Residents of Hougang and my fellow Singaporeans, Good evening!
1. Over the past few days, Mr. Teo Chee Hean has been very busy trying to paint that I have an integrity problem and was not truthful when I tried to explain away why WP did not select me as an NCMP.
2. My stand on NCMP is clear. In fact, in Lianhe WanBao, there is a report featuring Mr. Eric Tan, my ex-teammate in East Coast GRC. He had left the Workers’ Party right after the 2011 election. I have not spoken to Mr. Eric Tan for a long time.
3. Mr. Eric Tan said something in the report which is very important to my belief and character but the media chose not to highlight that point.
4. Mr. Eric Tan said right after the electoral boundary was released for the 2011 General Election, the Workers’ Party initially planned to field me, Png Eng Huat, in Joo Chiat, which has a high chance of being offered an NCMP post if we were to lose there. He said I declined to stand in Joo Chiat because I did not want to be an NCMP.
5. This is my stand and my conscience is clear.
6. At the beginning of the campaign, Mr. Desmond Choo said he is own man. But Mr. Teo Chee Hean, for some reason, has hijacked the campaign from Mr. Choo. I think Mr. Teo took Mr. Choo’s slogan for this By-Election too literally – Always here for you, Desmond.
7. Attacking the Workers’ Party and me are not going to bring Mr. Choo more votes. Keeping your promise to make Singapore an inclusive society will bring you more votes.
8. Since 1991, the PAP has tried very hard to retake Hougang. They have sent their big guns with big promises of estate upgrading to woo the voters. This By-Election, it has sent a big gun too but he did not bring any big carrot.
9. At the beginning of the campaign, I have said Hougang is very special to the Workers’ Party. That is why the entire team is here to defend it. The big guns from PAP only came to Hougang midway through the campaign.
10. Is the PAP serious about taking Hougang? The PAP campaign flyer, Caring for the Elderly in Hougang – Always here for you, contains mostly national programmes.
11. Take for example, the flyer promises more subsidies at private GPs and dentists. This programme is known as the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS). It is operated by the Ministry of Health. We are already helping MOH to publicize and register residents for the programme in Aljunied and Hougang. This is not a local programme designed specially for Hougang.
12. The flyer also promises ‘higher CPF contribution rates and earned income tax relief’ and ‘permanent GST vouchers – cash, Medisave top-ups and utility rebates.’ This sounds like a Budget Statement from last year. And yet we were told this election is about local issues.
13. The Workers’ Party has been in Hougang for the past 21 years. We have served the community to the best of our ability despite the obstacles we faced. We have upgraded some lifts without asking the residents to pay until the HDB stopped us. We have built some covered walkways using our own funds and we will do more.
14. I have shared our plan for Hougang at the last rally and I will do it again tonight.
15. We have nominated 2 clusters comprising 54 blocks of flats for the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme. Under this programme, covered walkways, linkways, drop-off points, elderly fitness centres and more will be built.
16. We have nominated 3 clusters comprising 15 blocks of flats for the Home Improvement Programme. Under this programme, repair work will be carried out inside the house to rectify leaking problems, spalling concrete and more.
17. And by the middle of this year, we will call for a tender to do Repair and Redecoration work and Reroofing work for 34 blocks of flats in Hougang. Under this tender, we will do repair and repainting work for the selected blocks. And most important of all, the reroofing will resolve the leaking problems faced by residents living on the highest floor.
18. We will also have more programmes planned for Hougang at the community level. I will continue to organize trips for our senior citizens and their family members. I will work with our youth to organize games and competitions .
19. A lot of people may not know this but we have an Hougang Constituency Education Trust set up in 1992 to assist needy students. From 1992 to 2010, the trust has disbursed almost half a million dollars in total benefitting an average of 80 students a year.
20. As Miss Sylvia Lim has announced at the last rally, I would be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council if I am elected. I would certainly ensure the interest of Hougang would be well served and represented at the town council level.
21. At the beginning of the campaign, a reporter asked me this question – do I always see myself as an opposition? I answered I always see myself as a Singaporean.
22. And it is the same for Hougang. The people of Hougang do not see themselves as opposition. They see themselves as Singaporeans.
23. You, the people of Hougang, have refused to be threatened or bullied by the PAP. You have an amazing fighting spirit to pass down to your children. And you have made many Singaporeans proud.
24. You have told the PAP, election after election, that Hougang is NOT FOR SALE!
25. When Hougang goes to the poll on Saturday, the whole of Singapore will be watching. A vote for the PAP will be a vote in the wrong direction in our march towards a first world parliament.
26. A vote for the PAP will be a giant step backwards for justice, equality and democracy.
27. A vote for the PAP will be a sad day for the future of our children because there will be one voice less in Parliament to protect their interests.
28. We have seen how HDB prices have risen. We know our children will become slaves to their tiny flats for their entire adult lives.
29. A vote for the PAP will also mean the spirit of Hougang has finally been broken.
30. However, a vote for the Workers’ Party will ensure our dreams and hope for a better Singapore will be on track.
31. A vote for the Workers’ Party will encourage more dedicated and passionate people to come forward to serve the nation.
