SINGAPORE: The People’s Action Party (PAP) and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) delivered their constituency political broadcasts for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC on Monday (Jul 6).
The incumbent four-member PAP team spoke first, with Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong and new face, lawyer Hany Soh, delivering their speeches in English. Minister of State for National Development Zaqy Mohamad spoke in English and Malay, while Mr Alex Yam spoke in English and Mandarin.
For the SDP candidates, Mr Benjamin Pwee and Mr Khung Wai Yeen spoke in English, Mr Damanhuri Abas spoke in Malay and Mr Bryan Lim spoke in Mandarin.
PAP: TEAM HAS DELIVERED ON PROMISES, WILL HELP JOB SEEKERS
Opening for the PAP, Mr Wong said that his team has listened to residents’ feedback and suggestions, and “delivered on our promises”.
“We've upgraded our neighbourhoods with new amenities and facilities, we've rolled out new programmes to look after our seniors and vulnerable groups, and to nurture our children and help them realise their aspirations and dreams,” he said.
He also spoke about upcoming developments, such as the northern gateway and Woodlands regional centre. Yew Tee and Limbang will have upgraded parks, and the town’s first polyclinic and hawker centre, he added.
He also noted that the Sungei Kadut industrial estate will be redeveloped into a sustainable eco-district “offering more jobs and opportunities for our residents”, and it will also be the site of a new MRT station.
“These are major projects, they will take time to complete, especially given the current challenges and uncertainties,” Mr Wong said.
“But in five years, I assure you that we will be able to see significant changes on the ground. Step by step, we will work to improve your living environment and build a better home for all.”
As co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, Mr Wong said he has been “fully engaged” in the national fight against the coronavirus for the past six months.
While “there's still a long road ahead of us … working together, we will defeat the virus and keep everyone safe”, he said.
Mr Wong highlighted that the team has stepped up local assistance programmes to supplement government schemes for those who are concerned about jobs and livelihoods.
“To all who have lost their jobs, or whose incomes are impacted, this is our promise: We will help you find new jobs and training places. We will support you and your family through this difficult period with additional help, we will be there with you to ride through this stormy weather,” he said.
Mr Yam, who spoke next, and is the chairman of the town council, said he has seen up close the changes made in the Group Representation Constituency (GRC).
“We have kept our promise to you, and delivered on various improvement projects,” he said, adding that town centres in Fuchun, Limbang, Marsiling and Yew Tee will be transformed, and they will “remake” Limbang Shopping Centre.
“We will also advance the replacement of our lifts in the GRC, so as to improve safety standards,” he said.
Transport links will improve with the opening of the Sungei Kadut MRT station and the Thomson-East Coast Line. He added that the team will launch the “green spine” project under the MRT viaduct between Yew Tee and Limbang.
While her teammates spoke on infrastructure, Ms Soh talked about plans to help parents in the constituency. Ms Soh, who had her first child 16 months ago, said she would provide residents with more pre-schools and childcare facilities to promote intergenerational bonding and support families who want to grow bigger.
“Since having a family of my own, I can relate to many challenges faced by parents in raising their children. As a family lawyer, I also understand the challenges and problems faced by divorced parents,” she said.
Another group she specifically mentioned was single parents, who Ms Soh says also deserve aid and support.
She also touched on climate change and her plans to “actively promote the 3Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle”.
Ms Soh said that she would continue to raise legal awareness in the constituency, which she has been doing in the community for many years.
“My life ethos is to always remember to serve the lost, the least and the last,” she said.
Mr Zaqy, in his speech, spoke about the help that was provided to residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that his team will step up efforts to bring jobs and training opportunities to residents, citing the example of a new career centre starting this week to help job seekers.
Concluding his team’s speeches, Mr Wong said there are tremendous challenges ahead.
“We are in uncharted waters and the journey will be tough. And that's why the stakes are so high in this election,” he said.
In asking voters to carefully consider their votes, Mr Wong said that “our survival and our future is on the line”.
