SINGAPORE: On the last night of campaigning, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong asked voters as they head into Cooling-Off Day to reflect on both the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) report card as well as the Opposition’s.
“Spend the time well examining what each party has promised you, what plans they have, look at their track record. Think about the characters of the who are offering to represent you – not just what they say, but what sort of people they are. Can you trust them? Are they honourable? Will they be there when you need them?” said Mr Lee, the PAP’s Secretary-General, speaking on Wednesday (Sep 9) at a rally in Jalan Besar Group Representation Constituency (GRC).
This election, he said, the PAP was showing a report card it was proud of.
The Opposition has been trying to “make people unhappy with the Government” over subjects such as transport, immigration and health care, he said. These are issues the Government has been working at and it has made progress, he added.
He cited many of the achievements that the PAP has reminded voters of over the hustings – such as the Pioneer Generation Package, MediShield Life, more maternity and paternity leave, efforts to relieve the pressure on the middle-income, 100,000 new HDB flats and almost 2,000 families earning up to S$1,000 a month that have been able to afford two-room HDB flats.
“Which other country can boast public housing home ownership like that?” Mr Lee asked.
The Opposition has called for the public transport system to be restructured. “They are slow – we are already restructuring!” Mr Lee said. “The rooster supposed to wake up before dawn, I think woke up late this morning.”
On the difficult issue of immigration, Mr Lee also pointed to how the Government had tightened the inflow of foreign workers and taken steps to ensure Singaporean workers are treated fairly.
WP A TIGER AT RALLIES, MOUSE IN THE HOUSE: PM
“Hand on heart, I have done what I have told you I would do,” said Mr Lee. “What I say here, I say in Parliament, I say anywhere. This is the same line, same facts, same honest opinion I will give you.”
But look at the Opposition’s statements, he said, citing a Hokkien saying, “on the first and fifteenth day of the month, the moon looks different”. Mr Lee said: “You look at what Mr Low Thia Khiang has been saying this election rally – government policies so inhumane, go for growth, ignores people. Did he say that in Parliament? No.”
Had Mr Low, the Workers’ Party chief, raised this in Parliament, said Mr Lee: “We would have argued with him face to face and he would have had no answer.” Instead, Mr Low was on record as saying that he “welcomes direction of Parliament” while the WP on its website said it “supports progressive Budget, raise gaps and issues in parliament”.
“But when it comes to election rally, wah, the tiger comes out. So fierce – PAP heartless this, that and the other. So that’s why I say, you vote for a tiger in the chamber, you got a mouse in the house!” said Mr Lee.
He reiterated his criticism of the WP’s logic, which he described thus: “If PAP is not good enough, vote for us, we will punish the PAP, we will go in and make them do good … But if PAP does good, it’s also because of the WP, vote for us, we get there, PAP will do even better. So, heads I win, tails you lose. Which bookie will offer you this? Makes no sense.”
“WHAT COUNTS IS NOT NUMBERS, BUT QUALITY OF CANDIDATES”
The Opposition has also said it is speaking for the people, but Mr Lee said his party’s Government has already been talking directly to people.
“Do you think we could have been the Government for 50-something years, and won elections, without talking to people, without understanding people, without reflecting what people aspire to?” the Prime Minister said.
He cited the Our Singapore Conversation exercise and how the Government has consulted widely on policies such as housing and CPF Life. The party also holds Meet the People sessions, even in Opposition-held wards.
Mr Lee told the crowd: “So I think the PAP, we are connecting directly with the people. Anybody offering to be Opposition, offering an alternative to Singapore, an alternative to the PAP, must take you seriously. Must take their jobs seriously. Must be able to show that they are doing this for real, not for wayang.”
Noting that the party had manifestos at the national and local level, Mr Lee added: “The Government is all in favour of differing views, in getting the best set of ideas for Singapore. PAP MPs do this in Parliament, day in, day out. The opposition MPs don’t do that.”
“What counts is not numbers. What counts is the quality of the candidates. You need the right people in order that they will do a good job for you. And that is what the PAP has tried to do very hard, and we’ve fielded you a team of good people,” he said.