Vote for a More Equal Society
At last night’s rally, I spoke about the controversial sale of computing systems belonging to PAP Town Councils to AIM just before the General Election in 2011. Late last night, the PAP HQ issued a short statement on the matter, on behalf of Dr Teo Ho Pin, the co-ordinating Chairman of the PAP Town Councils. Dr Teo must have been on standby. Though there is nothing new in the statement, I think it is necessary to debunk once and for all the question of who terminated the software agreement with our Town Council.
Dr Teo now says it was we, the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, who terminated the agreement. What he is now saying contradicts his own earlier statement, issued on Christmas Eve, where he stated: “After GE2011, the software contract with AIM remained in place for the PAP TCs. However, AIM decided to end the contract with the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC).” We have also already released AIM’s official notice of termination to us dated on 22 June 2011, which has been widely circulated. In any case, if Dr Teo has read the termination clause, he would know that it does not give the town council the right to terminate the agreement under such circumstances. So I don’t know what Dr Teo is trying to say.
In any case, it is quite clear that the bigger question of public interest is the sale of the software to AIM in the first place. The fact that the Prime Minister has seen it fit to order a review of the transaction shows that there are serious questions and the public deserves answers!
Tonight is our last rally. We had badly wanted to have a rally tomorrow, the last day of campaigning. Unfortunately, there are only 2 rally sites, and the balloting system caused us to lose out to PAP and the Reform Party.
Tonight I wish to talk to you about using your vote to build a more equal society.
Singapore has changed a lot. When I was growing up, I used to visit my school friends living in kampongs in the Punggol area, and could smell the aroma of pig farms behind my own home in Seletar Hills. Now, life in Singapore is considered first world. I am proud of what Singapore has achieved in my lifetime, but yet worried at the same time.
Singapore has become a very unequal society. There was a recent study of world economies by Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank. According to their Wealth Report 2012, Singapore was listed as the world’s most affluent, with a GDP (gross domestic product) per capita of about $70,000 in 2010, beating Norway and the USA! It was stated that Singapore had the highest GDP per capita in 2010 globally, and will likely remain at the top spot as far as 2050. Fellow Singaporeans, do you feel rich? The fact is that there is a big divide between the haves and have-nots.
Last month, the PSLE results were released. Two different sets of parents came to see me about their children’s postings to secondary schools. On the one hand, Couple A who was quite well-off had a child who did brilliantly. They wanted to change schools, so as to give their child maximum flexibility in career options in the future. Perfectly understandable. On the other hand, a single mother came with her son. He did not do well, and did not get posted to the school of his choice. The school he was posted to did not offer his mother tongue subject in-house. His mother explained to me that she needed to work two jobs, and she was worried that her son would fall into bad company if he had to travel outside school for his language classes. Her one and only concern was that he not ruin his future by getting into trouble with the law. This, my friends, is a snapshot of the two different worlds we have in Singapore.
The population in Singapore has also changed drastically in the last 20 years. In 1990, there were about 3 million people here. In 2000, about 4 million. And in 2010, about 5 million. Only about 62% are Singapore citizens. What else is coming, we await in anticipation…. The government had said it would release the White Paper on Population this month, but it seems that it is being held back till after the by-election!
It is totally understandable that Singaporeans feel insecure in this environment. Sometimes when I am waiting at traffic lights to cross the road, I close my eyes and listen to people talking around me, and can imagine myself in a different country! What future will our children have in Singapore? Can they afford to live here? There seems to be so much insecurity and worry these days.
The Workers’ Party believes that the way forward is to ensure that the country’s governing principles take into account not just economic growth, but well-being and happiness as well. Sustainable development, retirement security, social safety nets – all these are critical if we are to move forward as a united people. What we need are MPs who can empathise with the struggles that you face daily.
Li Lian was not a brilliant student; she did her GCE N Levels, went on to O Levels and then got into Ngee Ann Polytechnic. She got her university degree through part-time studies while she was working. Some of you in Punggol East have told me that her story is similar to yours.
In sunny Singapore, some citizens’ voices are louder than others. Life in Singapore is a breeze for the rich; but for the poor, it can be hell. Elections are the only time when the voice of a labourer is as loud as the voice of a CEO – both have just one vote. Use your vote to bring about a more equal society. Let Parliament be a microcosm of society – with more MPs from the non-elite class, to speak for the people.
Even if Dr Koh Poh Koon does not get elected, he can return to his comfortable life as a colorectal surgeon holding multiple appointments. He has only been in the PAP for a few weeks, so he has not invested too much time. Anyway from today’s papers, he initially said No to the Prime Minister, meaning he was not too keen to stand in Punggol East in the first place.
Li Lian has been Pritam Singh’s Legislative Assistant for 1.5 years. Pritam once told me: “Li Lian is one in a million”. I agree. This morning I got a message that well-wishers had gone to the Waterloo Street temple to pray for Li Lian’s success in this by-election. Thank you very much.
The Workers’ Party believes that electing Li Lian carries more promise for a secure future for Punggol East and for Singapore. Do not waste this chance to fight for a more equal society. Vote Lee Li Lian. Vote Workers’ Party!
榜鹅东的选民 ！ 大家晚上好！