Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chairman Paul Tambyah was one of those who reacted to a summary of the suggestions People’s Action Party (PAP) MPs made in Parliament last week on how Singaporeans can be supported amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MPs called on the authorities to consider reviewing eligibility criterion for assistance schemes, provide more support for families facing prolonged periods of unemployment and increased Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) for low-wage earners.
Parliamentarians were also concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the employment of persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the level of assistance for senior workers. Concerns over the availability of training spots under the SGUnited Skills Programme was raised by the MPs, who also raised questions about relief for individuals and businesses in debt.
The PAP published a summary of the questions that were raised and the answers Ministers provided in Parliament, on its website. The party also linked to this summary on their Facebook page.
Dr Tambyah was among the netizens who saw the PAP post. He reacted to the summary of questions and answers with the “WOW” emoji on Facebook. It is unclear whether his reaction is an indication of his genuine appreciation of the questions.
Last year, SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan said that Prof Tambyah could have become a minister had he joined the ruling party but the doctor did not do so because he believes in the values of the SDP.
The respected doctor entered opposition politics due to dissatisfaction with healthcare funding, Singapore’s education system and the quality of human rights protection for Singapore workers and the underprivileged.
After a stint in civil society during which he helped found human rights NGO Maruah, Dr Tambyah felt he would be better able to effect change through politics and joined the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). In 2017, he was elected SDP chairman.
On his appointment as chairman, Dr Tambyah had said: “The SDP has never shied away from holding the government accountable to the people and I am happy to be a part of the SDP’s efforts for the good of Singaporeans.”
He also urged Singaporeans to be more active on political matters: “I hope that more academics, professionals, and young people in particular will step up to be involved in civil society and politics in Singapore.”