Singaporeans need to "bully-proof" themselves against the People's Action Party (PAP), said Dr Daniel Goh from the opposition Workers' Party (WP) last night.
He told the crowd at the rally for Punggol East SMC that when he was head prefect in Primary 6, he was told to "make sure students remain friends, prevent fights among the students and not let anyone bully someone else".
It was an experience that left a strong sense of justice in him, said Dr Goh, 42. He is being fielded as a candidate in the four-member East Coast GRC, where his group faces the PAP team helmed by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say.
The sociology professor from the National University of Singapore added: "I am telling you this story because we need to bully-proof our society and our politics."
He cited examples of delayed lift upgrading projects in opposition wards and the prolonged renovation of Rivervale Plaza in Punggol East SMC as examples of bullying by PAP. Works to upgrade the two-storey Rivervale Plaza, which opened in 1999, began in 2011 but got delayed after its initial contractor went bust. It became a hot-button issue in the Punggol East by-election in 2013 won by the WP. Dr Goh added that voters there have shown that Singaporeans know how to stand up to bullying. "The more you don't give us upgrading, don't complete renovation of Rivervale Plaza, or whatever plaza, the more you use this to bully us into voting for you, the more we will not support the PAP."
Wards which elected non-PAP MPs were pushed to the end of the queue, he said, citing the example of Hougang SMC. The single-seat ward saw its first upgrading only after the WP won the by-election in 2012, Dr Goh said. "This is 20 years after the start of national upgrading in 1992 - 20 years of older folks being punished to climb stairs."
He said HDB upgrading was a national programme and should not be used for partisan purposes. "The upgrading works are not just carrots, they are being used as sticks by our bullying PAP prefects."
And when the prefects have become bullies, it shows the head prefects have failed, Dr Goh said.
But he also cautioned voters not to buy into estate upgrading plans unveiled by PAP candidates during this general election and said the moves portray the Government as only a contractor. "This is a massive disrespect for the Government and civil servants who plan our towns for the benefit of all constituencies, regardless of voting patterns," he added.