Singapore GE2020: PAP's West Coast team to focus on creating jobs, providing stronger support for families

Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran stopping at a resident's home while on house visits in Clementi West on July 8, 2020. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Creating jobs, shoring up support for families and providing employment assistance will be a key focus for the PAP team in West Coast GRC, the candidates said on Wednesday (July 8).

Speaking in a constituency political broadcast on Wednesday, Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said Covid-19 poses "the gravest challenge in our history" - severely disrupting jobs and profoundly affecting lives.

Many Singaporeans, he added, are worried about lives and livelihoods.

Mr Iswaran, who serves on the National Jobs Council and is the team's anchor minister, said one aim is to create 100,000 jobs and training opportunities for mid-career workers and fresh graduates.

The national SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package will be complemented by the Jobs @ West Coast local initiative to bring job opportunities and career advice to residents at "every community centre from Telok Blangah to Nanyang", he said.

The five-member PAP team also has plans to help seniors, small-business owners, lower-income and vulnerable Singaporeans affected by the Covid-19 crisis, as well as those concerned about medical costs.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said many middle-income households, too, now face financial uncertainty. "Incomes have fallen, and jobs are on the brink. That is why we've established the Covid-19 Support Grant, to offer some financial assistance to help you manage basic needs," he said.

ComfortDelGro Taxi chief executive Ang Wei Neng said residents had given feedback that they were worried about medical costs. He cited efforts such as an upcoming eldercare hub at West Coast Link and an ongoing medical escort service for lower-income Nanyang residents to help residents.

New face Rachel Ong and Ms Foo Mee Har complete the People's Action Party slate.

Ms Ong, who replaces retiring former minister Lim Hng Kiang, said she hopes to help build strong families by making sure every child has a good start in life, with sufficient pre-school places and making childcare affordable.

The team, she said, also plans to develop a series of workshops and events on topics like character and values development, and robotics to prepare children for the future.

Said Ms Ong: "When our families across West Coast GRC are strong, we can face the future together with courage and hope."

Meanwhile, the opposition Progress Singapore Party (PSP) called for fresh solutions and the rebuilding of community spirit in West Coast in its broadcast on Wednesday.

PSP secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock said: "We need to think out of the box, not more of the same top-down approach practised by the PAP. Where the Government tells you what to do and expects you to follow without questioning. Instead, we can rekindle the West Coast spirit - where solutions come from the ground up."

In his speech, Dr Tan - a retired general practitioner - cited initiatives like the barrier-free community centre he helped push through when he was the PAP MP for Ayer Rajah before retiring in 2006. He also touted his experience as a past chairman of the Jurong East Town Council and South West Community Development Council.

Dr Tan said his PSP team has people who have fresh ideas for West Coast.

For instance, Ms Hazel Poa, a government scholar from Cambridge University and former Administrative Service officer, is a founder of a student education business, while Mr Jeffrey Khoo is chief marketing officer of a global insurance company.

With the acceleration of telecommuting trends, Mr Khoo suggested that void deck areas could be transformed into co-working spaces with telecommunication facilities to support those working from home, which he called "working corners for adults".

Urging voters to vote without fear, PSP assistant secretary-general Leong Mun Wai said that people should worry more about the opposition being wiped out instead of the PAP being voted out of power.

Mr Leong, who is the founder of a venture capital firm, said: "If that happens, there will be no one in Parliament who will fight for you on issues about your lives such as jobs, the high cost of living, and the use of our national reserves."

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