Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why Punggol East deserves better than the WP




While we await the WP’s last rally for this by-election tonight, let’s take a look at their track record in general since the 2011 GE and their performance in the by-election. This by-election, mind you, is not about the PAP or the WP. It is about the residents of Punggol East and who they deserve as an MP who will look after their needs and tend to their estate. I therefore make the case that the residents of Punggol East deserve better than the WP.

The WP is a Self-Centered Opposition Party

And one that is increasingly demonstrating the signs of arrogance in both its manner of speech and action, I might add.

Why self-centered? WP chief Low Thia Khiang said bluntly last night that opposition unity is not possible in today’s context.

The message that the WP sends to its opposition counterparts is a chilling one: You are on your own, and the WP does not want anything to do with you. At all.

Its rejection of the SDP’s proposal to run a joint campaign speaks for itself. That the WP did not even bother to enter negotiations with the SDP attests to their arrogance and self-importance as the leading opposition party in Singapore. Now that Low has said opposition unity is impossible, we realise that he did not even bother to make an attempt in the first place.

 Last night, Lee Li Lian audaciously asked where the PAP it was before the by-elections. Excuse me, we had Palmer covering the ground and taking care of the ward for quite some time and then after that ignominious affair, we had Teo Ser Luck (a mayor, no less) as a caretaker MP. The PAP was there all along.

I would actually turn Ms Lee’s question back at her: Where was the WP before the by-election?

Low Thia Khiang’s answer: we decided to focus on Aljunied and cease all ground activities in wards previously contested by the WP.

My short answer: The WP abandoned Punggol East.

The WP is manipulating your anger

In 2011, the WP walked right into Punggol East and cruised away with 41 per cent of the valid votes cast.

In other words, the WP effortlessly attained 12,777 votes by simply doing NOTHING before the GE.

Do they deserve to walk away so easily this time? Will the voters of Punggol East actually allow the WP to waltz in after being absent allow the WP to win the ward without putting in the requisite effort?

The WP strategy is thus one of complacency and a very simple one: the WP is trying to ride the tide of anger, hoping that it will be enough to send them past the 50 per cent mark.

Admittedly, the WP will clinch at least 30 per cent of the vote, if the rules about a 30 per cent hard core existing on each side are true. 40 per cent in the middle will have to think hard about who they should vote for, and I hope they will not allow themselves to be manipulated.

The WP has no new ideas, and even if they did, they wouldn’t work

Lee Li Lian mentioned that she will champion the causes of the elderly by fighting for free transport and for allowing them to use their Medisave without restrictions if they are above the age of 75.

All that sounds admirable. Really, it does. But will it work?

Using Medisave without restrictions sounds good, but let’s not blind ourselves to the fact that as a person gets older, the chances of falling sick increase as well. Hence, taking the long-term view, it is far more prudent to use the Medisave sparingly. Otherwise, once you are in your 80s, you will need to pay in cash if your Medisave is depleted.

Free transport for the elderly sounds brilliant too! But did Lee Li Lian tell voters what the pitfalls or trade-offs were? No. Let me tell you. Making transport free for the elderly means that other commuters would have to absorb the costs. And guess who would have to bear the brunt? Adult commuters (and polytechnic students too)!

The WP has made little or no mention about their manifesto. Why?

I don’t know, maybe they aren’t proud of it. Maybe they know it is not worth publicizing.

First World Parlia-what?

I’ll quote former NMP Calvin Cheng’s words do the speaking here: “or a party that campaigned on the promise of more debate as part of their march towards a ‘First World Parliament’, whither the debate? Surely if you have an alternate vision for Singapore, a vision burning to be articulated in full, asking questions would not suffice? Surely if even a Nominated Member of Parliament can force the whole of government, including its most senior statesman, to focus their attention on a ‘hifalutin’ issue and engage in robust debate, then a party with six elected members of Parliament, two NCMPs , and an alternate vision for Singapore can do so much more?”

The Choice

It is clear: the fight is between the PAP’s Dr Koh and WP’s Lee Li Lian.

Yes, the PAP is not perfect. But it promises you that it will always be there to look after your ward even if not elected. Look at Desmond Choo in Hougang, serving with all his heart.

Do not fall prey to the WP deal of “vote one WP, get one PAP free”. If you accept such rhetoric, politics becomes a cheap bargain, and you allow yourself to become a customer in a transaction. Politics is not about transactions and bargains. It is about your life, your future. It’s serious business.

Looking what the WP has (not) done so far, I think Punggol East is far better off in the safe hands of the PAP.

Punggol East, you decide.

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