Singapore — As the election campaign heats up, there have been more lively exchanges between candidates of the different parties.
Among the remarks noticed by voters has been one by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who said parts of the manifesto of the opposition Workers’ Party are so similar to those of the People’s Action Party (PAP) that people have taken to calling the WP “PAP Lite”.
Dr Balakrishnan said this during a television debate on Wednesday (July 1) with the WP’s Jamus Lim, Singapore Democratic Party’s Dr Chee Soon Juan and Progress Singapore Party’s Francis Yuen. At the end of it, Mr Lim ended up impressing Singaporeans as one to watch for the election.
Those who watched the debate have taken issue with Dr Balakrishnan calling the opposition party “PAP Lite”, although one person said the remark could be taken as an “unintended compliment” to the WP.
Another said that if the points in WP’s manifesto are the same as PAP’s, then the latter should adopt them.
WP Secretary-General Pritam Singh had the same reaction, coolly telling the media on July 2: “If that was the case, I hope the PAP takes up all our manifesto points and introduces them into their agenda, because that will really change the shape of Singapore, and we will have a more caring and compassionate society.”
There was also criticism of the Foreign Minister’s comments.
One person remembered that founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had on one occasion praised a speech by former WP Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang.
Others felt that Dr Balakrishnan’s remarks reflected the “elitist” attitude that the PAP is often accused of.
Some fired back at the PAP but in a humorous way.
One person, however, wished the PAP would stop “hitting below the belt” and focus on urgent issues.