Singapore

Diverse voices in Parliament are key, says Pritam Singh

This article is more than 12 months old

Workers' Party MPs in Parliament will help tackle challenges ahead, stresses party chief

A constructive opposition presence in Parliament will improve policies, said Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh, adding that it was important to have a team of diverse voices working to help Singapore cope with the changes to come.

Speaking on the final day of campaigning for the election, Mr Singh returned to the party's campaign slogan - Make Your Vote Count - to once again make the case that having opposition MPs would help the country cope with its challenges.

Amid the job losses that will come as the coronavirus pandemic batters the economy, and an ageing population that is changing the shape of society, it has become even more important to "have a good team of MPs, including opposition MPs, working for a good outcome for Singapore", he said.

"There is a real risk of a Parliament dominated completely by elected PAP MPs. And is that a good outcome for Singapore? I would suggest it's not. My concern for that kind of situation is that the solidarity that is required to keep our country together will weaken."

The need for opposition members in Parliament even as the country grapples with Covid-19 has been one of the key messages of the WP during this campaign.

In its first election with Mr Singh at the helm, the WP has sought to stress it will be a constructive presence in Parliament, and not one that is there to needle the PAP.

Mr Singh said the party will speak up for workers, especially those who will lose their income in the coming months as retrenchment hits.

In the longer term, he said the party will speak up when the ratio between locals and foreigners in the economy comes up for review as the population ages and the resident labour force participation peaks.

Another of the party's key message has been to deprive the People's Action Party of its parliamentary super majority through electing opposition MPs into Parliament, rather than Non-Constituency MPs.

Mr Singh yesterday again tried to persuade people about the drawbacks of the NCMP scheme. He said NCMPs do not even have a place to hold meet-the-people sessions.

"We've repeatedly shared with the public that this scheme does not allow an opposition MP to embed himself or herself in the community, so you don't get that sort of feedback directly from your residents."

Yesterday, the WP held two walkabouts with former chief Low Thia Khiang, one in the morning in Hougang and one at the Kovan Market and Food Centre in the evening.

It is contesting four GRCs - Aljunied, Marine Parade, East Coast and Sengkang - and Hougang and Punggol West SMCs, fielding a slate of 21 candidates. Asked to rate his party's chances at the polls tomorrow, Mr Singh said "it's going to be a tough election", but the party has given it its best shot.

Despite the difficulties presented by campaigning during a pandemic, he said, the party has tried its best to reach out to voters and put across its messages.

"We've tried to put the best slate of candidates together, and we've fought the campaign the way we've wanted to fight the campaign - plain, on the issues, on the facts," he said.

Mr Singh said he was cautious about translating online sentiment to votes.

"In the online world, it's a unique political economy there. There are echo chambers, and it can give you a false sense of comfort... So, as far as the WP is concerned, our focus has always been to work hard on the ground, because that's where it really matters."

In a video the WP shared just shy of midnight, Mr Singh thanked the party's candidates for their "tremendous courage" in standing for the election with an opposition party.

He also thanked voters.

He said: "On the 10th of July, please remember to wear your mask, and follow the instructions of the election officers, and go back home safely. Stay safe Singaporeans."

GENERAL ELECTION 2020