Speakers at RP rally take aim at PAP and WP at its first rally

RP chief pledges to present 'ideas and policy alternatives' if elected

The Reform Party (RP) took aim at the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) last night at its first rally for the Punggol East by-election, accusing the ruling party of creating a Third World economy and a Third World democracy.

But several speakers also slammed fellow opposition Workers' Party (WP) for failing in its duty as a watchdog on the PAP in Parliament.

"The driver is falling asleep but the co-driver is also falling asleep... We need the Reform Party to knock the heads of both drivers," said RP central executive committee member Prabu Ramachandran.

He was referring to an analogy used by WP chief Low Thia Khiang in the 2011 General Election (GE) that the WP could be the co-driver that would slap awake the main driver - the PAP - if the ruling party were to falter in governing the country.

RP chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam also lobbed the accusation that the WP's candidate Lee Li Lian has been "missing in action" since she contested Punggol East at the GE.

Addressing a crowd gathered in the evening drizzle, he recounted how two "heavyweight brands" - a veiled reference to the PAP and the WP - came to Punggol East and made promises to voters in a three-cornered fight that included the Singapore Democratic Alliance.

In a jibe at the PAP's Mr Michael Palmer who won the 2011 polls, Mr Jeyaretnam, 53, said "one promised millions of dollars of projects" such as bus stops and a new community centre, as well as a revamp of Rivervale Plaza, which has been delayed.

"The other candidate promised you hard work and shared resources, then went missing in action," he said, delivering a jab at Ms Lee.

The RP chief also accused the WP's MPs of not fulfilling their duties in Parliament by not questioning the management of Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies, nor a US$4 billion (S$4.9 billion) government loan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

But as a "well-qualified economist", he had looked at CPF figures and raised questions, and taken the Government to court about the IMF loan, he said.

Mr Jeyaretnam last July applied for a court injunction on the loan commitment, arguing that it was made without the approval of the President and Parliament. The court has dismissed his case, saying it did not breach the Constitution. But he is appealing.

Mr Jeyaretnam is going up against Ms Lee in a four-cornered fight at the Jan 26 polls, with the PAP's Dr Koh Poh Koon and the Singapore Democratic Alliance's Desmond Lim also contesting.

He also criticised the PAP over several issues, from the rising cost of living to the health-care system. For instance, he said Singaporeans now face a "Swiss cost of living" - instead of the promised "Swiss standard of living" - as wages have stagnated with the influx of cheap foreign labour.

Amid his attacks on the PAP and the WP, Mr Jeyaretnam also tried to set himself and the RP apart by pledging to present "ideas and policy alternatives" if he enters Parliament.

He promised to move to Punggol East, be a full-time MP, and donate at least 10 per cent of his MP allowance to the community if elected.


Additional reporting by Jermyn Chow and Chia Yan Min