PAP rallies

SDP not interested in serving, does not walk the walk: Liang Eng Hwa

PAP's Holland-Bukit Timah GRC candidate Liang Eng Hwa speaking at a rally on Sept 7.
PAP's Holland-Bukit Timah GRC candidate Liang Eng Hwa speaking at a rally on Sept 7.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) is not interested in local issues and serving residents, its People's Action Party (PAP) opponents in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC charged last night.

"They are only interested to get into Parliament for the glamour, for them to make some noise there, for them to give flowery speeches," PAP candidate Liang Eng Hwa said at his party's rally near Commonwealth MRT station.

Members of Parliament serve dual roles of tackling national issues and taking care of residents' day-to-day lives, said Mr Liang, and parties that are unable or unwilling to do both should step aside.

"Clearly, from the campaign so far, our opponents have shown that they have no interest at all to look at local matters," he said of the SDP.

Mr Liang also reminded the crowd of the SDP's proposal to the Workers' Party (WP) during the 2013 Punggol East by-election: that if the SDP wins, its candidate will enter Parliament, and the WP can run the town council.

"Do you want a team of candidates who just want to give speeches in Parliament and not bother about local issues?" he asked. "Or do you want a team of MPs who are passionate and capable of doing both?"

Fellow PAP candidate Sim Ann noted that the SDP team had not made proposals for local improvements in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. "They don't have the slightest interest in our everyday lives."

Mr Christopher de Souza, another PAP candidate, did not call out the SDP explicitly, but spoke on the importance of forging relationships with residents.

He told the story of one young resident with a troubled life, whom the PAP "partnered" on his journey, with financial help and advice. The young man went on to do well, getting a place in a top engineering course in a university in Europe. Mr de Souza helped him to look up scholarships and was his referee. "Politics is about lives, not talk," he said.

Mr Liang also clarified his earlier objection to the SDP's proposal of a minimum wage for foreigners. SDP candidate Paul Tambyah had said on Sunday that the objection bordered on xenophobia.

Mr Liang said paying above the market wage to all foreigners will push up business costs, hurting Singaporeans when the costs are passed on. He noted that foreign workers still want to work here as they find the pay and conditions attractive. "I have no issue if employers wish to pay their foreign workers higher pay. I'm happy for that.

"But it has to be based on skills, based on the value that the worker can provide, and the ability of employers to pay those higher salaries, not because Professor Paul Tambyah said 'You must pay this salary'."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline 'SDP not interested in serving, does not walk the walk: Liang Eng Hwa'. Print Edition | Subscribe