Political Links: What's buzzing online in political news (June 22)

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean joined residents in a breaking-of-fast event on June 21, 2015, at Kaki Bukit Neighbourhood Park which is in the Workers’ Party-run Aljunied GRC. - ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean joined residents in a breaking-of-fast event on June 21, 2015, at Kaki Bukit Neighbourhood Park which is in the Workers’ Party-run Aljunied GRC. - ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The ST Political Desk's round-up of what's buzzing online in political news.

Playing politics?

Workers' Party (WP) activists are questioning if the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) has been trying to win political mileage through non-partisan avenues - such as neighbourhood grassroots activities and government initiatives - thereby potentially creating an uneven political playing field. 

WP Youth Wing member Bernard Chen wondered about Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean attending a grassroots event in Kaki Bukit on Sunday, on the invitation of PAP Kaki Bukit branch chairman Kahar Hassan. This is in Aljunied GRC, which is WP territory.

Mr Chen notes: "As branch chairman Mr. Kahar Hassan was clearly performing a political role. So when Deputy Prime Minister was invited to attend iftar (the breaking of the daily Ramadan fast) with residents in Kaki Bukit yesterday, was he coming in his capacity as a Minister, grassroots advisor of the Pasir-Ris Punggol Grassroots Organisation or a PAP member?... Is this political posturing by the PAP branch chairman with the help of the PA?"

Last week, WP Youth Wing chairman Daniel Goh, who is a sociologist with the National University of Singapore, also queried why his grassroots advisor - and PAP MP - Penny Low was signing off on a SG50 funpack memo. He wondered who would be giving out the funpacks in Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East, which are controlled by WP MPs.

A blog titled Singapore General Elections 2016 has attempted to cast some light on the role of the grassroots organisations and their advisors, which are supposed to be non-partisan. Among other things, it suggests that such advisors are people who the PAP Government knows will help to communicate and implement the Government's policies. And because opposition MPs are elected on the basis of them disagreeing with these policies, it would be "inconsistent" for them to be appointed as grassroots advisors.

Meanwhile, there have been voices on the ground decrying the announcement last week that civil servants will each get a one-off $500 payment on July 1 to mark SG50. Some say this is tantamount to vote-buying, while others insist that the goodies should be shared with all Singaporeans and not just a select bunch.

Sites like The Middle Ground are attempting to, well, toe the middle line, saying: "Civil servants are themselves employees, who pay taxes too. So if their employer, the (Government), decides to give them a bonus, it is merely acting like any employer who has been exhorted to give an SG bonus and thinks that it has deep enough pockets to do so."

More opposition talk

In more WP news, the party sold the latest issue of their party organ The Hammer over the weekend in in East Coast GRC, which is widely seen to be one of the WP's target battlegrounds in the next General Election. For the benefit of those who did not manage to snag a copy, two WP members have shared online their contributions about shaping Singapore's political future.

Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Yee Jenn Jong compares politics to anti-monopoly laws that protect consumers' interest. Saying that politics will benefit from healthy competition, he urges more people to come forward to serve.

In a separate piece, Mr Bernard Chen says politics should be underpinned by magnanimity, which is among other things "about respecting each Singaporean regardless of their political stripes".

Celebrations

On Father's Day on Sunday, Facebook was awash with celebratory posts. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is back in Singapore from his vacation in Japan, says: "Fathers are there when we need them. So it is only right that we are there when they need us. Treasure your father when he is still with you, even if some days are more challenging than others."

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin also penned a heartfelt dedication to his father, reminiscing about learning from him how to make kacang puteh paper cones.

The Singapore Democratic Party's Dr Chee Soon Juan, too, had a Father's Day message - but of a different sort. He detailed how he was in prison when his wife gave birth to his firstborn, which was "the most excruciating time of my life". Not having been told by the wardens that his wife had given birth, he had thought something had gone wrong.