Singapore

'More opposition pushes PAP to act'

After his fiery, final appeal to Bukit Batok voters at the Singapore Democratic Party's rally last night, Dr Chee Soon Juan showed his softer side.

At the end of his speech, he embraced his elderly mother, who joined him on stage with his wife and three children.

SDP member Jaslyn Go, who had earlier said in her speech at the rally that Dr Chee's mum was often "heartbroken" by the negative media reports of her son, told her: "Auntie, Ah Juan is a man of character... He is selfless... he struggles so that others can live a better life.

"He works hard for these people without being paid. And he is not paid, not because he is worthless, but because he is priceless."

She then called on the crowd - which filled nearly the entire field next to Bukit Batok Industrial Park A - to show their support for Dr Chee, and they responded with rousing applause and cheers.

Last night was the fourth SDP rally since Nomination Day on April 27.

Speakers included SDP members Paul Tambyah and Bryan Lim, as well as estate management expert Yeo Yeu Yong, who took turns to reiterate their plans for the town council, social programmes and issues like healthcare.

Dr Chee, who was the last to speak, reminded voters he would be a full-time MP and run the town council without a managing agent if elected.

He also took issue with the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) statement that the number of jobs created for locals in 2015 was 700 instead of the 100 he mentioned.

Dr Chee noted that "100" was quoted by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say and cited how the number of jobs for locals grew by 96,000 in 2014.

He said: "A 99 per cent plunge and you want to quibble with me that it is 700 and not 100?"

MOM has since clarified Dr Chee's figures. (See report below.)

At the end of his speech, Dr Chee again accused the People's Action Party of engaging in "gutter politics" and argued that electing the SDP has "all the upsides with no downsides".

"Why is it important for the SDP to be in Parliament? Because every time you get more opposition in Parliament, the PAP is pushed to act in your interest, in your favour."


MOM: CHEE STILL MISREPRESENTING DATA

In response to job figures that Dr Chee Soon Juan quoted last night, a Ministry Of Manpower (MOM) spokesman made a second clarification shortly after the rally.

On Wednesday, the MOM had said that Dr Chee had misunderstood the figure and created an "alarmist picture" of the job market.

The spokesman said last night: "We would like to make it clear that the issue was never about the local employment growth of 100 (which is the advance estimate) versus 700 (which is the final number).

"It is about Dr Chee's misunderstanding of what that number represents, which is the 'net' number of new jobs taken by locals and not the total number of new jobs for locals.

"There is a significant difference between the two due to the number of locals exiting jobs annually for reasons such as retirement.

"We are disappointed that having earlier misunderstood and subsequently read our clarification, Dr Chee continues to deliberately misrepresent our employment data."


DR CHEE ON...

BUKIT BATOK TOWN COUNCIL

A transition team has been formed by the SDP to ensure that the handover process from the PAP-run town council will be smooth. Dr Chee has said that the SDP will run the town council in a "productive, efficient manner", surpassing the standards of those run by the PAP. To cut costs, the SDP will dispense with a managing agent.

UNEMPLOYMENT

To push for a retrenchment insurance scheme, where employees will pay a small amount each month from their Central Provident Fund, with the Government footing the remainder of the bill.

ELDERLY AND HEALTHCARE

To pilot a Hearts for Bukit Batok programme, where households will be encouraged to "adopt" a needy or elderly family in the community.

There will also be programmes for the elderly such as bingo nights, mahjong mornings and gardening. To push for a healthcare plan that will offer a "genuine, universal, evidence-based healthcare coverage for everyone".

YOUTH

To pilot a project called Pathfinder, where volunteers will provide a listening ear to students who wish to share their concerns.

It will also organise book clubs, science fairs and youth sports clubs, as well as provide subsidised tuition for students from lower-income families.

Chee Soon JuanSingapore ElectionsBukit BatokMinistry of Manpower