PSP leaders meet members over CECA stance & racial overtones, all support NCMPs Leong Mun Wai & Hazel Poa

The focus is on protecting interests of Singaporeans, they say.

Belmont Lay | July 19, 2021, 07:09 PM

The Progress Singapore Party has issued a statement on July 19, signalling that those in the party have closed ranks and its members are united in their support for the party's leaders and the two Non-Constituency Members of Parliament Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa.

CECA debate

This was after Today reported that some members of the opposition party felt that PSP's stance on the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and the debate in Parliament could be construed as singling out a certain race and nationality.

In response to the murmurings of dissent, PSP's statement said a closed-door meeting was held on July 18 between PSP's secretary-general Francis Yuen Kin Pheng and party chairman Tan Cheng Bock with several party members to address concerns.

PSP not about race but jobs

"In the meeting, party leaders re-emphasised the party's stand that the debate is about the jobs of Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMET) and has nothing to do with race," the PSP statement said.

"The focus is on the fair treatment of Singaporeans and protection of Singaporeans' jobs and wages."

The discussion and exchange of candid views between party leadership and members concluded with unified support for Leong and Poa.

What was previously reported

Today reported on July 16 that several PSP members said that the emphasis on CECA could give the impression that PSP was putting the spotlight on Indians, and inadvertently appearing nationalistic and racist.

NCMPs Leong and Poa had engaged with government ministers over CECA in Parliament in July.

They eventually did not unequivocally withdraw their claim that CECA allowed the unfettered entry of certain Indian professionals here, even though they conceded that the movement of people under CECA was not used “as a bargaining chip” during trade negotiations.

PSP members go on record to state discomfort

Out of three PSP members quoted by Today, one was anonymous while the other two were identified as Khush Chopra and Abhijit Dass.

The anonymous source said focusing on CECA was "cheap politics" and that several party members shared the same sentiments, but declined to say how many.

Chopra said he does not believe the party is xenophobic or racist, but the focus on CECA has an impact on how the party is portrayed publicly.

Abhijit said the party was engaged in a debate with racial elements surfacing but did not realise it.