WP’s claim of opposition ‘wipeout’ is a tactic: PM Lee

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He says suggestion of a clean sweep by PAP is unrealistic because people are hurting from Covid-19 impact

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has described the Workers' Party (WP) suggestion that the People's Action Party (PAP) could win all 93 seats in the next Parliament as an unrealistic outcome and a "tactic".

In fact, there will be a "hard fight" because people are hurting from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, he told reporters yesterday during the unveiling of candidates for Ang Mo Kio GRC, which he helms.

"Although we are in crisis and people want a strong Government, at the same time, many people are hurting badly - those who have lost their jobs, those whose pay has been substantially reduced, those who are very worried about whether they will find their first job, or whether they will lose their job some time in the next months or years.

"So there are real problems on the ground which cause people concern, and we can feel it," he said in response to a reporter's question on the WP warning that there is a real risk of a "wipeout" for the opposition in this general election.

Similarly, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah cautioned voters that, with every constituency set to be contested, it would be a mistake for Singaporeans to think the PAP would be returned to power effortlessly on July 10.

They made the point at a separate Zoom video conference when unveiling the PAP team for Tanjong Pagar GRC.

On Sunday, WP chief Pritam Singh said at the unveiling of his party's manifesto that there is a real risk of a "wipeout" for the opposition in this election.

Aljunied is the only opposition-held GRC, which WP won for the second time in the 2015 General Election with a smaller margin.

Mr Singh said earlier his party's goal of winning one-third of the seats in Parliament remains unchanged, though it is not contesting enough seats to achieve the target in this election.

There will be 93 seats for elected members in the next Parliament. Amendments to Singapore's Constitution require a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

In countering Mr Singh's point, Mr Chan, the PAP's second assistant secretary-general, said it is important the PAP get a "clear and strong endorsement" from the people.

He urged Singaporeans to scrutinise the manifestos of other parties and ask whether they trust that party to take care of Singaporeans.

It was not enough for opposition parties to merely "ask some difficult questions" in Parliament and not have a plan to deliver on their promises, he said.

Singaporeans, he said, are concerned about the economy and their safety, and are looking for a team with "plans and the ability to execute".

"From our daily interactions with our residents, there is one main (concern), and that is jobs.

"In the next few months, everyone is concerned (about) whether they can keep their jobs, whether they can take care of their families, and whether they can still have a good future going forward."

PM Lee pointed out that the WP argument is a tactical one and added that the party is also using reverse psychology.

The WP had been overconfident in the 2015 General Election, he noted. It had made clear then that its goal was to form the Government one day.

"I think voters showed that they were not ready for the WP to do such a thing."

In 2015, the WP won Aljunied GRC by a razor-thin margin, with 50.95 per cent of the vote share. The PAP wrested back the then Punggol East SMC from the WP.

Overall, the PAP secured a strong mandate with a popular vote share of 69.9 per cent. This was an almost 10 percentage point increase from the 60.1 per cent in the 2011 polls.

PM Lee said: "So this time (the WP is) trying to do the opposite, to paint the possibility that they will lose and, therefore, hope that through reverse psychology, people will vote for them to make sure that they're not going to be wiped out."

"But I can tell you that I don't take that attitude at all," he added.

"We will fight to win every vote and every seat, but I know that in Singapore there is a certain balance, and I don't think that balance will be completely upset this election."