Fellow Singaporeans and voters of Marine Parade GRC and MacPherson SMC, good evening!
Saudara-saudari sekalian, salam sejahtera!
During the press conference a week-and-a-half ago when we launched our Manifesto, one reporter asked me why we left out a line that was in our 2011 Manifesto, which said that “WP’s long-term aim is to form the government” but that “while in opposition, we will…call the government to account at the national level.”
I replied that this goal is still relevant, but that for this election, we are not campaigning to form the government. Instead, for this election we want to empower your future by entrenching a credible opposition presence in Parliament.
Some people may be concerned about scare tactics used by the PAP. They say that we are seeking to form the government in a “not too distant a future” and that if we win many constituencies combined with other opposition parties then Singapore is “sunk”.
Let me clarify some misconceptions about how a government is formed.
First, in a Westminster parliamentary system, which is what Singapore follows, a government can be formed only by the party or coalition that wins the most seats in Parliament, but not necessarily an absolute majority.
This means that even if the PAP does not win more than half the seats in Parliament, they can still form the government. This is similar to what happened in the 2011 Presidential election. Dr Tony Tan won only 35.2% of the popular vote but he still became president, because the next best performing candidate, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, won 34.9% of the vote.
Second, the Workers’ Party is fielding only 28 candidates for this election versus the PAP’s 89 candidates. Even if we were to win all the constituencies we are contesting, we would still have only 31% of the seats. This is hardly enough to form the government unless the PAP wins fewer than 28 seats, which is virtually impossible.
Third, we have currently no plans to go into coalition with other opposition parties. We couldn’t even avoid three-cornered fights in all constituencies.
Fourth, we will only campaign to form the government when we feel confident of governing the entire country and ensuring Singapore’s continued prosperity and success. This is the responsible thing to do.
So until you hear us say, “Vote for us to form the next government”, don’t believe our opponents who say that we have hidden agendas, motives or plans. We don’t. What you see is what you get.
Fifth, and I think this is the most important point: We do not see Singaporean voters the same way that the PAP does. To them, voters are gullible and will vote for any party that makes wild promises of giveaways that will drain the reserves.
I have a lot more faith in our voters. I’m not saying this just to please you. I’m saying this after seeing the election results of past elections and by-elections, as well as talking to many residents during house visits, both the educated and less educated, young and old. They all want to have a good government and they all know what makes a good government. There is no such thing as a “freak” election result, because any election result in a free and fair election would reflect the will of the people.
So I urge you to vote all our candidates into Parliament on September the 11th. You can be sure the Sun will still rise on September the 12th, and not just because the rooster crows.
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Allow me to move on to share with you more policy proposals that the Workers’ Party hopes to push for in Parliament if we are elected as your representatives.
Today I want to talk about healthcare, an issue that is close to our hearts. Healthcare was one of the most frequent issues I brought up in Parliament over the past four years.
I proposed many ways to enhance the healthcare system and reduce the financial burden on patients and their families. I asked the government to subsidise MediShield premiums of vulnerable families, reduce out-of-pocket payments for treatment, and eliminate the hassle of means testing. I also called for more systems to be put in place to encourage healthcare providers, including GPs, hospitals and long-term care providers, to cooperate and share patient information with each other, in order to make more accurate diagnoses and provide better care.
I said that healthcare providers should be paid based on outcomes, not simply the volume of patients they see. This could lead to healthier patients and lower costs for both patients and the healthcare system.
There is still a lot of work to do to improve our healthcare system. One of the areas we want to look more into in the next session of Parliament is primary care.
After talking to GPs in the public and private sector, as well as patients, we learned that some of the largest outpatient expenses are for the management of chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and stroke. Also, health screening is very important in detecting chronic diseases early, so they can be treated early before complications arise. However, the take up rate of health screening programmes is still quite low now.
We want to push for more government subsidies and use of Medisave for the treatment of chronic diseases and health screening. This will not only reduce the financial burden on patients, but it will also encourage them to seek timely treatment before their conditions get worse. Because when that happens, patients will not only have to go through much more pain and discomfort, but it will cost them and the healthcare system more.
At the same time, we want to make health literacy a public health goal. Many patients here are still not as health literate as in many other developed countries. We tend to leave it to doctors to tell us what to do. We want to equip and empower Singaporeans to take greater ownership of their health. We can do this through more engaging programmes to reach out to citizens, and through more frequent health screenings and consultations with the same family doctor.
We have many more proposals to enhance the healthcare system, which we want to be able to push for. But we need your help, to first send enough of us to Parliament, so that we can advance your interests in healthcare and many other areas.
Residents of Marine Parade, one team that I believe can make a great contribution to Parliament is our team in Marine Parade. I have worked closely with Yee Jenn Jong over the last four years as we were NCMPs in Parliament. He was a very dedicated MP who raised up many issues on education, childcare and SMEs. I know he will continue to press the government on important issues if given the opportunity to be your MP.
I worked with He Tingru on many healthcare policies over the last few years. She has a great mind to analyse policies and a big heart for people. Firuz Khan worked the ground with me on countless house visits and he knows your concerns well. Terence Tan is a great guy to be around and he brings deep legal expertise to the table. And last but not least, I am confident that Dylan Ng’s banking and financial experience will be a great asset to the team.
Please vote for our team in Marine Parade. Vote for the Workers’ Party! Empower your Future! Thank you.