party's task comes down to policy content, communication and conviction: "Do we believe in it and do people believe that we are able to make it happen? ... That's what we've been trying to do."

He cited videos to explain policies like Workfare income top-ups, and explanations of MediShield Life and CPF at rallies last week. "We're trying to get across to the people in simple, direct terms what these policies mean and how they make a difference to you."

He also gave a rundown of policies the party has worked on, in housing, healthcare and education.

He asked voters to compare what the PAP had with what other parties had, and judge "fairly, dispassionately, in your own interest" what was best.

"You vote for the party and the team whom you trust and whom you approve of. If you approve of us, vote for us. If you don't approve of us, vote for somebody else.

"But if you approve of us but don't want to vote for us, then I think something will go wrong," he said.

Mr Lee will say more about these issues tomorrow when the PAP holds a lunchtime rally in the city.

At a rally in Chua Chu Kang GRC last night, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong spoke of how the Pioneer Generation Package eases the burden of not only pioneers but also their children, and such help was possible only because the Government had been careful with its finances.

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam explains about our tax system and how it has benefited our middle income and low income residents in Singapore at the Holland Bukit Timah GRC & Bukit Panjang SMC Rally tonight.Listen to the end about whether GST will be increased in the next 5 years.Video Credits: Toggle.Sg#GE2015 #PAP4SGGet breaking news, live updates, and exclusive content, on the go, please click:
Posted by People's Action Party on Saturday, September 5, 2015

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam responded to opposition parties' calls for higher social spending by telling a rally in Bukit Panjang SMC that no country had been able to offer free healthcare and social services without raising taxes for middle-income earners.

The Government, he said, has taken measures to raise the revenue needed for the next five years, including raising income and property taxes, and taking more of the returns earned by Temasek Holdings.

These moves will raise an extra $4 billion a year over the next five years, Mr Tharman said.

Asked if the political temperature in 2015 is proving lower than in 2011, PM Lee declined to give a reading but said "cooler is better" for such clear-eyed evaluation. "You are making decisions for the long term concerning our future, our children, you want to do it dispassionately and in a collected way."

PAP's policies in key areas outlined
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave an overview of the People's Action Party's policies in these key areas.
The Sunday Times, 6 Sep 2015

HOUSING: More help for lower-income households

• The Special CPF Housing Grant now covers two-thirds of households. It gives a subsidy of up to $40,000 to first-time buyers of new Housing Board flats. The grant amount varies by income, with low-income households getting more.

• The Fresh Start Housing Scheme, announced in last month's National Day Rally speech, will help families who bought a flat before and are now on the public rental scheme but who would like to buy a flat again.

HEALTHCARE AND RETIREMENT: Schemes for ageing population

• The Pioneer Generation Package is a bundle of healthcare benefits for Singaporeans born in 194 9 or earlier.

MediShield Life gives lifelong coverage.

• The Silver Support Scheme provides cash top-up to retirement incomes.

EDUCATION: Every school a good school

• Schools such as NorthLight and Assumption Pathway - for pupils who fail the Primary School Leaving Examination - and specialised institutions such as School of the Arts provide pathways for students from all educational backgrounds.

• The national SkillsFuture initiative encourages workers to pick up skills, from their school years into their working lives.


• There are ambitious public housing projects such as the Pinnacle@Duxton and new developments at Dawson.

• Major long-term developments are planned, such as the Southern Waterfront City after port facilities are moved to Tuas, and for the land freed up when Paya Lebar airbase goes to Changi.

PAP press conference

For Singapore to remain special, keep graft at bay
By Charissa Yong, The Sunday Times, 6 Sep 2015

Singapore has managed to become an exceptional country because it has kept its system of government clean, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

"Singapore is special, and is able to stay special, because we have a clean system," he said. "To have a clean system, you must have people who are trustworthy, who are honest, who you can rely upon and who will not be saying one thing, doing another or putting their hands into their kitty."

To keep it this way, voters should assess candidates from different parties for their integrity of character, he argued.

Taking up the point, Dr Ng Eng Hen, organising secretary of the People's Action Party (PAP), said the party will not field as its candidate anyone found skirting too close to unethical boundaries or running for office for personal gain. This is because the party expects high standards of integrity from its candidates and MPs, he said, adding that other parties should aim for the same as well.

"The PAP is the harshest critic for our own candidates," he said at a press conference at the party's headquarters in Bedok yesterday.

