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Pritam Singh says balance of seats needed to provide meaningful check for PAP

The party chief said it is important for WP to win at least one-third of elected seats, to prevent the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) from changing the constitution at will

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Singapore—Speaking at the annual forum of the Workers’ Party (WP) on Sunday (Jan 19), Secretary-General Pritam Singh said that the candidates that WP is fielding in the upcoming General Election (GE) will serve competently in Parliament and “will do Singapore and our people proud”.

While not yet naming names, Mr Pritam said that WP’s slate will come from various backgrounds and that they will ask hard questions in Parliament and run town councils well.

He encouraged WP members to get ready for the upcoming GE, which has not yet been called but it is widely believed that it will be held within the year.

In a speech entitled “Why should I vote for the Workers’ Party?” he underscored the significance of having a balance of seats from different political parties. Voters must vote for WP, he said, since this would guarantee a better balance in Parliament.

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He said that this is why it’s important for WP to win at least one-third of elected seats, to prevent ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) from changing the constitution at will.

Mr Pritam said this in response to a remark made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in an interview with CNN last year, when he said that good leadership is key, and not the balance of numbers between opposition and government in Parliament.

PM Lee said to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview aired last October, “It is not whether you have got the right numerical balance in Parliament, between the opposition and the government.”

Mr Pritam said on Sunday, “The right numerical balance is not just a random number, it is an inherent checking mechanism for our parliamentary democracy against any ruling party that chooses to put its political interests first.”

To say that the PAP has been uncaring in order to gain more votes would be counterproductive for the WP, he added.

“The call instead has to be for a better balanced Parliament with elected opposition MPs serving as a realistic and meaningful check on the PAP, raising concerns of our citizens to Parliament, while at the same time building up public sector experience so as to be effective parliamentarians and town councillors.”

He underlined again later that the role of the opposition is to ensure that the ruling party “does not have a blank cheque to do whatever it wants,” which means that the WP needs to have more elected MPs, and not Non-Constituency MPs.

“An unelected opposition in Parliament cannot change the PAP. GE 2011 and the Government’s response to shift to the left proved that,” the Straits Times (ST) reports Mr Pritam as saying.

He gave the example of changes made to the constitution in 2016, which affected the outcome of the presidential election the following year.

“In my opinion, the urgency to amend the Elected Presidency was politically manufactured by the PAP. The real risk appeared to be Tan Cheng Bock’s potential participation in the last presidential elections, and the election of a president who was unlikely to be the PAP’s preferred choice.”

The WP chief told the audience, “The public may want an elected opposition in Parliament, but we have to earn our place and work hard both in our Town Councils and in Parliament to retain the confidence and support of our people.” -/TISG

Read related: PM Lee: Good governance is key, not the balance of numbers between opposition & government in Parliament

PM Lee: Good governance is key, not the balance of numbers between opposition & government in Parliament

 

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