Source : TODAY
SPEECH BY DENISE PHUA : HOUGANG BY ELECTION RALLY (Minor changes may have been made during delivery)
But first, I want to share with you why I am rooting for the PAP.
CHANGE DID NOT START AT LAST GE
Many people think that political change in Singapore began only after the last General Elections, one year ago.
I do not agree.
It was the PAP who opened up the political space for top opposition candidates who lose the elections like Mrs Lina Cheam, Mr Yee Jenn Jong, and Mr Gerald Giam to be given the platform and visibility to express their views.
In fact, the change in the PAP to me started even earlier at a personal level.
When I first agreed to join the PAP in 2006, some of my friends especially a few who are pro-opposition predicted I will be a one-term MP. They say I will not survive because I do not toe the line. I will be shunned when I am fired. All this did not happen, not even when I spoke up against sacred cows like Many Helping Hands, ministerial and public sector pay and casinos. No one has told me what I should speak or not say.
My friends, political change started earlier than the last GE in May 2011 to me – when someone like me with no political pedigree, no academic scholarships, is roped into the PAP and allowed to speak independently on behalf of my residents, my cause and my country.
7 years on and I am still standing here in white.
Let me share with you a few lessons from my political journey as you consider which candidate you should support.
I learnt that democracy is about having a choice. Democracy is not equated to Joining the WP/Opposition. It is about having freedom of choice of political parties and candidates. And this is what we are having today in Hougang,in Singapore.
I believe that any MP who is sincere, willing to put in the hard work, and does not give up easily; stands a very good chance to influence government policies and programmes; to make a real difference to his residents, the community, and country.
My observation over the last year in Parliament tells me that you can be an opposition MP and still not be independent. Often, there were many more diverse views and suggestions from the PAP MPs than from the Workers’ Party MPs. Listen to the rally speeches of the MPs last night at the Workers’ Party rally. They are very consistent; almost everything said about the government and our country is bad.
Let us seek our conscience – are we Singaporeans all so ashamed of ourselves and our achievements – what we have done since 1965? Is there nothing good about our national policies all these years? Has any independent voice from opposition expressed this?
Politics is only the means to an end – the end of politics to me must be to build a stronger country ; to ensure that no one is left behind. It is not about entertainment, packed rallies, charismatic speeches that stir emotions and sometimes hatred amongst Singaporeans.
We are a very small country. Singapore is plugged in a big global environment. Making sure our little red dot survive is not an easy task. We need to have enough capabilities and senior leaders to represent our countries’ interest in interacting and dealing with the world.
There are many long-term survival issues that our country is facing – issues like increasing the real wages of our low-skilled, less-educated workers; issues like the pain of very small businesses struggling in a the face of global competition; issues like in a rapidly ageing country with lesser wroking adultsand a more demanding young, who will take on the jobs that other Singaporeans shun – the jobs in hospitals, nursing homes, construction site?
The solutions are not so simple – because they are complex issues. And I know they are being worked on.
Talk is cheap. All of us can talk and share our points of views. It is easy to scold, check and slap someone else when they are not doing their job. That is the Workers’ Party mission of the First World Parliament.
How about action?
What are the signature programmes that have been started by the Workers’ Party for the people of Hougang in the last 20 years? What are the solutions that have been brought up in Parliament in the last one year that can stand the test of time and give the outcomes we need for our country ?
My fellow Singaporeans, I learnt that even without the opposition, citizenry who have higher expectations and demands would have stepped in, to shape and influence government policies and programmes. If you don’t believe this, go and check out the views of ex-NMP Siew Kum Hong, Calvin Cheng, Paulin Straughan, Eugene Tan and even bloggers like Mr Brown, Kin Mun. They do not have allegiance to any specific political party but they together with many Singaporeans who have minds of their own – the people are the real check on the PAP (and even on the Workers’ Party).
HOUGANG RESIDENTS HAVE A CHOICE
I ask you to cast your vote for the People’s Action Party and the candidate it has put forth for Hougang.
Desmond Choo is a capable member of our next generation of leaders. I know him only since the last GE in 2011. But 2 things I know of him.
One, Desmondstayed on to serve in Hougang, even when he had no idea that Mr Yow Shin Leong was going to be expelled; even when he knew when the PM is going to call this by-elections.
Two, he is consistent in rolling out programmes for the needy and elderly; raised funds; and recently, when even for the disabled when he heard I am working on some database and support programmes. Desmond can work on initiatives that many PAP MPs have started successfully like those for the elderly, the disabled and the low-income wage earners.
Mr Low Thia Khiang has served Hougang for the last 20 years. In the last GE, many Hougang residents were fearful that there will be no opposition members in Parliament at the GE last year, in case Mr Low and his team do not win Aljunied. I respect you for that.
You have no fear now. The 5 Aljunied GRC MPs, together with the 9 NMPs; and the 3 NCMPs – all 17 of them, have contributed much more than their expected share of voice in Parliament. On top of that, many PAP MPs (some of whom like us who are labeled to be ‘more opposition than opposition’) expressed our views boldly and without fear. There is no shortage of independent noises and suggestions on how our Government should improve.
In fact, the topics that are brought up at last night’s Workers Party rally spoke about the same issues brought up even more fiercely by the PAP MPs like Lim Wee Kiak, Lim Biow Chuan, Edwin Tong and even ex-NMPS like Paulin Straughan.
Hougang residents, you have the choice of more than Mr Low or his shadow. We are all the products of the past but we need not be imprisoned by the past. Mr Lau is now strongly entrenched in Parliament together with a whole GRC team.
Hougang voters, you have played your part. You have the freedom not to be the stronghold of any political party. You have the freedom not to be the pawn of any political bets; of the bookies. You can now give yourself a real choice.
Give Desmond Choo a chance to see if he can sincerely serve you, look after you and yet speak his mind in Parliament with courage and consideration; not just to be an opposition voice but to objectively speak up for you and our country.
But today, Hougang voters, you have a choice.
Vote for Desmond; have him, the “Teochew How-Sei Kia”) work for you both in Hougang and in Parliament.