Everything you ever wanted to know about WP

This is the eighth in a series of articles going through the parties contesting in the General Elections. 

  1. The Blur Sotong’s Guide To The Reform Party
  2. The Blur Sotong’s Guide To Singaporeans First
  3. The Blur Sotong’s Guide To The Singapore Democratic Party
  4. The Blur Sotong’s Guide To The Singapore People’s Party/Democratic Progressive Party
  5. The Blur Sotong’s Guide To The Singapore Democratic Alliance
  6. The Blur Sotong’s Guide To The People’s Power Party
  7. The Blur Sotong’s Guide To The National Solidarity Party

Blur Sotong has told me that he shares an affinity with the Workers’ Party. When I asked why, he said that he liked the hammer in their logo.

I can only deduce that Blur Sotong liked to play with hammers as a kid, hence his blur-ness.

Anyway, he wants to know more about Thor’s party WP, so let’s get on with the Q&A!

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Source

1. Blur Sotong: Tell me about their history.

WP began with Singapore’s former Chief Minister David Marshall in 1957, who was a key opposition figure in the times before Singapore’s merger with Malaysia. However, in 1963, he stood as an independent and separated himself from the party.

After several years of PAP dominance in the 1960s, during which time no opposition party had a seat, WP was revived by J.B. Jeyaretnam leading a group of lawyers in 1971.

In 1981, JBJ made history by winning Anson constituency as an opposition member.

Other famous members of WP included Francis Seow, a political dissident, and Dr. Lee Siew-Choh, a leader of Barisan Sosialis – which merged with the WP in 1988.

In 1991, Low Thia Khiang, who is now the party’s Secretary-General, won in Hougang and got re-elected consecutively for 4 elections. Eventually, he led the Aljunied GRC team in the 2011 elections and won there too, making it the first time an Opposition party captured a GRC, all while retaining their Hougang SMC seat.

In 2012, when WP expelled Yaw Shin Leong, the Hougang incumbent, for ‘indiscretions in his private life’, a by-election was called and Png Eng Huat won, again retaining WP’s hold in Hougang.

WP further captured another seat in the Punggol East by-election in 2013 when Lee Li Lian won a 4-cornered fight.

This cemented WP’s status as the most dominant Opposition party in Singapore, as they had 9 members sitting in Parliament since 2013, including two NCMPs.

2. Blur Sotong: What about their ideology?

Workers’ Party began as a left-wing party but has morphed into a centre-left party built on the ideals of social democracy.

3. Blur Sotong: What are the policies and proposals being advocated by WP?

Previously in 2011, they went with a “Towards A First-World Parliament” slogan based on voting WP representatives into Parliament so as to ‘check’ the Government and the ruling party.

This year, they are going with the slogan “Empower Your Future”, and their manifesto is split into five chapters, because of the five stars on our national flag which represents progress, equality, justice, democracy and peace. The Workers’ Party’s Manifesto 2015 is inspired by these ideals to offer over 130 policy proposals grouped thematically in five chapters each expressing one of the ideals.

Chapter 1 — Focusing on the Singaporean Core: Adopt a Singaporean-core population policy and limit foreign manpower growth

Chapter 2 (progress) calls for economic security to enable Confident Workers and Enterprises that would bring Singapore to the next level of development.

Chapter 3 (equality) seeks to strengthen our education, family, social welfare and healthcare institutions to help Aspiring Students and Families realise their dreams.

Chapter 4 (justice) envisions a Singapore that is Our City, Our Home, Co-Created by Singaporeans with strong roots to our land.

Chapter 5 (democracy) pursues Governance for Solidarity guided by political accountability, transparency, balance and responsibility.

Chapter 6 (peace) proposes Active Diplomacy, Confident Defence to make Singapore a good citizen of the world promoting peace and development.

Here are some of their proposed measures:

  • Increase workers’ incomes by increasing the cash payout portion of Workfare, instituting a national minimum wage and pegging it to the Average Household Expenditure on Basic Needs, and introducing an Employment Security Fund to provide for unemployment insurance.
  • Enhance retirement adequacy by allowing CPF members to start receiving monthly CPF payouts earlier, linking CPF LIFE and Silver Support payouts to inflation, and paying special dividends to CPF members in years of good return on investment of CPF monies.
  • Implement a more holistic and equitable education system by reducing class sizes, moving away from high-stakes examinations, offering a 10-Year Through Train School Programme from Primary 1 to Secondary 4, and introducing a Career and Life Skills Programme to raise awareness of less mainstream professions where students can realise their potential.
  • Improve healthcare affordability and outcomes by enhancing subsidies for preventive and primary care, improving health literacy among the population, increasing the utilisation of healthcare technologies, and setting clear performance targets for health and social care providers.
  • Improve public transport quality and affordability by having a government-owned National Transport Corporation own and manage rail and bus assets, audit public transport operators’ performance standards, and set fares in consultation with stakeholders, with fares linked to operators’ performance, service quality and reliability.
  • Make public housing more affordable and accessible to lower and middle income Singaporeans by pegging HDB BTO flat prices to median monthly household income of applicants, enabling them to pay off their mortgage within 20 years, and by facilitating the elderly who wish to sublet their flats to increase their retirement income.

The full manifesto can be viewed on their website.

4. Blur Sotong: Where will they be standing in the upcoming general election?

As the 2nd-largest party in Singapore, they are fielding a total of 28 candidates over 10 constituencies (5 GRCs and 5 SMCs). All of these constituencies are concentrated in the Eastern or North-Eastern part of Singapore.