“I ask for your support in this election. With your strong mandate, we will overcome this crisis, and we will secure a better future for you and your children.”
SDP: COMPLAINTS FROM RESIDENTS, ENSURING SINGAPOREANS HAVE PRIORITY OVER PMET JOBS
Mr Pwee opened the SDP’s speeches focusing on the “many complaints and dissatisfaction” from residents.
The complaints comprise public housing facilities maintenance, cleanliness issues, rats and cockroach infestations, lift upgrading delays, and unresponsiveness from the PAP Members of Parliament (MPs) and the town council, he said.
Noting that three of PAP’s team members – Mr Wong, Mr Zaqy and Mr Yam – have roles related to national development, he said residents expect Marsiling-Yew Tee to be a model and exemplar of local public housing, public facilities and infrastructure management and maintenance.
“Yet, there are many, many complaints from the ground exactly in these areas,” he said.
He also said that Mr Wong “clearly told everyone that our HDB (Housing and Development Board) flat's value will reduce to zero over time”.
Many in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC have been trying to sell their HDB flats but have not been able to do so because the market value of their flats is dropping, Mr Pwee said.
“All three PAP MPs … have failed their very own constituency who voted them into Parliament,” he said.
He noted that Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC is an old estate, with many retirees and elderly people.
The PAP team announced a “big and expensive neighbourhood renewal programme for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC”, Mr Pwee said, adding that the incumbent party had asked residents for 75 per cent of votes to start this upgrading.
“Precinct upgrading is a government responsibility to the people. It uses public funds. It should never be a political campaign strategy, used to win votes,” he said.
He also questioned how will public facilities lift the economic livelihood of voters, at a time when “costs of living continue to rise, with increase in Goods and Services Tax (GST), utilities bills and public transport costs”.
“We at the SDP have a clear town council management plan that you can read in detail on our website. We offer greater financial accountability and greater focus on everyday livelihood,” he said, asking for a chance to represent residents in Parliament and run the town council.
Fellow candidate Mr Khung wrapped up his team’s speeches. He spoke of ensuring that Singaporean professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) are given priority when it comes to jobs.
“We at the SDP are open to accept foreigners into our fold, but it should not be done at the expense of Singaporeans. We propose to establish a national job bank where companies must hire from. Only if they are not able to find someone with the skillsets in the national job bank, are they able to hire foreigners,” he said.
He acknowledged that there are schemes available to support companies and individuals during the pandemic.
“But the Government has not done enough to ensure that Singaporeans have the priority when it comes to jobs, especially PMET jobs,” he said.
He added that SDP’s research showed that “actual figures of S-Pass and Employment Pass (holders) add up to about 400,000 versus a local PMET population of 1.3 million”. This means that every one in four PMET jobs is held by a foreigner, contrary to what was said previously, Mr Khung said.
In a political debate last week, he noted that Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said that every one in seven PMET jobs is held by a foreigner.
“In the current COVID situation, with analysts predicting up to 200,000 retrenchments, we simply cannot continue to allow foreigners who have the same qualification as locals to take up PMET positions just because they are cheaper to hire,” he said.
He pointed to his party’s “Four Yes, One No” campaign in providing a solution “in the unfortunate event that retrenchments are inevitable”.
The proposal involves training and skills upgrading, and providing 50 per cent of the retrenched employee’s last-drawn salary for up to 18 months “to keep food on the table for their family”, he said.
He also spoke about suspending GST until 2021 to “directly reduce out-of-pocket expenses for the people”.
Another proposal is a retirement income scheme where the bottom 80 per cent of elderly are paid S$500 each month.
“This will allow us to show our gratitude to the (seniors) who (have) worked hard all their lives for Singapore. It will also relieve their working children from having to support children of their own and their elderly parents at the same time,” he said.
“We are a rich country, we cannot allow our people to live in poverty. We can do much more, and we should do much more, for our family, our seniors and Singapore.”