GE2015: Change for the better is only beginning and needs to continue, says WP chief Low Thia Khiang

Workers' Party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang (right) gestures to his team of candidates as they arrive to submit papers on Nomination Day on Sept 1, 2015.
Workers' Party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang (right) gestures to his team of candidates as they arrive to submit papers on Nomination Day on Sept 1, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS
Workers' Party chairman Ms Sylvia Lim (left) and chief Low Thia Khiang leading candidates into Raffles Institution.
Workers' Party chairman Ms Sylvia Lim (left) and chief Low Thia Khiang leading candidates into Raffles Institution.ST PHOTO: PEARL LEE
The WP team outside the nomination hall at Raffles Institution.
The WP team outside the nomination hall at Raffles Institution. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Workers' Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang, in a message posted shortly after submitting his nomination papers on Tuesday (Sept 1) for the Sept 11 General Election, said "change for the better is only beginning" as he urged voters to continue the momentum by supporting the opposition party.

After the 2011 polls, which saw the WP growing from one elected MP in 2006 to seven elected MPs, Singapore now has a more responsive government that is more sensitive to the needs and struggles of the people, he added.

He also said the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) has openly admitted that the Cabinet has shifted more to the left to be more focused on the livelihood concerns of ordinary Singaporeans.

"Before the 2011 polls, the PAP had cruised along with policies that led to escalating cost of living, employment and retirement insecurity, and strained infrastructure due to runaway immigration.

"Your vote changed the course and led to U-turns; change for the better is only beginning. We need to continue the change by sending more Workers' Party candidates into Parliament," he added.

"You can empower yourself to make decisions for your own future. Vote Workers' Party; use the power of your vote to empower your future."

He called the Sept 11 polls a "landmark election in a new era" that would set a direction for Singapore's future.

"First, do you want to send a signal to the ruling party that the government should continue to be transparent, accountable and responsive to the needs of the people?

"Second, should you empower yourself to participate in the decision-making process to shape your own future and the future of your children and grandchildren in the next era of Singapore?"

Mr Low, who is defending the Aljunied group representation constituency (GRC), wrote about the opposition party's bid to build a balanced Parliament, which he believes is in the interest of voters and of Singapore.

"More importantly, your vote is a signal to the ruling party that it cannot do what it deems fit without taking you seriously.

"It will signal to what extent the ruling party can deprive you of your power to participate in the policymaking process without consulting you, in the name of acting in your best interest," he added.

Referring to Singapore's 50th anniversary of independence this year, Mr Low said in the message posted on the WP website that there are trade-offs to every policy, as he asked Singaporeans to think if they would want to continue entrusting the PAP to decide on the trade-offs and if they should tolerate more trade-offs.

The WP, which also has elected MPs in the Punggol East and Hougang single-member constituencies (SMCs), is contesting the Sept 11 polls with a record slate of 28 candidates. Among them are 16 rookies.

Its election slogan and manifesto is Empower Your Future, which is premised on cutting back government presence in society and entrenching the opposition presence in Parliament to check the PAP and improve policy-formulation processes.

"The ruling party's mindset of monopolising power to exercise control over almost every aspect of our society and to set direction for all endeavours is a hindrance to the continuing development of Singapore in achieving excellence to become an outstanding nation," said Mr Low.

"People must be freed from the political net-trap where talented Singaporeans in management and the professions have to worry about political correctness in decision-making and the reaction of our political leaders. Our political leaders should serve the people, not be our political masters."

He added people should feel free to express themselves and debate issues within known limits as a multiracial and multi-religious society, which could encourage creativity.

"We must build confident professional, business and people sectors to enable Singapore to continue progress in the next 50 years. This requires checking the power of the government and empowering the people via a more balanced Parliament representing the diversity of Singapore society," wrote Mr Low.

Reiterating the WP's branding as a "rational, responsible and respectable party", he also sought to dispel concerns over the ongoing saga over the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

The WP and the government have been in an ongoing dispute over financial management and governance at the AHPETC.

He said the WP has managed the town council well, despite many challenges and hurdles along the way in moving from handling about 9,000 units at Hougang Town Council to over 70,000 units at Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council.

"Apart from a number of procedural and accounting lapses pointed out in the Auditor-General's report, which by now have mostly been addressed, the other important aspects of town management such as cleanliness, lift breakdowns and maintenance are comparable to other town councils. WP now has more MPs experienced in town council management," added Mr Low.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg