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The SDP laid out its message for the coming general elections by calling for the high cost of living to be controlled and for the influx of foreigners to be curtailed.
A total of 10 speakers took to the podium to deliver the party’s message at a pre-election rally held at the Speakers’ Corner yesterday. One of them, Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, talked about the public assistance for the poor in Singapore.
“I heard that in Parliament the Minister refused to consider raising the Public Assistance,” Dr Wijeysingha told the crowd. “Public Assistance is a few hundred dollars a month. Do you know that our PM earns a few hundred dollars an hour? Every hour of the day. Every day of the year.”
A sociologist with a PhD from the University of Sheffield, UK, Dr Wijeysingha returned to Singapore in 2009. He is the executive director of a local organisation and recently joined the Singapore Democrats.
Dr Wijeysingha also presented the SDP’s idea of introducing the minimum wage, starting with $6.80 an hour. Having lived and worked in the UK for many years, he cited studies that showed that minimum wage had little negative impact on the country’s economy.
The even tenor of his speech was well-received by the crowd that broke into regular applause. The cerebral style ended on a more impassioned tone as he rallied the audience: “Our road has been a long one and looking ahead, it will continue to an arduous journey. But we are not discouraged for we know that one day we will succeed in making our country more open and more democratic.”
Dr Wijeysingha is the son of Mr Eugene Wijeysingha, former principal of Raffles Institution.
His call for minimum wage was supported by Mr Tan Kin Lian, former CEO of NTUC Income. Mr Tan called for support for the SDP and congratulated the party’s youth members for their courage and contribution.
He added: “I want to congratulate the SDP for this impressive event. I do want give my best wishes to the SDP in their challenge.”
SDP’s Assistant Secretary-General John Tan spoke about the need for an education system that encouraged critical thinking. This would enable our economy to become less dependent on foreign talent as we could upgrade our economy to one based on knowledge and innovation.
CEC member and leader of the SDP’s women’s section Ms Chee Siok Chin took aim at PM’s salary which is higher than the salaries of the leaders of the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada, and Russia combined.
“For the price of one Lee Hsien Loong you can have an Obama, Angela Merkel, Sarkozy, Cameron, Silvio Berlusconi, Medvedev, and Naoto Kan,” Ms Chee told the applauding crowd.
YD Honorary Secretary Jarrod Luo spoke for many young Singaporeans when he talked about the the difficulty of youths starting a family because of the high cost of living.
Delivering his speech in Mandarin Mr Luo, a microbiology graduate who studied in Australia, said that, “Judging from the current situation now, even establishing a family is a big problem, let alone establishing a career.”
Ms Suraya likewise dwelled on the problems of the youmger generation of Singaporeans starting out in life under the heavy strain of the high cost of living.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was Mr Vincent Cheng who was detained under the Internal Security Act for three years in the late 1980s. Mr Cheng spoke about his work among low-income workers in Taman Jurong before his arrest.
His speech will be highlighted in a later report.
The other speakers were Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Mr Jufrie Mahmood, and Dr Chee Soon Juan.
(1) SDP Pre-Election Rally Speeches