Low Thia Khiang: PAP not playing fair

Posted on 01 May 2011

The Worker’s Party chief says PAP sets up barriers to stop opposition parties from getting involved in grassroots activities.

Photos and text: Terence Lee

WORKER’S Party Secretary General Low Thia Khiang, speaking at Bedok stadium, whacked the PAP on Saturday night for making it tough for opposition parties to serve residents.

He was responding to criticism from Sengkang West PAP candidate Dr Lam Pin Min that opposition parties disappeared from contest grounds after the 2006 elections.

Low mentioned that because new constituencies are often created at every election, it is impossible for them to appear in a “previously non-existent ward.”

“We certainly would love to do more to reach out to the residents, but do you know we are kept out by barriers set by the PAP?” he said.

The first barrier he mentioned was that Town Councils in PAP wards have rejected applications by the opposition party to hold dialogue sessions and forums at the resident’s void decks.

Second barrier is that opposition parties cannot set up physical premises to launch activities in PAP constituencies. The PAP Community Foundation (PCF), which is a network of pre-schools, is able to rent property from the Housing Development Board (HDB) for cheap prices. As a result, they can sublet space to the PAP.

“That’s why you see that every constituency there is a PAP branch, which is usually next to PCF.”

“Sometimes, some foreign reporters who come to Singapore to interview me, and they wonder, why we conduct Meet-the-People’s sessions at the void deck. So much for a first world nation.” – Low Thia Khiang

The Worker’s Party has no branches. And since they have no access to PCF facilities, their only option would be to rent from the open market, which is too expensive.

Furthermore, opposition parties are handicapped in their own constituencies.

“Sometimes, some foreign reporters who come to Singapore to interview me, and they wonder, why we conduct Meet-the-People’s sessions at the void deck. So much for a first world nation.”

PAP MPs, on the other hand, get to do such sessions in a facility of their own.

Opposition MPs are also disallowed from using Community Centres to organise courses and activities for residents, while PAP MPs can do so. “I thought community club are meant for community, not for propelling the PAP’s interest!”

He added that in Hougang, where he was an MP, the defeated PAP candidate became the grassroots advisor through the People’s Association, a statuary board promoting social harmony. Government bodies worked through him instead of Low, and when his town council paid a sum to the HDB for lift upgrading, it was the PAP candidate who announced the initiative instead. This allows the defeated candidates to gain a foothold at the next elections.

So, while the government says that the political playing field is fair, Low firmly denied that is the case.

“When they ask me to play a game of soccer, they use a goalpost smaller than the ball!”

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- who has written 81 posts on New Nation.

Terence is an online media nut that is obsessed with writing and publishing on the Internet. Recently, he took up photography to expand his repertoire, and hopes to learn videography soon. He has worked in both online and print publications such as The Straits Times, Today, Mind Your Body, The Online Citizen, and Funkygrad. He is currently the assistant editor with SGEntrepreneurs, a website that covers entrepreneurship in Singapore and Asia. Terence can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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