New Paper on Sunday: Unbelievable news?

Not if Worker’s Party has its way

Clarence Chang

YOU wake up, open the morning paper and the front page headline says: Parliament, not the people, to vote for a new President.

Under it, a smaller headline: Latest electoral reform change to further empower the House, says new PM.

Wah, you think, just last month, this guy abolished GRCs, set up an independent election commission and threw out the Internal Security Act. His party is certainly true to its manifesto.

Just then, your wife hollers from the kitchen that she’s almost out of bread, milk and sugar for breakfast.

No problem lah, you reply. Cheaper now – no more 5 per cent GST on basic necessities, as promised by the party.

Don’t forget Ah Girl’s check-up at the polyclinic tomorrow, says the wifey.

Cheaper too, you think. The Government’s now putting more of taxpayers’ money into healthcare.

Hmm, a thought just struck me: If we’re collecting less money without GST, how are we paying the billion-dollar health bills?

Ah, never mind.

Just think of me, me and me. If warded, no problem. I’ve got more money in my Medisave account since the new CPF contribution rate is now 35 per cent, up from 33.

Papa’s little darling then strolls in and says: “No problem, no problem. What if you lose your job, Pa? That happened to my friend’s daddy, you know.”

No probl… I mean, no worries, girl. Pa is now contributing to this new thing called unemployment insurance. If retrenched, I just take money from it.

“Not enough, how? Must sell flat?” Ah Girl is beginning to get a bit too precocious.

Of course not, girl. Now, Pa can buy a second flat from HDB at subsidised prices.

So we can downgrade without paying what we used to call a resale levy.

“No resale levy? So are people making money by buying and selling HDB flats, Pa?”

You don’t worry about that, just prepare for your exams, okay?

Ah Girl retorts: “Pa, now no more streaming leh. And no more year-end exams.”

Hmm, I’m not sure if she’s preparing well for work life.

No time to think about that as I get on the MRT for work.

The logo on the doors of the train reads: National Transport Corporation.

Ah, yes. No more SBS Transit, SMRT, or even the Public Transport Council. Just the new NTC – a giant all-in-one mass provider. Cheaper fares and more routes.

But what if it goes bankrupt when it starts losing billions? Who cares, better enjoy it while it lasts… while it lasts… while it…

Then you get a jolt. “Wake up, Pa.”

I fell asleep reading the papers. Now, what was I reading before I dozed off?

Ah, yes. It was about the Workers’ Party’s Manifesto 2006, which the party unveiled yesterday.

Timely because its secretary-general, Mr Low Thia Khiang, said “election is coming”.

Denying that the document is a rehash of the party’s 1994 manifesto under then-WP chief JB Jeyaretnam, he added: “We’re not saying we have the best ideas.”

The 52-page booklet covers 14 policy areas like civil liberties, education, national security, the economy, healthcare, the media and even sports.

“It shows the Workers’ Party is serious about politics. We take the trouble to look at issues, and we’re prepared to defend what we’ve put up today,” said Mr Low.

Although the manifesto doesn’t explain how the intended goodies are to be paid for, Mr Low did say: “At least we offer policy options.”

While the 1994 manifesto was taglined “Power To The People”, the 2006 motto is simply “You Have A Choice”.

But Mr Low added that the party is “not aiming to be an alternative government” after the next GE.

“We recognise we don’t have the ability to do that at this point in time… Let’s face facts. We can’t field as many candidates as we like.”

Money, manpower and logistical resources are always problems, he explained, revealing that WP has only some 200 active members.

That’s why opposition parties have often resorted to the so-called by-election effect – telling Singaporeans to vote for more opposition candidates because the PAP is already returned to power even before polls open.


This time round, Mr Low stressed, that’s not WP’s strategy. If resources permit, he said it’s even prepared to contest Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s stronghold of Ang Mo Kio GRC.

“I’m not saying we’ll win Ang Mo Kio. Just go there and participate so people will have a choice. People in Ang Mo Ko will like that!” he said with a grin.

“If (Senior Minister) Goh Chok Tong is welcoming a contest, how can the PM not welcome a contest? You want a mandate from the people?”

What about opinions by some observers that the WP is “THE opposition party to watch” at the next GE?

Flanked by five other WP executive committee members, including party chairman Sylvia Lim and assistant secretaries-general Poh Lee Guan and James Gomez, Mr Low answered cheekily: “Don’t watch too much. It’s better to watch the PAP to see what they’ll do. That’s my advice.”

Okay, I’ll be watching for more media reports and doubt I’ll nod off when election fever takes hold.

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