32. A vote for the Workers’ Party will send a clear signal to the PAP that they are hearing but they are still not listening to the people.
33. A vote for the Workers’ Party will ensure the spirit of Hougang will live on in the history of Singapore.
34. A vote for the Workers’ Party will ensure that the fire of democracy that was started here 21 years ago will continue to spread from Aljunied to East Coast to Joo Chiat and beyond!
35. Our 9-day campaign has come to an end tonight. I will carry fond memories of the campaign trail with me for the rest of my life. I remember meeting 3 young primary school children at a coffee shop. One of them said to me, “Uncle, my whole class of 44 children support the Workers’ Party except for one fat boy!”
36. It is not easy to be that boy. Just like it is not easy for those who voted for the PAP in Hougang since 1991. The ruling party penalised you along with the rest by denying Hougang the necessary upgrading.
37. Tonight I urge those who voted for the PAP to change your support and send a clear signal to the ruling party that political discrimination has no place in our inclusive society.
38. The people of Hougang have chosen the Workers’ Party to represent them for the past 21 years. The Workers’ Party appreciates the trust you put in us and we will not fail you. I will not fail you.
39. Residents of Hougang, I stand here tonight as a Workers’ Party candidate for this constituency. I stand here to ask you for a mandate to serve you and be your voice in Parliament.
40. My name is Png Eng Huat. Vote Workers’ Party. Towards a First World Parliament.
Good evening voters of Hougang and supporters.
We are now at the final lap of the by-election. Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean seems very concerned as to whether Png Eng Huat is Workers’ Party’s “best man”. But what does he mean by “best man”?
Let’s put it another way. Is DPM Teo saying that Desmond Choo is PAP’s “best man”? If he is, then how about Mr. Ong Ye Kung? Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong once said that he would eventually bring Ong Ye Kung into Parliament as he is a potential member of Singapore’s fourth-generation leadership core; Desmond Choo was never mentioned at all! So, is Desmond Choo their “best man”?
I think DPM Teo and the PAP need to explain to voters about this. In the Workers’ Party, we have many good men and women, so there is no need to say who is the best. What is important is this – Png Eng Huat is a better man for Hougang than Desmond Choo!
Now, I would like to move on to the issue of the PAP’s attitude.
In Parliament, instead of focusing on policy discussions, PAP MPs spent more time launching personal attacks on the Workers’ Party. During the Budget debate in Parliament:
When Chen Show Mao proposed that the government invest more in the people, especially towards the vulnerable in society such as the elderly, PAP MP Vikram Nair rebutted that his proposals were akin to a Nigerian scam;
And When Chen Show Mao suggested that the quotas on foreign workers be refined, Vikram Nair attacked him saying that such a proposal was ironic for ‘a man who spent more than half his life abroad’.
Instead of raising points relevant to the improvement of the policies at hand, PAP MPs concentrated instead on attacking the Workers’ Party and our MPs.
The PAP always ask, “What has the opposition achieved?” “The opposition has many complains on policies but what solutions do they have?” or “The opposition can only talk in Parliament”.
I would like to ask the PAP MPs, besides talking in Parliament, what else do you do? Dance hip-hop? Yes, we have done plenty of talking; unfortunately we are not loud enough to be heard.
Policies are made by the Ministries, backed by teams of full time researchers and analysts across various civil service sectors, ranging from Manpower to Finance.
Policies are not always perfect and people or groups of people may be adversely affected. We can provide feedback from the ground, make recommendations, but it is almost impossible to challenge the technicality of these policies without the resources that the Ministries have.
Opposition MPs cannot, neither can the PAP MPs. Let’s see what Desmond Choo or any other PAP MPs for that matter, can propose alternative policies to solve the problems of high COE prices, or high water and electricity charges.
During the PAP’s rally, MP Denise Phua criticised Workers’ Party for always saying the bad things about the government. But in fact, I rose to thank the government for giving better focus to the welfare of the people in the same Budget debate, where totally unwarranted personal attacks were made on Workers’ Party MPs!
The Workers’ Party is very clear that our core mission is the welfare and well-being of the people. We are a rational and responsible party. We do not oppose for the sake of opposing.
More shockingly, Denise Phua went on to say that there is no need to vote for the Workers’ Party, because “there is no shortage of noise and independent voices suggesting how our government can improve”!
So according to Denise Phua, your feedback is “noise”?
Workers’ Party will make sure that your feedback is louder than ever. We hope that the PAP government will learn to respect the different views in society and not see everything else as political competition.
As we may be reminded, we had “pledged ourselves as one united people” in our national pledge. A First World society is not one which agrees on everything, but one which can agree to disagree and move forward as one.
This by-election is a continuation of our journey towards a First World Parliament. We had finally made progress after so many years and should not take a step backwards again.
This by-election is also a test for the Workers’ Party, because there are too many coincidences calculated to show that there is “a malfunction” in Workers’ Party. I am sure that the voters of Hougang would be able to discern the truth with their acute sense of judgment.
