PAP rallies

SDP's policies will make S$ plunge: Liang Eng Hwa

The "crazy economic ideas" of the Singapore Democratic Party will make the Singdollar plummet and scare off investors, People's Action Party candidate Liang Eng Hwa said last night.
The "crazy economic ideas" of the Singapore Democratic Party will make the Singdollar plummet and scare off investors, People's Action Party candidate Liang Eng Hwa said last night. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The "crazy economic ideas" of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) will make the Singdollar plummet and scare off investors, People's Action Party (PAP) candidate Liang Eng Hwa said last night.

At their Petir Road rally, the PAP candidates for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC rubbished their SDP opponents' policy proposals.

Mr Liang, a DBS Bank managing director, noted that a strong Singdollar is important to keep imported goods and overseas travel affordable to Singaporeans. Today, the exchange rate is three Malaysian ringgit to the Singdollar. "The crazy economic ideas of the SDP... will reverse all this," he warned.

Mr Liang did not specify which SDP ideas he was taking issue with but the opposition party has called for the size of Singapore's reserves to be made known, the exclusion of land costs from HDB flat prices and higher healthcare subsidies.

In his experience with financial markets, he has seen currencies being devalued in weeks or days, Mr Liang said. "The value can just disappear overnight."

VALUES SINGAPOREANS SHARE

The values that I have, I believe, are the values that all of you have. The story of Singapore is the story of each of your families... Now, as we make decisions for the future... I ask you for your support. Please support people you know, people you trust...

DR VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN

Political stability means a lot to international investors, he added.

Turning to SDP's calls for a minimum wage, Mr Liang noted that in some countries, firms refuse to pay more than required.

"Minimum wage becomes maximum wage - is that what we want?"

Instead, Singapore's progressive wage system - where income rises as workers upgrade their skills - is better, he said.

He also took aim at SDP's proposal of minimum wages for foreigners. "On the one hand, they have been scolding us to say that the Government has let in an influx of foreign workers. On the other hand, they want a policy where we pay foreign workers a minimum wage. Do they know the implications of this?"

If firms cannot absorb the costs, they will pass them on to consumers, pushing up the cost of living, he said. "So let's be careful about all these fashionable ideas they come up with. Does it work for us?"

Instead, he noted facilities in the GRC that lower the cost of living, such as hawker centres and polyclinics. "I think that's a practical way of keeping cost of living down, rather than to come up with fanciful ideas that do not work."

Minister of State (Education, Communications and Information) Sim Ann also slammed the SDP's "shortsighted policies", such as its proposal to raise personal income tax and corporate taxes.

High-earners and multinational companies can easily move out of Singapore, but low- and middle-income earners and small and medium-sized enterprises cannot, she said.

Her fellow candidate Christopher de Souza, describing himself as from "a military family", attacked the SDP's plan to slash the defence budget.

"SDP's proposal to almost halve the defence budget will ambush Singapore's sovereignty," he said.

Calling the idea naive, dangerous and opportunistic, Mr de Souza said: "Our peace and sovereignty exist because we have a potent SAF (Singapore Armed Forces).

"Don't make the mistake of saying otherwise from a political soapbox. Don't jeopardise Singapore's sovereignty!" he shouted, to cheers and applause from the crowd.

Even Bukit Panjang SMC candidate Teo Ho Pin, who spoke mostly on municipal matters, took issue with his SDP opponent's views.

"I do not agree with SDP candidate Khung Wai Yeen when he downplays the importance of running the town council," he said.

"In fact, the running of the town council can make a big difference to the quality of life of our residents."

The only candidate who did not take on the SDP was Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, anchor minister of the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC slate.

Instead, he ended the rally on a personal note, sharing his family's history of deprivation and the values it instilled: hard work and leaving a legacy to future generations.

"The values that I have, I believe, are the values that all of you have. The story of Singapore is the story of each of your families," he told the crowd.

"Now, as we make decisions for the future... I ask you for your support. Please support people you know, people you trust, people who take action, people who will lead us into the future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 06, 2015, with the headline 'SDP's policies will make S$ plunge: Liang Eng Hwa'. Print Edition | Subscribe