Aljunied GRC

  1. Low Thia Khiang, 59, full-time Member of Parliament. Has held Hougang since 1991 and is still beloved by residents there. Made a hard decision to contest Aljunied instead of Hougang, as he felt it was time for WP to get a GRC.
  2. Sylvia Lim Swee Lian, 50, lawyer and MP. Responsible for making the most jabs at the PAP.
  3. Chen Show Mao, 54, full-time MP and former corporate lawyer, touted as WP’s ‘star’ able to go up against the PAP in Parliament. Disappointed some when his presence was not as great as people were hoping. Still remains highly popular.
  4. Pritam Singh, 39, advocate and solicitor (Locum) with a law firm. Member of Parliament.
  5. Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap, 40, MP and freelance counsellor.

East Coast GRC

  1. Gerald Giam Yean Song, 37, IT Solutions Architect and was a Non-constituency MP. Contested in East Coast GRC in 2011, which received 45.2%. As an NCMP, he delivered more than 50 speeches in Parliament and asked over 150 parliamentary questions. Now imagine if he was a real MP.
  2. Daniel Goh Pei Siong, 42, associate professor (sociology) with the National University of Singapore (NUS). Has a Facebook page. Known for dressing like an uncle around the neighbourhood and hence unnoticed.
  3. Mohamed Fairoz Bin Shariff, 36, recently resigned from his position as Associate Librarian, Content & Services with the National Library Board to participate in the General Elections.
  4. Leon Perera, 44, CEO of an international business research and consulting agency.

Marine Parade GRC

  1. Yee Jenn Jong, 50, founder and CEO of The Learning Grid Pte Ltd and 360 Education Pte Ltd
  2. Dylan Ng Foo Eng, 40, is a banker.
  3. Terence Tan Li-Chern, 44, a lawyer with Peter Low, LLC.
  4. He Ting Ru, 32, lawyer. Known for her ‘geeky’ smile and relative youth, leading to comparisons with Nicole Seah formerly of the NSP. She lives with her grandmother (who encouraged her to help others) and eight rescued cats (!). She can rescue me too.
  5. Firuz Khan, 48, Chocolatier/Chocolate manufacturer. The Willy Wonka of WP.

Nee Soon GRC

  1. Cheryl Loh Xiu Wen, 31, Sales Consultant of a Global Services Company.
  2. Luke Koh Tiong Yee, 41, managing partner of a private investment business. Volunteered at a welfare organisation for many years.
  3. Ron Tan Jun Yen, 30, real estate agent and director of an investment company.
  4. Foo Seck Guan, 38, was formerly working at the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE) and now works at the Singapore Cancer Society.
  5. Gurmit Singh s/o Sadhu Singh, 55, is a legal counsel. Known for leaving WP and then joining them again.

Jalan Besar GRC

  1. Frieda Chan Sio Phing, 39, is a social worker. Contested in Moulmein-Kallang GRC in 2011.
  2. Redzwan Hafidz Abdul Razak, 30, engineer. Inspired to join politics while he was a student in Australia and watching parliamentary debates there.
  3. Adrian Sim Tian Hock, 43, managing director with a Japanese dispensing equipment manufacturer.
  4. L. Somasundaram, 52, engineering lecturer with Temasek Polytechnic. Also contested in Moulmein-Kallang GRC in 2011.

Single Member Constituencies (SMCs)

Hougang: Png Eng Huat, 53, Member of Parliament and Vice-Chairman of Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

Punggol East: Lee Li Lian, 37, full-time MP. The youngest full MP in Singapore, having served since 2013 when she won a by-election in Punggol East SMC.

Sengkang West: Koh Choong Yong, 42, a software engineer.

Fengshan: Dennis Tan Lip Fong, 45, shipping lawyer.

MacPherson: Chen Jiaxi Bernard, 29, Project Executive of a Charitable Foundation. Despite his young age, he has been with WP since 2006.

With ample rallies to familiarise yourself with all the members, there is no excuse for not knowing at least five of them.

5. Blur Sotong: I thought opposition parties were all about that ‘opposition unity’, but both NSP and WP are contesting MacPherson…

tl; dr of the saga:

WP wanted Marine Parade, Jalan Besar and MacPherson. So did NSP.

WP wanted Marine Parade because Joo Chiat SMC had been absorbed into Marine Parade, while NSP had contested in Marine Parade in 2011.

WP decided to no-show the second opposition party meeting after an agreement could not be reached in the first meeting. But before that, they had told NSP that they would not contest MacPherson if the NSP gave up its interest in Marine Parade GRC.

NSP eventually gave up interest in Marine Parade and MacPherson, but days before nomination, NSP’s Steve Chia announced his interest to run in the SMC. Then-NSP Secretary-General Hazel Poa resigned because of that decision.

Eventually, Steve Chia dropped out due to the appearance of malicious sites berating his past legal troubles. Nonetheless, NSP (the party) changed their minds and sent Cheo Chai Chen to MacPherson.

Hence the current situation of both WP and NSP contesting in MacPherson.

6. Blur Sotong: That kind of sucks. But WP is the stronger party, right?

That may be so if you go by numbers alone, but NSP aren’t slouches either. Everyone has a different opinion on the matter.

WP’s main aim is to get enough representatives into Parliament so that they are better able to debate and influence policies, but they have no intentions of forming the Government at present time.

Nobody has talked about whether the opposition parties will form a coalition Government if enough opposition members are elected, but the possibility remains.

7. Blur Sotong: Where can I follow them online?

Facebook

Twitter

Website

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Featured image via WP
With references from Channel NewsAsia, Straits Times, Straits Times, WP, Wikipedia, Wikipedia