Below is the speech which I had delivered in Hougang on 2 Sep 2015, on the first night of the WP’s series of rallies:
Dear Singaporeans, dear voters of Marine Parade GRC, dear supporters of the Workers’ Party, a good evening to you! Thank you for coming by the thousands, by the tens of thousands to show us your support.
4 and a half year ago, I started on the journey with the Workers’ Party. Voters of Joo Chiat SMC gave me a very strong support, even though I was a new politician then.
I was greatly encouraged by your support. It motivated me to work hard. I became a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament. I have raised many issues in Parliament in the 4 years of term, in areas such as education, business, manpower, the environment, early childhood, finance, and many more. My colleagues and I have raised issues in parliament a manner that the Workers’ Party strongly believes in, which is, being rational, respectable and responsible.
On the ground, I have made many visits back to the SMC, almost on a weekly basis. I have gotten to know more residents.
ESM Goh and MSF Minister Tan Chuan-Jin had said that the WP is like a rooster claiming credit that the sun rises each morning because of its crowing. Actually, they are mistaken. The rooster does not crow to make the sun rise. It crows each morning to tell people that, it is morning. It is telling the people, “Hey, wake up!”
That’s what WP has been telling PAP. That’s what you, the people of Singapore have been telling the PAP for so long and they did not want to listen. You told them that the transport system needed fixing, that letting it being run by private companies as a duopoly was a big mistake. They didn’t want to listen. You told them the prices of new flats had gone crazily high beyond what young Singaporeans could afford. You told them that you cannot peg new flat prices to the resale market and that there were simply not enough flats for the so many people they keep taking into Singapore. They didn’t want to listen. Life was good, at least for them. Why change the system?
There may be a Swiss standard of living for some, but not for many. In the words of former PAP MP, Mr Inderjeet Singh, who had said in Feb 2013, “We can safely say that we have failed to achieve the goal set by the then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, of a Swiss standard of living for most Singaporeans, except for the higher income Singaporeans including foreigners who just recently decided to make Singapore their home. “
You, the brave voters of Singapore, gave them a BIG wake up call in 2011 when for the first time, a GRC, the Aljunied GRC was lost by the PAP. “Hey, wake up! You have ignored us for too long”, you told them. “Wake up from you sleep and go get the system fixed!”
Then they started to listen.
In GE2011, when it was announced that I had lost the election for Joo Chiat SMC narrowly, I gave a Thank You speech on stage. It was a difficult speech to make and I then wished Charles Chong well and even asked residents to support him in his work there as their elected MP. But I said, “Keep Joo Chiat, and I will be back!”
4 and a half years later, by the grand wisdom of a small but powerful committee, Joo Chiat SMC is no more. A wise elder stateman recently said that oppositions are like nomads looking for territories to contest every elections. Well sir, I am no nomad. You didn’t keep Joo Chiat SMC, but hey, nevermind. I am still here!
In the past 4 years, besides visits within the Joo Chiat SMC, I sometimes also ventured into nearby areas such as the original Joo Chiat, to Chai Chee, to Kembangan, to Eunos and to Ubi. Guess what some people are saying to us?
Some are confused too as to which constituency they are in. Some have been in a SMC before, some in Aljunied GRC, and some in the East Coast GRC. So some residents even described themselves “nomads”, shifting constituencies at GEs without ever moving away from their homes.
So on 24 July, when the new electoral boundaries were out and Joo Chiat SMC was removed, I have to admit that I was initially quite lost, for the next few hours, about where to contest in. Then I remember some valuable lessons I had learnt from young; that if someone pushes you around, stand up to the bully and take the fight back to them. Otherwise, they will just keep doing it, again and again.
More importantly, I believe we are all, first and foremost Singaporeans, who love our country. We all want a better future, not only for ourselves but also for our future generations – regardless of which constituency we are in. I know we can form a very passionate and good team to serve Marine Parade residents. My team and I are here today ready to serve the Marine Parade residents!
The EBRC report also made me reflect on why I had joined the Workers Party in the first place. I had wanted to see a fairer democratic system, where rules are clear and contests are fair, and Singaporeans can choose the leaders without fear of repercussions. I had wanted to see a stronger alternative being developed, because I think it is dangerous to leave it only to one ‘A’ team. I had strongly believed that Singaporeans are talented. We are more talented than the PAP thinks we are. There is enough for more than one ‘A’ team and that we can benefit from a contest of ideas.
So my mind became very clear. The next morning after the EBRC report was out, I requested for the Party’s leadership to let me lead a committed team into Marine Parade GRC.
I didn’t have to look far for the passionate team members whom I had wanted. They have been right in our midst, serving alongside with our many volunteers.
Let me first introduce you to Terence Tan, lawyer. Many would know that he fought the cases for AHPETC with NEA and with MND, pro-bono, without charging us any fees. He also does pro-bono work for capital offences cases and others requiring legal aid. He is not just a lawyer, but was an entrepreneur who started a popular bar and restaurant establishment early in his career. He had stints overseas that included being the Managing Director of a multinational hotel group with operations from Spain to South-East Asia.
Terence joined WP after GE2011 and has been walking the ground with me for over 2 years. He’s also a local boy of Marine Parade GRC, a Peranakan who lives in the traditional part of Joo Chiat.
Terence has served faithfully in our grassroots and meet-people-sessions. Today, he’s your candidate for the Marine Parade GRC.
Next, we have He Ting Ru, just 32 years old and already a successful corporate lawyer heading up the legal department in a public listed company. She volunteered as a helper in our Meet-People-Session right after GE2011. She came on her own, seeking to find ways to contribute to Singapore. From there, she expanded her work into our community events and diligently assisting in the policy work of our parliamentarians. You may find it hard to believe that a bright, successful and busy lawyer would spend so much of her free time to volunteer week in, week out with us, but here we have the living proof. Ms He Ting Ru, your candidate for Marine Parade GRC.
And right in the Malay heartland of Singapore, is your local boy, Mr Firuz Khan from Haig Road. He has been in the Party longer than I had, since 2006. His service was disrupted when he went with his family to UK for several years, where he started a successful chocolate factory. Then he came back to Singapore in 2010 and continued his service with the Workers’ Party serving Singaporeans.
Firuz’s heart is in the right place. He took a pay cut from his banking career in 1999 to be the principal for the Pertapis Children’s Home, where he had learnt first-hand the issues of those that have fallen through the cracks in the Malay-Muslim community. He is also a hands-on guy, who started and grew the Royce’ Chocolate business for the Japanese company in Singapore and in the region, before starting his own chocolate factory in Wales, UK. Mr Firuz Khan, a hands-on person with commitment to help the vulnerable and needy in the community, your candidate for Marine Parade GRC.
Last but not least, Mr Ng Foo Eng, Dylan. Foo Eng came from a humble family background, studied in neighbourhood schools, worked his way through university. He found success in his banking career, working in both local and foreign banks. He has built up the wealth management business for the bank from scratch.
Foo Eng is passionate about serving the community, and has served as a volunteer in WP’s grassroots and in the meet-people-sessions. Mr Ng Foo Eng, your candidate for Marine Parade GRC.
This is a team that’s part of the renewal story in the Workers’ Party. This is a team that’s willing to take on the difficult task in what the PAP considers as one of its strongholds, to give you a credible alternative to choose from. We know the challenges are not just in fighting this election. We know there will be lots of start-up issues. This is a team with a good range of complementary strengths and operational expertise that can see this through. You will hear more from this team in the coming days.
This is team Marine Blue, because Marine should be blue, not white! Come September 11, vote the Workers’ Party. Empower your future!