Wednesday, 9 September 2015

GE 2015: PAP Aljunied candidate slams WP for ‘opposing for its own sake’

By Ng Jing Yng, TODAY, 9 Sep 2015

People’s Action Party (PAP) Aljunied candidate Yeo Guat Kwang has hit out at the Workers’ Party’s (WP) posturing, arguing that it is opposing for the sake of doing so.

Speaking to reporters in Mandarin today (Sept 9) on the sidelines of a visit to Kovan market, Mr Yeo noted that the WP Members of Parliament (MPs) have been in the House for some years and they are aware of the Government’s efforts and the limitations to resolve certain issues. “But they only wanted to attack some areas that have not been solved or some policy gaps that still require everyone to work together to overcome,” he said.

Among the issues raised by the WP are topics that have been debated before in Parliament, Mr Yeo pointed out. For example, the WP has called for larger childcare centres to improve the affordability and accessibility of childcare in its manifesto. But Mr Yeo pointed out that Government has already committed to building more centres. However, the problem is the manpower crunch when it comes to hiring teachers and the authorities are already tapping on sources such as seniors and housewives.

On the WP’s proposal to taper population growth to around 5.8 million by 2030 – more than one million lower than the 6.9 million projection in the Population White Paper - Mr Yeo stressed that the 6.9 million figure was meant as a planning parameter, and the Government intends for the population to grow to around 6.5 million. When the White Paper was debated in Parliament in 2013, the PAP Government had felt that WP’s proposal was not tenable as it would result in a slowing economy and foreigner inflow has to be cut to zero.

WP has brought up its suggestion during the hustings without addressing the crux of the problem, Mr Yeo said. “Currently our small and medium enterprises already cannot bear (with the fact) that we are tightening foreign manpower growth. If we stop approving new foreign worker applications this possible?” he said.

With economic growth moderating, jobs here would be affected if the economy slows further. “The Opposition knows this but what makes me disheartened is that to achieve their current purpose, they purposely conceal the important issues and try to distort emotions,” said Mr Yeo.

Grassroots organisations ‘meant to serve Government of the day’
By Ng Jing Yng, TODAY, 9 Sep 2015

Grassroots organisations are not partisan and are meant to serve the Government of the day, the People’s Action Party Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) candidate Yeo Guat Kwang said today (Sept 9).

He was responding to the Workers’ Party’s (WP) claims during its rallies that the People’s Association’s (PA) grassroots organisations have been politicised. “Grassroots organisations are not meant to be affiliated to any political party… but to forge community ties and provide feedback to the Government,” said Mr Yeo, who was speaking to reporters during a walkabout in Aljunied GRC.

Yesterday, WP chairman Sylvia Lim said that the Housing and Development Board “secretly” moved 26 amphitheatres and basketball courts from under the town council’s watch and placed them under the PA. Residents were “warned by the PA” not to invite WP MPs to these sites during events or risk not getting an approval in future, she said. WP chief Low Thia Khiang also said that temples are only allowed to hold activities if they have a supporting letter from the grassroots organisations, and not from him as the Member of Parliament.

Mr Yeo said the set-up of grassroots organisations is “clearly neutral” and they are meant to serve the Government elected by the people. If another political party is to form the Government one day, its leader will also become the PA chairman, Mr Yeo said.

He said PAP MPs do not attend grassroots events in their constituencies in their capacity as PAP members but as grassroots advisors who might be “more aware of the policies and issues faced by residents”. In a tit-for-tat, Mr Yeo accused the WP-run town council of making things difficult for grassroots organisations. He cited a community event held at a basketball court last week in Serangoon North, which he was invited to.

When he arrived, the area was pitch dark and he later found out that the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East town council did not want to issue a permit to the organisers and it turned off the lights. The event had to be moved to another location which the PAP had previously helped to upgrade. “Because the WP is a municipal government in (Aljunied), it doesn’t allow other organisations to hold activities and treat the grassroots organisations as part of PAP,” Mr Yeo said. “If any organisation is purely to serve a party’s interest, I feel this is a very dangerous approach (and it) is not right.”

ESM Goh appreciates Malay/Muslim support
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Straits Times, 10 Sep 2015

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong paid a special visit yesterday to Aljunied GRC's Kaki Bukit ward which has a higher-than-average number of Malay residents.

He said he wanted to show his appreciation "by coming here and getting to know the Muslims over here" as the Malay community had given him its support in the 1991, 1997 and 2001 elections when he was prime minister.

The issue of Malay support has arisen in recent years after the Workers' Party wrested the GRC from the People's Action Party.

The support from the Muslim community had played a big part in the harmony he achieved in Singapore's multiracial society, ESM Goh said. He urged the GRC's residents to think hard of the harmonious state of Singapore's multiracial society when they vote tomorrow. "The question to ask is: Will there be a multiracial, harmonious society 10 years down the road if there's a sudden change in political system?" he said.

Mr Goh was speaking to reporters after his visit to a halal coffee shop in Bedok North Street 3 to "get a good sense of the mood of the Malay/Muslim community" in Kaki Bukit ward.

The Muslim community, he said, is an important pillar of Singapore's multiracial society. "When I was prime minister, I found them to be very supportive, and it was because of this support that I was able to get a harmonious Singapore."

He added: "If the Malay/Muslims had withdrawn their support then, it would have been much more difficult to build a stable, cohesive, harmonious society. "

When asked if the Malay/Muslim community's demands have changed since he was prime minister, Mr Goh said: "Every community has its own issues. The Malay community has theirs but the key is whether they make good progress along with other communities, and the answer is, yes... They have some extra challenges and those would have to be addressed by us."

One of the PAP's candidates for the five-member Aljunied GRC, former teacher Shamsul Kamar, said response from the area's Muslims has been positive.

"They are interested in how we can support them better, and, for some elderly, how they can get financial aid.''

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