SINGAPORE - Jobs and businesses were the hot topics for East Coast GRC on Saturday night (July 4), as both parties contesting the five-member constituency made their pitch to voters through televised broadcasts.
"We understand your anxiety about your jobs, and your families," said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who helms the People's Action Party (PAP) team. If elected, his team will work to keep Singaporeans in jobs, connect businesses with global opportunities, and meet needs on the ground, he said.
At the constituency level, this includes programmes to match mid-career workers with meaningful jobs and helping young people get a good start to their careers despite the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"While the PAP is committed to create more job opportunities, traineeships and learning courses, there is no one size that fits all," said one-term Fengshan MP Cheryl Chan, whose single seat has been absorbed into East Coast GRC. "I think we all need to have that resilient, adaptive mindset and to continue developing each of our own."
At present, MPs also work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the community, encouraging them to make use of available schemes to transform themselves and upskill their workers, added Ms Jessica Tan, who oversees the Changi Simei ward.
The Workers' Party team, led by lawyer Terence Tan, called for "bold structural and fiscal reforms" to make local businesses and households financially self-reliant and the economy buoyant.
He called on the Government to reduce rentals for SMEs, consider employment allowances to encourage employers to keep on workers, and pay out cash grants to Singaporeans who have lost their jobs.
Elaborating on his team member's point, Mr Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim spoke about the WP's redundancy insurance proposal, as well as its call for anti-discrimination laws to protect job seekers, as the job market becomes more competitive.
The team in blue was rounded up by Ms Nicole Seah, Mr Dylan Ng, and Mr Kenneth Foo, all of whom have contested elections in previous years.
In their Mandarin speeches, Mr Foo made three proposals to help seniors cope with the rising cost of living, while Mr Ng addressed voters' concerns over his team's ability to manage the town council, should they win.
Whether the WP manages the town council directly or outsources this duty to a managing agent depends on whether such an agent is willing to put politics aside, and focus on serving residents, Mr Ng said.
PAP new face Tan Kiat How also touched on the topic of seniors in his speech. This group wishes to stay healthy and is worried about healthcare costs, with many anxious about keeping up with technology, he said. He pledged to enhance existing programmes to help seniors age well, and to pick up digital skills.
The PAP team also highlighted infrastructure developments in the GRC, such as the upcoming Thomson-East Coast line and residential developments in Bayshore.
"I entered politics because I firmly believe that we have a system that works - one that promises to give and deliver the best to every generation of Singaporeans," added Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman.
WP's Ms Seah said East Coast voters have recognised that the party is a "sensible and reasonable opposition". "We know that many of you will be facing a very difficult choice in the coming days," she said. "We also hope that you would not want to see a super majority in Parliament that goes unchecked. That is simply not the consequence we want for Singapore."
Mr Terence Tan added that his party has fielded 21 candidates this year, all of whom are committed to "ensuring that Singapore rises, like a phoenix, from Covid's ashes".
"The Government does not have a monopoly of ideas," he said. "A constructive and increased opposition presence in Parliament is all the more vital in these troubling times."