SINGAPORE: The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has chosen to focus on making sure "everybody is financially protected" in a post-COVID-19 era in its campaign, as the party has come across many people who are concerned about their livelihoods if they get retrenched, said secretary-general Chee Soon Juan on Sunday (Jun 28).
“What we have come across is also many people who are just very concerned about the jobs and if they get retrenched, what happens to them. So the issue of the retrenchment insurance, benefits, those are also at the top of the minds,” said Dr Chee.
"These are some of the questions that came up repeatedly. So going forward, this is what we're going to be doing and this is what we're going to be campaigning on," he added.
Dr Chee was speaking to the media during what he described as an “extended walkabout” lasting more than three hours in Bukit Batok SMC.
Dr Chee confirmed last week that he will contest in Bukit Batok SMC in the upcoming General Election. He stood against Mr Murali Pillai from the People's Action Party during a 2016 by-election, garnering 38.8 per cent of the vote.
"We're campaigning on our 'Four Yes, One No', these five issues, and they see it, and they want it," said Dr Chee.
"(The campaign is) the only way that we're going to be able to get these issues and make sure that in this difficult post-COVID period that everybody is financially protected. This is the message that we want to get across," he said.
The SDP on Apr 28 spelt out its vision for a post COVID-19 Singapore, saying that the 'Four Yes, One No' campaign is aimed at addressing the immediate and longer-term concerns of Singaporeans.
One of the focus was on retrenchment benefits for workers laid off due to COVID-19. This, it said, would involve the Government paying 75 per cent of the employees' last drawn salary for the first six months, 50 per cent for the the next six months, and 25 per cent for the following six months.
The SDP also proposed cutting the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to zero per cent until the end of 2021, a move that it said will "stimulate the economy and help businesses".
It also said that it would push to provide retirees over the age of 65 with a monthly income of S$500.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
During his walkabout on Sunday, Dr Chee was asked to comment on the smaller slate of candidates the opposition as a whole apparently intends to field in the upcoming General Election.
SDP intends to field 11 candidates in two four-member group representation constituencies and three single member constituencies. The SDP also put up 11 candidates in the 2015 election.
The Workers' Party will contest 21 seats this election, compared with the 28 it fielded in 2015.
The National Solidarity Party will contest 10 seats, compared with 12 previously, and the Singapore People's Party will field five candidates compared, with seven in 2015.
Dr Chee said that the party is concerned with quality instead of quantity.
"You can put up 100 candidates, and if they cannot perform, they're not dedicated to the issues in their town council, in the estate, in Parliament, then there's no use," he said.
With regard to other prospective candidates, he said that "everything will be known on Tuesday", referring to Nomination Day on Jun 30.
He said: "We are going to release some, announce some of the candidates before that. But the official slate, everybody, we will announce it all on Tuesday, during nominations."