SINGAPORE: In their political broadcast speeches on Saturday (Jul 4), the People’s Action Party (PAP) team pointed to its five-year plan for the “family” of Chua Chu Kang GRC; while the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) said that a strong mandate for the governing party has not helped to solve the COVID-19 crisis, highlighting the need for alternative ideas and solutions.
As the incumbents, the PAP four-member team went first, with each candidate speaking in two or more languages.
PAP: ENSURING "NO ONE IS LEFT BEHIND"
Speaking in a mix of English and Mandarin, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, 61, called for residents to give his team a strong endorsement “so that we can journey with you together as a family”.
During this war on COVID-19, he noted and lauded the "selfless (acts) of volunteerism" by many residents who stepped forward to volunteer and care for those affected by the pandemic.
"Chua Chu Kang is special because we are not just a town, we are family," said Mr Gan.
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He pointed to the five-year master plan for the constituency, which includes a new SAFRA clubhouse, the Jurong Regional Line, a new transport hub and hawker centres. The team would also continue to roll out programmes to connect people "and to ensure that no one is left behind", he added.
This was echoed by Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim, 39, a lawyer, who said that beyond the "upcoming exciting projects" for the town, there have also been programmes "to connect those most vulnerable amongst us". He spoke in Malay, English and a bit of Mandarin.
Speaking in Mandarin and English, Mr Don Wee Boon Hong said the team needed "everyone to be united" in this "critical time in Singapore's history".
The 43-year-old senior vice-president at UOB spoke of how he had continued to upgrade his skills after earning a degree while serving National Service and working, saying he believed that continuous learning opens doors to many opportunities.
"I’m convinced that so long as we work hard and never give up, we will be given fair opportunities to a better future," he said. "I hope to serve and open more doors for many Chua Chu Kang students to secure better opportunities for themselves."
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower Low Yen Ling, 45, rounded off the PAP's speeches by praising the "spirit of solidarity that makes Chua Chu Kang so special".
She said many residents stepped forward to help each other when COVID-19 struck, with some contributing time and efforts while others donated resources.
She pointed to the new plans that would make the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) "a food and play wonderland", promising residents: "This is where you and your children can continue to build your dreams and hopes."
PSP: STRONG ALTERNATIVE VOICE NEEDED TO FACE CHALLENGES
PSP's Francis Yuen, a former Republic of Singapore Air Force colonel, rejected what he said was PAP's argument that they need a strong mandate to fight the COVID-19 crisis.
"In effect, they want a strong mandate to stifle dissent," said the 70-year-old.
"The last election has clearly shown that a strong mandate does not make your life better. They won a landslide victory. But what happened after that?
"Cost of living continues to rise, income inequality widens, more locals are replaced by foreign PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians), and our citizens do not have enough funds for retirement. Housing and healthcare costs remain high. Promises made were simply forgotten."
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He said that having a strong mandate does not guarantee strong performance, pointing to the PAP's handling of the pandemic. Instead, "it is a strong alternative voice that is more important in today’s environment", said Mr Yuen.
He stressed that no one party has all the answers or talents to fight the crisis and urged for alternative ideas and solutions, saying that his party is a responsible one "with a well-trusted leader whose heart is with the people".
"We are here not to block or to fix the ruling party. Neither are we here to rock the boat," he said.
"The country will not come to a grinding halt just because there are more alternative voices in Parliament," he added, urging residents to "vote with no fear".
Dr Tan Meng Wah, a former Institute of Policy Studies research fellow, spoke in Mandarin, while fire safety engineer Abdul Rahman Mohamad made his speech in Malay.
Law undergraduate Choo Shaun Ming, the youngest candidate in this election, pointed to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's famous quote urging people to "follow that rainbow".
The 23-year-old said that this rainbow "doesn't exist" for young people like himself looking out into the horizon.
"We feel a sense of hopelessness regarding our future and tend to look abroad for better work life balance, and job prospects," he said.
Noting that Singapore could not afford to "lose our young people and the talent they offer", he said new ideas were needed to create exciting job opportunities. This could be achieved through "robust policy debate" and engaging industry experts for instance.
"By working together, we can see that rainbow return once more to our Singapore skies," said Mr Choo.