SINGAPORE: The People’s Action Party (PAP) and the Workers’ Party (WP) delivered their constituency political broadcasts for the new Sengkang GRC on Tuesday (Jul 7).
Formed earlier this year, the new constituency has more than 120,000 voters and encompasses the Compassvale, Rivervale and Anchorvale areas.
Both contesting teams in their speeches took pains to appeal to the younger families that make up many of the area’s residents. The four-member PAP team’s speeches were broadcast first.
PAP: “SENGKANG TOGETHER” MOVEMENT TO CO-DEVELOP TOWN, FACILITIES FOR YOUNG AND OLD
Speaking first in English and Mandarin, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Ng Chee Meng said that with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting many folks, many had shared with him their worries and anxieties “about job loss, income loss, and the responsibilities of taking care of parents and your own children”.
“We hear your anxieties,” he said, noting that the team had set up a job centre in Sengkang for those who need help.
“We hear also your desire to build Sengkang into a better home for ourselves. If we are elected, the first thing we'll do is to form the ‘Sengkang Together’ movement to co-develop our Sengkang town together,” he said.
As part of this, the team will set up the Sengkang Town Council to serve municipal needs, he said.
Expanding on the movement, Mr Amrin Amin, who is Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health, said it would involve seeking residents’ views and working with them to look after the needy and vulnerable, and young families and the elderly alike.
“I'm a father to a young daughter. I understand the challenges faced by young families,” added Mr Amrin, who spoke in English and Malay.
Dr Lam Pin Min, too, acknowledged that it was “especially difficult for young families, many of whom are in the sandwich class”.
“Our job is to help ease your burden, as much as possible. Our job is to continue making improvements to make life better,” said Dr Lam, who is Senior Minister of State for Health and Transport.
“Through our ‘Sengkang Together’ movement, we will help young families like yours. We have built childcare centres, schools and playgrounds, we’ve ensured that each family and child has good opportunities to progress in life. We will do the same for the needy and the underprivileged.”
READ: GE2020: Planned Sengkang town council will address 'municipal issues' residents highlighted, says PAP team
Senior citizens would also be looked after, with more senior care and fitness centres, and more wellness programmes. “We want you to age gracefully and with dignity,” he added.
Similarly, lawyer and new candidate Raymond Lye said the team would pay “special attention to seniors” with more senior activity centres, barrier-free access routes, and residents’ corners.
Noting there were “exciting times ahead” for Sengkang with many new developments, Mr Lye said the team would improve connectivity and integration within Sengkang, and build “more and better communal facilities” like playgrounds, fitness corners, covered linkways and drop-off porches.
He also noted two hubs being built – Anchorvale Village which will come with a hawker centre and neighbourhood centre, and Buangkok integrated hub with a mall and community club – as well as the soon-to-be-completed Rivervale Community Club, revamping of malls, a new water theme park and a new community sports hub.
Wrapping up, Mr Ng said his team had the experience and commitment to “make all these things happen” for residents, “not just talk about it, but make it real”.
“Because at the heart of it all, our priority is you and your family,” he said.
WP: GOOD JOBS FOR SINGAPOREANS, A MORE INCLUSIVE EDUCATION SYSTEM
Speaking in English, the WP’s Jamus Lim addressed the PAP’s campaign focus on providing jobs for Singaporeans.
What is important is not just jobs, “but good jobs, jobs that Singaporeans actually want to take on”, said Dr Lim, an associate professor of economics.
“Too many” of the promised jobs, he said, “fail to meet up to our expectations, either because they require us to compete in a race to the bottom, or because they call for us to have skills that the educational system did not provide to us.
“We understand how it feels like to have jobs that are not only insufficient to meet our needs, but insecure at the same time,” Dr Lim added, noting that his team members – who are aged 26 to 44 – are from the “sandwich” generation.
“If elected, we will call for a re-examination of our nation's economic model to finally raise the productivity of our workers that has so far eluded us, and finally enable us to work not just hard, but also smart.“
Ms He Ting Ru, who is head of legal and communications at a multinational company, highlighted the role of caregivers in the economy. She cited how her mother gave up her career at the age of 25 to raise two daughters, and served as primary caregiver to Ms He’s grandmother.
“It is regrettable that the hard work that she has done all her life is not recognised by traditional GDP (gross domestic product) measures,” said Ms He.
Singapore must enact the right policies to recognise such unpaid labour, and ensure the unpaid workers “have adequate social safety nets, especially in their golden years”, she said.
Ms He, a mother of two boys, noted that the WP team consists of parents with children under the age of four. Equity research analyst Louis Chua spoke in Mandarin, and founder of a non-profit organisation Raeesah Khan spoke in Malay.
The WP believes that “all children” must be given the chance to fulfil their potential, Ms He said, and it would do so by reducing class sizes, developing a more inclusive education system, increasing funding to less popular schools, and having universities and professions "widen access to students from all backgrounds”, said Ms He.
READ: GE2020: New Sengkang GRC likely to see keen contest between PAP and WP, say political observers
On municipal matters, Dr Lim highlighted that there was a “limited” number of neighbourhood shops across Sengkang, unlike in older estates. The issue goes beyond convenience, he said.
“Such spaces are social places, so their absence tears apart the connection to the places that we call home. If we are elected, we will work hard and push for more spaces for neighbourhood shops,” he said.
The WP does not simply “want more of the same”, like more covered walkways and lift upgrading, Dr Lim added.
“We also want to tackle issues that truly matter to the people in Sengkang - relieving bottlenecks in childcare centres, dedicated paths for bicycles and personal mobility devices, and more neighbourhood spaces.”
The team would do so with a new town council, whose system would draw on the WP’s experience from managing other wards which he said “are just as good if not better than those run by the PAP”.