Opposition politicians lament politicisation of grassroots, lack of progress since polls

Workers' Party Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC Pritam Singh has spoken out against the "politicisation" of grassroots organisations and said that should change as Singapore moves forward. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Workers' Party Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC Pritam Singh has spoken out against the "politicisation" of grassroots organisations and said that should change as Singapore moves forward. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Workers' Party Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC Pritam Singh has spoken out against the "politicisation" of grassroots organisations and said that should change as Singapore moves forward.

He said that these organisations, which come under the People's Association, operate as quasi local governments.

He alleged that two recent high-profile disputes between the WP and government agencies over hawker centre cleaning and trade fairs, came about because of complaints from members of the Citizen's Consultative Committee (CCC) who are also members of the People's Action Party.

He held this up as an example of how CCCs sometimes serve the needs of political leaders and the government of the day more than they do citizens' needs, he said at a political forum on Wednesday.

The conference, organised by the National University of Singapore Student's Political Association, saw four politicians from four political parties - PAP, WP, Singapore Democratic Party and National Solidarity Party - speak about changes since the 2011 General Election, and the way forward for the country.

On how things have changed, PAP MP Baey Yam Keng said recent developments, such as the move to increase the supply of flats and reform the education system, show that the Government has become more responsive.

Another illustration of how things have changed is how Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam and Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin are taking up causes not in their own portfolios. Mr Shanmugam is advocating for animal rights, and for Mr Tan is working with non-governmental organisations.

Mr Baey said the "unusual" move by the two ministers shows that the "style" of leadership today is different from before.

Ms Chee Siok Chin from the SDP and Mr Syafarin Sarif from the NSP, though, did not feel that things have changed after the 2011 election.

Citing a "surging population" and "draconian curbs on civil liberties", Ms Chee said there has been not enough progress since then.

Mr Syafarin agreed, saying that Singaporeans were mostly unhappy and that shows things have stayed the same.