Singapore, the vibrant and apparently the most eligible city to live in according to many surveys, are facing economic challenges, tear and wear that has shocked many and a rise in nationalism. The anti-foreigner backlash against the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) and the rising cost of living are issues at stake in the tiny republic, where the opposition is still too divided to pose as an alternative.
However, Dr Chee Soon Juan, the leader of one of the opposition forces in Singapore expresses his views about the country’s economy, the housing, and foreigner issues. He also talks about the PAP as a party that has failed, and has a lack of foresight to bring the country forward. Read the full interview here:
WORLDFUTURETV.COM: We received information that there might be snap polls in Singapore. Is your party, the opposition groups overall, ready for any such polls, which will be two years in advance if they were to be held? Reason for the snap polls: To pre-empt LKY deteriorating health?
Chee Soon Juan: I can only speak for the SDP. We have been stepping up our preparations for the next GE. We launched our campaign last month. The SDP will focus on our alternative policies at the next GE and called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to have a national debate on issues that Singaporeans are concerned about. It is important to raise the standard of politics in Singapore by focusing on policy debates.
The SDP also announced its campaign slogan: “Your Voice in Parliament”. The party is preparing for elections, anytime.
WORLDFUTURETV.COM: Do you think the PAP will be able to hold on to its massive lead in the Parliament, and if yes, what would be the reason for this state of affairs?
Chee Soon Juan: The PAP has been able to keep a stranglehold in Parliament only because of its anti-democratic practices including the control of the media. With social media playing a bigger role nowadays, the dominance of the PAP will be eroded. We are confident of ending this monopoly by the PAP.
WORLDFUTURETV.COM: There is also the oil price slide, which is a boon for the Singapore economy. Do you think the PAP might take advantage of this situation in the coming months, as the 1st quarter results for 2015 may show a better economic scenario in Singapore? The easing of monetary policies today is a precursor to a good economic run in the next few quarters!
Chee Soon Juan: On the contrary, productivity levels have been anemic in the past decade or so. You’re witnessing a deep structural problem with our economy. Easing monetary policies can only do so much. Singapore needs a new economic approach which we have proposed.
The party also proposed a drastic cut in Minister’s salaries. Under our formula, the prime minister would earn about $50,000 and the ministers about $40,000,” Dr Gomez pointed. The salary levels are pegged to the lower percentiles to ensure that the poor are not left behind. The party also launched its economic programme, “A new economic vision. Towards innovation, equal opportunity and compassion”.
SDP has drawn up the alternative economic programme to chart a new course for our economy and take our nation to a new and dynamic level. (http://yoursdp.org/_ld/0/14_SDP_Econ_Policy.pdf)
WORLDFUTURETV.COM: What are the chances of the opposition, the SDP in particular, in the next elections?
Chee Soon Juan: The SDP will campaign for our alternative policies to the electorate and leverage of the social media. The traditional media controlled by the PAP are, however, still the main source of news for the majority of Singaporeans. In an uneven playing field, we don’t talk about chances, we just work hard and smart.
WORLDFUTURETV.COM: Any chances of a wider coalition of the opposition parties to hold off the PAP?
Chee Soon Juan: We continue to keep our communication channels with other opposition parties open and to cooperate with them. However, a formal alliance of opposition parties seems remote at this time.
WORLDFUTURETV.COM: How would the SPD handle the issues such as foreigner influx, foreigner house buying?
Chee Soon Juan: Our policy is aimed at lowering the number of foreign workers currently in Singapore as well as tightening the entry of foreigners into the country in the near future, thus creating an environment where Singaporeans can thrive and enjoy a high quality of life. The party has also proposed a non-open market flats policy, as a means to protect Singaporean’s rights to affordable homes. To do this, we have drawn up a comprehensive six-point plan:
1. Enact the Singaporeans First Policy 2. Retain Singaporean talent
3. Raise the Total Fertility Rate
4. Introduce the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)
5. Strengthen the Singaporean Identity
6. Revamp the ministerial pay formula
WORLDFUTURETV.COM: What is the SDP proposing as an alternative to the PAP?
Chee Soon Juan: There has been a deterioration in the quality of life in Singapore. And the populace, long known for its docility, is becoming increasingly restive over this downward slide.
With about 7,000 persons per sq km, Singapore has the third highest population density in the world. Not surprisingly, it is also one of the most stressful places in which to live and work.
This is the Singapore that doesn’t quite fit the postcard picture of a gleaming metropolis, economically. The situation has deteriorated to the point that Singaporeans are actively demonstrating their unhappiness.
The PAP refuses to admit that Singapore is facing unprecedented challenges. They continue to insist that one-party rule – a party that has of late demonstrated a shocking lack of competence and foresight – is the way forward. “Incompetence” and “lack of foresight” are not words you usually associate with the PAP government. And yet the facts speak for themselves.
One of the most important factors that the opposition can contribute to the establishment of a democratic polity in Singapore is the provision of an alternative to the PAP. The SDP has published a series of policy papers proposing alternative ideas: On immigration and population, on housing, on Healthcare, Education and economic policies.