Singapore — The newly appointed Leader of the Opposition and Secretary-General of Workers’ Party (WP) Pritam Singh has responded to the comments made by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong that the WP cannot keep questioning the government.
The comments by Mr Wong were made at a meeting with People’s Action Party (PAP) activists on July 18. During the meeting, Mr Wong stated that WP now has a duty to put forward “serious policy alternatives to be scrutinised and debated”.
Mr Pritam responded to Mr Wong’s comments with a statement posted on his Facebook on July 20.
Referring directly to Wong’s comments that the WP should not just ask the government questions, he stated that, “Questioning any government of the day however, remains a fundamental role of a responsible opposition – not just in Singapore – but in any parliamentary democracy anywhere in the world.” Questioning the government is critical in holding the government to account and he wrote that “it will remain fundamental to the WP’s work in Parliament.”
Responding to Mr Wong’s expectation of WP to now put forward serious policy alternatives, Mr Pritam compared the resources between the PAP and WP and said how the former has “120,000-strong civil service as a potential resource for parliamentary debates” while the WP “continues to be primarily reliant on its volunteer base for its political work.” He also re-instated that the WP will continue to “encourage public conversations” such as concerns with HDB lease “decay”.
WP Goals for this term in Parliament
WP’s goals for the next term is to focus on “key bread-and-butter concerns” such as “jobs for Singaporeans, healthcare for our seniors and more generally, cost of living concerns, amongst others.” The key aspect of their focus will “cover political issues that have a direct impact on transparency, accountability, balance and fairness.”
In referring to the PAP Government:
“What remains to be seen is whether the approach of the PAP Government towards greater information sharing will turn in favour of greater openness. The extent to which realistic policy alternatives can be advanced both in public and in Parliament is also a function of the PAP’s approach to democratic politics. Whatever the expectations the PAP have of the WP, the WP’s purpose and approach in Parliament is to advance and achieve better outcomes for Singapore, and to champion the welfare of Singaporeans. We will remain steadfast and fully committed to that cause. “
Netizens have been largely supportive of WP and Pritam Singh ever since Mr Wong released his statement. These netizens are questioning PAP’s statement to WP. One said that if PAP has higher expectations of WP, they should “given them civil service resources. We judge Wp from there on. For Singaporeans benefits (sic) not political parties.”
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