Singapore GE2020: PSP's Tan Cheng Bock says bread-and-butter issues still matter during Covid-19 crisis

PSP chief Tan Cheng Bock also rejected the idea that the opposition was ignoring the pandemic. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Bread-and-butter issues like CPF, jobs and housing matters continue to be important at the election even during the Covid-19 crisis, said Progress Singapore Party chief Tan Cheng Bock (PSP).

He was responding to a speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who had said that opposition parties had campaigned as if the crisis did not exist and were recycling old policy ideas in their manifestos.

Speaking to The Straits Times at his home on Monday (July 6), Dr Tan also said that bread-and-butter issues cannot be pushed aside just because the Covid-19 crisis is happening.

"Whatever things that happened in the past must not be pushed aside; they are equally important... Your CPF, your job or your housing matters, and all the other bread-and-butter issues.. we cannot push them aside. They are always there... It is (about) how we are going to manage (them), and the management would depend on the environment."

Dr Tan also rejected the idea that the opposition was ignoring the pandemic, saying it was the PAP that had taken its eye off the crisis.

"I disagree with him. I think we never took our eye off the Covid-19. They took their eyes off the Covid-19... because they're concentrating too much on this general election."

He reiterated the PSP's stand that the election should not have been called in the first place in the midst of the pandemic.

"And I see it now, when I go to the ground. I worry for those people. They surge to you. And how are you going to control them?"

Dr Tan also said it was important that the crisis is not seen solely as the PAP's problem to solve.

"Don't look at this as their problem. It's our problem too. And as the responsible alternative voice in the House... We have no reason why we sometimes cannot work together. It is not a PAP problem, it's not a PSP problem, it is a country's problem."

He added that there is a need for alternative pair of eyes looking at the problem, saying that some of the steps taken after the Sars outbreak showed that the authorities did not learn from it.

"Look at the way they've built our hospitals. So huge, and every hospital is linked to all the shopping centres and all. That is the worst thing that can happen," he said, arguing that such a design made it difficult to lock down.

Dr Tan also commented on the case involving Workers' Party candidate for Sengkang GRC Raeesah Khan, saying: "I think it is not correct to make racial remarks."

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Ms Khan, 26, is being investigated by the police for comments she allegedly made on discrimination by Singapore's law enforcement authorities.

"For these young people, I'm sure they're better educated and can understand, with a little bit of advice from older chaps... This sort of remarks can actually create problems for the country," said Dr Tan.

"She has stepped forward to apologise, so I think let's accept it and move forward."

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