SINGAPORE: The People’s Action Party (PAP) and Peoples Voice (PV) delivered their constituency political broadcasts for Jalan Besar GRC on Sunday (Jul 5).
As the incumbent, the PAP spoke first. The theme of the kampung and rejuvenation ran through their four speeches, with Mr Heng Chee How and Ms Denise Phua speaking in English, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo in English and Mandarin, and Dr Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah in English and Malay.
PAP: A TOWN THAT IS CONSTANTLY REJUVENATED
Mrs Teo, who is new to the GRC, said her priority was to get to know the residents of Jalan Besar, which she described as a “thriving city centre” with a “kampung spirit”.
Previously a Member of Parliament (MP) for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, she said residents and grassroots leaders there had taught her much about what it means to serve – and that while as a minister she would strive to craft good policies, what they wanted most from her as an MP was “a listening ear and willing heart”.
READ: GE2020: Manpower Minister Josephine Teo to lead PAP team against Peoples Voice in Jalan Besar GRC
She noted that Jalan Besar has many programmes and volunteers supporting residents. And while it is “a place of great history and heritage”, it is also “a place of great rejuvenation”, she said, pointing to the ABC (Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters programme) features along Kallang River and the Marina Bay Area for instance.
Picking up the theme, Mr Heng talked about how new Build-to-Order flats in the area would allow children to live near their parents, so “the entire town is constantly rejuvenated”.
He highlighted the deep relationship and “great trust” between residents and their MPs which “feels almost like family”.
“And because of this we are able to understand one another, understand the needs, and know what is it that we should and must do for our residents,” he added.
Ms Phua, who described herself as “the kampung girl from Jalan Besar”, spoke of the differences she saw in the district today.
The last five years alone saw the construction of six new MRT stations, the upgrading of nine markets, 55 flat upgrading and home improvement programmes, and “numerous” social service programmes, she noted.
“Every master plan that we say we will deliver, that we have promised, we have delivered,” Ms Phua said.
But the team’s job is “not finished”, she added - they want to provide more support to elderly residents and working adults whose jobs are threatened by COVID-19 and global competition. They also want to educate children for “lifelong learning”.
Dr Wan Rizal spoke of rejuvenation on a “personal level”, sharing how he had progressed from the Normal stream in secondary school to achieving his first degree at 31, and later a PhD.
“As we continue to battle this COVID-19 situation, as we prevail and move forward, we must continue to make Singapore a nation of opportunities. Opportunities for every Singaporean to achieve success,” he said.
READ: GE2020: Singapore's progressive wage model allows workers to 'move up the ladder', says Josephine Teo
PEOPLES VOICE: USE VOTE AS A REFERENDUM ON JOSEPHINE TEO
Peoples Voice chief Lim Tean was the only one of his four-member team to make a speech, which he delivered in English.
Questioning the PAP Government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, he called on residents in Jalan Besar to use their votes as a referendum on Mrs Teo’s “competence and leadership”, arguing that she was “singularly responsible” for the “great explosion” of COVID-19 cases in foreign worker dormitories.
He said that she should have known, when the first case of a foreign worker infection surfaced, about the dangers of a spread in “densely crowded dormitories”.
“But she either did not care, or she was careless,” he said.
He also said that Singapore has been described “as one of the greatest failures as far as COVID-19 is concerned”.
When COVID-19 first burst upon the scene, Mr Lim said, had it proved to be “a bioweapon”, Singapore “would have needed to act with speed and decisiveness”.
But the Government did not do so, “despite the fact that they told us they had been prepared for 17 years after SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)”, said Mr Lim, citing the shortage of masks and how the authorities had “allowed” mass events like the Chingay Parade and the Singapore Airshow, as well as Merdeka Generation events involving the elderly, to go ahead.
READ: GE2020: Peoples Voice introduces 9 candidates, including blogger Leong Sze Hian and activist Gilbert Goh
Turning to the issue of immigration policies, Mr Lim said the Peoples Voice wanted to “make Singapore our home again".
“Today, many Singaporeans feel abandoned by the Government,” he said, citing jobs that had gone to foreigners under “insane immigration policies” pursued over the last two decades.
Likening the Government to “a bad father” which allowed an “alien child” into the family, he said Singapore was “hurtling towards a 10 million population although it now denies it”.
If not for “strong voices” like the Peoples Voice and the Singapore Democratic Party, would the Government have “buckled and made that U-turn”? Mr Lim asked. “And that shows you the importance of a strong opposition in Parliament,” he added.
He said the Peoples Voice had “direct democracy” at its heart, with a view to more national discussions, referendums and blockchain local voting.
Introducing his three teammates – Mr Leong Sze Hian, whom he described as “one of the foremost human rights campaigners in Singapore”; Mr Azlan Sulaiman, “one of the most recognised and renowned halal consultants in the world”; and Dr Michael Fang, a medical administrator – he called them a “formidable team” which would be able to take care of residents’ needs and run the town council.