SINGAPORE: The People’s Action Party (PAP) team for Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (GRC) has accused its opponents from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) of being more interested more in the “glamour” of politics than serving residents, and of trying to play up the politics of “anger, jealousy and class division”.
At a rally on Monday (Sep 7) evening, the PAP candidates also called “irresponsible” an SDP candidate’s comments earlier in the day - Dr Paul Tambyah had said he hoped Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam would fall out with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and leave to lead an opposition party.
Mr Christopher De Souza said: “Do you think that seeking division in Cabinet is a responsible desire? Is hoping for discord among Cabinet a responsible thing to see? I tell you, it is a serious misjudgment to desire such discord.”
He accused the Opposition of using the election as a “political soapbox”. “To do so is to misunderstand the gravity of the duty we owe to Singapore and to the residents we serve,” he said.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who is Minister for Environment and Water Resources, said the SDP candidate’s comments “reveals the mentality, the mindset and the attitude they have to politics”.
He added: “I have just one message to send to the SDP: In the PAP, we do not have the tradition of backstabbing our mentors. Why?… In the PAP, it’s not about you, it’s about Singapore. You will not get this kind of behaviour and thinking in the PAP.”
"In the People's Action Party, we do not have a tradition of backstabbing our mentors. Why? If you're a member and if you offer yourself as a leader, it's not about you. It's about Singapore first, the party second": Vivian Balakrishnan. #GE2015RECAP: http://bit.ly/paprallysep7Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Monday, 7 September 2015
The other two PAP candidates for the GRC are Mr Liang Eng Hwa and Minister of State (Education and Communications and Information) Sim Ann.
MORE INTERESTED IN ‘GLAMOUR’ THAN GROUND WORK
Mr Liang, Ms Sim and Mr De Souza spoke of knocking on the doors of more than 10,000 HDB homes, private apartments and landed homes in the past five years, and of the municipal needs they had met.
“Many opposition politicians look down on PAP politicians for spending so much time on the ground, looking at drains, chasing rat burrows, getting rid of mosquitoes,” said Dr Balakrishnan. “They even tell us, all your local plans - not important. In fact the Opposition doesn’t even offer any local plans.”
Mr Liang said: “They are only interested in getting into Parliament for the glamour, to make some noise there, to make flowery speeches. They have no interest in visiting residents, to listen to their concerns.”
The two-term MP said he was told by a resident that SDP candidates had spent 10 minutes visiting one block – “it must be the fastest block visit in Singapore”, he quipped.
He also raised the case of the 2013 Punggol East by-election, when the SDP had proposed to the Workers’ Party a joint campaign – an SDP candidate would run and get to enter Parliament, while the WP would do the actual work of running the town council.
Said Mr Liang: “So don’t be seduced by the occasional strangers that appear once in a while and tell you they can speak up you for.”
OPPOSITION’S “POLITICS OF ANGER AND ENVY”
Dr Balakrishnan expanded on the metaphor of seduction. “A relationship is not a one-night stand,” he said. “It’s about someone you’re going to spend another 50 years or more with.”
“Someone who comes, asks for you vote, doesn’t really bother to engage, to do anything on the ground, is that a relationship? Is that trust?”
In any relationship, like that between the PAP Government and residents, there would always be opportunities for third parties to come in, said Dr Balakrishnan. “How? When they sense that the relationship is not close, not strong or when there are issues that are not yet resolved.
“The Opposition in Singapore will campaign on the basis of the politics of anger, envy, jealousy, class division. They will play up issues that can work up your emotions,” he said. “
“So, if you look at what’s happening today, we see a party coming to our home, telling us that you should be angry, you should be feeling shortchanged and jealous, and you should be having a political system based on paralysis and gridlocks - they call it checks and balances - but actually, what they’re trying to do is to barge in on our home.”
GRACE FU: “SDP USING EMOTIONS, POPULIST POLICIES”
At a separate rally on Monday, Ms Grace Fu, the PAP candidate for Yuhua Single Member Constituency, took a similar tack in her speech. Her opponent is the SDP’s Jaslyn Go.
The PAP, she said, was about action rather than talk. “Over time our policies work; they might not be the most popular, but they are the best policies for us,” she said.
As for the SDP, their policy proposals may include the word “free”, but they point to three words, “spend, spend, spend”.
“They compare us to western countries. They say other countries have free healthcare, subsidies for food, fuel, rental, minimum wages, why not Singapore? What they are not telling you voters, are these other countries have high taxes, oil, gold, timber. But not Singapore,” she said.
She also cited strikes, unemployment, gridlocked parliaments, low growth and heavy government borrowing in other countries.
The SDP was only interested in politics, not residents, she said: “They are using emotions, populist policies and leading Singapore down the slippery road that many other countries are trying to come back up but cannot.”