GE2015: Workers' Party unveils six-chapter, 48-page manifesto

(From left) Ms He Ting Ru, Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, Mr Gerald Giam, Dr Daniel Goh, Mr Leon Perera and Mr Kenneth Foo unveil the Workers' Party election manifesto 2015.
(From left) Ms He Ting Ru, Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, Mr Gerald Giam, Dr Daniel Goh, Mr Leon Perera and Mr Kenneth Foo unveil the Workers' Party election manifesto 2015.ST PHOTO: KOR KIAN BENG
The Workers' Party press conference on Aug 29, 2015.
The Workers' Party press conference on Aug 29, 2015. ST PHOTO: KOR KIAN BENG

SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party's (WP) election manifesto is a six-chapter, 48-page document with more than 130 proposals.

Titled Empower Your Future, it was unveiled on Saturday (Aug 29) at its headquarters in Syed Alwi Road. Elaborating on it were the younger members of the party: Non-constituency MP Gerald Giam and five new candidates: Dr Daniel Goh, Ms He Ting Ru, Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, Mr Leon Perera and Mr Kenneth Foo.

The latter three have not yet been officially introduced by the WP as candidates.

The group put together the manifesto after years of research and debate within and outside the WP, said the party.

The manifesto focuses on issues like the Singaporean core, economic security, strengthening education, family and social welfare, home and city, governance as well as foreign relations.

Mr Giam said that it took a big team, including people within the party and subject matter experts outside the WP, to come up with the manifesto.

"The WP operates as a team. There are many different roles that many of us all play," he said.


Asked why the manifesto was launched by the party's new candidates, Mr Giam said: "In Singapore, it may be unusual because you always see the Prime Minister presenting everything. But our party decided that it will let the people who put the manifesto together present it and explain the policies."

Speaking on the Singaporean core, Dr Goh, who is a sociology associate professor at the National University of Singapore, said that while the WP is not anti-immigration, immigration should be dropped as a tool to plug the gap on Singapore's ageing population and fertility crisis.

"The government has misunderstood the problem of low fertility," he said. "The government's mindset on ageing society needs to change. (It) is not a disaster, but a triumph of development."

Dr Goh, 42, proposed that the women and elderly labour force be grown in order to limit the growth of foreign workforce.

On economic security, Mr Perera, 44, said that the ultimate aim is not to create a dynamic economy in itself, but to raise the qualify of life of Singaporeans.

Mr Perera, who is chief executive officer of a research and consultancy firm, called for a mandatory unemployment scheme to help Singaporeans who have lost their jobs, with payouts made for six months after an involuntary loss of employment.

The party also calls for a national minimum wage pegged to percentage of household expenditure in basic needs.

Speaking in Malay, 36-year-old Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff - a former associate library at the National Library Board - spoke about providing support to help Singaporeans raise families and achieve balance in family life.

Among the proposals he spoke about: A 10-year programme for parents who want to let their children bypass the Primary School Leaving Examination, as well as raising the MediShield cap for chronic diseases.

Mr Foo, a manager in his 30s who handles public education at the Singapore Cancer Society, spoke briefly in Mandarin before talking about creating a better city and home in English.

He said: "The price of public housing should be made more affordable, especially for lower income Singaporeans."

On the issue of public transport, the WP proposes that all public transport assets should be owned by a national transport cooperation, while services are contracted out, he said.

Corporate lawyer Ms He, 32, spoke on the WP's proposals for better governance.

She took issue with the group representation constituency (GRC) scheme, calling for it to be abolished.

She also spoke about the party's proposal for an independent election commission and electoral boundaries review committee to be set up.

The WP also calls for the replacement of the Internal Security Act by a dedicated anti-terrorism law, she added.

The party on Saturday also launched its new mobile app, making it the second political party to launch an app after the People's Action Party (PAP), which launched its app last week.

The PAP also launched its manifesto and slogan - With You, For You, For Singapore - on Saturday morning.

Responding to a question on the PAP's manifesto and slogan, Mr Giam said: "What worked in the past may not work in the future.

"The success of the government's economic model in the past 50 years may not be relevant in the future and we need a new approach to the problems we face as a nation. The PAP does not have all the answers."

WP had earlier announced that it will contest the Sept 11 election with the slogan Empower Your Future.

Party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang had said: "In 2006: You Have A Choice. In 2011: Towards A First World Parliament. We need to now think about the future and take stock of the past."

He added that voters might want to think about whether they want to "have a say in the kind of future" they want.

The WP has said it will field a record 28 candidates in five group representation constituencies (GRCs) and five single-member constituencies (SMCs).

The GRCs are Aljunied (five members), East Coast (four members), Jalan Besar (four members), Marine Parade (five members) and Nee Soon (five members), while the SMCs are Fengshan, Hougang, MacPherson, Punggol East and Sengkang West.

It has not revealed where it will field these new faces, except that the incumbents in the WP-held wards of Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East will stay on to defend their wards to repay the voters' faith in them.