In every political party’s history, there are obstacles to overcome and challenges to meet as the party grows. The history of the PAP itself has shown that the road of political growth is never smooth. Perhaps the most famous example is the PAP’s big split in 1961, when 13 PAP assemblymen defected and even formed a new party, known as the Barisan Socialis.
From a broader perspective, this by-election allows us to review our course towards a First World Parliament since the last General Election.
One year on, we can point to policy changes implemented by the PAP government that correspond with the Workers’ Party manifesto. Just to cite a few examples, such changes include:
• Removing discriminatory policies against single parents in housing (see Chapter 4, Proposal F1);
• Increasing the supply of BTO flats to meet demand (see Chapter 8, Proposal 6); and
• Ensuring affordability of certain key areas of healthcare (see Chapter 7, Proposal B8, Proposal C1 and Proposal C3)
Hougang has been a beacon of hope for Singapore in the last 21 years through its unwavering support for the Workers’ Party. For 21 years, the PAP has cast Hougang aside – depriving you of the estate upgrades you deserve. The PAP has also blocked Workers’ Party from enhancing your lives in Hougang. They blocked us from offering free lift upgrading. They even refused to build linkways and footpaths.
Our national pledge says “to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality”. But where is the justice and equality for all the voters of Hougang, including those who have voted for the PAP in the last 21 years?
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that “real democracy” is not about “voting blindly” but about “thinking carefully and choosing… who can serve you the best”. Yes, “real democracy” is not just making a choice, but making an informed choice.
But how can the people make an informed choice when the main source of information is monopolized? Up till today, the chairman of Singapore Press Holdings is an ex-PAP cabinet minister and the main shareholder of Mediacorp TV is a government-linked company, Temasek Holdings. How much neutrality can we expect from them?
I acknowledge that many journalists and photographers have a sense of mission and responsibility. They try their best to give fair reports of events. However, what is finally published is beyond them.
The media is a potentially powerful tool for or against certain political parties. Therefore, it is imperative that the media must become a reliable source of information for the people, independent from the strong influence of the government. Only then can it be an effective check on all political parties including the PAP, not just against the opposition. We must not allow the media to be used by the government as a political tool.
The goal of Workers’ Party’s First World Parliament is to “achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation”. With a strong presence in Parliament, the Workers’ Party can hold the government to account for its policies. We want to ensure that the people’s rights are protected. We will debate issues and present different views of the people so that Singapore can progress in the right direction.
Hougang is the forerunner of Singapore’s democracy. We need you, the Hougang voters, to HAMMER home this vision to the minds of every Singaporean, young and old.
I therefore urge you to vote for the Workers’ Party, towards a First World Parliament!
行动党的选区可以获得国家发展部的拨款，有些设施甚至建了又拆，拆了再建，反正钱多得很；相比之下，后港选区当然发展缓慢。 不过，我可以摸着良心说， 后港市镇理事会和我，都已经尽了最大的努力，改善区内的设施。后港区的设施虽然比不上行动党区的美轮美奂，但是，所建设的，改善的设施、都很实用， 在建造新设施的时候，也很注意顾及周围的环境。
几天前，我们的总理李显龙来到了后港，替行动党候选人助阵。 李总理呼吁后港选民要经过深思熟虑过后，选择一个能诚心为民服务的候选人及政党。他还说：“真正的民主… 并不是盲目的投票。”
Residents of Hougang and fellow Singaporeans,
Selamat datang. Terima kasih atas kehadiran anda.
Please allow me to begin in Chinese.
Hougang, HUAT AH.
We have come to the end of the campaign for this by-election. The Workers’ Party has been accused of many things during the campaign. One of the most unsavoury things is to be called dishonest.
This reminds me of what the founder of the Workers’ Party, David Marshall, once said. He said, “They only see me as a critic and to be a critic is to be an enemy who must be erased and destroyed. There is no such thing as an honest critic to the PAP.”
I hope that is changing, I hope that will change. For Singapore’s sake.
Tonight, I want to talk about POLITICAL HONESTY. What is political honesty to the Workers’ Party? Political honesty is when we consider our opposition to government policies and our criticism of government policies in a principled way, based on principles we think will put Singaporeans first.
That is how we seek to analyze policies and laws proposed by the government. In accordance with our principles. It means we may agree with some parts and disagree with others. It means we do not oppose for the sake of opposition. We try to be honest in our criticism, I think to do otherwise would make us a less-than-responsible opposition party. We try to be an honest critic.
This may be hard for some people to understand.
Well, if you have worn White for so long you may think the world can only be divided into black and white.
That’s why we wear Blue-on-black. The real world has many colors. The world we want to be in has many colors. And it may be confusing to the men in white.
DPM Teo Chee Hean asked how the WP can criticize government policies and vote “yes” to pass this year’s Budget.
He says we are flip-flopping. He also called us dishonest.
Well, the short answer is:
“Pass” means “Pass,” it doesn’t mean you got the perfect score.
The WP MPs voted to pass this year’s Budget, because we believe the government has taken a good first step towards forging an Inclusive Society, which has always been the Workers’ Party platform.
When the driver is starting to make a U-turn to go in the direction suggested by the co-driver. We say “Pass” — But you must keep going.
