With a worst-ever recession looming for Singapore owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, bread-and-butter issues such as jobs, housing, immigration, the goods and services tax (GST), and the Central Provident Fund (CPF) were the focus of the seven parties in the first party political broadcast for the July 10 General Election yesterday.
In his 13-minute speech, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, 59, called for voters to give the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) a clear mandate "to lead Singapore through the storms ahead".
He said: "Our urgent priority over the next few years is to protect lives and save jobs. Through four Budgets, we have injected almost $100 billion into this effort."
Aside from highlighting the struggles faced by Singaporeans, the six opposition parties also called on voters to give them the mandate to provide checks and balances in how the country is governed, with Progress Singapore Party secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock, 80, pointing out that a situation where the PAP "ownself check ownself" is not enough.
The former Ayer Rajah MP noted that "for the past 20 years, the PAP has had a strong monopoly. However, prosperity has not flowed to all Singaporeans". He pointed to unemployment among professionals, managers, executives and technicians - said by the Ministry of Manpower to be 39,000 as of June last year - and their jobs being displaced by foreigners.
National Solidarity Party secretary-general Spencer Ng and Peoples Voice's Mr Michael Fang Amin also raised the issue of foreign labour, with Mr Ng saying foreigners competing for jobs had "depressed our wages".
"We want a country which considers all Singaporeans first. We want a government that ensures our people have the priority for quality jobs," said Mr Ng, 40.
Peoples Voice is calling for all S Passes to be frozen and employment passes to be reduced significantly, said Mr Fang, 43, so that Singaporeans can have the best-paying jobs. "A government is like a father to its citizens. And a father who provides for alien children while allowing the breakfast, lunch and dinner of his own children to be stolen is a bad father."
Mr Heng said the PAP has delivered what it promised during the 2015 election, adding: "We have begun transforming our economy to create good, fulfilling jobs for our people. We are also providing wage subsidies to help businesses keep Singaporeans in their jobs. And we are creating many new jobs - in both the public and private sectors - for fresh graduates as well as those who are seeking employment."
But Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan, 57, said the PAP has not kept its 2015 election promise to "lessen the burden of our cost of living". He said that water prices, town council fees, healthcare costs, among others, have gone up, with the GST set to follow. He also pointed to the declining value of HDB flats. "The future for Singaporeans, young and old, is looking increasingly bleak. Trust the PAP? Trust doesn't come from what you say, it comes from what you do."
Reform Party's Mr Charles Yeo, 30, said it wants "substantial government spending" to deal with the Covid-19 crisis. "We want vastly improved social safety nets, universal healthcare, cash payments to families, a seniors' pension and a minimum wage."
Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh, 43, said his party will provide "a contrast of voices" and question the PAP when needed. "By discussing governance, we help you to keep the Government accountable. By raising bread-and-butter issues, we remind the Government of the things that it may forget or ignore."
Closing out the broadcast, Mr Heng said: "To work together effectively, we must all pull in the same direction. A strong and capable government will help us achieve this, even more so during a crisis."
The next party political broadcast will be next Thursday, which is Cooling-Off Day.
From today until next Wednesday, Singaporeans will be able to watch candidates speak in constituency political broadcasts on Mediacorp's Channel 5 from 7pm.
People's Action Party: Protecting lives, saving jobs a top priority amid turbulence
My fellow Singaporeans, good evening.
Next week, we will head to the polls. This election will be like no other. Our lives, our jobs and the future of Singapore are at stake. The PAP is seeking a clear mandate to lead Singapore through the storms ahead.
Five years ago, under very different circumstances, you gave the PAP your mandate to take Singapore beyond SG50. We delivered what we promised.
Progress Singapore Party: Say 'no more blank cheques' to the ruling party, says Dr Tan Cheng Bock
Dear Singaporeans, I am Dr Tan Cheng Bock. I was an MP for Ayer Rajah for 26 years before I stepped down in 2006. This year, I lead my party, the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), to contest this general election. I am here to appeal for your votes. I am 80 years old. Yet, why am I contesting in this election? Because the People's Action Party (PAP) is not the same as before. It has lost its way.
