SINGAPORE: It would be an “easy and convenient excuse” to say a flight to safety mentality during times of crisis would benefit the People’s Action Party (PAP), said Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a walkabout in the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC where he is contesting, Mr Zaqy said his interactions with residents showed they were able to assess for themselves what each political party brought to the table.
While the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), which is also contesting in Marsiling-Yew Tee, has put forth a “series of ideologies”, the PAP’s team in the GRC has conveyed “solid plans” on issues such as estate development as well as social and employment programmes, he noted.
“I think citizens are rational, they can weigh for themselves what's needed for the future,” he said.
“And I think it’s up to other political parties to put on the table what they stand for, and for them to also share with residents how they can deliver this, where the budget - (for) whatever they propose - will come from, and what resources do they have on the ground, et cetera.”
“When our party puts this on the table, when our GRC puts our plans on the table, we take into consideration all these things - from budgets to resources to how we can deliver these plans within a specified timeline,” said Mr Zaqy.
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Residents can evaluate for themselves, based on candidates’ plans and track records, whether they are trustworthy and able to deliver on their promises, he said.
“So to me, I think it's an easy and convenient excuse to say residents will move to an easy path, to take a flight to safety."
“I don't think our residents are that easily convinced, that just because it's a crisis (you can tell them) please vote for PAP,” he said.
People will vote with a view to “what’s best for them and what’s best for Singapore”, he added.
The incumbent PAP will face the SDP at the polls for a second time in the four-member Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, which was formed ahead of the last General Election in 2015.
The PAP’s team is led by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong and includes Mr Zaqy as well as backbencher Mr Alex Yam and newcomer Ms Hany Soh, who replaces Mr Ong Teng Koon, who is not standing in the election.
They will be facing an SDP team composed of Mr Bryan Lim, Mr Damanhuri Abas, Mr Benjamin Pwee and Mr Khung Wai Yeen.
When asked how the response to the current COVID-19 crisis might impact the PAP's chances at the polls, Mr Zaqy said residents had expressed confidence in the Government and in Mr Wong, who is the co-chair of the multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic.
"I think many recognise ... even though we face economic challenges, the Government has stepped in very quickly to ensure that we retain jobs through the job support schemes,” he said, adding that businesses appreciated that such schemes helped them retain local workers and continue operating even through the “circuit breaker” period.
“Yes, there are headwind challenges on employment, on jobs, and also the foreign worker situation, but I think many fully understand what are the counter-measures that the Government has put in place, and what are some of the other areas which we are already preparing in advance.”
While there were many infections in foreign worker dormitories, Mr Zaqy noted the overall fatality rate from COVID-19 has been kept low and hospitals have not been overloaded, allowing the authorities to ensure that those who are infected are able to recover.
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He added that he and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee have been “working very closely” with the construction sector and the Manpower Ministry to facilitate the release of workers so construction work can restart.
“It's a fine balance between managing the health situation and the economy,” he said.
As such, confidence in the PAP and a mandate from the voters is needed for the party to “do more and be really focused on what’s to come”.