WP aims to set up new town council for Sengkang GRC: Pritam
The Workers' Party (WP) is looking to set up a new town council for Sengkang GRC, instead of merging it with the existing Aljunied-Hougang Town Council.
"We believe Sengkang has the economies of scale for it to be a standalone town council," said WP chief Pritam Singh at a virtual press conference yesterday. "That's our approach and preference going forward, subject to further meetings with the existing managing agents."
The WP won the new Sengkang GRC at last Friday's polls, garnering 52.13 per cent of the vote.
In 2011, the town councils for Aljunied GRC and Hougang were merged following the general election, when the WP first wrested Aljunied GRC from the People's Action Party.
When WP won the Punggol East by-election in 2013, it further expanded the town council to become the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council.
But there were teething issues in the 2011 handover which had a lasting impact - a lawsuit by the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council against its town councillors is now still on appeal after the Court found WP MPs liable for damages suffered by the town council.
Asked if the party was anticipating handover issues in Sengkang, such as if the current managing agent pulls out, Mr Singh said: "I don't want to prejudge the situation, but what I would and can say is we haven't met the existing managing agents yet, so I think we want to go into discussions in good faith... and we'll take it from there."
The new elected MPs for Sengkang are lawyer He Ting Ru, 37; economics professor Jamus Lim, 44, social enterprise founder Raeesah Khan, 26, and equity research analyst Louis Chua Kheng Wee, 33.
Team leader He thanked residents for having faith in the WP, and gave an update on how the new MPs could be reached.
Acknowledging that Meet-The-People sessions cannot be held due to the Covid-19 situation, she said: "If any residents have any questions or need help, please e-mail us at email@example.com as one of us will get in touch with you about your problems or your questions."
Yesterday, the WP's Sengkang team was spotted on a walkabout at Rivervale Plaza, where they greeted residents.
Prof Lim was taking notes on town council matters on an iPad as he chatted with residents. He cited the example of a complaint about mosquitoes, adding: "We want to be immediately responsive to all these considerations.
" As Pritam suggested, that is our first order of priority - to focus on making sure that this transition occurs in as smooth a fashion as possible."
WP chair and Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim said yesterday that there would be a reorganisation of the MPs helming wards in the constituency, which the WP retained with almost 60 per cent of the vote.
The team includes Mr Singh, Ms Lim and Mr Faisal Manap. Mr Leon Perera and Mr Gerald Giam have replaced party stalwarts Low Thia Khiang and Chen Show Mao, who have stepped down.
Mr Giam will take over Mr Low's former ward at Bedok Reservoir-Punggol, while Ms Lim will now helm Paya Lebar, instead of Serangoon.
Mr Perera will take over the Serangoon ward, said Ms Lim.
WP ready to work with NCMPs from other parties: Sylvia Lim
The Workers' Party (WP) is ready to work with other opposition parties to play the role of a constructive opposition in Parliament, said party chairman Sylvia Lim yesterday.
Speaking at a press conference held online, she said: "There will be ample opportunity in the coming years for us to work collaboratively as much as possible with any party who should decide to take up the NCMP seats... to move the agenda forward and to play our role as constructive opposition."
Her remarks come as the WP's 10 MPs are expected to be joined in Parliament by two Non-Constituency MPs from the Progress Singapore Party (PSP).
WP chief Pritam Singh will be formally appointed Leader of the Opposition.
The PSP's West Coast team lost with 48.31 per cent of the vote share, making it the best performing team among the opposition candidates defeated. This means the party will be offered two NCMP seats under the scheme, which guarantees up to 12 seats to the opposition.
WP was the sole opposition presence at the last Parliament with six MPs and three NCMPs.
After the 2011 General Election, the WP was joined in Parliament by one NCMP from the Singapore People's Party, but there was no official opposition leader and minimal coordination be- tween both parties in the House.
Speaking at the same press conference, Mr Singh thanked PSP chief Tan Cheng Bock for his support throughout the campaign.
Dr Tan, in separate remarks to the media yesterday, had indicated that the PSP would rally around Mr Singh as Leader of the Opposition but would stay true to its own views.
"That's good, that's the diversity we are looking for in Parliament," Dr Tan said.
That Mr Singh has been appointed the Leader of the Opposition would "change the whole of politics", he added.
The topic was one that Mr Singh declined to discuss, citing the lack of information about what comes with the appointment. On working with the Government and other opposition parties, Mr Singh said the WP was party agnostic as long as it was for the good of Singapore.
CHANNEL THE FOCUS
Noting that the coronavirus pandemic has caused suffering to the people and resulted in job losses, he said: "We should be very focused on what is at stake here, rather than think about the political position the parties should take or should hedge."
The WP had achieved a historic breakthrough in winning Sengkang GRC, its second group representation constituency, in Friday's polls.
It also retained Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC, improving on its results from 2015 and garnering 50.49 per cent of votes in the constituencies it contested.
But Mr Singh said analysts may have been too optimistic in declaring this as the start of a two-party system in Singapore, as the WP still has a long way towards winning one-third of the seats in the House.
He also cautioned against complacency. Citing the war movie Tora! Tora! Tora!, Mr Singh said Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto warned the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour may have awakened a sleeping giant that will hit back with greater resolve.
Mr Singh said "the Workers' Party will not be like the Japanese in World War II".
Noting that the People's Action Party would try its best to take back the areas, he said: "I think we have to be very careful, we have to be very mindful of what we have and we have to work very, very hard.
"We've lived with the PAP all our lives and we know how powerful they are. So I think if we want to advance Singapore in a way where we can bring everybody together as a united people, it is in our interest to make sure the Workers' Party serves Singapore well."