Thursday 3 September 2015

GE2015 Campaign Day 2: PAP and WP hold first rallies

Party bigwigs kick off rallies at strongholds
PM Lee delivers keynote speech in Tanjong Pagar, while WP chief Low goes to Hougang
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 3 Sep 2015

For the first election rallies of the campaign, the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and its chief challenger, the Workers' Party (WP), both returned to their spiritual homes and political strongholds last night.

The PAP went to Tanjong Pagar GRC, where its candidates are facing an electoral challenge for the first time since 1991 - and the first polls since 1955 without founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on the slate.

The WP went to Hougang, which its chief Low Thia Khiang referred to as his "niangjia" - "parents' home" in Mandarin - as it is the place where he was first elected to Parliament.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered the keynote rally speech for the PAP, calling Tanjong Pagar a "special place" for the ruling party. Mr Lee Kuan Yew chose to stand in the area in 1955 because it was where poor workers lived in slums.

He promised to transform their lives, and did, said PM Lee, emphasising that the PAP is a party that takes action and fulfils promises.

This was possible because the pioneer generation of Singaporeans trusted Mr Lee and his team, and "showed him and showed themselves what Singapore could do".

The development of Tanjong Pagar embodies the Singapore story, PM Lee said, and declared that the PAP's efforts to transform the area were not over.

After port operations move to Tuas starting from 2027, a Southern Waterfront City will be built in the group representation constituency that is "three times the size of Marina Bay, and three times as beautiful", he said.

The PAP has planned several such visionary projects, said PM Lee, from Changi Airport's Terminal 5 to the Jurong Lake District.

He also announced, to the delight of residents at the rally, a "15- to 20-year" plan to upgrade and expand the Singapore General Hospital.

"So we are going to make Singapore different. But to do that, we have to do it together," he said, asking voters for their support for the PAP and its ideas, not just for new infrastructure but for ways to realise the people's hopes and dreams.

At the WP's Hougang rally, party leaders focused on defending their management of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

They argued that the PAP had used "double standards and unfair business practices" to hobble the opposition town council.

WP's Hougang candidate Png Eng Huat said lapses had also been found at the People's Association by the Auditor-General, but government grants continued to be handed out to grassroots bodies.

The Ministry of National Development has withheld about $14 million of grants from AHPETC because it does not trust that the money will be used properly without court-appointed independent accountants, it said.

WP chairman Sylvia Lim said it was a "myth" that the town council had been overcharged by its managing agent, and that the PAP has latched onto financial management as a target of attack since the GRC has remained clean and well-run since it changed political hands.

Mr Low maintained that there had been no wrongdoing at AHPETC, arguing that the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau would have got involved otherwise.

This drew a swift rejoinder from PM Lee, who was delivering his Tanjong Pagar speech at the same time as Mr Low's in Hougang.

"If your standard for politics is that the people who are in politics should not be in jail, then I think Singapore is in very serious trouble," he said.

Not going to jail shouldn't be the standard for doing a good job, says PM Lee
'Opposition must set higher standards'
By Rachel Chang, The Straits Times, 3 Sep 2015

Singapore must have higher standards for its politics than those of some opposition politicians who seem to believe that if they are not in jail, they must be doing okay, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last night at a rally.

His comment came shortly after Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang argued at a rally over in Hougang that the lapses at the Aljunied- Hougang-Punggol East Town Council were not investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) and that was a sign that there was no wrongdoing.

PM Lee objected to the way that "when people do something wrong, they don't fix it, they don't admit it, they pretend it doesn't exist".

"And then sometimes they say, 'Well, I haven't been sent to jail. If I've done something wrong, I should have gone to jail. I'm not in jail, so everything is okay'.

"I think, if your standard for politics is that the people who are in politics should not be in jail, then I think Singapore is in very serious trouble," he said, adding: "We must have high standards for politics."

The questions politicians should ask themselves are whether they are doing the right thing and serving Singapore well, he said.

He asked voters to "take a look at the people we have, the people they have and ask yourself, ask them: What sort of people are you? What do you represent? Is your heart really with me?"

Mr Lee also made reference to opposition parties fielding "candidates with flawed characters, people who should never be in politics".

"But they just sweep this aside, they hope that (it) will disappear into the distance, forgotten. They say, 'We look forward'.

"Please don't look behind, you might find my black tail," he said, characterising their line.

"I think that's very dangerous."

GE2015: PM Lee's assurance on cost of living
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 3 Sep 2015

The People's Action Party (PAP) Government will continue to help citizens cope with the cost of living, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave this assurance at the PAP's first election rally last night.

"(For) the big things which cost money - housing, medical care, transportation, education - these especially, the Government is able to help you," he said, highlighting moves in the two policy areas of housing and healthcare.

The Government has "gone a long way to help every Singaporean own a home" and is continuing to improve its schemes, he said. He cited changes announced in his National Day Rally speech last month, such as raising the income ceiling for Housing Board flats to $12,000 from $10,000 previously, and giving lower-income families more help to buy flats.

With more subsidies, the net price for a two-room flat is now $30,000 and many families have been able to afford it, he said. In the last four years, 1,800 families earning less than $1,000 a month have bought two-room flats.

"So when I say we have made housing more affordable to help people with the cost of living, I'm telling the truth."

