All photos by Catherine Sim.
The Workers’ Party (WP) unveiled its fourth batch of candidates on Aug 30.
Perhaps knowing that it's a Sunday, WP chairman Sylvia Lim and Hougang MP Png Eng Huat took less than an hour to introduce (from left) Singapore Cancer Society manager Kenneth Foo, 38, former associate librarian Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, 36, legal counsel Gurmit Singh, 55, and shipping firm lawyer Dennis Tan, 45.
Here are the key highlights of the press conference.
1. We can't seem to move away from the subject of eating
Posted by Mothership.sg on Sunday, August 30, 2015
Once the self-introduction ended, the media went straight for the town council issue, totally ignoring the new candidates.
Might as well. Since gross profiteering is now a thing.
Png Eng Huat had to ask the media to ask the new candidates questions instead.
After some oh-by-the-way-let-me-ask-you-these questions like "Will you be a full time MP?", "How long do you think you will be in the Workers' Party?" which prompted some perfunctory answers, it inevitably went back to town council.
Channeling more dirty looks and emitting all-round wittiness, Sylvia Lim said:
"I'm sure that the PAP wants to make that town council issue and or saga as they have created as the focal point. But perhaps at this point I think it would be good for us to look back at what has been happening and what MND has been doing shall I say.
To me this is just an example of how such a dominant ruling party as the government can use government departments to make political attacks on their political opponents. It's a huge government machinery that we have right now.
Over the years, the PAP has become very strong. And if anything, this town council episode shows how the huge machinery can try to eat you up. Because they can have so many angles...
They can have proxies to come and highlight issues and try to confuse and distract the public. So I think the voters would need to pay attention to this and ask yourself whether it is in your interest or your children's interest as well to feed this huge machinery and let the PAP become stronger.
If you are not careful, they will eat you up as well."
At this rate we are eating, this could well be the "eating' elections.
2. More looks: This time of incredulity.
Addressing a question on why the senior party members were absent from the launch of the manifesto, Sylvia Lim said that the members who presented yesterday (Aug 29) have the closest, most current knowledge to share about the manifesto.
And when the reporter continued that "some people" felt that the absence of Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang and Chairman Sylvia Lim didn't give much value to the manifesto, Lim had this to say:
"I think these people's thoughts are misguided. I mean it's a WP manifesto. We are going ahead to the election with this manifesto so all of us are behind it. Who presents or not. You mean even this they have an opinion? (Laughs) Just goes to show that you should empower your future."
Cue incredulous expression. Priceless.
3. The Hougang pride is strong in this one.
Kenneth Foo, 38, has been a Hougang resident for "around 34 years" and moved to Hougang before he was in Primary 1. His impression of the town is that it has always been clean and is a well-managed estate.
Answering a question on what he thinks of Hougang, he confirmed the mythical status of Hougang as a opposition stronghold in Mandarin.
"If you ask me what I feel generally, I'd say that I'm glad to live in Hougang. Why? Because the Hougang residents took on the role of the opposition voice for Singapore. Hougang residents dare to be different... The Hougang people will say: 'Even if you don't give us lifts upgrading or refresh our town, it's okay. Because we know that Singapore needs an opposition party in Parliament.' "
Hougang pride right there yo.
4. What the new dudes advocate for
Dennis Tan: A two-party system
Tan spoke candidly about the need for “greater diversity in political representation” and that “in the longer term, we should look to have a two-party system, whereby another party must be ready to form the government as the ruling party declines”.
Gurmit Singh: Implementation of minimum wage
Singh discussed the challenges faced by PMETs in light of the influx of foreigners and the need for the implementation of minimum wage laws.
“In my opinion, we must guard Singaporeans’ right to jobs as jealously as some other countries do, something I experienced first-hand in Australia," he said. He described recent pay hikes for cleaners ($1,000) and security guards ($1,100) to be “scratching at the surface” and “token change”.
Mohamed Fairoz Shariff: More help for adult learners
Fairoz spoke about the need for greater assistance to be rendered to adult learners pursuing their degrees.
“It is always a challenge for them to juggle between their work, their studies and their family," said Fairoz who plans to elaborate on the subject during the upcoming elections.
Kenneth Foo: Championing low-income families
Foo said he hails from a “middle to low income family” and aims to champion issues related to low-income families.
While Foo acknowledges more people are “making a decent living as of now”, he noted that at every meet-the-people session, “there are still a lot of people who seek assistance and help”.
As to whether or not Singapore is “doing good as a society”, Foo also cites the existence of 270 registered Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) as an important point for consideration.
5. Saving the best for last (AHPETC and FMSS)
Png took the last few minutes to talk about Aljunied Hougang Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) and its former managing agent FM Solutions and Services (FMSS).
He informed the press that the annual report for FY2014/15 will be filed tomorrow (Aug 31).
More importantly, he announced that upon factoring in MND grants, AHPETC will be in a "surplus position".
This timely piece of news should serve as much needed respite for WP supporters.
Png stressed that the recent controversy was based on the annual report for FY12/13 and WP has already filed for FY13/14. He urged residents to examine the latest report and decide for themselves if improvements have been made.
And finally in a media scrum, Png announced that the Worker’s Party will be giving self-management “a run”. A media representative sought to clarify if Png meant that the Worker’s Party “will not be working with FMSS anymore”, to which he resolutely replied:
“Nope. Thank you very much.”