Singapore

WP is ‘PAP-lite’, just a half step to the left: Vivian

The Workers' Party (WP) has been called "PAP-lite" because of how similar its positions are to the ruling party, but the opposition party's more left-wing stance raises the question of how it would pay for its programmes, said Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, 59, in a live TV debate yesterday.

Key proposals in WP's manifesto include scrapping the proposed goods and services tax hike and introducing a national minimum wage.

The People's Action Party "could have written this manifesto", said Dr Balakrishnan.

"And that's why people have called the Workers' Party PAP-lite or PAP-like, it's almost a position where whatever line or stand the PAP has taken, you basically use that as your reference point and take a half step to the left."

Dr Jamus Lim, an economics professor contesting Sengkang GRC in his first election, said the WP has often stressed it does "not necessarily object to policy for the sake of objection".

"Ultimately, what we want is the right policy...

"Now, you have then gone on to say that what we have done is move to the left, and the kind of underlying query is that well perhaps by moving to the left we are being irresponsible fiscally," he said.

"I would like to emphasise within the manifesto we have actually done the math behind it and everything is within our budget, it actually is budget neutral."

TRADE-OFF

Where the parties fundamentally differ is "where we think those trade-offs actually should occur", said the 44-year-old.

"The PAP would tend to side on the side of the capital.

"We think, in fact, that for every dollar of national income, Singaporean workers already receive an insufficient amount - 42 cents compared to 55 cents in Japan, and much higher in other high income countries.

"And we think that a re-balance of that kind of share of labour income is ultimately necessary," he said.

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