AND HOW do we keep going? Who do you vote for to best ensure that the government will be responsive to Singaporeans’ needs? Who do you vote for to best ensure that the government will put PEOPLE at the center of their policies? Who do you vote for?
Hougang, I think the answer is clear. Vote the Workers’ Party and Vote for Png Eng Huat.
Let us keep our eyes on the way FORWARD for Hougang and Singapore.
Hougang — HUAT AH!
Selamat malam, pengundi pengundi Hougang. Malam ini, saya mengucapkan terimah kasih banyak banyak sebab pengundi pendungi hadir ke rally ini.
后港人的热情是雨浇不息的。人民行动党 不平等 地对待您二十多年了，您还是勇敢地支持工人党。谢谢！
I will next speak in English.
Recently, Professor Lim Chong Yah, former chairman of the National Wages Council and now Professor Emeritus of Economics at Nanyang Technological University made a strong proposal. He proposed to raise the wages of low income workers by 50% over the next 3 years and to freeze the pay of the top income earners.
The Workers’ Party is also concerned about income inequality in Singapore. For someone like Professor Lim who was previously in the innermost circle of government policymaking to raise this issue, it shows that this problem has grown really big, very very big. It shows that the PAP has gotten some things really wrong.
Instead of looking at the problem, one minister after another including the minister who is supposed to champion the welfare of workers dismissed the proposals as impractical. Professor Lim had to remind them that we are not talking about workers and not about cattle. Maybe the PAP expects workers to “做牛做马”, that is, work like cows and horses for pittance. Now who has a heart for the workers? Is it our highest paid ministers in the world? Do they think there is a problem for those who cannot have wages enough for daily living despite working day and night? They all sang the same tune that we need to get our productivity up first.
Last year, the Economic Survey of Singapore reported that even when productivity had risen in the past, wages in some industries did not move up as they should. There’s no assurance it would. Low income workers in certain industries have had their wages stagnate for more than 10 years already.
Productivity is important but it alone cannot determine the fair wages. Wages are also affected by government policies, like immigration. When the government flooded the job market with foreign workers, no matter how hard you work, your wages will still stagnate. That was what happened in the last ten years.
Another important reason is that it is difficult to increase productivity in some low wage industries. How many more hours can a security guard work, how many more trips can a bus driver make before we can say their productivity have risen to a level that they deserve a pay rise? More and more of our frail and elderly continue to work way way past retirement age. How much harder and longer must they work?
Naturally, Singaporeans are protesting. Finally, after 28 long years, the National Wages Council yesterday recommended a $50 increase in wages for those earning $1,000 and below. That’s barely keeping up with inflation.
Speaking of inflation, cost of living is getting higher and higher. Yesterday, the headline inflation was 5.4%. Inflation has been stuck at around 5% for quite some time already. While we can say inflation is due partly to higher prices of oil and goods from overseas, inflation is also caused by higher rents. Who is the biggest property owner in Singapore? Is it not the government, directly and indirectly through companies it owns? Who benefits from high COE prices? These are adding to the inflation.
The government likes to boast about Singapore being ranked top in all sorts of things. Well, amongst developed countries in the world, we are have the 2nd highest income inequality. Even Singapore’s Ambassador-at-large, Professor Tommy Koh described our ever widening income gap as “socially unconscionable”.
We are now the 9th most expensive city to live in according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. Eleven years ago, we were ranked number 97. Congratulations, we are now top in another area.
Two nights ago, here in this rally site, I was moved. I was very touched by how you stayed even when the rain poured. You stayed on and displayed generous spirit in using whatever you had to shelter one another. Even the old and the frail stayed on. You cheered in the rain. You danced in the rain. We are in the same boat together, come wind, rain or shine.
The PAP however, seems to have taken a different boat, a luxury liner, headed for a different direction. It seems hard for them to know your problems because they are not in the same boat as you are.
Voters need to continue to send the message to the government to put themselves into the shoes of ordinary Singaporeans and feel their pain. The last elections, you gave them a stern warning. They started to do a bit more. If they win Hougang, they will stop listening again.
Today, the Prime Minister said Hougang should vote for a fresh start. I think the PAP should itself first make a fresh start. The PAP should have a fresh start today NOT to divide the country up just because some constituencies chose to vote differently. Look at your IC. You have a pink IC, just like every Singaporean. You and your sons served National Service. You pay taxes. You helped build this country. The Prime Minister says the voters of Hougang should reflect. The PAP should instead reflect on why the people are so angry. Do not divide the country up when people vote differently. Do not divide the country up by holding off resources to opposition wards, resources that belong to all Singaporeans. The PAP should make a fresh start to be inclusive.
If Desmond Choo really has a heart for Hougang, if the PAP has a heart for Hougang, then work together for the benefit of Hougang residents, not cut off national resources from the opposition.
I have worked with Png Eng Huat. I know he is a humble, honest, hardworking and intelligent man. He is the one with a real heart for the people. He came from a humble background. He worked tirelessly on the welfare of Hougang people since 2006 without expecting any reward. Png Eng Huat will champion the cause of Hougang for you in parliament. 方荣发才真正有一颗心，一颗为人民服务的心，一颗为后港居民服务的心。
Give your vote to the Workers Party! Give your vote to Png Eng Huat ah! Thank you.
