SDP's ideas gaining traction

Singapore Democrats

Years ago, the PAP and its supporters portrayed the SDP as an opposition party that opposed for opposition's sake. In other words, we did not have anything constructive to propose but, according to DPM Teo Chee Hean, only knew how to "throw stones”.

That was before the advent of the Internet when the PAP had a field day painting the SDP as it wished through the state media without us having any means to counter the smears.

Today, we have, at least, the new media to inform the voting public of our views and ideas. As a result, not only have Singaporeans been able to see the truth but our ideas are beginning to gain traction – even among PAP leaders.

For example, PM Lee Hsien Loong's announcement last year to turn Medishield into a national insurance scheme was a page taken from the SDP's healthcare paper. We made the point that all Singaporeans must have equal access to medical care and receive equal treatment regardless of their financial status. In other words, our healthcare system must be universal.

The Straits Times, in reporting PM Lee's announcement, wrote that "The extension of MediShield into MediShield Life is tantamount to having a universal national health insurance...”

In September 2013, the Singapore Medical Association published a piece by SDP's Professor Paul Tambyah and Dr Tan Lip Hong on universal healthcare, a rare acknowledgement of SDP's contribution. 

Another example is our proposal for minimum wage which we had been advocating since the late 1990s. The idea was more recently reiterated by Professor Tommy Koh and Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Associated Professor Heng Wui Tat.

It culminated in DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam announcing that the Government would introduce a minimum wage for cleaners (even as he denied that it was a minimum wage legislation).

Our idea of a Singaporeans First Policy was also echoed by the NTUC and, more significantly, the Manpower Minister Mr Tan Chuan-jin in his proposal for the Fair Consideration Framework.

Also, the SDP's proposal for the Non-Open Market (NOM) scheme where HDB flats are sold without the land cost factored into the prices found support within establishment circles.

Prominent economist and Vice-President of The Economic Society of Singapore, Mr Yeoh Lam Keong, said that our idea for an NOM scheme was "excellent” and that the idea to de-link HDB prices from the private cost of land is a "fundamentally sound one."

Our proposal also found support in Mr Ku Swee Yong who is the chief executive of International Property Advisor. Mr Ku wrote in the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) website (comments section): "The SDP paper is well presented” and the proposal is "something good for the authorities if they needed a theoretical basis for amending policies on allocation and pricing mechanism.”

Dr Tan Meng Wah a research fellow at the IPS has also proposed that flats be sold at costs-based prices minus land value.

We highlight these matters not as a chest-thumping exercise but to demonstrate how the PAP has used the state media to paint a misleading image of the SDP. While we have been been constructive for years, the PAP has never given credit where credit is due even as it now adopts our ideas.

Unfortunately, many Singaporeans are still misled by this false picture of the SDP. We have a limited period before the next general elections to rectify this problem. To this end, we call on all our supporters and right-thinking Singaporeans to help debunk this myth that the PAP has constructed of the SDP.

We are working hard to be the competent, constructive and compassionate party that Singaporeans want to see – we always have and always will. And we will not stop until we make Singapore a better place.

Monday, 17 February 2014 SDP Print