PAP rallies: At lunchtime and at night

Opposition 'engaging in politics of division'

PAP rally for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC held at the field in Pasir Ris Park.
PAP rally for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC held at the field in Pasir Ris Park.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Several parties dividing society, setting one segment against the other: Teo Chee Hean

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean took aim at opposition parties yesterday, accusing them of dabbling in the politics of division.

Speaking at Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC's rally, Mr Teo said several opposition parties "have been engaging in the politics of division, the politics of envy, dividing our society into different segments, setting one against the other, accentuating differences across races and communities, even encouraging betrayal within political parties".

He did not name any opposition party, but at a lunchtime rally on Monday, Singapore Democratic Party candidate Paul Tambyah expressed hope that Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam would fall out with the Prime Minister and lead a grand coalition of opposition parties.

Mr Teo also asked voters if they wanted political parties that avoid tough decisions and make empty promises they do not have to keep. The People's Action Party (PAP), he said, had worked hard "for decades to do the opposite".

No party apart from the PAP has managed to build a consensus on tough and difficult issues, plan policies and programmes that benefit the largest number of Singaporeans and get them implemented well, he said.

Over in Nee Soon GRC, Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam called on Singaporeans to hold all candidates across party lines to the same standards. That means voting for people who are honest about policies, have financial integrity and put forward sensible and responsible policies, he said.

If different standards are applied to everyone other than the PAP, it will encourage a different breed of politicians, he said.

He criticised the Workers' Party (WP), which is contesting Nee Soon GRC, saying that while honest politicians would work hard to prove themselves worthy of forming the government and show voters their track record, the WP has done no such thing.

In Parliament, it has made no meaningful contribution to policy, said Mr Shanmugam. Instead, he said: "Whatever the PAP does, after we put forward the policy, they will stand up and say, do more."

On its town council's finances, he said many questions remain unanswered. The WP's approach seemed to be to avoid answering questions and to divert attention to something else, he added. "They believe that these are the ways in which one wins votes. Keep quiet in Parliament, roar at rallies without regard to what is the truth."

Mr Shanmugam warned voters that "if you accept this, then you will get many more people who come into politics with the same attitude".

He also highlighted the WP's flip-flop on foreign worker growth, first saying Singapore should go slow in tightening the tap, then "when they saw the popular mood", calling for zero growth, then changing their stance within a month to say more foreign workers should be allowed in certain sectors. Yesterday, Mr Gerald Giam seemed to suggest the Government should not tighten further as it was hurting businesses.

"You cannot be a responsible opposition, let alone a responsible government, if you make U-turns like this and say whatever is politically popular for the moment," Mr Shanmugam said.

He concluded by telling voters that "your vote, your support will decide what sort of politics we will have in Singapore and what kind of person steps forward to serve, whether with the PAP or the opposition".

PAP new face Ng Chee Meng questioned the WP's argument that a bigger opposition presence would serve Singapore better. The former chief of defence force cited the experience of other countries where governments were blocked from getting things done by too much opposition.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Opposition 'engaging in politics of division''. Print Edition | Subscribe