Dr Ng, who has been screening PAP candidates for the past 10 years, said senior party leaders grill potential candidates on their motivation for entering politics.

"We ask probing questions. Why are you in it? Are you self-serving? Are you doing this for gain? You'd be put into positions where you can benefit," he said of the process, which he described as onerous.

The final batch fielded at each election is whittled down from 300 to 400 people for each selection round.

They go through several cycles involving senior members of the party and, finally, PM Lee, the PAP's secretary-general.

Dr Ng said: "If there is any doubt that a candidate is running for office because he or she wants to be in a position to benefit personally from holding office, they will not be fielded."

Even after they get into Parliament, these standards apply.

"We've dropped MPs and called fresh elections when they don't measure up, even when we take losses," Dr Ng added, in a clear reference to former Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer's resignation in 2012 over an extramarital affair.

His vacated Punggol East seat was won by the Workers' Party's candidate, Ms Lee Li Lian, in the subsequent by-election.

Dr Ng recounted how the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, on his 90th birthday in 2013, had said that Singapore must remain clean and incorruptible and exhorted MPs to set that example.

"I think he understood that this is a very strong and strict moral fibre that you don't weaken. Because, if you do, Singapore will be weaker for the future," said Dr Ng.

This is why the PAP was pressing the issue of character, even though it was neither a strong nor popular political platform.

"We think it's necessary just to say, gently, that all of us must do our part to make sure that we keep Singapore the way it is, and to keep very high standards for all of us," he said.

Voters know score on AHPETC: PM
By Charissa Yong, The Sunday Times, 6 Sep 2015

After several days of highlighting lapses in the Workers' Party-run town council, the People's Action Party is moving on from focusing on the subject, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

He said the PAP's message - that voters are electing a government that must make things work and take responsibility when things go wrong - was getting across.

"People have understood that to be the government of the country, first you must demonstrate that you have that capability and you've got to run your town council well," said Mr Lee at a press conference at PAP headquarters.

This was why the debate over the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) is significant, and it is an important issue for voters to consider before they vote.

The issue has been extensively argued, with the PAP's leaders making clear the Government's position and the facts of the case, and the WP responding, even during its rallies.

"I think the facts have exposed a raw nerve," said Mr Lee.

And when the dust of the debate settles, it will be clear that sensitive and important questions need to be answered, he said.

"So we've made our points. I think the voters are clear-eyed, they know what this is about. They can make up their minds. I think we can leave it to them," said Mr Lee.

AHPETC Scandal
Michelle Ang made this video that explains the AHPETC issue. A bit long but easy to understand.Sylvia Lim Swee Lian and Low Thia Khiang must respond to these queries! (Video by Michelle Ang)
Posted by Maa Zhi Hong on Saturday, September 5, 2015

When asked later about the claims of candidates from other parties that they were credible and had integrity, Mr Lee reiterated that voters were discerning and could decide for themselves, based on facts.

Enough had been said about AHPETC and "some of the other candidates who have records", he said.

He added: "You cannot expect any person in the middle of an election to say: 'Mea culpa, I lack integrity and credibility.'

"When people are uncertain, I think if you Google-search on the Internet and type names in... you will find out what the facts are and you can decide for yourself. So I think there is no doubt at all."

Tax rates not linked to election results, says PM
Opposition's lavish promises to spend are what will lead to taxes going up, he says
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 6 Sep 2015

The Government does not adjust tax rates according to the percentage of votes the PAP wins at elections but only when it needs to and after careful consideration, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday, rebutting the Workers' Party (WP) claim linking election results to GST hikes.

WP chief Low Thia Khiang warned at a rally on Friday that if voters gave the People's Action Party (PAP) too free a rein, the Government may hike the goods and services tax (GST) rate after elections, like it did after the 2006 polls.

Asked specifically if the GST would be raised from the current level of 7 per cent, Mr Lee said: "We don't adjust or raise taxes just because we got a percentage at the elections. We would be mad to do that. Raising, adjusting taxes are a very big decision. You consider it carefully, you discuss it thoroughly and you do it only when you absolutely have to do it.

"As far as the Government is concerned, we do things which we need to do and when we do that, we will explain it and we will justify it. And if it cannot be justified, and our people don't believe us, then we will pay the price at the next election."

