Straits Times: Bad eggs in Workers’ Party? It’s for voters to decide: Sylvia

ELECTION 06

WP chairman reiterates that there is no question of dropping Gomez from Aljunied GRC

BY PEH SHING HUEI, KEN KWEK

THE Workers’ Party (WP) yesterday dismissed charges that there were “bad eggs” in the party, with chairman Sylvia Lim saying it was for voters to decide if its leaders and candidates were people of integrity – not the People’s Action Party (PAP).

Responding to sharp criticism from Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng over the James Gomez issue, she said the party remained focused on the election and was proceeding with the hustings with a clear conscience.

Maintaining the position that the WP has taken since the issue first emerged, she said Singaporeans would be able to decide if the incident involving Mr Gomez’s application for a minority certificate “is actually as important as the PAP makes it out to be”.

Mr Gomez himself refused to comment on being called a liar by both Mr Lee and Mr Wong.

Speaking after a walkabout at a hawker centre in Bedok Reservoir in Aljunied GRC, Ms Lim reiterated that there was no question of dropping Mr Gomez from the five-member team contesting there. He had apologised for his mistake, she said.

“He thought he had submitted the form but it turns out that he hadn’t. And as far as the party is concerned, we have not made any public allegations against the Elections Department or anything of that nature. It is actually the PAP that is drumming this up.”

Mr Gomez claimed on April 26 he submitted his minority form to the department two days earlier, but had not received any confirmation.

He asked the department to check and said there were “implications”. But a security camera recording showed he had not handed in his form and had instead put it in his briefcase.

At separate PAP rallies on Tuesday night, Mr Lee and Mr Wong accused Mr Gomez of being a “liar” who was out to set up the Elections Department and smear the Government’s reputation.

Mr Lee also criticised the leadership of WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang and Ms Lim, questioning their integrity and honesty. He was disappointed with them for “shielding” Mr Gomez despite his actions.

On the PAP questioning the character of the WP leadership, Ms Lim said with a laugh that it was “quite normal for the PAP to do this”.

“I think we have to disappoint MM Lee…I mean it is up to the voters to decide whether they think we are people of integrity or not. As far as we are concerned, our consciences are clear.”

As for Mr Gomez being a “bad egg”, she added: “MM can say what he wants. As far as the party is concerned, all of us are making a very important contribution towards getting this election going for the people. And I would say that there are no bad eggs, it’s just the WP as one entity.”

Prior to Mr Lee and Mr Wong’s remarks on Tuesday, Mr Inderjit Singh, a candidate on the PAP team contesting Ang Mo Kio GRC, also released a statement questioning Mr Gomez’s character.

Mr Singh said Mr Gomez told him his application was a “wayang” (theatre in Malay), meant to mislead the media into thinking he was standing in Ang Mo Kio GRC, which would need an Indian to be the minority candidate.

Ms Lim said she was surprised by Mr Singh’s statement.

“We’re surprised that Inderjit came out to say these things. It just shows that whatever transpired, you can’t really have casual conversation with the PAP.”

Mr Gomez declined to comment on being called a liar by Mr Lee and Mr Wong.

As for Mr Singh’s statement and whether he did say the episode at the Elections Department was a “wayang”, he said: “I don’t want to say anything about it any more. I just want to repeat: I want to remain calm and focused.

“There are three more days of active campaigning and rallies. I feel very obliged to hit the street and get on with the campaign.”

Yesterday, Ms Lim offered two reasons why she believed the PAP has been hammering away at the Elections Department incident.

One was that it hoped that WP leaders would be dragged down by the incident. But the party was “not going to fall into their trap”.

The other was that the PAP was trying to distract voters because of their “lack of a track record in the last five years and (from) the fact that Singaporeans’ lives have not really improved since the last election”.

“So Singaporeans should be aware of this and hold the PAP to account on their track record, which is what the election should be about.”

kenkwek@sph.com.sg

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