Png Eng Huat’s Rally Speech, Hougang Rally, 2 Sep


My fellow Singaporeans, it is important to talk about the future of Singapore in this General Election. It is also important to note that the PAP government is not a government of the future but a ghost from the past. Because it has governed Singapore for 50 years, the PAP behaves like it is untouchable. It continues to intimidate anyone who dares to defy them. Its arrogance is unparalleled. Its tolerance for dissent is nonexistent.

One of the PAP candidates for Aljunied GRC said, “All the young have the good life and they are asking for more, such as things like freedom of speech and so on, but if we are not careful with that, the next generation might run loose. And Singapore cannot afford to let that happen.”

I have faith that the next generation will not run loose. My greatest fear is that if the PAP is given a mandate and left unchecked, it will be the one that will run loose, given its absolute power in Parliament. We are seeing PAP behaving badly ever so often now. Singapore cannot afford to have an unchecked PAP and I will tell you why.

On 21 November 2014, a PAP minister issued a statement that said, “Is the S&CC from Aljunied GRC residents being used to cover the deficit in Hougang TC? (In FY10, Hougang TC had an operating deficit of S$92,000.) If so, surely residents of Aljunied GRC are entitled to know?”

Baying for blood, another PAP minister repeated this on 14 August 2015 and said, “Essentially what happened was this: Hougang Town Council was running a deficit, they took over Aljunied, a town council which was in surplus (following the 2011 General Election). They took over Punggol East from Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council which was also in surplus. Now the whole Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council is in deficit.”

We checked the books and found that the PAP conveniently left out the fact that Hougang Town Council had a surplus of $82,000 as of 26 May 2011 when it merged its account with Aljunied GRC. This figure is found in the audit report of the old Aljunied Hougang Town Council for the financial year ending 31 March 2012. This report was presented to Parliament on 22 January 2013.

It is highly mischievous for the PAP to make such a statement to alarm the residents of Aljunied, Hougang, and Punggol East. This is the hallmark of a one-party state where the ruling members can withhold the facts and think that they can get away with murder.

I repeat – Hougang Town Council had a surplus when it merged its account with Aljunied on 26 May 2011. Residents of Hougang and Aljunied, I believe you are entitled to know why the PAP is hiding this fact from you.

Today, when I flipped open the pages of the newspaper, I couldn’t believe my eyes when the headlines on page A7 read, “AHPETC was back in the black after agent contract ended: Khaw”. My fellow Singaporeans, the agent contract for AHPETC only ended on 14 July 2015, three and a half months after our financial year had ended. What that means is the agent contract was still running as of 31 March 2015 when we closed our accounts for the financial year.

Ms Sylvia Lim has explained in the audit report that the “turnaround from the annual deficits of the preceding two years to a budgetary surplus was brought about by a combination of factors” comprising higher revenue, lower general and administrative expenditure, and savings in utilities due to the use of contestable energy.

I am shocked the PAP has stooped so low to spread careless remarks that AHPETC was back in the black for the last financial year only after its agent contract had ended when in fact there is no such thing. AHPETC has achieved a turnaround in its financial position on its own merit when the agent contract was still running. This is because we do know how to run a town council and we can run it despite being handicapped by the loss of a multimillion dollar town management system developed with S&CC money to a PAP-owned company.

The PAP is trying very hard to paint the Workers’ Party as one who will reward its friends with contracts. Let me state this fact in no uncertain terms – the Workers’ Party has never set up any $2 private limited company to do business with town councils and will never reward our friends with lucrative contracts. We welcome competitive bids from all parties. In fact, the essential maintenance service contract in AHPETC was recently awarded to a company linked to HDB because it gave the town a competitive bid versus another tenderer.

I guess fixing the opposition is more important to the PAP than fixing the MRT breakdown, the hospital beds shortage, or improving the Singaporean core in our workforce.

My fellow Singaporeans, the time has come to reject PAP’s style of politics. The time has come to reject politics of intimidation, politics of divide, and politics of mudslinging. The time has come to empower your future.

The future is something we the citizens of Singapore must protect at all costs because if we allow the PAP to control every aspect of our lives again, we will all go back to the dark ages of politics when citizens had no voice in the Parliament, no say in the policies, and no recourse if government decides to increase the population to 6.9 million people.

The Workers’ Party voted against the Population White Paper but nothing is going to change because the result was 77 votes for and 13 against. The PAP will take this as a clear endorsement of their population policy roadmap from you the people because all the elected PAP MPs present at the sitting supported the roadmap to increase our population to 6.9 million people.

Let me tell you something interesting about the Population White Paper. When it was first tabled in Parliament on 4 February 2013, the Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean asked the House to endorse the Population White Paper as the population policy roadmap to address Singapore’s demographic challenge.

The very next day, the PAP immediately tabled an amendment to drop the word “population policy” after many Singaporeans expressed their shock and rejection of their population policy. The PAP also tried to sugarcoat the statement further by adding that it “supports maintaining a strong Singaporean core by encouraging more Singaporeans to get married and have children, supplemented by a calibrated pace of immigration to prevent the citizen population from shrinking; and recognises that the population projections beyond 2020 are for the purpose of land use and infrastructure planning, and not a population target”!

Do you believe a well thought through population policy roadmap can be dropped or changed just like that overnight? In my 3 years as an MP, I have never seen anything like that. That is why it is important to empower your future.

Empowering your future goes beyond protecting your right to vote without fear and intimidation. It involves helping to build a strong opposition to stand up against the tyranny of the PAP. It also involves ensuring that you, the voters, will never be taken for granted.

The Workers’ Party will never takes voter for granted. When we lose in an election, we try and try again. When the PAP loses, it does not take defeat graciously and gentlemanly. On the contrary, it will grab any opportunity to fix the opposition and punish the voters. Mr Low Thia Khiang knows this very well and they are doing it again to residents of Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East. They are withholding your grants despite the Town Council having filed its audit reports on time. In the beginning, they said we must have an unqualified account before they release the grants but did they apply the same standard to their own people?

The People’s Association had 6 years of adverse reports from 2008 to 2013 – adverse is the worst opinion in audit reports – but the grants to PA were not withheld and continued to rise every year. Prior to 2008, the PA had qualified reports as well.

One year after the first adverse report come out in 2008, the government increased the PA grant to $300 million, a rise of $19 million from the previous year. When the second adverse report came out, the grant went up again. AHPETC had 2 years of qualified accounts and your grants were immediately withheld. They say 3 strikes and you are out but when PA received its third adverse opinion, the government grant went up by almost $38 million from the previous year.

Mr Lim Swee Say explained that the adverse opinion received by PA was due to the non-inclusion of the accounts of the Grassroots Organisations (GROs) but it is not that simple. When auditors cannot do any fieldwork on the GROs accounts, they were basically saying, and I quote from one of the reports, “because of the significance of the matter described in the Basis of Adverse Opinion paragraph, the financial statements do not present fairly, the state of affairs of the Association” for the financial year.

We are not talking about small sums of money here. As of 31 March 2013, the total assets of the GROs amounts to almost $300 million and not a single cent of it was checked by external auditors of PA for many years.

Mr Lim said in Parliament that all their “GRO accounts have been subjected to internal audits all these years” and that is the reason why he said it with confidence “that there was no irregularity at the system level.” Obviously, the internal audits are not working very well. Otherwise, AGO would not have picked up so many lapses in the GROs in its latest report.

I have highlighted in Parliament that AHPETC shared many similar lapses with other ministries and statutory boards but the treatment and attention AHPETC got is so different.

My fellow Singaporeans, the future of Singapore is indeed at stake. The future is not about running town councils. We can run a town council as proven by our latest audit report. In fact, there are managing agents who can run town councils as well. The future of Singapore is about getting our politics right. The future is about having leaders we can respect. The future is also about empowering ourselves to do what is right and good for the country.

What we have seen and witnessed from the PAP so far is not good for the country. The time has come to build a nation truly based on justice and equality and nothing less. The Workers’ Party cannot do this alone but together with you, we can change the future. We have done it before in 2011. We have done it again in 2012 and 2013. We will do it again come September 11.

Vote Workers’ Party! Empower your future!