Weekend TODAY: Near D-Day, East Coast candidates emphasise different issues

GE2006

DERRICK A PAULO
derrick@newstoday.com.sg

THE final fusillade between the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the Workers’ Party (WP) teams in East Coast was fired on Friday as campaigning drew to a close.

Incumbent anchor Minister S Jayakumar issued his third press statement to counter his opponents’ comments about upgrading in the area, whose boundaries have shifted for this General Election.

The shifts have not inflated the PAP’s figures on upgrading, which were given on Wednesday as 97 per cent, Professor Jayakumar told reporters after a lunchtime walkabout at Block 58 in Bedok.

He was responding to WP candidate Perry Tong, who spoke to Channel NewsAsia on Thursday and asked if the figure included new intended upgrading facilities.

In addition, he noted that 40 blocks from Kaki Bukit have been moved from East Coast to Marine Parade which, he said, have not been upgraded.

To this claim, Prof Jayakumar said that 90 per cent have been or are being upgraded. Under the new boundaries, close to 100 per cent of precincts would have been or will be upgraded.

The WP team has been arguing in its campaign that it is providing the spark for upgrading to be awarded to the constituency, and Mr Tong had highlighted Blocks 213 and 214, in particular, where there had been none – although these were earmarked in March for lift upgrading.

“Mr Tong now changes the subject. He asked lamely why ‘there are no signs of impending commencement of works’. Anyone with common sense and (who is) in touch with the ground will know that lift upgrading cannot be done within a month,” said Prof Jayakumar on Friday.

“They will collapse just like Mr Tong’s and the WP’s baseless claims.”

With that, the back-and-forth came to a close between both parties. Mr Tong did not comment further on Prof Jayakumar’s latest rebuttal but told reporters: “The only thing we can be accused of is that we have been consistent.

“Prior to, and at the beginning of our campaign, we said that we would start campaigning on municipal issues and move on to national issues. We’ve moved on to national issues; our opponents have remained stuck.”

In its final day stumping for votes, the WP team for East Coast distributed to residents a one-page write up – which it had prepared independently of its party leadership – which touched on policy proposals relating to employment, transport and healthcare – but nothing on upgrading.

These were raised by candidates in its team during the election rallies and to the press, but “were not given the due coverage” due to “distractions”, said team leader Chia Ti Lik.

Among the proposals is the provision of free bus services within the CBD area to reduce private vehicle usage and congestion – a concept taken from authorities in the American city of Portland, Oregon.

On the PAP side, Mr Raymond Lim – the second minister in its East Coast team – described the WP as a party that “promises the sky because it knows it never has to deliver”.

“I think they’ve been a terrible disappointment. They said when the campaign started that they’d like to raise the level of debate, but what’s clear is they’ve tried their best to lower it,” said Mr Lim.

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Posted in 2006 05. Comments Off on Weekend TODAY: Near D-Day, East Coast candidates emphasise different issues
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