SINGAPORE, July 5 — The People’s Action Party’s (PAP) secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong lent support to its four-men team that is contesting in Sengkang Group Representation Constituency (GRC) against the Workers’ Party (WP) and urged voters to pick the “real thing” and not “PAP-lite.”
In a guest appearance yesterday during a Facebook Live session entitled Jobs and Sengkang, Our Home, Lee said that the opposition parties “always say they want to help people with work but they have no plan to deal with the crisis.”
Pointing to their manifestos, including WP’s, he added: “They take the PAP’s plan (and) say, ‘It’s very good and here are a few holes, please patch the holes, here are a few places where you can add more money, make it cheaper, do more, work harder.’
“I also can (do that)! ... this is PAP-lite, but... why do you want to settle for PAP-lite? The real thing is much better. And here in Sengkang, you have the real thing with the four members of our PAP team.”
The term “PAP-lite” was used by Vivian Balakrishnan during a televised debate on Wednesday to refer to WP. The member of PAP’s central executive committee said then that the WP manifesto took similar positions as PAP's except WP had used it as a reference point and took a “half step to the left.”
WP chief Pritam Singh has since pushed back that suggestion, calling Balakrishnan’s remark an electoral ploy.
He said: “If that was the case, I hope the PAP takes up all our manifesto points and introduces them into its agenda, because that will really change the shape of Singapore, and we will have a more caring and compassionate society.”
Yesterday's Facebook Live session for PAP's Sengkang GRC team was the first time Lee has made an online appearance to campaign for one of PAP’s team during this GE. On Friday, he also hit the campaign trail with new candidate Yip Hon Weng, 43, who is fielded in Yio Chu Kang Single Member Constituency, to check in on his progress in the campaign.
At the newly formed Sengkang GRC, labour chief Ng Chee Meng, 51, leads the PAP team. The other candidates are Lam Pin Min, 50, Amrin Amin, 42, and Raymond Lye, 54, a new face for PAP.
They are up against a WP team made up of Jamus Lim, 44; Raeesah Khan, 26; He Ting Ru, 37; and Louis Chua, 33.
Lee spoke about the “valuable” experiences of the four PAP candidates in Sengkang GRC, such as Lam having been the chairman of Ang Mo Kio Town Council for five years. He also described Lye as a “very reliable soldier” with years of grassroots experience.
“I would ask Sengkang voters very seriously, show Chee Meng and his team their full support,” he added. “I know the team is ready and raring to go and will give it their all to serve the Sengkang residents well.”
Responding to a question from host Kelvin Soon on how Singaporeans could better secure jobs, Lee said: “We have all kinds of schemes to secure the existing jobs, to help people who lose their jobs or lose pay, and also to create new jobs so that they replace existing ones and enable the economy to grow again.
He said that there are and will be virtual career fairs, and 24 satellite career centres will be set up across the island. These are examples of what the PAP government is doing to help workers.
“We are doing our best to help. What we need is to have Members of Parliament who would be able to know what the schemes are and to connect the schemes with the residents.”
Lee also lauded Ng's work in leading the labour movement during the current crisis to help workers, noting that among other things, it has matched 12,000 jobs since February, mostly for older professionals working in industries badly hit by the pandemic.
The new Sengkang GRC has more than 120,000 voters and is made up of the former single seats of Sengkang West and Punggol East, as well as the Sengkang Central ward of Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC.
During the session, the four-men PAP team shared their proposals and took questions from residents.
They said that if elected, they intend to set up a new town council within three months if it is not delayed by the Covid-19 situation and it will serve residents of Anchorvale, Compassvale and Rivervale.
The town council will look to build amenities such as children playgrounds, fitness zones, covered linkways and barrier-free access routes, as well as upgrade lifts in housing blocks to have enhanced safety features.
Municipal issues such as the noise from military aircrafts and limited connectivity to other parts of Singapore were raised by residents during the session.
Ng, who served as the chief of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) from 2009 to 2013, said: “Because of the limited air space, we have always sought the indulgence of residents in Singapore when the RSAF fly to do our air defence requirements.”
He added that many overseas training areas such as Thailand and Australia were closed during the Covid-19 period and personnel could not be deployed there, so flying frequency may have increased slightly.
Ng said that he will take the residents’ feedback to the RSAF and said that in the longer term, the force has plans to move its air base to Tengah and Changi.
“Hopefully by then, as we reduce the footprint of the air force in the central part of Singapore, your feedback will be dealt with decisively,” he added.
On connectivity, Ng said: “The backbone of our transport system is the MRT, and we are putting in a lot of investments to double the network.”
Bus services, he added, act as “spokes” to connect to other parts of the island.
“If you were to duplicate the whole system, the transport bill is going to be very high. As it stands now, the bus enhancement scheme is already subsidising commuters to a (total) of a billion dollars a year,” he said. — TODAY