And I love this country, like many of you. While I am still able, I want to do something about it. So, I have chosen to run again and pass on my knowledge to my younger colleagues.
Firstly, I want to assure you that the PSP will know how to look after your constituency. PSP has people who have run town councils before, including myself. I was previously the chairman of the Jurong East Town Council and South West CDC. We know how to take care of you.
Singapore Democratic Party: Say yes to income for elderly and putting the people first
Good evening, my fellow Singaporeans. In the last election, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong asked voters to trust the People's Action Party (PAP) and promised that the Government will work to lessen the burden of our cost of living.
He has not kept his promise. He has increased our cost of living by raising water prices, town council fees, healthcare costs, electricity rates, bus fares, school fees - you name it.
Soon, he will raise the goods and services tax. He has brought in even more foreign workers to compete with us for our jobs. The future for Singaporeans, young and old, is looking increasingly bleak.
Peoples Voice: Fairer, prosperous society for all, not just privileged few
My fellow Singaporeans, this general election is the most crucial in our nation's history since 1959 when the PAP (People's Action Party) came to power.
It presents the clearest choice our people have had in 61 years, between a vision of a future where the rich become richer, and that of the middle class and those who aspire to the middle class who are squeezed and being left behind.
Singapore today is an example of a society where inequality abounds. The Prime Minister earns $2.2 million a year while a cleaner may earn only slightly in excess of $14,000.
Reform Party: Seeking to build a 'better and fairer' nation
My fellow Singaporeans
I hope this broadcast finds you safe and well, coming as it does in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are facing the worst economic crisis since independence. Many of you have lost your jobs or businesses already and there will be more job losses to come. The Government has dropped the ball on this one but we can recover.
Reform Party is fighting this election under the slogan "Build Back Better, Fairer" .
Workers' Party: Vote for contrast of voices, and to safeguard Singapore
Good evening, fellow Singaporeans. As a responsible voter, you want your vote to count. How can you achieve that? The PAP will form the next government. That is a certainty. Even in 2011, when Singaporeans were openly unhappy, the PAP won 81 out of 87 seats, even though it won only 60 per cent of the vote.
If you live where the Workers' Party is contesting, the PAP does not need your vote to form the government. But we need your votes. Amid Covid-19 fear, the PAP could end up with 100 per cent of the elected seats in Parliament. And despite what the PAP may say, it does not need all elected seats to have the mandate to govern.
Your vote for the Workers' Party will count in three ways: First, we will raise issues that PAP MPs cannot or will not raise. Since 2015, we have brought up topics in Parliament such as the GST test balloon, the Keppel Offshore and Marine scandal and the constitutional amendment on the reserved presidential election, amongst many others. Not a single PAP MP filed a parliamentary question on the corruption disclosures at Keppel Offshore and Marine. Only Workers' Party MPs did. As for the GST, we pressed the Government to reveal its expenditure and revenue projections before making Singaporeans pay more. We have highlighted issues on the governance of Singapore and the financial burdens on Singaporeans. By discussing governance, we help you to keep the Government accountable. By raising bread-and-butter issues, we remind the Government of the things that it may forget or ignore.
National Solidarity Party: Every S'porean should have a stake in the government
Good evening, fellow Singaporeans. Let me start by commending all Singaporeans for your resilience during these challenging times.
Our country can move forward because of the spirit you possess. It is a spirit uniquely Singaporean. It is this resilient spirit which has always lifted our country through thick and thin.
Recently, we have seen how Covid-19 has tested us socially, economically and perhaps now, politically. This general election is upon us now. And it is our responsibility to choose a government which has the ability to find solutions for the challenges we are facing and at the same time is accountable to Singaporeans.