Dear voters of Hougang, we have seen a very interesting PAP strategy over the course of the last week in the by-elections. The PAP started by steering well clear of national issues. It turned its focus on local issues – with promises to make this better on the ground in Hougang – asking voters to give Desmond Choo a chance. Which is very funny because nothing stood in the way of the PAP to improve Hougang for the last 21 years. But instead of helping Hougang residents, it even obstructed the Workers’ Party run Hougang Town Council from initiating lift-upgrading programs at zero cost to Hougang residents.
So the PAP decided to pursue another strategy, to cast aspersions on the integrity on Mr Png Eng Huat, which we roundly rebutted.
This strategy of going after the person rather than focusing on election issues was also repeated during last year’s general elections by Minister Vivian Balakrishnan who asserted that the SDP had a hidden agenda and they would have to come out of the closet, a remark aimed at Mr Vincent Wijyesingha.
Today in the Straits Times, Desmond Choo comes out to say, do not focus on the NCMP issue, focus instead on the residents and Hougang. But who raised the NCMP issue in the first place? It was non other than the man running Desmond Choo’s campaign – DPM Teo Chee Hean.
Many Singaporeans believe that the 2011 General Elections gave the PAP a wake-up call. But this by-election has shown us that very little has fundamentally changed with the PAP and how it operates. Desmond Choo was protected in cotton wool while the entire PAP machine feverishly worked on strategies to fix the WP. This was fully expected.
And I was most surprised to hear the Prime Minister Lee say to the media on the issue of the Hougang by-election, that the WP makes a big show of how they will make the government do this or that. But yet in parliament we agreed to the government’s budget this year, which the PM described as inclusive.
We agreed with the budget because there were elements in it which were inclusive. Singaporeans know the track record of the Workers’ Party – we do not oppose for the sake of opposing. If a policy benefits Singaporeans, how can we in good conscience oppose it?
I am heartened to note that discerning Singaporeans were not distracted by the PAP’s by-election strategy of sowing confusion. The Workers’ Party has channeled its energies on keeping focused on our desire to continue serving Hougang, and proving that you do not have to agree with the PAP to be a loyal citizen of Singapore.
Let me use this speech today to look beyond the Hougang by-election. What comes after this? How will the PAP behave? Will they pursue real change to promote an inclusive society, or will they stick to their vision of a one-party dominant state where they call all the shots, and with no little opposition to represent Singaporeans even though about 40% of Singaporeans rejected the PAP during the last elections.
Voters of Hougang and fellow Singaporeans, if Singapore is to evolve with the times, we need more Singaporeans who are not afraid to change the status quo to stand up and take part in politics. And young Singaporeans have to step up and shape this country according to their hopes and vision. Ask yourselves – What do you want this nation to look like 10, 20, 30 years from now? Will it be a country you will be proud to belong to? Will it be a country you will be willing to lay down your life for? The answers are completely in your hands.
If Singaporeans sit back and say to ourselves – “Let someone else take charge. Let someone else do the work” – then we would have forfeited the right to shape our own destiny. We would have forfeited our right to make this country our home and you can bet someone else will make it his.
In March this year, the world’s senior most diplomat, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon gave a talk at the behest of the International Institute for Strategic Studies at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore. In response to a question from the audience on the youth, the UN Sec-Gen said, “young people should prepare themselves to be ready to take charge of their own responsibilities….you have the right to challenge your leaders of today,” He urged them to speak to their professors, political representatives, business leaders, and said “you have the right to speak up, motivate and inspire them…..but ambitions and ideas will not make you realize your dreams – be practical, have your two feet firmly grounded and discuss things with your community and national leaders. By challenging your leaders of today, you can motivate them to work harder.”
I asked DPM Teo in my last rally why the PAP punished all Singaporeans in Hougang when they exercised their democratic right to vote for the last 21 years. I have not received an answer and quite frankly, I don’t think any God-fearing person in PAP will be too happy with the answer anyway. So we need more voices to come together to ask this question to the PAP government and convince it to respect the rights of Singaporeans so the PAP treats all constituencies equally and does not use the People’s Association as a political tool. And if we can convince the PAP to do so, I believe we will see the birth pangs of a more inclusive Singapore.
The Singapore that our children will inherit will be a very different one from today. If population trends remain the same, young Singaporeans will have more elderly Singaporeans to support than ever before in our history. Young Singaporeans today will face more economic pressure and competition than ever before because of a variety of different PAP policies.
Anti-natal policies in the 70s, the obsession with economic growth, unregulated influx of foreigners, infrastructure that was not prepared for the sudden jump in population – all of these have increased the pressure of young Singaporeans today. The way the PAP opened the doors to so many foreigners in the professional, managerial, executive and technical fields and service industries over the last ten years has already divided many Singaporeans. Today, we see the elderly collecting cardboard, clearing trays and cleaning tables in foodcourts. Many of our less fortunate elderly have to worry about the next meal and if they can pay their medical bills. Life for them is precarious and hard. Some of our ITE and polytechnic diploma holders face incredible competition from cheaper foreign talent. Even degree holders are not spared.
