Workers’ Party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang today posted an open letter to the residents of Hougang SMC – his current ward – and Aljunied GRC, where he will contest the May 7 polls. Mr Yaw Shin Leong will stand in Hougang, which Mr Low has contested for the past two decades. The English version of the letter, posted on the WP website under the headline “Open letter to voters of Hougang and Aljunied GRC”, reads as follows:
Dear Fellow Singaporeans,
Leaving Hougang is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life. Hougang has been such a huge part of me. It was the Hougang people who gave me their vote of confidence to represent them in 1991. Over the next 20 years, they courageously supported me despite the ‘carrots and threats’ from the PAP government. I am grateful for their unwavering support. I am honoured and proud to have been their MP. Personally, if I have a choice I would continue to stay in Hougang where I have made many friends and have many fond memories of people there.
However there are times when all of us have to make tough decisions. For the Workers’ Party and I, the time is now. We are at the crossroads of Singapore’s political development. Both the PAP and opposition have to focus on renewal of our party leadership. The new PM is likely to be among this batch of PAP candidates. WP too needs to ensure a credible and responsible batch of leaders to work towards a First World Parliament where the government is accountable to the people.
While I may feel a sense of satisfaction that the government has to answer my questions in Parliament, there is still no effective check and balance mechanism on an excessively strong Executive. The government can choose to ignore our concerns and we are helpless.
The single most important tool used by the PAP government to keep our political landscape stagnant is the GRC system. This system totally dilutes your vote by ushering in a group of PAP candidates on the coat-tails of one or two PAP heavyweights.
The constant gerrymandering also prevents Singapore from developing a First World Parliament. For example, the recent redrawing of electoral boundaries transferred more than 29,000 voters of Aljunied GRC to Ang Mo Kio GRC (the prime minister’s ward) and some other wards! Clearly the purpose is to disperse the supporters of WP into different constituencies to prevent WP candidates from being elected and posing a challenge to them in Parliament.
This Divide and Rule strategy helps the PAP to ensure that the process of ‘check and balance’ remains weak in Parliament. This is totally immoral and against the spirit of democracy.
I am already 55 years old and as the Secretary General of WP, I have a responsibility to the Party and the people who have supported WP. This is a heavy decision and we have mulled over it many times. I am aware of the danger that we might end up with totally NO elected MPs in Parliament but ultimately it is not a choice of ‘playing it safe or taking a risk’. We are only being true to WP’s vision of “Power to the People”. The government must be transparent and account to the people.
To do this we need a breakthrough in the GRC system. We must entrench more WP voices with full voting rights in Parliament. We need a First World Parliament. WP and I have therefore made the important decision that I should lead a team to contest Aljunied GRC.
I hope the people of Hougang will understand and support this important decision for the long-term good of our country. I hope the people of Aljunied will support us too.
WP seeks your support to take this step with us towards a First World Parliament. We offer you a team of responsible and credible candidates who will represent you in Parliament. You have the power to decide what kind of future you want to build for yourselves and your children.
Vote Workers’ Party, Towards a First World Parliament.