SINGAPORE - The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) on Monday (June 29) unveiled its manifesto, with “You Deserve Better” as its campaign slogan for the election.
In the manifesto’s opening note, secretary-general Tan Cheng Bock said that the cost of living was the top issue in Singapore, while highlighting the economic crisis that the Covid-19 pandemic has sparked.
He criticised the government’s response to the economic crisis, saying it has so far been a “patchwork of policy tweaks without addressing the fundamental factors affecting Singaporeans”.
“Rehashing past policies is definitely not the way to go. We need to have a paradigm shift and look for workable alternative solutions going foward,” he wrote.
The PSP set out its policies over six pages in its 13-page manifesto, dividing the proposals into the three broad segments: economic development, social development and political development.
PSP vice-chairman Hazil Poa presented the manifesto during a virtual press conference on Monday.
On economic development, the party said that the “economy must serve Singaporeans and not the other way around”.
Ms Poa, who will be on the PSP’s West Coast GRC team, said that the influx of foreign workers had led a lower wages here. “If the strategy is economic growth by increasing labour input, then you get that trade-off,” she said.
She added that the influx of foreign workers has also led to social integration issues and congestion in public transport and public spaces and resulted in a higher demand for goods and services.
To address the issue of reliance on foreign labour, the party proposes lowering the quota for work passes and reviewing free trade agreements that touch on labour exchanges like the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (Ceca).
On the social front, PSP said it aims to create a stronger social safety net to help Singaporeans through the crisis, such as by improving financial assistance for the unemployed and freezing tax and fee increases for the next five years, as well as exempting basic necessities from goods and services tax.
It also wanted to increase the amoung of money Singaporeans can withdraw from their CPF at age 55, peg new flat prices to income levels and have en-bloc redevelopment for all old flats.
In the political domain, the party proposed, among other things, cut ministerial salaries, and review the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, Singapore’s anti-fake news law which was passed in May last year.
During the press conference, PSP’s assistant secretary-general Leong Mun Wai said the party’s proposals can be funded by cuts in public spending and increasing the Net Investment Returns Contribution (NIRC) from the reserves, though he did not provide any numbers.
“Of course, we are not going to spend the money if there’s no necessity.
“But we all right now know that there are serious problems in Singapore with regards to social inequality and all that, and that Singaporeans are financially very stressed,” said Mr Leong, adding that the party’s policies differ significantly from those of the People’s Action Party (PAP).
At the end of the press conference, Dr Tan stressed the importance of the opposition getting at least a third of the seats in Parliament.
He said this is to prevent the ruling party from passing constitutional changes unopposed.
“You have witnessed in the past the events of the last presidential election, where you know the terms and conditions were all changed.
“Then at the end of the day there was no voting for this current president..that illustrates the importance of having at least more than a third of the alternative parties in the House,” he said, adding that the opposition parties are still in talks to avoid three-cornered fights.