Channel NewsAsia: Singapore’s political parties take stock, gear up for next polls

SINGAPORE VOTES 2006

By S Ramesh

SINGAPORE: Political parties have taken stock and are gearing up for the next election.

The Workers’ Party wants to build up its pool of candidates, while the Singapore Democratic Alliance wants to merge its component parties.

For the ruling People’s Action Party, it will be an all out effort to continue getting a strong mandate in future elections.

Speakers from the four political parties which contested the recent general election acknowledged there is now greater public acceptance of party politics in the country.

“An endorsement of this was seen on Tuesday when the Prime Minister made his swearing in speech and he says this election we have heard the people, we will do something about cost of living, we will look at health care costs. So we make no apology for canvassing the national agenda,” said Sylvia Lim, Chairman for the Workers’ Party and Non-constituency MP.

When asked what the Workers’ Party would do for workers, Ms Lim said, “We will canvass outside of these organisations for issues that matter to workers, not necessarily to their union leadership but to workers themselves, for instance, in our manifesto you will see proposals for unions to be more indepedant and we have also proposed unemployment insurance to take care of workers who may be out of work.”

One of the key issues at the Institute of Policy Studies’ post-election forum was the future of opposition parties in Singapore come the next general election.

And some political analysts feel it would make good sense for the opposition parties to cooperate electorally and put up a good fight against the ruling party.

For its part, the Singapore Democratic Alliance wants to review the current arrangement, where its four component parties campaign on different platforms.

“We are proposing also that in the next general election five years from now, only an SDA party. We don’t want a coalition of parties, in other words there is a likelihood that the NSP may dissolve as well and then we have just one SDA party to contest just like the Workers Party and SDP. The work has to start now and not five years later to be able to be a party to contend with in the next GE. If we don’t do that, then we will be out of the running because it takes a lot of time and effort from members to contest the next GE,” said Dr Vincent Yeo from the Singapore Democratic Alliance.

For the PAP, the recent general election threw up challenges.

Ms Indranee Rajah said the competition was good and the party’s getting ready to take the next step.

“The electorate has different views on certain things. But if we are able to reach them, if we are able to say “ok”, this is the scenario, we will take it in our stride and we will offer you the right things which we hope you will agree with and which we hope reflect what people think on the ground, then we would deserve the mandate that is given to us. That’s our challenge and I don’t think we have any hesitation in taking it on, and we hope we will have a strong mandate in elections to come,” said Indranee Rajah, MP, Tanjog Pagar GRC.

And one way the PAP hopes to achieve this, is by making sure people feel that their lives have improved. – CNA /dt/ct

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Posted in 2006 06. Comments Off on Channel NewsAsia: Singapore’s political parties take stock, gear up for next polls
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