Pritam Singh Says WP Will Continue To Advance Suggestions In Response To Lawrence Wong’s Challenge

During his analysis of the results of the 2020 General Election (GE), the People’s Action Party’s (PAP’s) Mr Lawrence Wong also took the chance to take a swipe at the opposition.

He said that it didn’t “seriously engage on the key issues with workable, alternative solutions”, instead chipping away at Singaporeans’ unhappiness over current policies.

He also challenged the Workers’ Party (WP) to “put forward serious policy alternatives” since they now have 10 Members of Parliament.

In response, WP chief Pritam Singh said that his party has, and will continue, to advance suggestions in Parliament.

WP can’t just question Govt now

In a Facebook video posted on Saturday (18 Jul), Mr Wong, who is a member of the PAP’s Central Executive Committee, mentioned that WP’s message of checking the PAP Government is one that they know voters want to hear.

Thus, now that WP has 10 elected MPs in Parliament, they cannot continue merely “asking the Government questions”.

Instead, he said “it is also their duty to put forward serious policy alternatives to be scrutinised and debated”.

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Pritam says questioning Govt is fundamental

In a Facebook post on Monday (20 Jul), Mr Pritam said questioning the Government is a fundamental role of the opposition.

This is not just in Singapore but in any parliamentary democracy in the world.

Here’s the first part of the long post, read the full post here.

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Thus, he said, the WP will continue to perform this “questioning” role in Parliament, as it’s critical in holding the Government to account.

WP will continue to advance proposals

As for the “serious policy alternatives” that Mr Wong asked for, Mr Pritam said it’s up to the challenge.

In fact, he said the WP has already been doing so — pointing to proposals like the Redundancy Insurance and alternative approaches to the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act that it raised in Parliament previously.

The party will also encourage public conversations over issues that significantly affect Singaporeans such as the prospects of HDB lease decay, and release public working papers on them.

PAP & WP have significant difference in resources

However, Mr Pritam also highlighted the significant difference in the resources available to the PAP and to the WP.

The Government, which is run by the PAP, has the civil service at its disposal – comprising a workforce of some 120,000 civil servants, he said. These civil servants can potentially source information for parliamentary debates.

The WP, in contrast, relies primarily on volunteers for its political work.

But the WP still go on advancing suggestions despite these constraints, he added.

Advance of proposals by WP depends on PAP’s openness

Mr Pritam also pointed out that the WP can advance policy alternatives all they want, but whether they can be realistically implemented also depends on the PAP’s receptiveness.

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He said it “remains to be seen” whether the PAP Government will come to favour “greater openness” in its information sharing, adding,

The extent to which realistic policy alternatives can be advanced both in public and in Parliament is also a function (of) the PAP’s approach to democratic politics.

Wong says WP wants to form the govt

Mr Wong, in his speech, also cast doubt that the WP merely wants to deny the PAP two-thirds of seats in Parliament, adding,

I have no doubt that they want to displace the PAP and form the Government one day – except that they find it inconvenient to acknowledge this now.

WP needs 32 seats to get one-third of Parliament, still far from aim

To that, Mr Pritam replied that just to gain one-third of seats in Parliament would require the WP to have at least 32 elected MPs.

As it now has just 10 elected MPs, WP is far from this achievement.

However, even if it does get 32 seats in future, the PAP will still have 61 seats, enough to advance its policies.

Crucially, however, the PAP won’t be able to change the Constitution however it likes — which is the aim of denying it a two-thirds majority.

This is still the medium-term aim of the WP, said Mr Pritam.

Looking forward to robust policy debate in Parliament

Having a robust debate is what precisely what Parliament is for, and we agree that the WP should pull some policy alternatives out of the hat to counter the PAP’s.

We can’t wait to see how the debate will play out in the next Parliament.

Featured image from MS News.