In healthcare, he named the Pioneer Generation Package of benefits for Singaporeans born in 1949 or earlier, and the Community Health Assist Scheme for lower- and middle-income households. The Government is also building more community hospitals to avoid the problems faced in other countries, where healthcare might be free but waiting lists are long.

"In Singapore, I think we try our best to make a system in which everybody can get the treatment they need," he said. "You have to pay some, but if you need the treatment you can get the treatment. And that is our promise to you."

The PAP is also addressing the cost of living in other areas, said Mr Lee, adding that he would speak about other policies in the days to come.

Vote for party deserving of people's trust: Chun Sing
That trust between Government and people is crucial to success in future, says minister
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 3 Sep 2015

PAP candidates for Tanjong Pagar GRC and Radin Mas SMC put the focus on the special trust between the Government and people of Singapore, saying that was crucial to the success of the first 50 years and will remain so in the future.

They were led by anchor minister Chan Chun Sing, who said that on Polling Day, voters need to ask themselves just one question, and that is which party deserves their trust.

Speaking at the People's Action Party's first rally of this campaign at Delta Hockey Pitch in Tiong Bahru, Mr Chan cautioned voters against opposition party members who seemed more interested in getting into Parliament to make grand speeches than in helping residents.

While he did not name anyone, Mr Chan and his GRC team are up against a slate of five from the Singaporeans First (SingFirst) party led by Mr Tan Jee Say.

The PAP, Mr Chan said, looks after people first, which is why its MPs know what to say in Parliament. Observing that trust is built up over years, he said of the opposition: "If you appear every four years for one week, 10 days, you think you know our residents, you think our residents will trust you? I will say no."

He also challenged several planks of SingFirst's platform, including a monthly $300 allowance for children and the elderly, putting less into the reserves and further restrictions on foreign labour. "Some of them promised you $300 per month," he said. "I say, please don't insult my residents. You think... they are here to be bribed?"

As for the reserves, building them up is a "responsible", long-term move, in anticipation of the larger sums that the Government will have to spend to meet the needs of an ageing population. "If we don't take care of our young by saving up now, by the time 2030 comes, guess what will happen? Our young will have to shoulder the burden of all these challenges themselves."

As for SingFirst's criticism of the Government's policy on immigration and foreigners, Mr Chan said the right way to help PMETs was not by "closing our shores" as that would, over the long term, cause jobs to leave Singapore. The right way is to help these workers become competitive, and that is what the labour movement is doing, said Mr Chan, who is NTUC chief.

His Tanjong Pagar teammate Indranee Rajah rebutted SingFirst's claims that the Government favoured foreigners over Singaporeans. "If anyone tells you that Singaporeans are not centre, or first, that is not true," she said. For the PAP, "Singaporeans are front and centre of every single thing that we do", she added.

Radin Mas candidate Sam Tan said of Singapore's exceptional success: "It is built upon the high level of trust between the people and the Government".

Addressing the crowd in both Mandarin and Hokkien, the latter because of the many elderly residents in the estate, he said: "For the next 50 years, if Singapore is to remain an exceptional country, the new generation of leaders and the new generation must forge an even more durable trust."

PAP new face Melvin Yong said the party "makes promises, keeps promises and delivers on promises".

Rounding up the rally was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who said Singapore's secret to success is that if the Government does well, the people support it.

Voting for the opposition to protest against existing policies is understandable, he said.

But if you do so even when policies are good, then the Government will not know if it is not doing enough, is doing things wrongly, or should return to its previous path.

"If you trust the Government, then please let the Government do things for the people," he added.

Sidek: Show Malays are still behind PAP
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 3 Sep 2015

The People's Action Party (PAP) last night brought to life its pledge of multiculturalism at its first rally of this general election.

Its nine speakers reflected Singapore's diversity as they took the stage in the Tanjong Pagar homeground of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who had from Singapore's early years sought to unite the different races.

They spoke in the four official languages, threw in a smattering of dialect and looked back on the nation's progress as one united people.

Pioneer generation leader Sidek Saniff recounted Mr Lee's efforts to rally the different races living together in an uncertain new nation.

"We merged because of communism, we split because of communalism," said Mr Sidek, 77, a former senior minister of state, in Malay.

Mr Lee, he recalled, sought to allay the fears of the Malays, still anxious over the abrupt split from Malaysia, where they had been the majority race. "(Mr Lee) said, 'This is not a Malay nation, this is not a Chinese nation, this is not an Indian nation'," said Mr Sidek.

"We are Singaporeans."

Mr Sidek said that to bind the fledgling nation together, Mr Lee decided that the different communities would live together, respecting one another.

And Mr Lee's efforts paid off, said Mr Sidek. The Malay community cast their lot with Singapore, even as then Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman offered them the right to settle in Malaysia.

And when elections came, the Malays then supported the PAP and have been doing so till today, said Mr Sidek.

"This is an important phase. We must show that the Malays are still behind the PAP," he said.

This multiracialism will continue to be important. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted in Malay: "To continue to succeed, we need a multiracial team of leaders who are capable and trustworthy."

Mr Chan Chun Sing, anchor minister for Tanjong Pagar GRC, switched easily between Malay, Mandarin and English when he took the stage. "Tanjong Pagar GRC was built by our founding Prime Minister and our pioneer generation," he said. "As descendants, we must build upon this foundation for a better Singapore."

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