SINGAPORE: Creating jobs, helping displaced workers find jobs and lowering the voting age are among the issues the new Progress Singapore Party (PSP) - which held its public launch on Saturday (Aug 3) - aims to champion at the next General Election (GE).
PSP, founded by former People’s Action Party (PAP) member Tan Cheng Bock, organised two sessions of its launch event on Saturday at Swissotel Merchant Court.
During the launch, the party again introduced its central executive committee members, which included secretary-general Dr Tan, assistant secretary-general Lee Yung Hwee, S Nallakaruppan and Abdul Rahman.
Ms Hazel Poa and Ms Michelle Lee, both of whom have contested in previous General Elections under the National Solidarity Party (NSP) and Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) banners, rounded off the team.
Dr Tan said that the creation of jobs is the party’s “top priority” during this time of transition and uncertainty in the global economic landscape.
During the question-and-answer segment of the event, the 79-year-old said this meant creating jobs as well as making sure policies are created to help workers already in jobs.
During his speech, he had also made the case for more to be done to match worker training and jobs.
“We suggest that more in-depth training be linked to jobs. So that after completing the training programmes, trainees are matched with secure jobs.”
He added: “For vocational workers, their pay should reflect their skills and difficulty of labour. To be skilled in a craft should be accepted as an alternative path.”
Mr Nallakaruppan added that as technology displaces those in “middleman jobs” such as stockbrokers and insurance and property agents, who are usually workers in their 40s, 50s and 60s, it is good that the Government has provided subsidies for them to be retrained.
“But we must move beyond that. What’s the point if you’re in your late 50s and you get a certificate? There’s no point collecting certificates when there’s no job,” he said.
What PSP is proposing is for workers to be recruited first, then go for retraining and be retooled for the new job, said the party treasurer.
Another issue PSP highlighted at the launch is the need to include Singapore’s youths in the political decision-making process, and proposed lowering the voting age to 18 from 21 currently.
“At 18, they’re old enough to drive. The girls enter university, and the boys enter into National Service. Since they have a duty to defend our country, these 18-year-olds should also have the right to elect their leaders. They are mature enough,” said Dr Tan in his speech.
Ms Lee added that Singapore is “already behind the times”, given that many countries’ voting age is 18, while neighbouring Malaysia on Jul 16 approved a Bill to do so this year.
“GET US INTO PARLIAMENT”
The party also touched on the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which Dr Tan noted was negotiated by current Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.
This agreement needs to be reviewed, said Dr Tan, adding that the PSP is asking for the Government to publish a balance sheet to see how Singapore has benefited from the agreement.
There is a need for accountability, he argued.
Besides these, Dr Tan also mentioned a laundry list of issues that PSP wants to champion: Accountability, independence of key institutions, transparency, income inequality, retirement adequacy, lower cost of living, educating people for the future economy and make public housing affordable.
However, he said that while PSP wants to review these issues extensively, this needs to be done with data.
“We have to have the data. And to have those data, there’s no other way - you have to get us into Parliament. That is important,” Dr Tan said.
He added that the party will reveal more of their proposals when GE comes.
“This is politics. In politics, you only show the cake but not the ingredients. The time will come when I show you the cake and the ingredients,” he said.
He had said at last week’s press briefing that PSP will not be disclosing any policy proposals in detail as part of its strategy. If he did reveal all, PAP would know everything, the veteran politician explained.
“If I told the whole world what I want to do, the PAP will know everything so I have to keep some issues close to my heart and we’ll reveal it as close when the GE comes,” Dr Tan said then.