Singapore

Workers' Party's Low says politics must be kept civilised

WP chief fires back at DPM Teo's 'crocodile tears' remark:

Let us not behave like we are a Third World country.

That was the salvo fired back by Workers' Party (WP) secretary-general Low Thia Khiang, responding to comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in a media interview last Friday.

At that interview, Mr Teo had blasted Mr Low for shedding "crocodile tears" at Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's decision not to contest in the upcoming elections.

Mr Low had praised the outgoing minister for being hardworking, saying he was disappointed that Mr Lui chose to leave.

In turn, Mr Teo said: "I think it's very characteristic of Mr Low to squeeze the most political mileage out of anything."

At a walkabout in Chong Pang yesterday, Mr Low shot back: "As a DPM (deputy prime minister), with all due respect, (if) he wanted to comment in that way, let Singaporeans judge and see this is the kind of standard of the People's Action Party (PAP) in politics.

"Is this the kind of politics we want in the future? What do we want the future of Singapore to be? Do we want to be more civilised in our political engagement? We are not a Third World country. I think voters will have to decide what they want Singapore to be."

He reiterated that he finds Mr Lui to be a responsible minister who does not try to "bully the opposition and intimidate us from asking questions".

WP chairman Sylvia Lim added: "Fundamentally, we are looking at the issue of Cabinet responsibility. We believe that the Cabinet is collectively responsible for all policy issues. His departure was a surprise to us."

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In his interview, Mr Teo had also accused Ms Lim of wanting to "swallow up" Fengshan and "add (Fengshan) to the pot" to help the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) with its deficit.

His comments came in the wake of an Instagram photo that Ms Lim posted earlier last week, showing her sampling fried oyster omelette with the caption "The taste of Fengshan - heavenly! #reasonstowin".

Ms Lim said in response: "Well I would just like to say that I think it is a pity Mr Teo Chee Hean does not seem to have a sense of humour."

Both Ms Lim and Mr Low were speaking on the sidelines of a party outreach at a crowded Chong Pang Market and Food Centre, which lies within Nee Soon GRC.

WP: Discussions on AHPETC meaningful only after Aug 31

Discussions regarding the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC)'s financial situation will be meaningful only after Aug 31, said Workers' Party's (WP) Member of Parliament for Hougang, Mr Png Eng Huat.

That is the date when town councils will have to close their accounts for financial year (FY) 2014/2015 and submit the audited report to the Ministry of National Development (MND).

Said Mr Png: "We are trying to close our accounts by Aug 31. That's across the board and all town councils are working towards that."

The party had been late in handing up its FY 2013/2014 report, which was due on Aug 31 last year and was submitted on June 30 this year.

The current Aug 31 deadline was set in February during a parliamentary debate when MND said the state of affairs at AHPETC was "clearly unacceptable".

On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the first priority for the PAP, if elected, would be to "go in and sort out the mess in the town council''.

Asked about DPM Teo's remarks, Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim said: "I think we leave our residents and the public to judge on the town council front, whether we have shortchanged our residents, be it in estate cleanliness, maintenance, lift breakdowns and so on."

NEW CANDIDATES?

National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser believes that the AHPETC is the WP's Achilles' heel: "If releasing the records on Aug 31 enables them to come free of those negative assessments, the WP could get back to their First World Parliament campaign concept and avoid being labelled as a party that runs a Third World town council."

So far, the WP has not announced any new candidates aside from the currently elected MPs. Ms Lim said the party will probably announce its candidates "some time" after the National Day Rally on Aug 23.

All of WP's MPs will not budge from their current constituencies, revealed Ms Lim.

When asked, she did not elaborate on the party's plans for Fengshan.

While the party has always been traditionally tight-lipped about its potential candidates until Nomination Day, several familiar faces were spotted making their rounds around Chong Pang Market and Food Centre to sell the party's newsletter, the Hammer.

Potential candidates like consultancy firm chief executive Leon Perera, 44, sales consultant Cheryl Denise Loh, 32, and company chief executive Luke Koh, 40, were present.


Rival parties at same food centre

PAP's Dr Lee Bee Wah and Mr Josephus Tan were also at Chong Pang Market and Food Centre to greet residents at the same time as the Workers' Party members.

Both camps exchanged cordial greetings as they walked past each other.

Food stall owner Kelvin Tan, 50, said the crowded food centre was like a political battleground: "Both sides have been very active in coming here many times to meet residents. I can't say which side has done more, but personally, it feels very exciting to me."

Singapore ElectionsWorkers' Partylow thia khiangTeo Chee Hean