GE2015: Pioneer Generation Package has not solved problems of elderly, says WP's Low Thia Khiang

Mr Low Thia Khiang (centre) on a walkabout in Aljunied with MacPherson candidate Bernard Chen.
Mr Low Thia Khiang (centre) on a walkabout in Aljunied with MacPherson candidate Bernard Chen.ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN

SINGAPORE - The Pioneer Generation Package rolled out by the Government has not entirely solved the needs of the pioneer generation, said chief of the opposition Workers' Party (WP) Low Thia Khiang on Saturday (Sept 5) morning.

Speaking to reporters at a walkabout in MacPherson SMC, where his party is fielding new face Bernard Chen, Mr Low said: "Generally speaking, the Pioneer Generation Package has not completely solved the problems of the pioneer generation, in terms of medical needs and all that. I think we need to look at how to strengthen it."

Mr Chen is up against the National Solidarity Party's Cheo Chai Chen and the People's Action Party's (PAP) Tin Pei Ling in the single-seat MacPherson ward.

Mr Low added that those who do not fall within the age brackets of the pioneer generation may also need healthcare aid, and that his party would like to do a study on this group after the polls.

"The next issue that we would need to face is (that there are) people who are younger, and not part of the pioneer generation... They also face issues... and we would want to make a study of that after the election," he said.

The Pioneer Generation Package - meant for Singaporean citizens who obtained citizenship on or before Dec 31, 1986, and are aged 65 and above in 2014 - aims to help seniors with healthcare costs, and dangles perks such as an additional 50 per cent discount off subsidised services at polyclinics and specialist outpatient clinics.

During the walkabout, Mr Low also elaborated on the comments he made on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) at Friday's rally. He said then that if the PAP gets a clear mandate at this election, its mind could change anytime and so could policies, and that there could be a GST increase after the polls.

During the rally, Mr Low claimed that the ruling party had said during the 2006 General Election that it was not considering a GST hike. However, the GST rose to its current rate of 7 per cent in July 2007. He quoted then Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who had said that the PAP would introduce unpopular policies after elections as this was politics.

When asked to elaborate on these comments, Mr Low said on Saturday: "I'm suggesting that we have to make sure that there is enough representation in Parliament, so that after the election, (the PAP) has to think twice if they want to do anything, including a GST hike.

"From their past records, it shows that the PAP is always capable of doing something and revising policy that will affect the lives of people after a general election... So that's why I'm cautioning Singaporeans to be careful when voting on Sept 11, to make sure that the Parliament that is newly constituted will have a number of opposition members to balance (the PAP)," he said.

Mr Low also responded to comments made by Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, who had said that the WP-run Hougang Town Council had a deficit of $91,000 before it merged with the Aljunied Town Council in 2011. He said: "Well, the facts speak for themselves. What he said, was it referring to the report or something else? I'll leave it to the people to judge."

"It's unproductive to go round in circles when talking about the town council issue. We have presented the facts and it's up to them to answer the questions squarely, rather than say I throw out smokescreens," Mr Low said.

"Who is throwing out smokescreens? Who is smoking Singaporeans in this election? Let the people judge."