Workers' Party rally

WP takes aim at policies from ESM Goh's time as PM

Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim waving to the crowd during a rally on Sept 7.
Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim waving to the crowd during a rally on Sept 7.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Sylvia Lim cites issues like ministerial pay, upgrading of opposition wards, bigger GRCs

Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim took aim at Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday, listing three "bad policies" - putting opposition wards at the back of the upgrading queue, increasing the size of GRCs, and pegging ministerial salaries to the private sector - that she said came about during his time as prime minister.

She also told Marine Parade GRC voters that if Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin lost his seat, Singapore can still "benefit from his talents" in other public capacities.

Under ESM Goh's charge, she said, "voters were threatened that if they do not vote for the People's Action Party (PAP), the Government would put their estate at the back of the upgrading queue".

GRC sizes grew gradually from three to six seats, while the pay of ministers "rose sky-high, with the PM himself earning more than $100,000 per month", she said.

Ms Lim was speaking at the WP's rally last night in Ubi for MacPherson SMC, and for Marine Parade GRC, which ESM Goh and Mr Tan are contesting.

"There is no need to worry about Chuan-Jin," she said. "Even if the WP wins Marine Parade, Chuan-Jin can serve in other public capacities. There are numerous government- linked companies he can lead, and no end of top-level committees he can sit on."

In the 2011 polls, the WP had similarly suggested that then Foreign Minister George Yeo could run for president should he lose in Aljunied GRC.

That year, the PAP retained Marine Parade GRC with 56.6 per cent of the vote, its second-lowest winning percentage in a GRC in 2011.

Ms Lim also urged voters to "consider the senseless electoral boundary changes that have taken place in MacPherson and Marine Parade over the years".

For instance, the opposition scored 47.7 per cent of the vote in the Braddell Heights single-seat ward in the 1991 elections, but "the PAP did not respect the voters of Braddell Heights".

"In the next elections in 1997, Marine Parade extended a long arm inland to absorb Braddell Heights," she said. "Just look at the names. 'Heights' and 'Marine'. Should they go together?"

More recently, the PAP's Mr Charles Chong defeated the WP's Mr Yee Jenn Jong in Joo Chiat SMC by a mere 388 votes in 2011. It was absorbed into Marine Parade GRC after the release of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee's report in July. "How did PAP thank Joo Chiat voters? After one term, Charles has abandoned you to contest somewhere else. Your reward is to be part of a GRC," she said.

Ms Lim also questioned if population trends were truly the reason for electoral boundary changes.

"Were they due to population trends or because of voting trends? Are we being taken for fools?"

She added that boundary redrawing was also a waste of town council funds collected from residents.

This is because constituencies are often renamed, so signs have to be changed, accounts need to be audited to transfer monies between town councils, and offices may need to be dismantled or built.

"Why should you residents pay for these political games of the PAP? Since the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee comes under the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), I say let the PMO pay."

In an earlier speech, Mr Yee referred to ESM Goh's remarks on Sunday that Aljunied GRC voters can "have their cake and eat it" as they can vote for the PAP and still have Non-Constituency MPs to speak in Parliament.

Mr Yee, who is now leading a team to contest Marine Parade GRC, said this was akin to the PAP wanting "another blank cheque".

"They want to move Singapore back to the dark days of politics, where they can do anything they want and there's nobody there to check them," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline 'WP takes aim at policies from ESM Goh's time as PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe