23 Jan 2013 Punggol East By-Election Rally Speech by Gerald Giam


Saudara-saudari sekalian, salam hormat!

Voters of Punggol East, friends and fellow Singaporeans, good evening!

Thank you for coming to attend our last rally of this election. We are very grateful for your support. For those who are still deciding who to vote for, and have come to listen to what we have to say, I hope we can convince you tonight that Lee Li Lian from the Workers’ Party is the best candidate to manage your constituency and represent you in Parliament.

PAP leaders have made a number of statements in response to issues that the Workers’ Party has raised during this campaign. I am glad to note that, at least for these nine days, the PAP is listening, because they know their political survival in Punggol East is at stake.

On Sunday, Mr Heng Swee Keat, told the media that this by-election is “about electing the right candidate who can best serve residents of Punggol East” and “not about voting more opposition into Parliament”.

My response to Mr Heng is: Why can’t we do both? You have a chance this Saturday to elect the right candidate to serve you and also vote more opposition into Parliament, if you vote for Lee Li Lian.

Mr Heng also asked you to look at what MPs have contributed in their constituencies and in Parliament, and said you should come to a conclusion to “vote for the PAP to make the Workers’ Party work harder for you”.

I really don’t understand his logic. How can voting for the PAP candidate make the Workers’ Party work harder for you? If you vote for the PAP candidate, how will Lee Li Lian have the opportunity to serve you effectively?

But if you vote for Lee Li Lian, you will be putting her to work. And she will work very hard for you, with the full backing of the Workers’ Party when she runs your town council and improves your neighbourhood. And yes, you will make the PAP work harder to win back the ward the next time round!

Mr Teo Chee Hean yesterday said that residents should compare what the PAP candidate has to offer with what other candidates can offer. He then listed out the material benefits that their candidate has promised to the ward.

This is a well-known PAP election tactic: Dangle material goodies before voters and expect them to take the bait like a fish to a worm. But I urge you: think carefully before you bite, because there could be a sharp hook behind it to catch you.

In any case, Dr Koh Poh Koon is not promising multi-million dollar HDB upgrading programmes, but more modest amenity improvements like new childcare centres and a job placement centre. Yet he cannot build these himself. He will have to work with the government authorities to get these built.

In her speech yesterday, Li Lian already identified many of the problems faced by residents in Punggol East, even down to the detail of having more halal food stalls in the ward. If she is elected, you can be sure she will raise these concerns with the relevant authorities to press them to take action, and if they refuse to take action, she can raise them in Parliament.

Last night, after our rally, Mr Teo Chee Hean wrote on his Facebook that “WP has avoided taking a stand on major issues, for example, population or foreign workers”.

I beg to differ with Mr Teo. Our Manifesto has large sections dedicated to these major issues. If you look at the dozens of Parliament speeches posted on our website over the past year, all our MPs have raised issues and stated their positions on the major issues of the day, including education, housing, transport, population and foreign workers.

Mr Teo feels that PAP MPs have offered more constructive suggestions, and have been prepared to take a stand. I think what is important for voters in this by-election to know is: What is Dr Koh Poh Koon’s stand on all these major issues?

In the last few days, we have been hearing announcement after announcement of goodies being rolled out by the government. Enhanced marriage and parenthood package. MediShield coverage for babies with congenital conditions. Paternity leave. More childcare subsidies. These have been things that the Workers’ Party and many other Singaporeans have been calling for. And now they are being announced just before this by-election. The timing is perfect, isn’t it?

This all proves that it is the voice of the people – through your vote – that is the most powerful force to move government policy.

However, there is one announcement which has been long awaited, and should have been made weeks ago. I’m referring to the government White Paper on Population. This was supposed to be released at the end of last year and it will be debated in Parliament in just over a week’s time. Why has this paper not been released yet? Is the PAP afraid that people will be unhappy with its contents and vote against them? Maybe the PAP wants us to hear only the good stuff before the election.

Voters of Punggol East, if you vote for Lee Li Lian in this by-election, you will get three key benefits:

Number one, you will get an MP who is energetic, enthusiastic and empathetic. Someone you can relate to. Someone who will work tirelessly to take care of you. You will get another Workers’ Party MP in Parliament who will speak up against poor government policies. She will pressure the government to improve – for your benefit.

Number two, you will get an experienced Party to run your town council and manage your constituency. The Workers’ Party has over 20 years of experience in managing town councils well. And not just small town councils, but a huge GRC town council in Aljunied. We know the ins and outs of running a constituency. Even when obstacles were thrown in our path to trip us up, we have still managed to ensure residents’ needs are well taken care of. Just ask your friends or relatives in Hougang and Aljunied.

And three, you will be part of a movement to bring about change to Singapore. Not just change for the sake of it, but real change that improves your life, and the lives of your children. With more credible opposition MPs in Parliament, you will have greater bargaining power to force the government to be more responsive to your needs and concerns.

Come join us on this exciting journey and play a part in shaping Singapore’s future.

Voters of Punggol East, this is not an ordinary by-election, just as Punggol East is not an ordinary constituency. It is special.

We in the Workers’ Party take this election very seriously. That’s why so many of our members, volunteers and all our MPs have been out in force, campaigning for our candidate, Lee Li Lian, both on the ground and online.

The Workers’ Party values every one of your votes in this by-election, because this by-election is so critical in bringing about progress to our beloved nation of Singapore.

Help make history in Singapore. This Saturday, please cast your vote for Lee Li Lian. Vote for the Workers’ Party.