#GE2015: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong talks about GST and taxes, after the The Workers' Party had cited GST hikes after GE 2006 as an example of how the People's Action Party might reverse popular policies or reinstate non-popular ones if it gets too strong a mandate. Mr Lee also commented on the Opposition's manifestos that focus on doling out more money to Singaporeans.More updates: Siau Ming En/TODAY)
Posted by TODAY on Friday, September 4, 2015

He also singled out plans in opposition manifestos to give money to groups, including the young and the old, and to introduce a minimum wage. "Nowhere do they say you need to tax. And when they do, they say, ah, you will tax those rich guys, very few, don't worry. Won't break their bank... When you see a manifesto like that, that's when you must ask, where is the money going to come from?" he said.

"Profligate spending and irresponsible, unsustainable plans. That is what will hurt and require you to raise taxes, including the GST," he added.

At a separate media interview yesterday, Foreign and Law Minister K. Shanmugam called Mr Low's remarks "scaremongering".

Mr Shanmugam said that Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is also Finance Minister, "has made it very clear that we will not raise the GST".

"It's really a scaremongering tactic, ignoring what the Finance Minister has said," he added.

At the press conference at PAP headquarters yesterday, PM Lee lambasted the WP's effort to paint the PAP Government as "dying to do bad things to people", in a reference to Mr Low's warning that popular policies, including property cooling measures, could be reversed. "Do we look like that? Here we are trying to do the best and needing support... I would turn the argument and say, be careful. If you give more votes to the WP, they will become even more arrogant and oppressive to the rest of the parties as they've already shown."

The PAP Government, he said, does not play games with voters.

"You vote for the party and the team whom you trust and whom you approve of. If you approve of us, vote for us. If you don't approve of us, vote for somebody else.

"But if you approve of us but don't want to vote for us, then I think something will go wrong."

Mr Lee noted that some parties harboured ambitions to form the government when they were not ready to do so, but sought to downplay this so as not to frighten voters.

In recent rally speeches, WP chairman Sylvia Lim said that should the party take over the government, it would abolish group representation constituencies, while Mr Png Eng Huat argued that even if the WP were to take over as government, the civil service would keep things running.

PM Lee draws crowds in Aljunied GRC
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor and Rachel Au-Yong, The Sunday Times, 6 Sep 2015

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made his second foray in as many days into opposition territory with a two-hour campaign appearance in Aljunied GRC yesterday.

Making four stops across the group representation constituency held by the Workers' Party (WP), he was mobbed by people wanting pictures and selfies.

He started at Hougang Mall, then went to Serangoon Garden Market, made a brief detour through a neighbourhood dog party at Chartwell Drive Park and concluded the walkabout at two food centres along Bedok Reservoir Road.

He was accompanied by his wife, Ms Ho Ching, former People's Action Party (PAP) chairman Lim Boon Heng and the five candidates that the PAP is fielding to unseat the WP team in the GRC.

They are Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, Mr Victor Lye, Mr K. Muralidharan Pillai, Mr Shamsul Kamar and Mr Chua Eng Leong.

On Friday night, Mr Lee spoke at the PAP's rally in Aljunied GRC, and told residents that the ruling party was fully behind its candidates, who have been called a "suicide squad" as they are up against a team of heavyweight WP MPs.

Aljunied residents who met Mr Lee yesterday were pleasantly surprised to see him.

Data entry assistant Norlizah Mohamad, 44, was delighted that she got to meet "a good and sincere leader" and said she would likely vote for the PAP.

Singapore Institute of Technology student Prasana G., 24, said it was a "nice gesture" that Mr Lee came to Aljunied, but she was still leaning towards the WP.

"The candidates are their top leaders," she explained.

Law graduate Anand Retnam, 25, said he was undecided. "On the one hand, there is the question of what's better for us (residents).

"On the other hand, there is the national need to have an opposition presence, and it seems like it is up to us to provide it."

Free healthcare will mean raising taxes: Tharman
Middle-income group will bear burden of such schemes proposed by opposition, says DPM
By Chia Yan Min, The Sunday Times, 6 Sep 2015

There is no country in the world which has provided free healthcare and other social services without raising taxes for middle-income workers, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at a People's Action Party (PAP) rally last night in Petir Road.

Mr Tharman, who was responding to policy proposals made by opposition parties, including the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), said Singapore's tax system must stay progressive, and "where the rich pay more and the poor get more".

Mr Tharman, who is leading a five-member team to contest in Jurong GRC, spoke alongside the PAP candidates for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, as well as Bukit Panjang SMC candidate Teo Ho Pin, at last night's rally.

