SINGAPORE – The international community does not want to see one-party dominance in Singapore but a diversity of political parties and viewpoints in government, said Singapore People’s Party (SPP) chief Steve Chia on Tuesday (July 7).

Responding to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s remarks during his Fullerton rally on Monday, Mr Chia told reporters before a walkabout in Lorong 7 Toa Payoh that the world is looking to see how Singapore transitions from its third generation of leaders to its fourth.

“When they see that there is the PAP (People’s Action Party), the Workers’ Party, the SPP and any other party, and we are able to debate sensibly and come up with sensible solutions… This is what will impress the international community even more and create even more confidence in Singapore,” said Mr Chia, who is leading an SPP team contesting in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

Mr Lee had said during the lunchtime rally that a poor showing in the polls for the PAP could dent Singapore’s standing in the world.

He said: “Will we reveal ourselves to be fractious and divided, withholding our full support from the government we have elected, in a crisis where swift, decisive action is vital to save jobs and lives?

“Investors will scrutinise the election results, and act on their conclusions. So will others, both friends and adversaries of Singapore.”

In his speech, Mr Lee also criticised the opposition parties for their “fashionable peacetime slogans”, “recycled manifestos”, and for keeping silent on how to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Chia said he was surprised that Mr Lee had expected unelected opposition members to come up with solutions for the crisis.

“The whole Cabinet is being paid millions. It is their responsibility,” Mr Chia added.

“Why are the isolated dormitories still having Covid-19 cases every day? Are their plans successful? Are they actually working out? These are questions that people ask me to ask.

“I hope the Prime Minister and his team will give good answers.”

Mr Chia said he has received e-mails and messages praising the SPP’s manifesto, which covers issues from cost of living to mental health to climate change.

Noting that the proportion of undecided voters here has gone up with each election, Mr Chia said the uncertainty over whether to continue voting the PAP into power has only grown.

“Many people are giving us a chance… We believe that the alternative parties are working hard to give swing voters a credible choice.”

Mr Chia, who has committed to being a full-time MP if elected, said a common grouse from residents in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC is that they do not see their MPs enough.

The former Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) also criticised the NCMP scheme, though he acknowledged that the SPP has had a tradition of taking up the role.

He also did not rule out accepting the position if offered.

“I would hope to get into Parliament as an elected MP because there is so much more we can do. We can run the town council, we will have access to a lot more facilities… The losing PAP candidates (can) continue to be grassroots advisers.

“Then the residents will get the best of both worlds.”

The PAP candidates for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC – Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat, Mr Saktiandi Supaat and Mr Chong Kee Hiong – were also on a walkabout in the area.

Mr Saktiandi and Mr Chia wished each other well when they ran into each other.

Both parties say there is no replacement for face time with voters.

Mr Chee told The Straits Times: “Social media is important but social media is not interaction. It is more sharing of facts and sharing of ideas.

“I think the groundwork, the one-to-one conversations with our residents – to understand their concerns and what are some of things we can do to improve their lives and their living environment – that continues to be a very important part of how we serve them.”

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