WORKERS' PARTY RALLY

WP candidates shifting focus to policies

At Yishun Stadium yesterday were WP candidates (from left) Daniel Goh and Leon Perera (both East Coast GRC); Yee Jenn Jong and Terence Tan (both Marine Parade GRC); and Gerald Giam (East Coast GRC).
At Yishun Stadium yesterday were WP candidates (from left) Daniel Goh and Leon Perera (both East Coast GRC).ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA
At Yishun Stadium yesterday were WP candidates (from left) Daniel Goh and Leon Perera (both East Coast GRC); Yee Jenn Jong and Terence Tan (both Marine Parade GRC); and Gerald Giam (East Coast GRC).
Yee Jenn Jong and Terence Tan (both Marine Parade GRC); and Gerald Giam (East Coast GRC).

After two rallies where political rhetoric took centre stage, at least four Workers' Party (WP) candidates yesterday shifted their focus to the policy proposals in the party's manifesto.

During their speeches in Yishun Stadium, sociology professor Daniel Goh, consultancy firm chief executive Leon Perera, and Non-Constituency MPs Gerald Giam and Yee Jenn Jong touched on issues such as immigration, national minimum wage, public transport, education, and support for the elderly.

Mr Yee is leading the five-man WP team in Marine Parade GRC, while the others are contesting in East Coast GRC.

Opening the rally last night, Dr Goh brought up the 2013 Population White Paper titled A Sustainable Population For A Dynamic Singapore and said that the WP thought a better goal would be a "dynamic population for a sustainable Singapore".

This, he said, can be achieved by encouraging higher labour force participation by older workers and women: "Think in terms of dynamic Singaporeans, empowered to compete internationally, confident to become productive workers," he said, adding that foreign manpower growth should be limited and kept constant.

Mr Perera, in turn, said that the Central Provident Fund Life monthly payouts were not enough to allow many senior citizens to retire comfortably. The Government's solution is to unlock the wealth in your home, he said, but this meant selling your home and incurring costs when moving to a new house.

"The People's Action Party is not an incompetent Government but, sometimes, it gets things wrong," he said. "It is easier to get things wrong when the Government is protected from the will of the people by a crushing dominant Parliament super-majority."

In his speech, Mr Giam repeated the party's call for a national minimum wage of about $1,000.

Citing studies which showed that minimum wages set at "modest levels" do not lead to job loss, he said that a wage floor of $1,000 - 27 per cent of the median income - would likely fall within that range.

On transport, Mr Giam said that the MRT breakdowns were likely caused by the Government not replacing the ageing parts of the system, such as sleepers and the third rail, quickly enough. Sleepers had a lifespan of 15 to 25 years, he said, but the replacement works started only in 2012, more than 25 years after operations started. This was after two major breakdowns in 2011.

"SMRT and the Government, which owns the rail assets, did not plan for renewal and replacement... Is this what we call forward-thinking and anticipating problems before they occur?" he added.

As for Mr Yee, his speech focused on the party's proposed reform to the education system. He proposed setting up eight pilot schools across Singapore with a through-train system, where students would bypass the PSLE.

"When parents see that it is possible for their children to go through such schools and still do well in life, we can start to make structural changes to our education system... with the important aim of looking at how to make our children into winners," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2015, with the headline 'WP candidates shifting focus to policies'. Print Edition | Subscribe