SINGAPORE: The Workers' Party (WP) will continue to question the Government while advancing "forward-looking suggestions for the welfare of Singaporeans", party chief Pritam Singh said.
Mr Singh was responding to National Development Minister Lawrence Wong's statement at a People's Action Party (PAP) press briefing on Saturday (Jul 18) that the WP cannot just continue asking the Government questions, now that it has 10 seats in Parliament after winning Sengkang GRC at the Jul 10 polls.
Mr Singh was also officially appointed the Leader of the Opposition - a first for Singapore, although it is not clear yet what resources will be granted to this new position.
"It is also their duty to put forward serious policy alternatives to be scrutinised and debated," Mr Wong had said.
READ: GE2020: PAP to do more to win back support from middle-aged voters feeling economic pain, says Lawrence Wong
Mr Singh said in a Facebook post on Monday that the WP will continue to propose alternatives to existing policies despite the constraints it faces. In addition, the party will encourage public conversations - such as the prospects of HDB lease decay - and will release public working papers to highlight issues that significantly affect Singaporeans, he said.
"While the Government continues to have a 120,000-strong civil service as a potential resource for parliamentary debates, the WP continues to be primarily reliant on its volunteer base for its political work. Despite these constraints, we will continue to advance forward-looking suggestions for the welfare of Singaporeans," Mr Singh wrote.
He said that the WP will also continue to ask questions of the Government as part of its work in Parliament.
"Questioning any government of the day however, remains a fundamental role of a responsible opposition - not just in Singapore - but in any parliamentary democracy anywhere in the world. This duty is critical in holding the government to account and it will remain fundamental to the WP's work in Parliament."
READ: Workers’ Party says it has asked to meet existing town councils to discuss handover in Sengkang GRC
This term, the party's efforts in Parliament are centred on key bread-and-butter concerns such as jobs for Singaporeans, healthcare for seniors and cost of living concerns, among others, he added.
"A key aspect of our focus will cover political issues that have a direct impact on transparency, accountability, balance and fairness."
He also said that the extent to which realistic policy alternatives can be put forward in public and in Parliament also depends on the PAP's approach to democratic politics.
Opposition parties have said before that they have been hampered by the lack of information and statistics on national issues and Government policies.
"What remains to be seen is whether the approach of the PAP Government towards greater information sharing will turn in favour of greater openness. The extent to which realistic policy alternatives can be advanced both in public and in Parliament is also a function (of) the PAP's approach to democratic politics," said Mr Singh.
"Whatever the expectations the PAP have of the WP, the WP's purpose and approach in Parliament is to advance and achieve better outcomes for Singapore, and to champion the welfare of Singaporeans. We will remain steadfast and fully committed to that cause."