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The Straits Times reported on Monday that PAP MP Mr Hri Kumar of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC is planning to hold “town hall meetings” with residents. If this sounds familiar it’s because the Singapore Democrats first proposed to hold town hall meetings during the last general elections.
One of the promises that was made in The SDP Promise was “To conduct, in addition to our weekly Meet-the-People’s sessions, quarterly town hall meetings to obtain your views on policies that affect you and take them to parliament.”
Compare this to the report on the PAP that said that residents would be able to attend “town hall meetings on top of being able to meet their Members of Parliament at the weekly Meet-the-People Sessions.”
This is not the first time that the PAP has followed what the SDP has done. Last year, the Singapore Tourist Board took a leaf from our slogan Your Voice, Your Party by changing its brand message from “Uniquely Singapore” to “Your Singapore”.
In 2001, we campaigned on the Singaporeans First Policy where we advocated that Singaporeans should given priority as far as employment was concenred. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also called for a “Singaporeans-first policy” in 2006 although the PAP has a rather different emphasis about what it means as Singaporeans first.
PAP MPs like Mr Inderjit Singh, Mr Michael Palmer and Ms Josephine Teo have at various points echoed the SDP’s proposals such as suspending the GST, reducing our dependence on foreign workers, and reducing ERP rates and the maid levy.
The difference with the latest townhall idea is a more serious one. Whereas the PAP adopts the SDP’s ideas, it also bars us from carrying out the idea. While Mr Hri Kumar and other PAP MPs are able to organise their townhall gatherings, the party that came up with the idea is not allowed to hold such activities.
Nonetheless, the SDP will look to seeing how we can hold such meetings with residents. It is unfair that only the ruling party gets to meet with residents. The last general elections indicate that an increasing large segment of the population want to hear from and communicate with the opposition. Townhall meetings, as the PAP knows, is an effective way to listening to the people and hearing what they want for themselves and for the country.