Hougang and WP Still Stand Strong
Many would be talking about how the Hougang results can be interpreted and why the PAP lost, gained relatively since 2011, how the WP stood its ground despite the odds and Hougang voters being a special lot. The next few weeks and months is a turning point for WP. Post-elections are the time when the opposition can inspire people to join up – this decisive win by WP could be a good recruitment opportunity.
However with recruitment and injection of new talent and hands, the WP leadership has the challenge to manage expectations of its members. Not everyone is MP material and neither is everyone is CEC material. WP’s successes since 2006 and 2011 showed that with success and then expansion, not everyone can be kept happy.
The departure of Goh Meng Seng, Chia Ti Lik, James Gomez, Eric Tan and the doubt over Poh Lee Guan and insider-leaker Secret Squirrel showed that as WP moves ahead, WP members with different political aspirations and personal ambitions would find excuses to leave. Whether that damages or strengthens WP is the debate. However, this argument is most persuasive – that WP attrition means that only those who share WP’s core vision in Singapore’s political progress choose to remain in the party. Hence, WP cohesion and leadership would be stronger with such resignations.
Line drawn under Hougang by-election
Workers’ Party wants to move on and work with the Government for ‘the betterment of Singapore’: Low Thia Khiang
02:51 AM May 28, 2012
by Sumita Sreedharan
SINGAPORE – In contrast to the post-result press conference on Saturday – where he came out all guns blazing – Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang took a conciliatory tone yesterday as he tried to draw a line under the acrimonious events in the run-up to Polling Day in the Hougang by-election.
“The Prime Minister has said that there are many pressing long-term issues ahead; I have noted what he said. I think the Workers’ Party will move on from this election and work together with the ruling party for the betterment of Singapore,” Mr Low told reporters.
Yesterday, the WP held its victory parade after its candidate Png Eng Huat successfully defended its stronghold and was elected into Parliament.
Speaking to reporters before the parade, Mr Low also shared the party’s immediate plans for Hougang – the priority is to ensure the residents enjoy upgrading for their homes and estate – and pledged to monitor issues such as the cost of living, the influx of foreigners and the Government’s efforts to raise productivity.
Mr Low also responded to a reporter’s question on whether the leak of minutes of a WP central executive council meeting during the hustings would cause him to be more careful in the way he conducts party activities in the future.
In reply, Mr Low pointed to the fact that he has “survived politically for the last 21 years as a Member of Parliament”.
He said: “I joined the party in 1982 … I have come across many different kinds of people, different kinds of character … I pay prices for believing and trusting the wrong people but I learned a lesson and I will move on.”
Reiterating that he has no wish to start a witch hunt, Mr Low pointed out that “if you don’t trust people … you can’t work”.
“There’s the risk of being played out – that’s life. So, you play me out, so be it,” said Mr Low.
He added: “I always believe that, as a human being, you have to answer to yourself at the end of the day, whatever you do … unless you don’t sleep. Whatever position you are in, whatever the role you are playing … you have a conscience.”
DPM TEO “SURPRISED” BY LOW’S TONE
Speaking on the sidelines of the People’s Association’s Youth Movement Awards Ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean told reporters yesterday that he was “really surprised” with Mr Low’s tone during the post-result press conference.
Said Mr Teo: “He had a very combative tone … which really surprised. But I do hope that he will move away from the combative tone which he took during the by-election and work in a constructive way with the Government.”
For Mr Low, he is keen to move on and focus on, among other things, the work in Hougang.
On upgrading, he said it was not just about the money but the WP also have to decide “what we want to do … and what is most beneficial to the residents … the design and things like that”.
On national issues, he noted that the Certificate of Entitlement premiums are “getting out of hand”.
Mr Low said: “I believe that the (premiums) are not sustainable and the Government should look into it. Besides that, basic things like electricity cost is going up as well. We’ll also be looking closely at monitoring the progress of the productivity drive to uplift the low-wage workers … especially the calibration of the foreign workers (inflow) and how it would affect the industries here.”
Mr Low also stood by his earlier criticisms of sections of the mainstream media. He said: “I am not against media scrutiny and criticism, we will accept that.”
In particular, Mr Low said his party’s responses to issues raised were not out in “the proper perspective or in a way which will balance the criticism”.
He said: “It’s not like we didn’t respond, we did respond but you buried (it) somewhere while the headline painted a certain picture.”
Referring to The Straits Times, he said: “It’s really the focus that gets on my nerves and it’s not justifiable.”
He added: “I detect there’s a general trend at the by-election, the media has changed from General Election 2011.”
Meanwhile, former Potong Pasir MP and veteran Opposition figure Chiam See Tong congratulated WP and Hougang MP-elect Png Eng Huat for their “successful campaign”.
Mr Chiam said in a press statement: “The people of Hougang have strongly asserted their desire for greater political diversity in Parliament once again. We are confident that Mr Png will represent and serve the needs of Hougang residents well, and that he will speak up for all Singaporeans with vigour.”