Singapore — With the conclusion of the General Election, which saw the opposition Workers’ Party (WP) make unprecedented gains, people are asking once again why opposition Members of Parliament have to hold their meetings and meet their constituents in the void decks.
They point out that People’s Action Party (PAP) grassroots leaders are able to use community centres for their activities even though these facilities are built and run with public funds.
Public policy researcher Dhevarajan Devadas, who goes by @historyogi on Twitter, posted a series of tweets on the matter on Monday (July 13). The first said: “Sengkang GRC is full of young families. Parents will notice soon that their new elected MPs are not the ones giving Edusave Awards out, but the unelected PAP grassroots advisor is.”
He posted a 2018 photo with the caption: “PAP advisor Chan Hui Yuh presenting awards to students in WP MP Sylvia Lim’s ward of Serangoon.” Ms Chan was initially set to contest the 2015 elections but then withdrew from them. Ms Lim was in the victorious WP team in Aljunied GRC that year. Ms Lim and the WP won in the GRC again this year while Ms Chan, who contested this time, was in the losing PAP team.
Mr Dhevarajan, in his second tweet, said: “Chan Hui Yuh was … rejected by Aljunied voters in #GE2020 but she’s free to continue as grassroots advisor & use the beautiful Serangoon CC while the actual elected MP Sylvia Lim has to use void decks to hold events. Singaporeans should question such blatant unfairness.” He added a photo of the Serangoon Community Club.
He added: “In the meantime, MP Sylvia Lim manages by holding constituency events at void decks & parks. Regardless of political leanings, I think all Singaporeans would agree that taxpayer-funded PA community clubs & RCs should be open to all elected MPs. #GE2020.” He posted four photos of the WP Chairman meeting constituents outdoors.
Chan Hui Yuh was again rejected by Aljunied voters in #GE2020 but she's free to continue as grassroots advisor & use the beautiful Serangoon CC while the actual elected MP Sylvia Lim has to use void decks to hold events. Singaporeans should question such blatant unfairness. pic.twitter.com/Q3O2Jx7MLe
— Dhevarajan Devadas (@historyogi) July 13, 2020
Another person, Mr Ben Thambiah, answered him by posting a banner from the Serangoon People’s Association and writing: “I was thinking about Ms Chan Hui Yuh just last night when @Vanavielle and I walked passed these banners in the neighbourhood… It is so easy for @PAPSingapore candidates to take credit for work done by a publicly funded statutory board and their hardworking staff.”
Other people online agreed with Mr Dhevarajan’s point.
In a Facebook post, the WP’s Nathaniel Koh, who was in the party’s team in Marine Parade GRC, said that he had helped the WP with its Meet-The-People Sessions for over 10 years and that residents had often asked him why PAP MPs (including grassroots advisors in opposition-held wards) held their MPS in air-conditioned comfort, while WP MPs stayed in void decks.
"Why do PAP MPs (including grassroots advisors in opposition-held wards) get to hold their Meet-the-People Sessions in…
Mr Koh wrote: “Perhaps many Singaporeans seem to be unaware of this inequality.” He added that, while the WP had been allowed to construct offices to conduct MPS at void decks when the party won Aljunied GRC in 2011, it had to shoulder the construction, maintenance and reinstatement of the void deck.
However, he gave the assurance that “this spartan setup” did not hinder the work of the WP MPs. “Every resident still gets the help they need. Every resident will still have a conversation with their MP no matter what the issue is.”