SINGAPORE: The People’s Action Party (PAP) released its General Election 2020 manifesto on Saturday (Jun 27), containing previously announced proposals focused on getting Singapore through the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the 23-page document titled Our Lives, Our Jobs, Our Future, the PAP outlined six broad strategies it plans to undertake:
- Ensuring public health to keep everyone safe and investing in our healthcare system
- Saving and creating jobs and upskilling workers so they can take advantage of opportunities
- Stabilising businesses and helping them to transform and grow
- Providing support to households and care and assistance to the vulnerable and those in need
- Rejuvenating our city and heartlands
- Greening Singapore and living sustainably
To maintain good public health and safety, the PAP wrote that it will support and equip our healthcare professionals and frontline agencies to provide “excellent healthcare for all”, including providing free in-patient COVID-19 treatment at public hospitals, increasing the number of COVID-19 tests and investing in COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
The PAP, which said it had allocated S$20 billion to the Ministry of Health in recent Budgets, will try to reduce the risk of transmission within the public by ensuring people have access to protective gear like face masks, establishing safe distancing norms and upping efforts to improve public hygiene standards nationally.
READ: GE2020: PAP launches manifesto focusing on jobs, economy and keeping lives safe amid COVID-19 pandemic
On curbing the spread within the foreign worker dormitories specifically - this group accounts for the vast majority of close to the 43,000 cases in Singapore currently - the PAP said it will finish screening these workers and make sure they return to work safely, and build more foreign worker housing with new operating models and standards.
JOBS AND THE ECONOMY
The PAP said that jobs are prioritised under its economic policies, especially as businesses are expected to close and people will lose their jobs during the current global economic fallout.
But it aims to protect workers from the immediate impact of COVID-19 by providing companies with wage subsidies to help employers keep their workers, freelancers and self-employed people income relief under the Self-Employed Person Scheme, and financial assistance to workers who have been retrenched or suffered a wage cut.
A National Jobs Council will be set up to create 100,000 employment opportunities for residents, while the Government under the ruling party will tighten anti-discrimination hiring policies under the Fair Consideration Framework.
Hiring incentives and schemes to help various segments of workers - from university graduates to low-wage employees - stay employed will also be introduced and revised to make sure they can find work and earn a decent income.
As for businesses, the PAP said it will help them to “stabilise” against the immediate effects of COVID-19 by helping to shore up their cash flow and manage costs, passing rental relief laws and providing extra support to the hardest-hit sectors like aviation, hospitality, tourism and retail.
But to sustain the economy’s longer-term viability, the PAP said it will try and get more companies to adopt digital technology, as well as promote sectors that are growing, like cybersecurity and healthcare.
Its international strategy includes creating "green lane" travel arrangements with other countries amid the pandemic, expanding the country’s trade network and seeking new markets, and diversifying its food and essential supplies so that the country’s supply chain remains “resilient”.
READ: Business and official travellers on Singapore-China 'fast lane' arrangement must get COVID-19 swab tests
SUPPORT FOR HOUSEHOLDS
The PAP said it will provide social and financial support when needed. This includes the Care and Support Package for daily costs, enhanced housing grants for buying HDB flats, transport vouchers, and education as well as healthcare subsidies.
For children with special education needs, it will make special education more affordable, open new special education schools to cater to different needs, and increase work and care options for special education needs students beyond the age of 18.
READ: Budget 2020: S$1.6 billion Care and Support Package to help Singaporeans with household expenses
Moving on to pre-schoolers, the PAP pledged to improve subsidies so that pre-school is as affordable as primary school, increase the Government share of supported pre-school places and double the number of Ministry of Education kindergartens, in addition to raising the quality of pre-school education.
The party said it would give more support to students from vulnerable backgrounds, make home-based learning an integral part of education, speed up education reforms for a fast-changing future, and improve teachers’ professional expertise.
For seniors, it will offer support networks, help them keep healthy and active, as well as provide greater financial security in retirement.
As for healthcare, PAP said it will expand the polyclinic network, renew the Singapore General Hospital and National University Hospital, and complete the Novena Community Hospital by 2022 and a new integrated acute and community hospital in the eastern part of Singapore by 2030.
While this will be funded by raising the GST from 7 per cent to 9 per cent after 2022, the PAP said its Government will help pay for the increase for five years for most households and 10 years for lower-income households. Social assistance will be given to those who need more help.
STRONG AND RESILIENT SOCIETY
The PAP acknowledged that COVID-19 has highlighted new social gaps, adding that it will improve social mobility, tackle inequality and improve social safety nets to provide sustainable support.
It said it will also make mental wellness a key focus and ensure vulnerable groups can reach support and resources online.
READ: GE2020: PAP faces tough test from Tan Cheng Bock’s PSP in battle for West Coast GRC, say analysts
The PAP said it will make sustainability a way of life, including producing more clean energy, reducing greenhouse emissions, and planting one million trees and new mangrove areas to preserve carbon sinks.
It will also introduce new concepts of sustainable living, rejuvenate heartlands with home improvement and neighbourhood upgrading initiatives, and strengthen coastal and inland flood protection against climate change and rising seas.
Among plans outlined include adding 200ha of nature parks and 140ha of city parks and gardens over the next five years. Green corridors and park connectors will also be enhanced so that every household is within a 10-minute walk from a park.
PAP said COVID-19 has slowed down but not stopped its ambitious plans to develop Singapore, including major projects like Tuas Megaport, Changi Airport Terminal 5 and the Greater Southern Waterfront.
The party said it will use the Singapore Together movement to work with Singaporeans and create a new direction for the country post-COVID-19.
“At this critical moment in human history, we have a unique opportunity to re-shape and redesign our future,” it said.
The Workers’ Party will also be releasing its manifesto this weekend, its chairman Sylvia Lim said on Friday.
In the 2015 General Election, the PAP retained power by receiving 69.9 per cent of the votes and winning 83 out of 89 parliamentary seats.
Ahead of the election - the country’s 13th - the PAP has introduced 27 new candidates. Nomination Day falls on Jun 30 and Singaporeans will go to the polls on Jul 10, where there are 93 seats up for grabs.