SINGAPORE: The Workers' Party has rallied together after the indictment of ex-Sengkang MP Raeesah Khan for abusing parliamentary privilege, Leader of the Opposition and WP chief Pritam Singh said on Saturday (Aug 13).
The WP secretary-general was responding to questions from reporters on the sidelines of a National Day dinner held by the party at Hougang Avenue 5.
"I'm proud of the party and proud of how quickly we came together as one. That's very important for a party like the Workers' Party to remember," said Mr Singh, when asked if Ms Khan's falsehood in Parliament and censure by the Committee of Privileges had affected WP's volunteer and candidate recruitment.
"Because if we are not united you will have a problem engaging the public and being persuasive to be a voice and to represent the opposition interest in Parliament effectively."
Pointing to the National Day dinner, where there were about 1,400 participants, Mr Singh told reporters they could judge the morale of the party by the attendance, and by speaking to the members of the public and party for themselves.
He did not answer a direct question on whether there is a candidate to replace Ms Khan saying: "This will happen in due course."
Ms Khan had stepped down in November last year after admitting to lying in Parliament. She was found guilty of abusing parliamentary privilege and fined S$35,000, while party leaders Pritam Singh and Faisal Manap were referred to the public prosecutor after investigations by the Committee of Privileges.
On Saturday, four party leaders spoke on how the WP will be stepping up ground activities and engagement which were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Singh said WP will be engaging volunteers more actively, saying: "We also understand quite a few individuals, fellow Singaporeans, signed up to be volunteers with the party over the last few years ... Let's get this going again and I apologise we could not respond to everybody because there were two problems: A lot of volunteers and not enough activities."
He added that the party continues to do its outreach and house visits in East Coast and Marine Parade.
Miss Nicole Seah, who heads WP's youth wing and was a candidate in East Coast GRC, said that "quite a number" of volunteers from the Group Representation Constituency have stepped forward, and the party has started engaging them.
Speaking on the youth wing, she said that WP will launch a policy challenge for Singaporeans to submit ideas for policies.
"What we have been doing so far is to really focus right now on internal volunteer engagement, especially for the next quarter. This is to combat the lull in between election cycles," she said.
The party is also expanding its presence on social media with a new TikTok channel and podcast on Spotify. WP launched its HammerTok account on TikTok last week (Aug 5).
Miss Seah said that WP has a young base of volunteers and want to use such channels to engage in voter education as well as communicate some of the party's activities "behind the scenes".
The party is also restarting physical outreach with townhalls in Sengkang GRC moving from virtual to face-to-face, and resuming sales of its Hammer newsletter, said Sengkang MP and town council chair Louis Chua.
"We really focus on ground outreach - to reach out to our residents physically face-to-face to understand some of the concerns and issues ... but at the same time, we also recognise that it's important to expand on all the various communication channels and media out there, especially those which may be particularly relevant to our younger residents."
But some aspects of the party's outreach have not changed significantly, said Mr Singh.
"It's still important for us to connect with the public and understand in certain local areas what are the issues that are important to residents and business operators there," he said.
"I think really the question is the quality of that engagement ... We of course want to understand the ground better ... and in that regard, nothing really has changed."
Responding to another reporter's question, Mr Singh said that based on their outreach, cost of living issues have come up often among both younger and older residents.
"That's a very pressing issue ... I think those are issues that we've already put to the Government and I will continue watching this very closely."