GE 2015: WP says its ideas from 2011 election manifesto adopted by government

The Workers' Party said that ideas from their party's 2011 manifesto had been adopted by the Government to formulate policy.
The Workers' Party said that ideas from their party's 2011 manifesto had been adopted by the Government to formulate policy. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party (WP) has detailed its contribution to policy formulation, saying that ideas from its 2011 manifesto on public transport, housing and foreign labour have been adopted by the Government.

It posted a table on its website juxtaposing its policy proposals and steps taken by the Government since 2011.

For instance, the WP manifesto proposed that the Government "pay for the initial operational equipment of public transport service as a social investment".

"In 2014, the Government announced that it will take over all bus operating assets and bus infrastructure and will contract out the bus services", the table said.

Its suggestion that public transport concession prices for the elderly should apply to all operating hours was also taken up in late 2011, the WP said.

On public housing, the WP also said that its proposals not to peg prices of new HDB flats to the resale market, and allowing new permanent residents to buy resale flats only after three years, were implemented in 2013.

In another section of the online post, the WP also listed five key policy U-turns by the Government that it said took place after General Election 2011 due to "a competitive political system with a significant opposition party presence in Parliament".

The WP contrasted public statements made by ministers before and after the 2011 General Election on public housing, health care, retirement adequacy, welfare support and foreign manpower.

For example, on Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions for older workers, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in 2009: "Workers beyond age 50 pay lower CPF contribution rates, to lighten the cost of employing them, and mitigate the effect of seniority-based wages. Our Workfare Income Supplement - in effect a negative income tax - is also weighted in favour of older workers."

But then-Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin said in January 2015 that "CPF contribution rate for workers aged 50 to 55 should be restored to the same level as younger workers. The increase in contribution rates has been phased in gradually to moderate the impact on business costs and take-home pay of the employees".

This is the latest chapter in a tussle between the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and the WP over whether the 2011 polls caused a sharp shift in the Government's policy direction.

The PAP says that policy changes have long been in gestation before 2011.

The WP also took aim at criticism of its parliamentary performance, the latest of which came from PM Lee on Tuesday who said that opposition supporters "voted for a tiger in the chamber and you got a mouse in the house".

It published a set of numbers that it said showed, on average, that its MPs attended Parliament sittings more regularly than their PAP counterparts. They also spoke up more times per MP on debates on the Budget and Bills, the WP argued.

The party also listed its objection to the 2013 Population White Paper and its suggestion that ministerial salaries be pegged to the civil service as key debates that it had participated in.