OPPOSITION PARTY RALLIES/ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

SDP leaders promise 'a society of change'

SDP chief Chee Soon Juan and his wife Huang Chih-mei waving to the crowd after the party’s rally in Clementi Avenue 6. Dr Chee urged voters to send him to Parliament to “make the ministers work harder for you”.
SDP chief Chee Soon Juan and his wife Huang Chih-mei waving to the crowd after the party’s rally in Clementi Avenue 6. Dr Chee urged voters to send him to Parliament to “make the ministers work harder for you”. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Party leaders pledge more balanced debates in Parliament if elected

In their final rally last night, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) leaders once more framed national priorities as moral choices, promising voters "a society of change" through more balanced parliamentary debates should they get a foot in the door at this general election.

Medical professor Paul Tambyah delivered a point-by-point rebuttal of claims the People's Action Party (PAP) had made in discrediting the SDP's policy proposals, which the PAP had communicated via fliers to residents in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. The fliers said SDP's push for universal health insurance would erode personal responsibility.

"The reality is, no matter how hard you try to stay healthy, your genes and your environment are beyond your control. So we feel it's not morally right to punish people for being sick," said Prof Tambyah.

The fliers also warned that the national minimum wage proposed by SDP would mean that maids would have to be paid more, too.

"The people who do the most important things for us should be paid a decent salary," he said.

On keeping public housing affordable, he defended SDP's non-open market scheme, charging that upgraders should not "profiteer" from their homes at the expense of younger home owners.

On the Central Provident Fund, he defended abolishing the Minimum Sum rule, since Singaporeans "should be treated like adults".

The fliers - distributed by PAP's Holland-Bukit Timah team led by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan - also described SDP as "ignorant of local needs and concerns", while crediting the PAP incumbents for the construction of the MRT Downtown Line.

"The MRT is not owned by the PAP," said Prof Tambyah, part of a four-man team led by SDP chief Chee Soon Juan contesting in the GRC. "The taps will still run, the traffic lights will still work, the lifts will still go up and down, and the trains will still break down regardless of who is the (Member of Parliament)!"

He added: "Our Singapore civil service is professional, competent and non-partisan. To suggest otherwise is to insult them."

Dr Chee was the last of 10 candidates to take the stage in Clementi last night. As he had every night for the last seven nights, he roused the crowd with his promise to "speak truth to power", reiterating his commitment to fight for democracy despite what he called persecution from the PAP.

"Send me to Parliament to work for you and, more importantly, make the ministers work harder for you!"

• Additional reporting by Calvin Yang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2015, with the headline 'SDP leaders promise 'a society of change''. Print Edition | Subscribe