Is this the Singapore that the youth today want to grow old in? Do they want to inherit a harsh, overcrowded city where the elderly are cast aside because they are no longer economically useful? If existing policies on labour, immigration and population do not change, and change soon, then this will be our reality in a few years time.
Everyone knows that the rising cost of living is a problem. But for young people today it presents a bigger challenge. Wages have not caught up with inflation. We are told that we need to be more productive before we can enjoy a wage increase, and yet international surveys show that Singaporean workers already have the longest working hours in the world.
We are a hardworking people and yet we suffer the rising cost of housing. Modest HDB flats that have shrunk in size through the decades are increasingly beyond our reach. And if we can afford to make the down payment, we spend the next three decades of our working lives paying it off. Young Singaporeans are going to inherit a Singapore where a house of your own may be beyond their grasp.
Education is another major issue that you and your children have to worry about. The Singapore education system is a stressful results-oriented system that leaves very little room for failure. The national exams are high-stakes games which you cannot afford to lose. PSLE, O Levels, A Levels – these tests will determine the type of life you will have. Do poorly in one test and you will lag behind your peers. Is streaming young children around the age of 8 really necessary? The struggle to even catch up will be long and hard. Education is also becoming more expensive. So many Singaporeans have been denied the course of their choice at a local university because of competition from foreign students. These Singaporeans have no choice but to seek out a university overseas.
All these challenges – from the plight of our elderly, long working hours, low wages, unaffordable housing, a stressful and expensive education system – have all conspired to change our minds about starting families. We are marrying later in life. Singapore men marry at 30, and women at 27 years of age. We cannot afford to have babies because we spend our time and effort paying our housing loan. And if we have children, we usually do not have more than one child. We are also deterred from having more children because it is becoming increasingly expensive and stressful to raise them.
Young voters of Hougang and all Singaporeans, you do not have to inherit such a Singapore. You can change the direction we are heading. You are not powerless because we are a democracy and your choices matter. By putting more Workers’ Party MPs like Mr Png Eng Huat in Parliament, you will ensure that the government is held accountable for its actions. By putting more WP MPs in Parliament you will ensure that the PAP will not be able to do whatever it wants without due regard to your best interests. The government may say it now ‘consults’, but that does not mean it will take your voice into account.
For the Workers’ Party we will have to do our best, and you can very sure, there will be people out there to fix us or damage us. But whether they are planted or paid, the Workers’ Party is singularly focused on serving residents and holding the PAP to account, because a strong opposition is good for Singapore.
Voters of Hougang, vote for Mr Png Eng Huat, vote for the future of both young and old Singaporeans, and vote for the Workers’ Party towards a First World Parliament.
On 24 May 2012, The Workers Party held its final rally for the Hougang By-election.
Lim Ee Ping
Lee Li Lian
NCMP Yee Jenn Jong
MP Muhamad Faisal Bin Abdul Manap
NCMP Gerald Giam
MP Chen Show Mao
MP Pritam Singh
MP Low Thia Khiang (Mandarin)
MP Sylvia Lim
MP Low Thia Khiang (Teochew)
WP Hougang Candidate, Png Eng Huat
MP Low Thia Khiang (English)
WHY HOUGANG SHOULD VOTE FOR PNG ENG HUAT
Good evening, voters of Hougang. Some of you are still deciding whom to vote for.
We are asking you to vote for Mr Png Eng Huat. But why should you vote for the Workers’ Party again? We do not assume that you will choose Png just because he is from the Workers’ Party. Unlike the PM, we know that you do not vote blindly and that you have never voted blindly for the Workers’ Party.
We know that Hougang does not belong to the Workers’ Party. Just as Singapore does not belong to the PAP.
Singapore belongs to the people of Singapore and Hougang belongs to the people of Hougang. You, the voters of Hougang hold the power. You are the ones who choose.
To win your vote, we must give you good reasons to choose Png Eng Huat and the Workers’ Party. Let me try to give you good reasons.
An MP has two broad roles.
The first is to look after the constituency, including running the town council and assisting residents to make representations to government agencies. This is the MP’s local role – he has to be an MP for Hougang.
The second role is to represent the interests of the people of Singapore in Parliament. This involves scrutinising new laws and checking how the government spends money – the people’s money. He or she has to question the government on whether it is doing its job and criticise it constructively to make it work harder. This is the MP’s national role – as an MP for Singapore.
Png Eng Huat would be an outstanding choice for both roles.
Png has been doing welfare work in Hougang since 2006. He has worked hard but quietly for many years. He did not know whether the party would even field him as a candidate or where. But that did not matter to him, because he just wanted to help people. For those of us who know him, that is one of his key characteristics: He just wants to help people. If you elect him as your MP, he will probably want to work even harder to justify being your MP.
As for being a representative in Parliament, Png is also an excellent choice. He is thoughtful, mature, and extremely hardworking. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but is a self-made man who fought his way through life. Png will not hesitate to raise the concerns of the people in Parliament. He will be a bold, yet sensible Opposition voice.
