Workers’ Party (WP) politician Yee Jenn Jong has called out the Government’s practice of installing defeated People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates as grassroots advisers in opposition-held wards, thereby giving them the power to approve or reject community projects and the discretion on how to disburse taxpayer funds for upgrading projects proposed by the elected MPs.
Days before, WP secretary-general Pritam Singh decried this practice and pointed out how it makes the political playing field uneven. Mr Pritam noted that this practice makes defeated ruling party candidates “relevant for residents” and allows them to “campaign for votes well before the General Elections.”
Noting that the WP has to go through these defeated PAP candidates to raise projects and gain approval on spending taxpayer dollars that are made available to town councils for community upgrading projects, Mr Pritam asserted that these grassroots advisers are able to delay community improvement projects in opposition wards for years or ignore proposals altogether.
Mr Pritam later said that he has proof that grassroots groups have ignored his proposals for community upgrading despite the fact that he has sent multiple chasers and repeat reminders.
Echoing his party leader’s views, Mr Yee said on Friday (25 Oct) that it is “ridiculous and a mockery of our democracy for un-elected and losing candidates of GE to be approving community projects (funded by taxpayers) initiated by elected members of parliament, and delaying or ignoring chasers because it is simply playing dirty and inconveniencing residents who may badly need these facilities.”
Noting that the PAP’s past promises of community upgrading in exchange for votes irked him well before he joined politics, Mr Yee said that such practices are akin to “holding residents hostage with their own taxpayers’ money to force them to vote for the ruling party.”
He added: “Singapore belongs to Singaporeans and not to the PAP. No doubt many Singaporeans, myself included are grateful that the first generation leaders got us onto the right track for good economic development.
“That does not mean that we approve of undemocratic methods to entrench themselves in power. If the people chooses to let PAP continue to be the vastly dominant ruling party, that will be their choice but it should not be because of threats over their own well-being.”
Mr Yee noted that he lost the ward he contested in the 2011 General Election by about the same margin that the PAP lost Aljunied GRC in the 2015 General Election as he highlighted the disparity between the benefits defeated ruling party candidates receive compared to how defeated opposition politicians are treated:
“I lost in GE2011 by 1%, about the same margin that Mr Chua and team lost in GE2015. I was constantly reminded throughout my term in 2011-2015 that I was “Non-Constituency” MP. I had no access to the PA and no ability to use facilities in Joo Chiat SMC for any political activities. I certainly could not approve projects like what Mr Chua can.
“Nevertheless, we did our political outreach as resourcefully and diligently as we could without those access and powers that Mr Chua and other losing PAP candidates now have. And Joo Chiat SMC was wiped off the electoral boundaries in 2015 and then the General Elections was swiftly called.”
Referring to a Straits Times editor’s recent warning that the PAP becoming overly domineering could create backlash, Mr Yee said: “Singapore has to belong to Singaporeans. Not to any political party. We should not allow dominance to be the passport to hold Singaporeans hostage through unjustifiable and undemocratic methods.”
Read his post in full here:
It is ridiculous and a mockery of our democracy for un-elected and losing candidates of GE to be approving community…
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