Straits Times: PM told not to see results as rejection of his style of govt

WP press conference

Mr Low: Attributes his election win to hard work and the fact that he is bilingual.

THE NEW and sole Workers’ Party Member of Parliament yesterday urged Mr Goh Chok Tong not to interpret the election results as a rejection of his open and consultative style of government.

The Prime Minister should instead look at it as the people’s endorsement of his style, said Mr Low Thia Khiang, the newly-elected WP member for Hougang.

He was speaking at the party’s post-election press conference at the Allson Hotel yesterday. Present were the WP secretary-general, Mr J. B. Jeyaretnam, chairman John Gan and several of the party’s election candidates and officials.

Mr Low, who garnered 10,621 votes to defeat his PAP rival, Mr Tang Guan Seng, by 1,134 votes, said that as he saw it, the election of four opposition MPs was in line with the promise of a more open and consultative government made by the PAP in its election manifesto, The Next Lap.

“Mr Goh,” he said, “has won a clear majority of 61 per cent and should not be disappointed.”

“He should press ahead with the programmes outlined in The Next Lap and accommodate the three new opposition MPs in Parliament.”

He said that the Prime Minister should avoid jumping to the conclusion that Singaporeans voted for the opposition because they did not want to endorse his open and consultative government.

There were other issues, like the rising cost of living, which could have prompted voters to vote against the PAP, he said.

He also said that it was not necessary for the Government to resort to “confrontational politics” between the PAP and the opposition.

“There are only four opposition seats in Parliament, not 40. If there are 40, then I will appreciate the need to adopt a confrontational approach,” he said.

Referring to Mr Goh’s statement that PAP services would not be provided to opposition supporters in Potong Pasir, he warned that the move would backfire and lead to the election of more opposition MPs in the next election.

The PAP Government, he stressed, had the responsibility of looking after all Singaporeans.

Asked what factor had contributed to his election success, he said: “Not just one particular factor, but it was through hard work and also the fact that I am bilingual. I can communicate with my constituents.

“It shows that dialect has an important role to play in Singapore,” he added, in obvious reference to his speech in Teochew at the eve-of-election day rally in the predominantly Teochew-speaking constituency.

To another question on whether he would speak in Mandarin or English in his parliamentary speeches, he said he would prefer to talk in Mandarin.

English, he felt, was “over-used” in Singapore’s political arena. He said that by using Mandarin in Parliament, he would add a “new dimension” to the debates on issues of the day.

Straits Times: Move to stand in Hougang pays off for Low

Low Thia Khiang (WP)

BUSINESSMAN Low Thia Khiang of the Workers’ Party got into Parliament on his second attempt yesterday when he beat PAP incumbent Tang Guan Seng in Hougang.

Mr Low, 35, polled 10,621 votes against 9,487 polled by Mr Tang, the Parliamentary Secretary (Education) who has represented the ward since 1988.

A graduate of the former Nanyang University, Mr Low contested unsuccessfully in the 1988 General Election when his WP team lost to the PAP in Tiong Bahru GRC.

He moved to Hougang this time, he said, because he was familiar with the area and because there were many Teochews like him living there.

Mr Low, a former Chinese language teacher at Pei Dao Secondary School, joined the WP in 1981 and is its organising secretary. Now a businessman in building construction, he is married with three children.

After his victory was announced at 12.53 am, he said: “This is the beginning of the next lap.

“This is a change which I think is important to the development of society.”

He was not prepared to make a statement about his programme, but said that his first task was to decide his stance towards the media, especially the Chinese television media.

During the campaign he complained of unfair treatment by the press and, although he agreed to be interviewed by The Straits Times, refused to allow a reporter and photographer accompany him on his rounds calling on residents.

He defeated Mr Tang, a former deputy chief editor of the Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, who entered politics in 1984 when he stood in Khe Bong, which no longer exists on the electoral boundaries map.

Mr Tang, 43, said last night: “Of course I am disappointed. I think I lost because the opposition candidate was a strong one. We have to do an in-depth study to look into the reasons. I was elected for three years. Now he’s the choice of the people.”