WP pushes back against suggestion that it is ‘PAP-lite’

This article is more than 12 months old

Pritam Singh calls it an 'electoral ploy', draws distinction between parties by citing questions asked in Parliament

Workers' Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh yesterday pushed back against suggestions that his party is just a "lite" version of the People's Action Party (PAP).

He said the claim made by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan during a televised debate was an electoral ploy.

Dr Balakrishnan had said during the debate that the WP manifesto outlined positions so similar to the PAP's that the ruling party could have written it.

Mr Singh, in response to questions during a walkabout in Kovan, said: "If that was the case, I hope the PAP takes up all our manifesto points and introduces them into their agenda, because that will really change the shape of Singapore, and we will have a more caring and compassionate society."

On Wednesday night, during an exchange with WP Sengkang GRC candidate Jamus Lim at the CNA debate, Dr Balakrishnan had said: "It's almost a position where whatever line or stand the PAP has taken, you basically use that as your reference point and take a half step to the left."

Yesterday, Mr Singh, drawing a distinction between the parties, pointed to questions the WP MPs had asked in Parliament about the corruption scandal involving Keppel Corp as well as the fake news laws.

He said: "The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Did any PAP MP file any question on the Keppel Marine scandal?

"I think voters should think about that.

"Did any of them step up to consider the other alternatives to Bills like Pofma (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)? I think these are the questions Singaporeans need to ask."

Mr Singh, alluding to the WP's motto of being a responsible and constructive opposition party, said that although Singaporeans want the opposition to scrutinise the PAP, they are "very discerning as to the type of opposition they want".

He said: "We've tried very hard to take that perspective on board and we have created a sort of culture within the party of an opposition that is credible.

"Not just locally but internationally as well, we're proud to stand as Singaporeans in spite of being the opposition."

The party's leaders apologised for not sending a representative to a televised live debate in Mandarin on Wednesday.

Mr Pritam Singh, said that while the WP has members who are comfortable making speeches and communicating to residents in Mandarin, the "quality of the proficiency required to participate in a live debate is of a higher order".

Speaking to reporters before starting a walkabout in Aljunied GRC, he asked for the forbearance of the party's Chinese-speaking supporters, and added: "I'm very grateful for the support of our Mandarin-only speaking supporters."