WP speeches met with robust response from PAP MPs
SINGAPORE – Two Workers’ Party Members of Parliament made their maiden speeches in the House yesterday, only to see their arguments met with robust rebuttals by People’s Action Party (PAP) MPs.
One protracted exchange was between WP Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam and PAP MP Christopher De Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), with WP chief Low Thia Khiang (Aljunied GRC) joining the fray to seek clarification. Another involved WP’s Chen Show Mao (Aljunied GRC), who was taken to task by PAP’s Dr Teo Ho Pin (Bukit Panjang) for the lack of specifics in the Opposition MP’s speech.
Mr Giam had taken issue with the Government’s policies on healthcare, public housing and public transport, which he argued “has gone too far down the road of pursuing free market efficiency, often to the detriment of the elderly and low wage workers”.
“At a time when our citizens are exposed to heightened risks in the form of global competition… the Government is exposing them to even more competition from foreigners… This regressive transfer of risks from government to citizens must count as one of the PAP Government’s biggest policy failures in the last decade,” Mr Giam argued.
Mr De Souza, however, felt Mr Giam should “not throw the baby out with the bath water”. Mr De Souza said: “Our housing is the envy of many first world countries. Therefore, to suggest that we have failed in housing, I think it is unfair.”
Mr De Souza felt Mr Giam “is finetuning PAP policies”, which is “a tacit concession that the foundations are correct”.
“We have scaled much altitude with this Government… we should not chide the foundations upon which we were built,” Mr De Souza added.
Separately, Workers’ Party MP Chen Show Mao welcomed the Government’s plans to “significantly enhance” the transport infrastructure, quality and opportunities in education, healthcare and housing. Mr Chen, however, stressed: “In addition to fiscal discipline, we would need to watch out for inflation, for effects on our currency and competitiveness,” he said.
Mr Chen also put before the House his view that political differences were not in themselves divisive, but rather it was the intolerance of differences that would prove to be divisive.
He added, “I may challenge Government policy in Parliament, but I do not by definition oppose Government policy. It does not mean that I do not support the Government in its work.”
This led Dr Teo Ho Pin to quip that he “did not know the difference (Mr Chen) has made” in defining the differences. Dr Teo added, “The PAP MPs are different but we work together as a team to serve our people.”
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