Singapore

Opposition leaders say they have not ignored Covid-19 crisis

This article is more than 12 months old

Opposition leaders yesterday pushed back on suggestions from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that they had ignored the Covid-19 crisis during their campaigning - pointing out the parts of their plans that are related to the crisis while also reiterating their objections to having an election during a pandemic.

Progress Singapore Party chief Tan Cheng Bock said it was the PAP and not the opposition that had taken its eye off the crisis.

"I think we never took our eye off Covid-19. They took their eyes off Covid-19... because they're concentrating too much on this general election."

He said he worries about how safe distancing can take place during a walkabout.

"I worry for those people. They surge to you. And how are you going to control them?"

Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday, Dr Tan said perennial bread-and-butter issues cannot be pushed aside just because the Covid-19 crisis is happening.

"You cannot say that your CPF, your job or your housing matters, and all the other bread-and-butter issues... we cannot push them aside. They are always there. It is (about) how are we going to manage it, and the management would depend on the environment."

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan said the SDP's 4 Yes 1 No campaign was meant to help Singaporeans through the crisis.

Among the pillars of the party's campaign are a call to suspend the goods and services tax until the end of next year and to pay retrenchment benefits to workers who get laid off.

People's Voice secretary-general Lim Tean meanwhile said his party was one of the first parties to call out the Government during the crisis.

And, during a walkabout in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, Singapore Democratic Alliance chief media officer Harminder Pal Singh said his party's plans to lower GST from 7 per cent to 3 per cent for essential items was an initiative to help Singaporeans cope with Covid-19.

Yesterday, Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam put up a video on Facebook criticising PM Lee's remarks that investors will be looking at the election results to see if Singaporeans are still united.

He said investors would welcome a strong opposition that was able to hold the Government to account.

"They (the PAP) still peddle the myth that Singapore would collapse if there is more than a token opposition in Parliament."

ADDITIONAL REPORTING: CARA WONG, ZAIHAN YUSOF AND AW CHENG WEI

GENERAL ELECTION 2020