Police reports and barbs fly between all sides

My condolences to the police who have to work overtime

Hello and welcome to another issue of GE20Watch!

Just days to go before Polling Day! The heat has cranked up on all sides, with the politicking reaching particularly nasty levels.

This newsletter strives to be politically non-partisan, but what has happened in recent days leaves a bad taste in the mouth. We are in the middle of a global pandemic, and we would like all parties to focus on engaging on matters of substance such as Singapore’s plans for the future economy in a post-Covid world, or on substantive issues such as healthcare. Let’s leave the mud-slinging behind.

PAP turns the screw on WP and people call the mata

In a statement released on Monday morning, the PAP called on the WP to ‘state its stand’ on Raeesah Khan’s social media posts, which are being investigated. The PAP called her statements ‘derogatory’ towards Chinese and Christians, and called for the WP to have Khan make her other posts public. They ended the statement by saying that the WP should not ask voters to ‘write it a blank cheque’ whether in Sengkang or elsewhere.

This statement was quite accusatory and somewhat inaccurate in nature. It is not at all clear how Khan was ‘derogatory’ towards Chinese and Christians, as she had only questioned if law enforcement treated ‘rich Chinese’ differently, and her comments about ‘corrupt church leaders’ were in the context of the Kong Hee corruption trial, and did not seem to apply to all Christians.

Furthermore, just a week ago, the PAP had urged people not to put Ivan Lim through trial by internet, yet now they are encouraging Khan to publish her tweets for the world to scrutinise:

The internet blew up at this. Retaliation police reports were filed in return, with one made against Heng Swee Keat for his remarks about Singapore not being ready for a non-Chinese prime minister. Another was made against the PAP’s press statement itself for the same offence as Khan, on the grounds that it falsely accused Khan of making derogatory statements. Many more were soon made against others such as Xiaxue, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, and NUS professor Dr Ben Leong, for varying reasons.

Although good praxis to undermine the impact of the reports against Khan, these actions are quite counterproductive, and further makes this election more toxic in nature. Let’s get back to the issues at hand, shall we?

PAP Lunchtime Rally

PM Lee spoke on Monday noon, keeping in tradition with the usual lunchtime Fullerton rally held by the PAP since his father’s time. Lee spoke about the impact of Covid-19, and how people needed to vote for the PAP to give investors confidence that Singapore could weather through the crisis. He also said that the opposition parties were ‘completely silent’ on how to tackle Covid-19 in the past six months and during the campaign.

Astute observers noted how this was factually incorrect, as Chapter 1 of the WP’s manifesto immediately touched on their plans for the Covid-19 crisis:

The WP responded to Lee’s comments, highlighting its Covid-19 policy proposals in its manifesto, and reassured people that it would not oppose for the sake of opposing and hold the government accountable. RP chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam also released a video responding to Lee, saying that investors were looking for ‘strong governance controls’ when deciding whether to invest in a country, and would ‘welcome a strong opposition’.

In other news…

SDP’s Dr Paul Tambyah said that the PAP were accusing the SDP of propagating falsehoods during the GE period, just as they did in 2015. In response to the correction directions made against media outlets for his statements over the outbreak of Covid-19 in foreign worker dormitories, Tambyah said that he had never claimed authorities acted without consulting medical experts, but reiterated that MOM had discouraged workers from sending their workers for tests.

The Peoples Voice finally released their manifesto, although it looks like something you throw together at 11pm when your assignment is due at 11.59pm. Amongst some of the policies that PV are proposing are freezing the issuing of S-passes and advocating for the repeal of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with India, pushing for a ‘living wage’, returning Singaporeans’ CPF at 55, reforming the immigration system, eliminating GST for basic necessities and reducing it from 7% to 5%, and greater legislation to provide accountability and transparency.

Finally, while this newsletter does not endorse any specific candidates, we do find the story of Red Dot United candidate Liyana Dhamirah inspiring. The 33-year-old, who was pregnant and homeless at 22, lived in a tent on Sembawang beach for three months. She has written a book about how she overcame this hardship, and is now an entrepreneur. We’ll end with a quote from her:

“We are usually very grateful to the Government for whatever assistance that we (ordinary Singaporeans) can get…but being grateful doesn’t mean that we have to keep quiet if we do see some unfairness or something that we know isn’t right.”

Thanks for reading! Do share this newsletter if you feel it has helped you and would be a valuable resource for others during this election

Share GE20Watch

And do subscribe for regular updates by email for the rest of the campaigning period!