I hope that these are good reasons for you to vote for Png. He will be an excellent MP for you at the local level. And Singaporeans need him to be an MP at the national level.
Some PAP members have said that opposition can come through Non-Constituency Members and Nominated Members. That is exactly the PAP’s plan – to control all constituencies and have non-PAP MPs for sparring practice in Parliament. Under this plan, you will have no bargaining power to pressure the PAP to listen to you. The last few days, I have been talking to many voters in Hougang. Last night, one voter told me he still could not decide who to vote for; he said he felt that after the last GE when the PAP lost 6 seats, they seemed to be listening more. Exactly! If you want the PAP to listen even more, you should put them on the hot stove by reducing their majority and letting them know you mean business!
These 20 years, the Workers’ Party has not broken faith with Hougang voters. Last night a lady resident in a block near here told me that it really “pisses (her) off when others call Hougang a slum, because it is not a slum!” For two decades, the Hougang Town Council has had to face obstacles put in its way by the PAP government and its agencies. Hougang was placed at the back of the queue for lift upgrading, denied funds for town improvements such as covered linkways. They hoped that Hougang voters would get wet, see the upgrading across the road in PAP constituencies, and be demoralised. But – you would not be bullied! You continued to exercise your vote freely and supported WP.
In turn, we have tried our best to improve your living environment with the Town Council funds. The Town Council paid for 33 covered linkways from bus-stops to blocks, and between blocks, in Hougang Avenues 2, 3, 5 and 7, and Hougang Central. We did lift upgrading in 6 blocks to provide additional lift landings, without residents paying at all. When we tried to do more, the HDB stopped us. We added additional sports and other facilities to make Hougang residents fit and age actively. We want Hougang to be a vibrant town. Despite the additional challenges, we have not let you down. Hougang Town is now managed as part of the Aljunied-Hougang family. This is yet a new beginning.
This may be just a by-election, involving 23,000 voters, but the stakes are high. Why else is it on the front pages of our newspapers? Others are trying to cause distraction, but we know Hougang voters are a tough and wily bunch who can see through the smoke grenades.
We believe in Hougang voters, because you have believed in us. It is not easy being opposition MPs in Singapore, but your support and encouragement brought us to where we are now, and urges us on to try harder. You have, and will always be, the wind beneath our wings.
We know you are the ones with the final say. Please vote for this man. His name is Png Eng Huat. Vote for him as your MP for Hougang and as your MP for Singapore. When you go to the polling station on Saturday, mark your cross against the Hammer and say “Huat Ah!” Thank you.
Residents of Hougang, good evening!
Tonight, I want to touch briefly on an issue that is close to the heart of many Singaporeans, including Hougang residents.
I want to talk about healthcare in Singapore.
Most Singaporeans, especially the elderly, worry a lot about falling ill.
They are concerned not just about the painful treatment they have to go through, but also the painful amount of money they have to spend.
They are concerned about the financial burden they may place on their children.
But when Singaporeans cry out and tell the government that healthcare is getting too expensive, the PAP boasts about their 3Ms financing framework—Medisave, MediShield and Medifund.
They say that this is how the Government helps Singaporeans pay for their healthcare expenses.
But of the three Ms, two come from your own pocket. Last M—Medifund—is only available to the very poor, who have used up all their savings and as well as their children’s savings.
Medisave is your own hard-earned savings. It is not a gift from the government.
MediShield is a health insurance scheme. You pay premiums for most of your life, and you can only draw from it if you are very sick.
The government also does not subsidise MediShield. In fact, I asked in Parliament how much MediShield has collected in premiums, and how much they have paid out in claims.
Who wants to make a guess—did they collect more or did they pay out more?
Between 2006 and 2010, MediShield collected an average of $131 million more in premiums each year than it paid out in claims. $131 million every year.
Because the PAP operates MediShield like a commercial insurance scheme, premiums shoot up as one gets older. So after you retire and have less money on hand, you find yourself paying higher and higher premiums and deductibles. Yet, this is precisely the time when you need more medical care.
I have called in Parliament on the Government to avoid increasing premiums when they expand coverage, but instead use some of the millions of dollars collected in premiums to fund the scheme. The Government has refused.
These are complex issues. It is hard to go into details during election rallies. Also, the PAP can choose not to reply to what we say during election rallies. But in Parliament, they cannot ignore us. They have to respond. They must either justify their position, or change their policy.
This is why we need you to send more Workers’ Party candidates to Parliament, so that we can fight for your rights.
If you vote Png Eng Huat into Parliament, he will work with the rest of the Workers’ Party MPs to push the Government to reduce healthcare costs for the people.
Voters of Hougang, this is our last election rally and the last day of campaigning.
There have been many distractions during this election campaign. But I urge you to focus on what is important for you and your family.
This is a by-election to decide whether you want the Workers’ Party to continue serving you in Hougang and representing you in Parliament.
The PAP has thrown up a couple of goodies to entice you. Actually the goodies this time are not as good as in previous elections. They are just promising you a couple of covered walkways, which the Workers’ Party is already planning for you.
