FINAL PUSH: WORKERS' PARTY

Winning East Coast will help check Govt, says WP

The crowd at the Workers' Party rally for East Coast GRC at Bedok Stadium last night. Party chief Low Thia Khiang appealed to voters, saying the WP needs quality and quantity to effectively engage the PAP in Parliament as it does not have government
The crowd at the Workers' Party rally for East Coast GRC at Bedok Stadium last night. Party chief Low Thia Khiang appealed to voters, saying the WP needs quality and quantity to effectively engage the PAP in Parliament as it does not have government resources at its disposal.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Candidates will strengthen party's ability to debate policies if elected: Low Thia Khiang

The Workers' Party (WP) ended its election campaign with a final rally in East Coast GRC, with party chief Low Thia Khiang identifying a victory in the constituency as crucial to its ability to better scrutinise government policies for the benefit of the people.

Separately, Hougang single-seat ward candidate Png Eng Huat said a fundamental revision of Singapore's political landscape was needed, and could be realised only by supporting the WP and achieving a "big change" at the Sept 11 polls, or "nothing else will change at all".

"If you give the WP a strong mandate, it will send a signal that any party that wants to govern Singapore must respect the wishes of the people and walk the talk to build an inclusive society regardless of race, language or religion, and political affiliation," he said.

Introducing the four East Coast candidates on stage at a packed Bedok stadium last night, Mr Low said the slate possessed varied knowledge and professional experience.

"I believe they have what it takes to examine policies and debate them in Parliament. If they are elected, they will strengthen the WP's ability to debate policies," he said.

The WP's East Coast GRC team is led by Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam, 37, an IT solutions architect. The others are consultancy firm chief executive Leon Perera, 44; National University of Singapore sociology associate professor Daniel Goh, 42; and former librarian Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, 36.

The WP needs quality and quantity to effectively engage the People's Action Party (PAP) as it does not have government resources at its disposal, said Mr Low.

"Participating in parliamentary debates is a very stressful affair. We face PAP MPs and ministers. Behind these ministers are entire government agencies with the machinery to help them do research and supply them with rebuttal points."

Despite its seven elected MPs and two Non-Constituency MPs, the WP had to "face off with 80 PAP MPs and ministers". As such, it needs "a certain number of representatives in Parliament to speak with a resounding voice".

Political competition during elections will also spur the PAP to "seriously solve the problems the people face", he added.

"But for the WP to play such a role in Parliament, we will need your votes. This will lead to a more balanced Parliament and make it a more effective platform for political debates," Mr Low said.

The benefits of a Parliament with an entrenched and sizeable opposition has been a main theme of the party's election campaign. Its slogan, Empower Your Future, argues that Singaporeans can have a bigger say in the country's direction if the ruling party is not overly dominant.

Mr Giam last night urged voters to build on the party's Aljunied victory - the first win in a GRC by the opposition - at the 2011 polls.

"East Coast and Fengshan are at the frontline of this battle. We are at the tipping point of political progress in Singapore. Your vote will determine whether the opposition can make inroads beyond Hougang, Aljunied and Punggol East," he said.

The WP is fielding 28 candidates - including 16 rookies - in five GRCs and five SMCs, its biggest slate since 1988. Shipping law firm partner Dennis Tan, 45, is contesting the Fengshan single seat.

Mr Giam added the election results "are expected to be very close" and asked supporters to persuade their loved ones to vote for the WP.

"Share with them why it is important to ensure that there are enough credible, responsible opposition MPs in Parliament to check the power of the PAP. Share with them why this election is our best chance to end the one-party state dominance of the PAP," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2015, with the headline 'Winning East Coast will help check Govt, says WP'. Print Edition | Subscribe