Straits Times: WP hopes public will provide ‘wisdom from the ground’

By M. NIRMALA
SENIOR CORRESPONDENT

THE Workers’ Party (WP) is hoping its new approach of feedback through regular “public consultation” exercises will make a difference to policies and how voters here regard it.

Having held sessions at its Jalan Besar headquarters earlier this year that were limited to the members and guests, the opposition party organised its first open dialogue on Saturday and attracted about 100 people.

WP chairman Sylvia Lim yesterday said the party aimed to get “a wider spectrum of views” through such sessions.

The feedback will help it formulate responses to government policies and provide a more accurate picture when it raises public concerns, she said.

“The public is also a good sounding board for our ideas,” she added.

Policy and communications committee chairman James Gomez, a panelist at Saturday’s three-hour event, said the party wanted “to be pro-active and seek wisdom from the ground”.

The feedback will also be reflected in the party manifesto which is being reviewed, he added.

Ms Lim said the sessions were not intended specifically to prepare for the next general election and were “part of our ongoing work in articulating public concerns and sentiments even in off-election periods”.

The two, together with party treasurer Tan Wui-Hua, were panelists at Saturday’s event which focused on unemployment, poverty, Central Provident Fund (CPF) changes and other policies they said made life tough for Singaporeans.

They also charged that government policies which emphasised asset accumulation had left Singaporeans cash-poor.

Speakers from the audience voiced grievances on issues such as Housing Board prices, the one-point hike in Goods and Services Tax from January and the lower value of the shares they bought with CPF money.

Party secretary-general and Hougang MP Low Thia Khiang was present but let his colleagues deal with most of the issues.

Political scientist Ho Khai Leong, of the Institute of South-east Asian Studies, said the session was “one of the better organised opposition meetings I have attended… The quality of discussion and views has gone up.”

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