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WP counters PAP's charges of dishonesty

The Workers' Party (WP) leadership has countered the PAP's criticism that it has been dishonest, flip flopping on policies and taking voters for granted.

WP counters PAP's charges of dishonesty

Attendees at Workers' Party's rally on Thursday (photo by channelnewsasia.com's Siti Bazilah)

SINGAPORE: The Workers' Party (WP) leadership has countered the PAP's criticism that it has been dishonest, flip flopping on policies and taking voters for granted.

At the WP's final rally for the Hougang by-election on Thursday, several WP members spoke of the party's candidate Png Eng Huat's integrity and his track record in Hougang.

They also said that as an opposition party, the WP does not oppose for the sake of opposing.

Mr Chen Show Mao, an MP for Aljunied GRC, spoke about what he described as "political honesty".

Mr Chen said what the party tries to do is: be an honest critic. He added that may be difficult for some to understand.

Mr Chen said: "How could the Workers' Party criticise government policies and pass this year's Budget? He (DPM Teo Chee Hean) said we're flip flopping and he called us 'dishonest'...

"The WP MPs voted to pass this year's Budget because we believe the government had taken a good first step towards forging an inclusive society, which has always been the Workers' Party's platform.

"When the driver is starting to make a U-turn to go in the direction suggested by the co-driver, we say 'pass', but you must keep going!"

Mr Pritam Singh, another MP for Aljunied GRC, also rejected criticisms that the Workers' Party has been contradicting itself.

He said: "We agreed with the Budget, because there were elements in the Budget which were inclusive. Singaporeans, you know the track record of the Workers' Party. We do not oppose for the sake of opposing. If a policy benefits Singaporeans, how can we in good conscience oppose it?"

Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim addressed voters who may still be on the fence, and gave reasons why Mr Png would be a good MP at a local level.

She said: "As for being a representative in Parliament, Png is also an excellent choice; he is thoughtful, mature and extremely hardworking. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth but a self-made man who fought his way through life. Png will not hesitate to raise the concerns of people in Parliament; he will be a bold yet sensible opposition voice."

Workers' Party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang accused the PAP of unwarranted personal attacks on the WP MPs.

"During the PAP's rally, MP Denise Phua criticised the Workers' Party for always saying the bad things about the government. But in fact, I rose to thank the government for giving better focus to the welfare of the people in the same Budget debate, where totally unwarranted attacks were made on the Workers' Party MPs. The Workers' Party is very clear that our core mission is the welfare and the well being of our people," said Mr Low.

Mr Low added that opposition MPs can only do so much to suggest policy changes. He refuted criticism that the Workers' Party had no suggestions or only criticised the government.

Mr Low said: "Policies are not always perfect and groups of people may be adversely affected. We can provide feedback from the ground, make recommendations, but it is almost impossible to challenge the technicality of these policies without the resources that the ministries have.

"Opposition MPs cannot, neither can the PAP MPs. Let's see what Desmond Choo, or any other PAP MPs for that matter, can propose alternative policies to solve the problems of high COE prices or high water and electricity charges."

During the rally, Mr Png addressed questions raised by the PAP on whether he was truthful about the circumstances surrounding the Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) post at the last General Election.

He said: "Over the past few days, Mr Teo Chee Hean has been very busy trying to paint a picture that I have an integrity problem and am not truthful when I tried to explain away why the WP did not select me as an NCMP.

"My stand on the NCMP is clear. In fact in Lianhe Wanbao, there was a report featuring Mr Eric Tan, my ex-team mate in East Coast GRC. He had left the Workers' party right after the 2011 General Election. I have not spoken to Mr Eric Tan for a long time. Mr Eric Tan said something in the report which is very important to my belief and my character, which the media choose not to highlight.

"Mr Eric Tan said that right after the electoral boundaries report was released for the 2011 General Election, the Workers' Party had initially planned to field me, Png Eng Huat, in Joo Chiat, which had a high chance of being offered the NCMP post if we were to lose there. He said I declined to stand in Joo Chiat because I did not want to be an NCMP. This is my stand and my conscience is clear."

Like he did at his previous rallies, Mr Png again shared his plans for Hougang residents. Among these are upgrading for flats and the construction of amenities like covered walkways as well as elderly fitness corners.

Mr Png again explained why the Hougang vote is important. "When Hougang goes to the polls on Saturday, the whole of Singapore will be watching. A vote for the PAP will be a vote in the wrong direction in our march towards a First World Parliament. A vote for the PAP will be a step backwards for justice, democracy and equality."

Source: CNA/ir/ac

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