In 2006, they promised you $100 million to upgrade your ward if you voted for them. You rejected that carrot, because for you, having a credible opposition voice in Parliament is more important than upgrading.
Voters of Hougang, the PAP has punished you for years for voting for the Workers’ Party. They used you as a whipping boy to set an example to other constituencies, to show them the consequences of voting for the opposition.
Now the PAP is asking the people of Hougang to make a fresh start and vote in a PAP candidate who will work with the government to improve your lives. They tell you that they have always been here for you.
Who has been here for you and working with you for the past 20 years to improve your lives? Not the PAP for sure. They have been working against you to make your lives miserable.
How dare they come and expect your vote now.
The PAP put Hougang at the
Good evening, welcome to WP rally! 大家晚上好！My name is Lee Li Lian.
I joined the WP in 2006. That year saw many Singaporeans joined the Party. One of them was Png Eng Huat. I got to know Png better when we did grassroots work in Hougang SMC. I know that he is very down-to-earth and, very sincere. When it comes to decision making, he is firm and steadfast. Today, I am happy to know that he is representing the WP as a candidate in Hougang. I hope you, the residents of Hougang, will send him to Parliament!
Png is a man who cares for the less fortunate. He was behind the welfare system in Hougang. Under his guidance, the welfare system benefited many Hougang residents over the years.
If he has contributed so much to this constituency even though he was not the MP, just imagine what he can do if he is the MP!
Png is also thoughtful and sensitive. I remembered working with him on a Children’s Day project for a Children’s Home. What struck me the most was the way he kept reminding us not to take any pictures of the children as this may cause them to be embarrassed.
Many of these children came from under-privileged backgrounds. Png knew that having their pictures taken may cause them discomfort.
We need more leaders who are able to show this kind of sensitivity!
In recent days, certain PAP members have been making some very puzzling remarks and I would like to take this opportunity to address them.
DPM Teo Chee Hean said that Hougang residents can get the best of both worlds if they vote in the PAP as they will get two MPs for the price of one. I find this very strange, it does not gel with reality.
My friends, the reality is that ONLY PAP members are appointed as grassroots advisors by the People’s Association. So if the PAP wins, there will be a PAP MP who is the PAP grassroots advisor – so where is the 2-for-1 deal?
Let me tell you, whether we win or lose, the Opposition cannot even rent a tiny room in the Community centre for non-political events. Once PAP wins a ward, it is difficult for the Opposition to remain active in the ward except for perhaps house visits. The only way you can get a 2-for-1 deal is to vote in WP! When Mr Png is an MP, Mr Desmond Choo is likely to remain as the grassroots advisor.
Mr Teo also made another puzzling remark. He said that there are already 5 WP MPs so it is ok to vote for PAP. But there are already 81 PAP MPs so why should we still vote in another PAP MP?
Let me tell you why we should vote in another WP MP. One more WP MP will send a signal to the government that we don’t like their flawed policies. We don’t like how some of their policies are affecting our grandparents, parents, children and ourselves!
I also disagree that this election is only about local issues. How local is local? Singapore is so small. What affects Hougang also affects Tampines, Bishan or even Jurong. Furthermore, our local problems are dealt with by government statutory boards, so they are national issues.
My friends, Mr Choo also said that the low wages of Singaporean workers are a concern to him. He is the Deputy Director of NTUC. Let me ask him: what have you done so far for low-wage workers? Why only talk about low-wage workers now?
I also want to talk about the problems that many ordinary Singaporeans are facing.
After the last General Election, the PAP government promised to listen harder to you. They promised to help you. One year later, there are still many problems.
For example, a resale three-room flat in Ang Mo Kio can come up to $425K! (http://www.stproperty.sg/property-for-sale/hdb-for-sale/estate-ang-mo-kio-e1) Can you afford these prices? Can your children afford these prices?
The increase in MRT breakdow is alarming! All lines were affected, NEL, EWL, NSL even the very new Circle Line.
Our elderly citizens, our grandparents and parents worked hard in their younger days to contribute to nation building. Yet these people in their twilight years are not taken care of.
Why do we treat them like this? (http://www.straitstimes.com/Parliament/Story/STIStory_775183.html)
Perhaps we can offer elderly who are 80 and above free transport? Why is the government also so reluctant to offer the disabled concession when travelling on public transport? Why are we still discriminating against single parents? They are forgotten. So much for an inclusive society.
Finally, I would like to thank Minister Khaw for his kind concern about WP’s unity. It’s all part and parcel of a growing party. We are doing very well as a party and in this by- election, the WP CEC stands shoulder to shoulder with the residents of Hougang, to show the ruling party that Hougang, where the flame of the Workers’ Party’s hopes was ignited more than 20 years ago will ignite once again on 26th May 2012!
站在这里我看见了支持者送给我们的两句话，风雨同舟二十年，后港精神赞赞赞！说得好！The Hougang spirit is irreplaceable and we need you, the voters of Hougang to show the ruling party what that spirit is all about. On 26th May 2012, Vote Workers’ Party, Vote for Png Eng Huat!