SINGAPORE: At the next general election, the Singapore Democratic Party will focus on the rising numbers of foreign workers and the country’s immigration policies in recent years.

This was revealed during the party’s election campaign launch at its headquarters at WCEGA Tower in Bukit Batok Crescent on the weekend.

Dr Chee Soon Juan, SDP’s secretary-general, believes that the government’s foreign talent policies have negatively impacted Singapore’s labour productivity and contributed to rising cost-of-living issues.

He added that immigration policies have contributed to widened income inequality and eroded the nation’s sense of identity.

In calling for action to address the issue, Dr Chee urged the government to commit to a detailed roadmap and timeline for reducing Singapore’s heavy dependence on foreign workers.

He explained that if the PAP fails to address the nation’s overreliance on foreign labour, the SDP will establish a working committee comprised of economists and organisational specialists.

Dr Chee elaborated that the working committee will devise a credible proposal outlining specific reductions to the foreign workforce, which the SDP will present to Parliament as a comprehensive policy alternative, should their candidates emerge victorious in the forthcoming elections.

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“We are going to tell the incoming Prime Minister, Mr Lawrence Wong, to tell Singaporeans that the PAP must keep to its promise to significantly reduce the inflow of foreign workers.

The PAP must tell Singaporeans very specifically how much it will reduce the inflow of foreign workers and by when. Give us figures. When is your end goal? Tell us,” said Dr Chee during the SDP general election campaign launch on May 11.

Dr Chee argued that Singapore’s productivity decline is largely attributed to businesses’ long-standing dependence on inexpensive foreign labour.

Additionally, the SDP’s secretary-general claimed that affluent foreigners purchasing private properties drive up prices and exacerbate wealth disparities.

Dr Chee cites official population data, which indicates a significant increase in Singapore’s non-resident population from 2000 to 2023 (pictured above).

He also alleged that permanent residents have contributed to the surge in resale HDB housing prices in recent years.

Dr Chee sought to preemptively deflect a potentially damaging label, emphatically reassuring party faithful and supporters that the party’s focus on foreign workers and immigration policy does not translate to xenophobia or anti-immigrant sentiment.

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While the SDP’s election campaign message may pivot around what some may interpret as a contentious issue, the party’s secretary-general was keen to clarify that the party’s stance is rooted in its pursuit of national interest rather than animosity towards foreigners.

Although Singapore must hold its General Election by November 2025, some speculate that an early election might be on the cards. Mr Lawrence Wong was sworned 

Singapore’s Finance Minister, Mr Lawrence Wong, became the nation’s fourth Prime Minister on May 15. PM Wong assumed the leadership from ex-PM Lee Hsien Loong, with the latter staying on in the cabinet as a Senior Minister.

The party’s chairperson, Prof Paul Tambyah, mentioned that the SDP launched their GE2020 campaign in February 2019, 17 months ahead of the actual elections. This gave them time to prepare adequately for the 2020 General Election.

“SDP is a serious political party, and we take our responsibility as an alternative voice for Singaporeans very seriously.

We know that to mount a credible campaign, we need time to mobilise volunteers, update our policies, prepare our social media strategies, walk the ground, get to know the residents, which is especially important if we aim to win the constituency and manage the town council,” shared Prof Tambyah.

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The SDP leadership said that in addition to all the constituencies it had contested in the 2020 General Election, it also intends to contest Sembawang GRC.

In the previous election, the party fielded 11 candidates at Marsiling – Yew Tee GRC, Holland – Bukit Timah GRC, Bukit Batok SMC, Bukit Panjang SMC, and Yuhua SMC.

For now, the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee has not been formed. It is not certain whether Bukit Panjang SMC or Bukit Batok SMC will still exist at the next election or if they will be absorbed into a GRC.

When asked whether Dr Chee is prepared to lead a team at a GRC in the upcoming elections, he remained tight-lipped and preferred to focus on the party’s election messaging during the campaign launch.

At the 2020 election, Dr Chee garnered 45.20% against PAP’s Murali Pillai at Bukit Batok SMC; while Prof Tambyah secured 46.27% against PAP’s Liang Eng Hwa at Bukit Panjang SMC.