Even as PM Lee Hsien Loong repeats the line that the opposition has not articulated an alternative for Singapore, his MPs are increasingly voicing support for the SDP’s ideas and policies.$CUT$
In May 2014, for example, PAP MP Ms Foo Mee Har urged her own party to adopt a policy “where the hiring and development of Singaporeans is actively promoted and championed.”
Her compatriot and Senior Minister of State for Manpower Amy Khor replied that such “Singaporeans first” policy will not work.
But Ms Khor forgot that her boss Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-jin introduced the Fair Compensation Framework which “require employers to consider Singaporeans fairly before hiring Employment Pass (EP) holders.”
In the general elections in 2001, the SDP had campaigned on just such a policy where we called for employers to demonstrate that they have tried to hire Singaporeans first before turning to foreigners. Almost 15 years later, the PAP is just starting to see the light.
Then there is the healthcare system. The SDP has advocated a universal healthcare system in our 2012 National Healthcare Plan paper. A year later, the Health Ministry announced the MediShield Life scheme which, according to the Straits Times, “is tantamount to having a universal national health insurance similar to that of many social welfare systems in developed countries.”
The SDP has also been pushing for minimum wage legislation for more than a decade now. In 2014, the Ministry of Manpower introduced minimum wage for low-income workers in the cleaning and security sectors, calling it the “Progressive Wage Model”.
In education the SDP has been, for more than 20 years, calling for an end to the practice of streaming in our schools and the abandonment of the PSLE. In 2012, PAP MP Hri Kumar supported this view, saying: “I am all for slaying the PSLE sacred cow…remove banding, de-emphasise exams and promote non-academic aspects of a child’s development”.
In 2009, former PAP MP and Speaker of the House Michael Palmer called for the GST to be suspended, at least temporarily, because it was an “additional burden [to] many Singaporeans and adds to their daily cost of living.” The SDP has been making this point since the tax was introduced in 1994.
Also in 2009, Ms Josephine Teo called on her own party to tighten the immigration policy of foreign workers, again, echoing the SDP position of nearly 20 years.
The SDP has proposed that the Government increase the income tax for the richest of the rich in Singapore to fund social programmes for the lower-income groups in order to reduce income inequality. In 2012, PAP MP Denise Phua repeated this call.
The list of ministers and MPs co-opting the SDP’s ideas is long and, we suspect, will continue to lengthen.
If it is too difficult for Mr Lee Hsien Loong to admit that his party has been adopting SDP’s proposals, he should at least refrain from saying that the opposition has not articulated an alternative plan for Singapore.