The SDP has proposed several economic measures, including having a minimum wage, raising personal income taxes for the top 1 per cent of earners and increasing social spending, particularly on public healthcare.

These proposals only consider "what the government gives with one hand, without talking about what the government takes with the other hand", said Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister.

"And, of course, every government has to take taxes from people with one hand and give benefits with another hand. The question is: Who pays and who benefits? Is it fair?"

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam explains about our tax system and how it has benefited our middle income and low income residents in Singapore at the Holland Bukit Timah GRC & Bukit Panjang SMC Rally tonight.Listen to the end about whether GST will be increased in the next 5 years.Video Credits: Toggle.Sg#GE2015 #PAP4SGGet breaking news, live updates, and exclusive content, on the go, please click:
Posted by People's Action Party on Saturday, September 5, 2015

For example, France's healthcare system - cited as a positive example by the SDP - provides benefits to all including the rich, but imposes a high burden on middle-income workers, Mr Tharman said.

The average French worker pays well over 20 per cent of his income in taxes to the government. This is even before taking into account the payroll taxes, which come out of wages and are an important source of funding for the French healthcare system.

"So when you think of free healthcare or close-to-free healthcare... you must realise that it is not free. The average citizen is paying for it and paying for it big time in these countries," he added.

"And they are also paying more because everyone, including the rich and the upper-middle-income group, is benefiting."

By comparison, Singapore's system imposes a smaller burden on middle-income earners while also giving fewer benefits to the rich, Mr Tharman said.

For every $1 paid in taxes by a middle income family, they will get back $2 in subsidies.

For every $1 in taxes the poor pay, which is mainly GST, they get back $6 in subsidies.

For those in the top 10 per cent, for every $1 they pay, they get back 20 cents.

In Finland - often held up with other Scandinavian nations as a model of egalitarianism - for every $1 paid in taxes, the middle-income group receives $1.30.

"It's a complete myth to think that these are egalitarian systems," Mr Tharman said.

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam: "We have been upfront.... That's what responsible politics is all about."Video Credits: Toggle.Sg#GE2015 #PAP4SGGet breaking news, live updates, and exclusive content, on the go, please click:
Posted by People's Action Party on Saturday, September 5, 2015

He also sought to dispel the "myth" that the Government can draw on investment income in the country's reserves, instead of raising taxes, to fund social spending.

"We are already maxing out on the investment income from our reserves... We're spending it fully on our increased social spending, on healthcare, on our infrastructure.

"It's fully used, there's no more money left there that you can just take without compromising the next generation," he said.

"That's just cheap": People's Action Party's Tharman Shanmugaratnam refutes the opposition's "scaremongering" on what the party will do after #GE2015.
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Government, he said, has taken measures to raise the revenue needed for the next five years, including raising income and property taxes, and taking more of the returns earned by Temasek Holdings.

These moves will raise an extra $4 billion a year over the next five years, Mr Tharman said.

"We have done it in advance, no bluff, no pretence, we've made very clear we have extra spending needs...

"So when I listened to some of the scaremongering that is going on, not only do they avoid talking about the taxes that they will have to raise if their proposals were to be put into practice, but they also scaremonger, talking about what the PAP will do after the elections. That is just cheap," he said.

SDP's policies will make S$ plunge: Liang Eng Hwa
The Sunday Times, 6 Sep 2015

The "crazy economic ideas" of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) will make the Singdollar plummet and scare off investors, People's Action Party (PAP) candidate Liang Eng Hwa said last night.

At their Petir Road rally, the PAP candidates for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC rubbished their SDP opponents' policy proposals.

Mr Liang, a DBS Bank managing director, noted that a strong Singdollar is important to keep imported goods and overseas travel affordable to Singaporeans. Today, the exchange rate is three Malaysian ringgit to the Singdollar. "The crazy economic ideas of the SDP... will reverse all this," he warned.

Mr Liang did not specify which SDP ideas he was taking issue with but the opposition party has called for the size of Singapore's reserves to be made known, the exclusion of land costs from HDB flat prices and higher healthcare subsidies.

In his experience with financial markets, he has seen currencies being devalued in weeks or days, Mr Liang said. "The value can just disappear overnight."

Political stability means a lot to international investors, he added.

Turning to SDP's calls for a minimum wage, Mr Liang noted that in some countries, firms refuse to pay more than required.

