Wednesday, 9 September 2015

GE2015 Campaign Day 8: Opposition 'engaging in politics of division': Teo Chee Hean

Several parties dividing society, setting one segment against the other
By Jessica Lim, Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 9 Sep 2015

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean took aim at opposition parties yesterday, accusing them of dabbling in the politics of division.

Speaking at Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC's rally, Mr Teo said several opposition parties "have been engaging in the politics of division, the politics of envy, dividing our society into different segments, setting one against the other, accentuating differences across races and communities, even encouraging betrayal within political parties".

He did not name any opposition party, but at a lunchtime rally on Monday, Singapore Democratic Party candidate Paul Tambyah expressed hope that Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam would fall out with the Prime Minister and lead a grand coalition of opposition parties.

Mr Teo also asked voters if they wanted political parties that avoid tough decisions and make empty promises they do not have to keep. The People's Action Party (PAP), he said, had worked hard "for decades to do the opposite".

No party apart from the PAP has managed to build a consensus on tough and difficult issues, plan policies and programmes that benefit the largest number of Singaporeans and get them implemented well, he said.

PAP's Shanmugam on other parties
"SDP wants Tharman to split from PAP and form coalition like the PKR in Malaysia. That will destroy the political stability that has been the very foundation of our success": Shanmugam. "The SDP and Workers Party suggestions lead to the same conclusion: A change in the values that has made Singapore special, a change from requiring competence and unity in political leadership." #GE2015FULL RECAP:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Over in Nee Soon GRC, Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam called on Singaporeans to hold all candidates across party lines to the same standards. That means voting for people who are honest about policies, have financial integrity and put forward sensible and responsible policies, he said.

If different standards are applied to everyone other than the PAP, it will encourage a different breed of politicians, he said.

He criticised the Workers' Party (WP), which is contesting Nee Soon GRC, saying that while honest politicians would work hard to prove themselves worthy of forming the government and show voters their track record, the WP has done no such thing.

In Parliament, it has made no meaningful contribution to policy, said Mr Shanmugam. Instead, he said: "Whatever the PAP does, after we put forward the policy, they will stand up and say, do more."

On its town council's finances, he said many questions remain unanswered. The WP's approach seemed to be to avoid answering questions and to divert attention to something else, he added. "They believe that these are the ways in which one wins votes. Keep quiet in Parliament, roar at rallies without regard to what is the truth."

Mr Shanmugam warned voters that "if you accept this, then you will get many more people who come into politics with the same attitude".

PAP's Shanmugam on WP's foreign worker stance
“You cannot be a responsible opposition, let alone a responsible government, if you make U-turns like this”: People's Action Party's Shanmugam on WP’s stance on foreign labour. #GE2015FULL RECAP:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Tuesday, September 8, 2015

He also highlighted the WP's flip-flop on foreign worker growth, first saying Singapore should go slow in tightening the tap, then "when they saw the popular mood", calling for zero growth, then changing their stance within a month to say more foreign workers should be allowed in certain sectors. Yesterday, Mr Gerald Giam seemed to suggest the Government should not tighten further as it was hurting businesses.

"You cannot be a responsible opposition, let alone a responsible government, if you make U-turns like this and say whatever is politically popular for the moment," Mr Shanmugam said.

He concluded by telling voters that "your vote, your support will decide what sort of politics we will have in Singapore and what kind of person steps forward to serve, whether with the PAP or the opposition".

PAP new face Ng Chee Meng questioned the WP's argument that a bigger opposition presence would serve Singapore better. The former chief of defence force cited the experience of other countries where governments were blocked from getting things done by too much opposition.

Recap: Here's a summary of our plans to make Seng Kang, Pasir Ris and Punggol even better for all our residents....
Posted by Teo Chee Hean on Tuesday, September 8, 2015

PAP is a party of balanced change, says DPM
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Straits Times, 9 Sep 2015

The opposition may have cast covetous eyes at Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, but he was having none of it yesterday.

Responding to an opposition politician's hope that he would lead a coalition party to challenge the incumbent, Mr Tharman said that he joined the People's Action Party (PAP) because it was a "party of change", and that it remains a decision he is proud of.

"I'll have to say that I made an adult decision to join the PAP and I've never had regrets because it has been a party of change. I'm someone who has felt very strongly about the Prime Minister's thinking and agenda, and I've worked very closely with him to shape our policies," he told reporters after a walkabout in Aljunied GRC.

"It is a party of change. But it is balanced change, avoiding the extremes, making sure that we serve Singapore's interest, and I'm proud to be a member of the PAP."

He was responding to comments by Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate Paul Tambyah who said many opposition politicians "hope that, one day, DPM Tharman will have a falling-out with PM (Lee Hsien Loong) and will come out to lead a grand coalition of opposition parties".

