On Tuesday (June 23), the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) uploaded a video of an “Inconvenient Questions” interview conducted by Mr Viswa Sadasivan from Strategic Moves Pte Ltd with the party’s Assistant Secretary-General, Mr Leong Mun Wai.
In the interview, Mr Leong, who is the founder and owner of a private equity firm, explained some policy changes that PSP wished to implement.
When asked about the PSP’s key message in this General Election, Mr Leong replied: “Progress with compassion. You deserve better.” He was then requested to expand on it and to provide some economic, social and political examples as, according to the interviewer, it seemed like a motherhood statement.
In the economy
Mr Leong explained how the PSP aimed to bring about compassion in terms of the economy. He first established that the current economic situation in Singapore was one of “pursuing GDP growth at the expense of the people”. He added that pursuing economic growth alone would lead to a fragmented society as was evident in Singapore currently. Compassion was to put the people first, he said.
Mr Leong also mentioned current employment policy, which he said denied jobs to a lot of Singaporeans, especially the Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs). This was due to foreign PMETs coming into Singapore freely and without control.
While he said it was difficult to collect hard evidence on the issue due to a lack of transparency, he added that feedback from the ground and other forms of indirect evidence gave sufficient indication that this was a serious problem.
Reflecting on his own experience as the owner of a company, Mr Leong mentioned that the Government’s check, on whether enough consideration was given to Singaporeans before foreigners were given a job, was not very strict. Thus, he highlighted that the screening should be done strictly to ensure that there was no Singaporean who could do the job, before foreign PMETs were taken on.
In terms of society, Mr Leong said compassion would lead to more motivated citizens, which would in turn lead to real economic development “by our people, for our people”. He felt that when there was more balance in the economic development of Singapore, the income distribution in society would naturally become more equitable.
In the short term, Mr Leong said PSP was looking at increasing ComCare, a fund under the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), and at implementing a minimum living wage.
Highlighting that Singapore was a city state and, unlike some other countries where people who had no money could go to the countryside and still find a place to live, people in Singapore could not do that.
Further, Mr Leong disagreed with the way the Government dealt with the needy in Singapore. He cited the small ComCare payouts and that the way they were given out disregarded the dignity of the receiving Singaporeans.
Mr Leong agreed that there was a need to prevent people from becoming over-reliant on the social safety net but said that handing out short-term relief as the Government was doing now, did not allow people to make more long-term plans.
He also pointed to the short-term relief that the Government was providing in the face of Covid-19. He cited the Job Support Scheme (JSS), under which the Government would give payouts in April, May, July and October. “How can you plan business by just having a three-month or six-month horizon?” he asked.
Mr Leong felt that the Government should have the resolve to be bolder and have the JSS implemented for at least a year, as it had itself said that the Covid-19 period might last for a year or maybe even two.
Mr Leong touched on compassion in politics briefly, saying that the political development of a country took time. He highlighted that the PSP’s belief was that the current governing philosophy made it impossible for any more progress in the economic system, meaning that there was no more room for further improvement to the social system.
Mr Leong also emphasised that with 32 seats in Parliament, which would deny the Government a two-thirds majority, “we will be able to make an impact by denying the current Government of a mandate”, which was the aim of the alternative camp.
In rounding up the interview, Mr Leong agreed with the interviewer that the onus would be on the ruling party to implement changes but stressed that, as long as the opposition in Parliament remained credible and had large enough numbers, it would be able to make a major impact on the direction that the Government would take. /TISG