"Minimum wage becomes maximum wage - is that what we want?"

Instead, Singapore's progressive wage system - where income rises as workers upgrade their skills - is better, he said.

He also took aim at SDP's proposal of minimum wages for foreigners. "On the one hand, they have been scolding us to say that the Government has let in an influx of foreign workers. On the other hand, they want a policy where we pay foreign workers a minimum wage. Do they know the implications of this?"

If firms cannot absorb the costs, they will pass them on to consumers, pushing up the cost of living, he said. "So let's be careful about all these fashionable ideas they come up with. Does it work for us?"

Instead, he noted facilities in the GRC that lower the cost of living, such as hawker centres and polyclinics. "I think that's a practical way of keeping cost of living down, rather than to come up with fanciful ideas that do not work."

Minister of State (Education, Communications and Information) Sim Ann also slammed the SDP's "shortsighted policies", such as its proposal to raise personal income tax and corporate taxes.

High-earners and multinational companies can easily move out of Singapore, but low- and middle-income earners and small and medium-sized enterprises cannot, she said.

Her fellow candidate Christopher de Souza, describing himself as from "a military family", attacked the SDP's plan to slash the defence budget.

"SDP's proposal to almost halve the defence budget will ambush Singapore's sovereignty," he said.

Calling the idea naive, dangerous and opportunistic, Mr de Souza said: "Our peace and sovereignty exist because we have a potent SAF (Singapore Armed Forces).

"Don't make the mistake of saying otherwise from a political soapbox. Don't jeopardise Singapore's sovereignty!" he shouted, to cheers and applause from the crowd.

Even Bukit Panjang SMC candidate Teo Ho Pin, who spoke mostly on municipal matters, took issue with his SDP opponent's views.

"I do not agree with SDP candidate Khung Wai Yeen when he downplays the importance of running the town council," he said.

"In fact, the running of the town council can make a big difference to the quality of life of our residents."

The only candidate who did not take on the SDP was Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, anchor minister of the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC slate.

Instead, he ended the rally on a personal note, sharing his family's history of deprivation and the values it instilled: hard work and leaving a legacy to future generations.

"The values that I have, I believe, are the values that all of you have. The story of Singapore is the story of each of your families," he told the crowd.

"Now, as we make decisions for the future... I ask you for your support. Please support people you know, people you trust, people who take action, people who will lead us into the future."

Pioneer scheme also benefits families, says Gan
Burden on seniors' caregivers eased; such help possible as Govt has been financially prudent
By Salma Khalik, Senior Health Correspondent, The Sunday Times, 6 Sep 2015

The Pioneer Generation package, given to Singaporeans aged 65 years and older, benefits not just them but also their families, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

The package helps seniors pay for their healthcare needs, including the premiums for the soon-to- be-launched compulsory health insurance scheme, MediShield Life.

It also helps with outpatient bills at specialist clinics and polyclinics. This is considered especially helpful for people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, that require monitoring and medicine.

Both seniors as well as poorer people can also get treatment at private medical and dental clinics while enjoying hefty government subsidies on their bills.

Speaking last night at the People's Action Party (PAP) rally in Chua Chu Kang GRC, where he is anchor minister, Mr Gan said: "This Pioneer Generation Package doesn't only ease the burden of the pioneers. It also eases the burden on their children - on you, our residents, as their caregivers."

He said such help is possible only because the Government has been careful with its finances. And he promised: "We will do more."

Mr Gan, who is also minister-in-charge of ageing issues, said the healthcare masterplan will expand capacity to meet growing needs, ensure quality and improve affordability.

More hospitals are being opened. At the end of last year, the 280-bed Integrated Building opened next to Changi General Hospital. In July this year, the 700-bed Ng Teng Fong General Hospital opened.

"Jurong Community Hospital has also opened and Yishun Community Hospital will also open shortly. We are also building nursing homes as well as polyclinics," he said.

The launch of MediShield Life on Nov 1 will mean that patients with big hospital bills will pay less.

While premiums will be raised to provide for this better coverage, Mr Gan said: "You don't have to worry about premiums as the Government will provide premium subsidies for the middle- and lower-income households."

But he said that preparing for Singapore's rapidly ageing population - one in five people here will be aged 65 years or older by 2030 - is not just a matter of building more hospitals and nursing homes.

