SINGAPORE: The Workers’ Party has urged Punggol East residents to use their votes to make the government work harder.
Its first rally on Saturday night saw 13 speakers taking to the stage, including party leaders and MPs.
Several MPs urged voters to use what they termed as "the power of the vote".
They cited several policy reviews by the government, such as in the areas of transport and housing that were introduced after the last General Election.
Party members said if Punggol East residents wanted the government to continue with its reforms, then they should choose the Workers’ Party’s candidate Lee Li Lian.
Party Secretary—General Low Thia Khiang said it is in the interest of Singapore to have a reasonable and credible opposition party to keep the government on its toes.
He said: "It is time you ask yourself, whether the PAP appreciates your support or do you want to send a message to the PAP government that you don’t want your support to be taken for granted anymore?
"Elections are the best way to safeguard your rights and interest and to make the government works for you... After the last elections, the PAP has obviously worked harder, let us make sure that after this by—election, at the next General Election, they will work as if their lives depended on you!"
Perhaps in response to criticisms from some quarters that the party has not been offering views that are very much different from the government in Parliament, party chairman Sylvia Lim said that even though the the WP is an opposition party, it does not believe in crippling the government.
The party’s brand of politics, she said, is pro—Singapore.
"We do not want the ship to sink because we are on board as well," she said.
Candidate Lee Li Lian spoke of the issues she wanted to champion in Parliament, should she be elected —— issues such as healthcare costs, the concerns of the elderly and young families.
She cited for example how she wants to push for unrestricted use of Medisave, a national medical insurance scheme —— for patients aged 75 and above.
She said: "Medical costs has become a huge necessity as one grows older. At the age of 75, Medisave should be used to support immediate needs, life expectancy in Singapore is 82 years old. Listen to that, 82 years old!
"If our seniors cannot use their Medisave funds for immediate medical needs when they are 75 years old, then when can they use it? Allowing unrestricted use of Medisave for them will also ease the burden on families who have to take care of elderly parents and young children as well."
Like her PAP opponent, she also spoke of how she too came from humble beginnings.
"I’m also an ordinary Singaporean. I grew up in three—room HDB flat. I’m not a high flyer, or a government scholar. I did not do well earlier in my schooling years but I worked hard, really hard, and made it to Ngee Ann Polytechnic and eventually graduated from Curtin University of Australia.
"In order to ease the financial burden of my parents, I worked a part—time job when I was 15. I’m running for this because I want a better Singapore, not only for us but also for our children."
Ms Lee also spoke about her experience on the ground, having helped in the Aljunied Meet the People Sessions and town council management.
Party members also addressed concerns about the party’s ability to run a constituency by pointing to their track record in running both the Hougang and Aljunied town councils.
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