With the forthcoming elections in Singapore, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has fielded its bets with each one pledging to work for the advancement of all Singaporeans.
One of those aspiring to work for the betterment of Singapore is Robin Low who took on the issue of transportation in the tiny state. He wonders why in the midst of spiraling prices in the country, the Public Transport Council always approves fare hikes when it is common knowledge that transport companies are already making huge profits. He likewise raised the issue on increased ARF for motorcycles, Mr Low added that with these additional levies, consumers will bear the burden.
According to Mr Low, Singapore needs “diversity in Parliament and MPs who understand the concerns of the ordinary Singaporean, not more scholars earning millions who are disconnected with the ground.”
Speaking in Malay and English, Damanhuri Bin Abas addressed the issue of leadership in the country. He laments the reality that the PAP continues to clamp down on critics, thus, he calls on all Singaporeans to unite in bringing change to the country via the ballot box.
Daman believes that Singaporean locals have become marginalised because of the coming of foreign workers. “While they quietly flood our shores with more and more foreign talents stealing away our jobs while they cash in on them through levies to the tune of billions annually,” he said.
Bryan Lim Boon Heng focused on the the cost of living and how PM Lee did not carry out his 2015 election promise of managing it. According to this aspiring leader, the SDP wants to change autocratic practices administered by PAP in order to relieve Singaporeans of their financial pressures so that they can lead a better and a more dignified life.
He mentions the fact that the country has been ranked the most expensive city in the world for six consecutive years. Despite that, the PAP continues to introduce or plans to introduce a series of taxes and price hikes, despite a collection of 20 billion in the reserves. And to add insult to injury, DPM Heng has announced an additional GST hike of 2% after the elections.
Mr Lim believes that the people should have a say in terms of tax collection and introduction of price hikes and not leave it to the elite few of the PAP.
Mr Khung Wai Yeen‘s speech in Mandarin centered on the lack of flexibility regarding CPF policy under the PAP government.
He cited the example where, despite good reasons, CPF Board rejected the request for a childless Malay gentleman, to reduce the Retirement Sum Scheme’s payout duration of 28 years.
Mr Khung pointed to the high vote share as the main reason that allows the PAP government to manipulate the rules and laws (including the CPF Act) unchallenged.
He said that while SDP’s view is for CPF funds to be returned to its rightful owner at 55 years old, the option to continue with CPF to manage your retirement fund remains.
Mr Khung reiterated that the SDP’s plan are not cast in stone. “The main objective is to bring the citizens together for a robust discussion about the pros and cons of various policies and initiatives, before deciding as a group on the ones that have the greatest benefits to Singaporeans.”
Speaking on the impending 2% regressive GST increase, Mr Alfred Tan took issue with the PAP’s justification of the proposed hike. “The Finance Minister tried to blame increasing healthcare and the aging population, but never talked about ways to reduce the wasteful spending and investment losses his government had been accumulating,” Mr Tan called out.
He added that instead of worrying about inflation that a GST increase would cause, the Finance Minister calculated that the hike would cause a O.7% growth in GDP. “Since ministerial pay is partly dependent on GDP growth,” Mr Tan said, “isn’t that a clever way for them to increase their salaries?”
The speaker went on to propose the SDP’s plans for a more progressive and compassionate tax regime. He called for basic essentials like rice, water, milk, school books, and healthcare to be exempted from GST.
“Young families need the most help and understanding since they face multiple pressures whilst bringing up children, the future of Singapore.” To compensate for the shortfall, the GST can be increased for discretionary and luxury items that we occasionally reward ourselves with –jewelry, high-performance cars, hotel accommodation.
Mr Tan called on voters to allow SDP to help them saying that “PAP MPs cannot prevent uncaring bills from becoming laws, because they cannot vote against their bosses. Let SDP speak up for you. Let SDP vote for you, when SDP is in Parliament. Help us to help you.”
Ms Min Cheong addressed the issue on the influx of foreign PMETs amidst growing anxieties about a shaky economy and tight labour market. She said that Singapore market that has not been flourishing. Mass retrenchment exercises in Deutsche Bank, HSBC, and HP, for example, have contributed to the view that jobs will be harder to find and also harder to hold on to.
These things, according to Ms Cheong add to Singaporeans’ “fears of a skewed reliance on foreign labour and the impact of that on local workers and the business landscape.”
While pointing out that the SDP does not advocate that our economy be “over-protected in favour of Singaporeans or a society that is insular and intolerant,” Ms Cheong noted that job insecurity and the stresses of making ends meet in the most expensive city in the world put people under great pressure.
Dr Paul Tambya spoke about the challenges facing those trying to get alternative views into parliament beginning with the lack of an independent election commission to the intimidation and control of the media. He pointed out the slew of reforms such as Medishield Life, cuts in ministerial salary and the Silver Support scheme which were introduced after the PAP saw its vote share reduced in the watershed GE 2011. He called on Singaporeans to deny the PAP a two-thirds majority to ensure that the government would be forced to listen to the people and act in the interests of all Singaporeans.
Dr Chee Soon Juan called on the people to support the SDP because the PAP cannot be trusted to keep its promises with a strong opposition in Parliament.
He highlighted the fact that when the PAP’s vote share was reduced to 60% in 2011, it implemented a series of positive changes. However, when support went up to 70% in the 2015 elections, it introduced tax hikes. Referring to the PAP’s broken promises, he emphasized that “Trust is not what you say, it’s what you do.”
Finally, Mr John Tan examined how the PAP Government has broken its promises when it retained the people’s hard earned CPF money even after its maturity. Undeterred by the breach of its custodial trust, the Government continued to devise scheme after scheme (e.g., Minimum Sum, CPF Life, etc.) to further hold its beneficiaries’ money. According to Mr Tan, the PAP Government has such power and takes such liberty to devise policies that work against the people and that is because they were given unchecked power by the people. It is time the people put a check to its powers by having the SDP to speak up for them in Parliament. -/TISG