Mr Gan said the ministry is "changing our healthcare system even as we expand it, to take care of the older population today and going forward. We are investing in training and capability development so that our healthcare professionals are better prepared for an ageing society".

The other area of investment, he said, is in keeping people healthy throughout their lives.

He said: "We are all getting older. Singapore as a whole is getting older. But we can remain vibrant, connected and active, and we can lead a fulfilling life even as we age."

Building an elder-friendly infrastructure is one way of ensuring this, he said, adding that many such changes have been happening in his constituency, such as more senior citizen fitness corners which will give the elderly "ample opportunities to keep fit and stay fit".

Mr Gan said he and his team will "encourage the seniors to stay healthy, so that they not only live long, (but) they can live healthily and live well". The team will also foster inter-generational bonding, with more green spaces where families can meet their neighbours.

All these are long-term policies "that will span 10 to 15 years to implement and require huge resources". He urged the people to vote for the political party - the PAP - that can make all this happen.

Malay community urged to pick strong leadership team it can trust
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Sunday Times, 6 Sep 2015

The Malay community has prospered with each generation, and has achieved much in a range of fields.

And more still can be done, if all parties work together in the spirit of "gotong royong" and give-and-take, said Mr Zaqy Mohamad at a People's Action Party rally in Choa Chu Kang last night.

The world is changing and new challenges lie ahead, he said. The global economy, for one thing, is slowing.

"How will we deal with it? It will not come easy. It will come with cooperation between the citizens and a government with a strong leadership team," said Mr Zaqy in Malay. "Only you can decide on your team of leaders - a strong team that you can be confident of and trust."

He also noted that the Government pays great attention to social harmony, and supports the community's efforts to inoculate itself against influences that may shatter this harmony, such as that of the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Outgoing Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower Hawazi Daipi, too, made the point that the Government has succeeded in maintaining harmony among the races here.

Speaking at a rally in Bukit Panjang, Mr Hawazi said: "Support the party and the candidates that have already contributed to our harmony."

He also felt that parties should not focus on single issues such as the Central Provident Fund, or wearing of the tudung in the workplace. Both topics have been raised frequently at the rallies held by opposition parties over the past few days.

Mr Hawazi was at last night's rally for Dr Teo Ho Pin, who is standing in Bukit Panjang SMC.

Both entered politics in 1996, when they were elected MPs for Sembawang GRC.

The Malay/Muslim community has progressed in education, employment, language and culture - as well as in their religious life, said Mr Hawazi.

And the Government has supported the community too.

New mosques have been built and though funds came from the community, the land had been set aside by the Government.

Mr Hawazi said: "The Government has in place a system that allows it to support the Malay community, without making the other communities feel overlooked."

He added: "There is no community in Singapore that comes before any other."

Lawrence Wong pledges to boost Yew Tee transport links
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Sunday Times, 6 Sep 2015

The People's Action Party (PAP) has walked with Singaporeans since before independence and it is proud of its track record and past, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong.

"In this election, there are many political parties, but the PAP is the only party that can be your partner for life," he told the crowd at a PAP rally in Choa Chu Kang last night.

Some opposition parties have been saying that the PAP only speaks of its past, but Mr Wong said to cheers: "We are proud of our past.

"We are proud that we are the party of our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. We are proud of our track record."

This past, added the minister, would guide the party as it charts the path ahead.

Mr Wong, a candidate in the new Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, promised Yew Tee residents that he and his team would work to improve connectivity in the area.

When the Downtown Line is ready, he said, a shuttle bus service will take residents to the Bukit Panjang station on the new line.

In the longer term, his team will appeal to the Land Transport Authority to consider extending the Downtown Line so that Yew Tee residents can have a station nearby.

He was on stage with teammate Alex Yam, who has been MP for Yew Tee, to support the PAP team in Chua Chu Kang GRC.

Yew Tee ward, which used to be in Chua Chu Kang GRC, is now part of Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.

"The boundaries may change, the candidates may change. But the PAP remains the same," said Mr Wong.

Acknowledging that not everything is perfect, Mr Wong said Singapore is a place where every child has an equal shot at success in life and there are opportunities for people of all races and religions.

"We are a society where everyone and anyone can make it.

"You can make good if you persevere and you can achieve your potential," he said.

To keep this alive, the PAP has strengthened social safety nets and there are more opportunities in school and in the workplace.

"We in the PAP offer you our track record for scrutiny. We offer you our plans for the future. And we offer to you our service," Mr Wong said.

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