#GE2015 ""The response was very friendly. Whether that translates into votes, has yet to be seen. We certainly don't take that for granted. We have to work hard for every vote," says DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at Kovan. Follow our live blog ( or Twitter account ( for more.
Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister, also tackled criticisms by SDP chief Chee Soon Juan that sovereign wealth fund GIC and Singapore investment firm Temasek Holdings made "failed" or "questionable" decisions in recent years. For example, Dr Chee said Temasek had invested about $4 billion in "debt-ridden" commodities trader Olam International last year.

Saying it did not help to be "highly selective" about one's examples, even when they are wrong, Mr Tharman added that understanding how the GIC or Temasek performs is "a process of education" - one that requires frequent explanation through annual reports, speeches and public communications.

He also said their portfolios must be evaluated in whole, and that people should "understand that when you take risks, not all investments turn out well".

"But on the whole, I think we've got two institutions that have done very credibly by international standards, meaning they've earned very good long-term returns."

Referring to opposition complaints that such funds did not channel their yields into citizens' Central Provident Fund, he said: "I find it a little amusing that there are people who sort of, on the one hand, talk about investments going bad, (but) on the other hand, complain about returns being too good."

At the walkabout at Kovan Market and Food Centre, Mr Tharman was greeted by warm applause and residents eager to take photos with him. Of this, he said: "We are underdogs, we know. We've had to work very hard to win back support and certainly today, compared to five years ago, there has been a measurable change. It's not hostile, it's friendly... Whether it translates into votes, it's hard to say."

Jobless insurance not a cure: Amy Khor
By Joanna Seow and Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 9 Sep 2015

The Singapore People's Party's (SPP's) proposal of unemployment insurance treats the symptoms but not the root causes of unemployment and underemployment, charged People's Action Party (PAP) candidate Amy Khor.

"It's like giving antibiotics to treat a viral flu," said the Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower at her rally for Hong Kah North SMC in Bukit Batok West.

In their rallies last night, Dr Khor and Mr Lim Biow Chuan, the PAP candidate for Mountbatten SMC, attacked their SPP rivals' policy proposals. They are facing blogger Ravi Philemon and lawyer Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss respectively.

Dr Khor said the unemployment insurance put forward by Mr Philemon is costly and does not solve the underlying problem of skills mismatch in a changing global economy. She also called his suggested pension scheme unsustainable in an ageing population, and said his proposal for Singaporeans to get first priority for jobs would be too limiting, and will hurt local firms. "SPP's suggestions are populist and they may give you relief for the moment, but you get a bigger headache the next day," she said.

Over at Stadium Drive, Mr Lim questioned the dedication of his opponent, Mrs Chong-Aruldoss, saying she had done little after losing the fight for the same ward in 2011.

Mr Lim, an MP for Mountbatten SMC for nine years, also took issue with proposals in Mrs Chong- Aruldoss' manifesto for the ward, such as a $100,000 social mobility bursary for young residents.

"Why didn't she set it up after 2011? If she feels that there is a need to help residents, why must she wait four years to do so?"

Mr Lim also said her call for the conservation of Dakota Crescent is "not a new idea" - he had made such a call too - and questioned her experience in running a town council: "There is nothing that (she) can do that I am unable to do better."

Don't use religion as trump card: Masagos
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 9 Sep 2015

Second Minister for Home and Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli yesterday hit back at claims by opposition candidates that the interests of the Malay-Muslim community have not been sufficiently looked after.

The community has been able to practise its religion openly and lives peacefully alongside people of other races and religions, he said at a People's Action Party (PAP) rally in Tampines. Speaking in Malay, he said he hoped the community would not be swayed by those who raise issues just to divide the community and win votes.

"When they bring up issues to do with religion, are they thinking it through or just hoping to cause us heartache?" he asked.

Singapore saw racial and religious riots in the 1960s, and he advised against using race and religion to win support.

Since the election campaign began, some opposition candidates have touched on issues such as curbs on Muslim women wearing headscarves in certain jobs.

Mr Masagos warned against trying to stir anger and revive old wounds at a time when Muslims enjoyed full freedom to practise their beliefs. For example, money has been raised to build around 24 mosques, which enjoy long leaseholds, he pointed out.

In other countries where Muslims are a minority, it is a struggle to build mosques.

He said the Malay-Muslim community has a duty to contribute to the nation and work with religious leaders, the Government, their employers and other citizens to preserve a religious life that is meaningful for all.

"This society that is so different in terms of religion and culture, that has in the past clashed and seen lives lost, manages today to live together in peace and harmony," said Mr Masagos.

Yet this harmony did not come about naturally. "In the 50 years we've progressed with the nation, we've been led by religious leaders, community leaders, and state leaders who understand each other. They have succeeded in building trust among one another."

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