(Photo credit: Weixiang Lim, Mothership)
Fellow Singaporeans, and voters of East Coast GRC and Fengshan SMC, good evening! My name is Gerald Giam and I am here to ask for your mandate to serve you in East Coast GRC and in Parliament.
Please allow me now to say a few words in our national language. Although I am a Peranakan like my colleague Cheryl Loh, I am still trying to learn Malay. So please bear with me as I try.
Saudara-saudari sekalian dan penduduk-penduduk GRC East Coast, salam sejahtera!
Pada Pilihanraya yang lalu, sokongan anda membolehkan saya masuk ke dalam Parlimen sebagai Anggota Parlimen tanpa Kawasan Undi. Saya amat berterima kasih ke atas sokongan anda. Di Parlimen, saya telah berkerja keras untuk mempertengahkan isu-isu yang orang Singapura menghadapi.
Sekali lagi, saya meminta sokongan anda untuk melantik saya sebagai Anggota Parlimen anda.
Unidilah Parti Pekerja. Memperkasakan masa depan anda! Terima kasih.
I will now continue in English.
When I was growing up, I remembered a Singapore that was full of enthusiasm, hope and pride in our nation. We sang “Stand up for Singapore” and “We are Singapore” with gusto. When we travelled abroad, we would proudly tell our foreign friends about the progress we had made as a nation.
In the decades following Independence, the government gave out many special tax breaks to MNCs, with the expectation that these companies would invest in local talent, transfer knowledge and skills to them, and eventually promote Singaporeans to head their local offices.
Something started changing around the turn of the century. There was a creeping cynicism that had entered our national consciousness. The PAP was no longer that benevolent and all-capable government that many of us imagined it to be.
We started to see a government that was starting to lose confidence in its own people. The PAP felt that Singaporeans did not possess sufficient talent to grow the economy at a fast enough pace. Economic growth is of paramount importance to the PAP because that is how it derives its legitimacy at elections, so they were under pressure to do whatever it took to feed this growth.
This led to the fateful decision around that time to open the floodgates of our job market to foreigners. Before I go further, I would like to emphasise again that the Workers’ Party is not anti-foreigner. Most foreigners come here to work hard and build a better life for themselves and their families. Any criticism I make is against the PAP’s population policy, not foreigners themselves.
So in the decade after the turn of the century, workers of all nationalities were brought in in large numbers to boost the economy. Knowledge transfer to locals ended up taking a back seat. Why spend money to train locals to do the job if you could easily hire a foreigner with low enough salary expectations?
Meanwhile Singaporeans were told that foreigners would create jobs for Singaporeans; that the fruits of economic growth will trickle down to the poor. But this did not seem to be happening. Incomes could not keep up with the rising cost of living. Singaporeans started realising they were being squeezed out of jobs, university places and even choice primary school places. When you walk into any MNC now, many of the positions that were once occupied by locals are now staffed by foreigners. Even some GLCs and local banks are not spared.
When Singaporeans complained, they were told that they were losing out because they had become less hard-driving and hard-striving.
It took the big shock of GE 2011 for the government to finally wake up and realise that these were real problems that were hurting Singaporeans. Hence came the big “sorry”. Four days before Polling Day, the PM apologised to voters for “not getting it right”.
Four-and-a-half years on, do you believe the PAP was really sorry?
If you look at subsequent statements from PAP ministers after the election, they don’t admit that their population policy was wrong. Instead, they justify it as being right for that time. Some are even saying that demographic changes have been the reason for the foreign worker policy U-turns. Did we just turn into an ageing society four years ago?
We need to make sure the PAP follows through with their “sorry” and fixes the mess they have created, which is an over-populated island without sufficient infrastructure to accommodate it.
We need to invest more in our people, to give our people confidence in themselves and hope for the future. We need to reclaim our right as masters of our own land, and not supporting actors in a movie with a bad script.
I have faith in our people. We have gone through so much together in the past 10 years as a nation. We will emerge stronger.
We need a new style of leadership and approach to governance. This change will not come about if we leave the PAP to its own devices. We have to force the change on them.
To do that, we ask you to send a strong message to them by voting in MPs who can hold the PAP to its “sorry”.
Voters of East Coast GRC, I first contested here in GE 2011 as a young 33-year old. You gave our team then the second best GRC results in that election for an opposition party. My team and I have drawn strength from your support, as we have gone about meeting you in your homes or in markets, almost every week for over two years now.
I am very grateful for your support. This is why I have given it my all in the last four years in Parliament, asking many questions, raising up issues that affect your lives, and proposing solutions to the challenges we face as a nation.
Now I am contesting East Coast GRC again, asking for your mandate to become your representative and your voice in Parliament.
Please support us, because there is a lot more work we need to do to empower your future.
I would like to introduce my East Coast GRC team, who will be your voice in Parliament. I feel very honoured to be contesting with this team of very capable and committed men.
First, is Mohamed Fairoz bin Shariff. Fairoz holds an honours degree in history and a master’s degree in Southeast Asian Studies, both from NUS. He has been a lecturer at SIM University and was with the National Library Board until a few weeks ago, when he had to resign to contest the elections.
Fairoz is a dedicated husband and father. He is a man of strong conviction and principles. If elected, I have no doubt that he will not only care deeply for his residents, but will also be able to raise very important issues in Parliament that affect all Singaporeans, including the Malay-Muslim community.
Next, Associate Professor Daniel Goh Pei Siong. Daniel needs little introduction. He is one of the foremost sociologists in Singapore. He is the deputy head of the Department of Sociology at NUS and has a PhD from the University of Michigan. Daniel has a tremendous ability to analyse policies, crunch the numbers that support policy proposals and present them in a way that everyone understands. You can be sure that he will be able to effectively debate issues with Ministers in Parliament.
And last but not least, Leon Perera. Leon obtained a double first class honours degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford University. He was a PSC Overseas Merit scholar and later co-founded an international research consultancy. He is now the CEO of his company, which operates in 8 countries.
Despite all his achievements, Leon is one of the most humble persons I know. He has also been involved in both policy and grassroots work in the Workers’ Party for the last few years. His corporate management experience will be a great asset in running a Town Council together.
Residents of East Coast GRC, we are here to serve to you!
Please vote for us so that we can serve you as your town councillors and MPs in Parliament.
Vote for the Workers’ Party! Empower your Future!