Singapore

WP's goal is still to keep a check on PAP in Parliament: Pritam Singh

Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh says opposition's role is to ensure ruling party 'doesn't have a blank cheque to do whatever it wants'

Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh yesterday laid out his party's plan to woo voters in the upcoming election, saying it will field quality candidates who will ask tough questions in Parliament and manage their town councils well.

These candidates will come from a range of backgrounds and also life experience, he added, without naming any of them.

In his speech at the WP's annual members forum, Mr Singh rallied party members to ready themselves for the general election, including those tipped to be new candidates.

He also made his pitch for why Singaporeans should vote for the WP. The party's value proposition for voters, he said, is that it can ensure a better balanced Parliament.

To that end, it is important for the party to have at least one-third of the elected seats, so that the People's Action Party cannot change the constitution at its pleasure like it can today, he said.

Mr Singh, recounting how his own parents have benefited from policies such as the improved CPF Retirement Sum Scheme and the Merdeka Generation Package, said the Government had shifted to the left after the 2011 GE, when it lost Aljunied GRC to the WP.

"Referring to the PAP as uncaring so as to persuade some of our fellow Singaporeans to consider casting their vote for the WP will be self-defeating for us," he said.

"The call instead has to be for a better balanced Parliament with elected opposition MPs serving as a realistic and meaningful check on the PAP, raising concerns of our citizens to Parliament, while at the same time building up public sector experience so as to be effective Parliamentarians and Town Councillors," he said.

Noting that no opposition in any parliamentary democracy can enact laws or policies that will directly influence people's lives, he said the opposition's role is to make sure the ruling party "does not have a blank cheque to do whatever it wants".

As such, the WP will need more elected MPs in Parliament, he said, and not Non-Constituency MPs, who are the best performing losers in the GE.

Citing constitutional changes on the Elected Presidency passed in 2016, Mr Singh said the PAP would have had to take its time to rationally persuade Singaporeans if it did not have a parliamentary majority.

As a result of the changes, the 2017 presidential election was reserved for Malay candidates.

He added: "In my opinion, the urgency to amend the Elected Presidency was politically manufactured by the PAP. The real risk appeared to be Tan Cheng Bock's potential participation in the last presidential elections, and the election of a President who was unlikely to be the PAP's preferred choice."

Singapore Politics