SDP, SingFirst, Independent rallies: SingFirst

$300 stipend 'is about returning money to the people'

SingFirst held its first election rally in Jurong Stadium. Its candidates stuck to the party's call for a change in immigration policy.
SingFirst held its first election rally in Jurong Stadium. Its candidates stuck to the party's call for a change in immigration policy.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Singaporeans First (SingFirst) party chief Tan Jee Say yesterday stressed that the party's proposed $300 monthly allowances were not an attempt at bribery, rebutting a charge made by labour chief Chan Chun Sing at a rally a day earlier.

Instead, he said the policy proposal was to return to the people what was rightfully theirs.

"Our $300 monthly allowance will help the elderly retire comfortably, so all this talk of bribing is nonsense. We don't bribe people, we return money that belongs to them," said Mr Tan.

The party would pay for the scheme using excess returns from CPF monies invested, he explained.

Speaking at Jurong Stadium last night at the first rally of the year-old party, Mr Tan, 61, spent the bulk of his speech criticising the anchor ministers of the two constituencies his party is contesting: Mr Chan in Tanjong Pagar GRC and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Jurong GRC.

On DPM Tharman, Mr Tan said that the finance minister had incorrectly estimated GDP growth for the decade.

Singapore had revised downwards its medium-term GDP growth forecast range to 2 to 4 per cent per year from this year to 2020.

It had previously envisaged growth of 3 to 5 per cent per annum for the decade as a whole.

"(Tharman) was a good man, until he joined the wrong party!" he said.

The party's other candidates, meanwhile, sought to draw a distinction between the old guard from PAP and the current government even as they stuck to the party's main message of calling for a change in immigration policy.

Accusing the PAP of losing its way, SingFirst's Jurong GRC team leader, chemist David Foo, 51, said: "The PAP of old is quite different from PAP today... The PAP of old had foresight. What happened?"

Mr Foo peppered his speech with quotes from first-generation leaders like former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and former DPM Goh Keng Swee, warning about the need for a calibrated immigration policy.

For instance, he said, when Singapore started its industrialisation drive in the 1970s, Mr Lee had warned in a National Day Rally that taking in too many foreign workers could cause social problems."We find ourselves in a situation like this today. What was forewarned has come home," said Mr Foo.

Psychiatrist Ang Yong Guan, 60, who is contesting Tanjong Pagar GRC, took a slightly different approach, saying that the current batch of leaders did not have the "fighting spirit" of the old guard.

He criticised the PAP for moving some of its losing candidates to safer seats and asked if it was in the PAP's DNA to move candidates to another constituency where they might have an easier fight.

"Do you want this kind of leaders without the fighting spirit to bring you into the next phase of nation-building?" Dr Ang said.

He also took issue with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's recent statement that opposition MPs had been underwhelming in Parliament despite giving fiery rally speeches.

At a press conference on Tuesday, PM Lee had said: "You voted for a tiger in the Chamber and you got a mouse in the House."

Yesterday, Dr Ang said that the opposition MPs were lions.

"How can you call seven opposition MPs mice when they fought their way into Parliament? They are lions facing the PAP. We need more lions in Parliament to keep the PAP on their toes."

• Additional reporting by Aw Cheng Wei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2015, with the headline '$300 stipend 'is about returning money to the people''. Print Edition | Subscribe