The Workers' Party
You Have A Choice
As a political party, the long-term goal of the Workers Party
(WP) is to be an alternative government. While in opposition, we
will play an active role as a check and balance on the ruling party.
WP is Pro-Singapore and believes national interest should precede
As such we would be prepared to support government policies if
they are for the common good of the nation. However we will also
not hesitate to take a confrontational stand against the ruling
party when there is a need to do so.
Our Manifesto and Policy Ideas
To begin with, WP is pleased to note that some of the ideas from
our 1994 Manifesto have been implemented by the government. For
instance, in the area of education, the government has implemented
compulsory primary education and 10 years of formal education to
equip our citizens with basic knowledge and academic skills. WP
also proposed reducing the class size to 20 and is pleased that
MOE is reducing the class size to 30 today.
In the 1994 Manifesto, WP warned that Medisave and Medishield were
not the answer to the problem of escalating health care costs and
instead, a public health insurance scheme through pooling of risk
should be implemented. WP has now noted the belated overhaul of
the Medishield scheme.
In this manifesto, WP updates our proposals on government policies,
based on our beliefs in diversity, respect, human dignity, multiculturalism,
tolerance and equal opportunity as the underlying philosophy of
The ideas contained in this manifesto also revolve around the theme
of giving Singaporeans a meaningful stake in the country. It is
consistent with the theme WP has championed over the years
Power to the People.
WP believes that there must be competition in political office.
As the base of power comes from the people, people must be empowered
to elect their representatives so that they can also participate
in the decision-making process of shaping and developing our society.
WP believes that development must be for the benefit of a humane
and civil society but too often the harsh reality of economic competition
and political control make it otherwise. The consequential effect
of a free market economy is income disparity. The better-educated
and younger members of our society will have more bargaining power
in the policy formulation process. Those with economic power tend
to congregate with those with political power resulting in a power
elite network. The consequence of such a structure could result
in imbalance in policy formulation.
To build a humane society, it is important that the government
places human dignity, diversity, multiculturalism, tolerance, respect
and equal opportunity as the principle considerations in policy
formulation and implementation.
WP - A Platform For People To Exercise Their Political Rights
All citizens have the right to choose their representatives and
government in a parliamentary democracy. However they will only
have the means to exercise their political right when there is active
participation in the electoral process by different political parties.
WP provides you with an opportunity to voice your concerns through
the ballot box. This will make the government more accountable as
it has to be mindful of the political consequences it has to face
Politics is not just holding elections every few years; it is a
continuous dynamic process. Political competition results in better
service for the people; it also makes the government more sensitive
to the needs from the ground and more responsive to public sentiment.
However, this is only possible if you have a choice!
WP's participation in the elections enables citizens to exercise
their political rights and creates an environment for good governance.
WP protects the democratic process.
We urge every citizen to be involved as much as possible in issues
and decisions that will affect our lives and that of our future
1 GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL LIBERTIES
In a Parliamentary democracy, the government must be open and accountable
to the people and true to the rule of law.
The Constitution must be respected and should not be easily amended.
In any event, there should be no Constitutional amendment for partisan
advantage at elections.
Parliamentary elections should be conducted such as to encourage
maximum participation from citizens.
More importantly, citizens should be free to form associations
and should be assured of liberty and freedom from arbitrary arrest
and detention without trial as long as they do not contravene the
However, the PAP has consistently tinkered with the structure and
processes of government to ensure minimal accountability to the
public. Parliamentary elections have been organized such as to foster
minimal participation from voters and minimal contest from alternative
parties. Citizen activism is encouraged only if the PAP government
It is important that we protect our civil liberties and hold the
government to accountability.
1. All Constitutional amendments must be carefully scrutinized
and public opinion canvassed wherever possible.
2. Parliament shall consist only of members elected by the people
in free and fair elections. Parliament is a representative microcosm
of Singapore society by way of gender, race and religion.
3. There should be an environment conducive to citizen activism.
4. The civil service must be politically neutral, true to the rule
5. The local mass media should be socially responsible but free
from political influence in respect of content.
A. Elections & Parliament:
1. The Office of Elected President should be abolished and the
Presidency should be reverted to its former ceremonial position.
The power of Parliament as the people's representatives should be
unfettered. The abolition of this office should be done in tandem
with electoral reform to ensure maximum participation by voters
and contestants at Parliamentary elections.
2. Parliamentary elections should not be organized by the Prime
Minister's Office. Instead, an independent election commission should
be tasked with this role, reporting to either the President or the
Chief Justice, to ensure political neutrality.
3. The rationale for electoral boundary changes and the proposed
boundaries should be announced at least one year before a General
Election is called.
4. Group Representation Constituencies should be abolished, as
it dilutes the individual voter's voice. Instead, the elections
should be run on single seats.
5. An alternative system of proportional representation should
be worked out so that it could reflect party votes at the national
level. Possible alternative systems for study include the New Zealand
system of Mixed Member Proportional that handles Maori seats.
The Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) scheme would be unnecessary in the
proportional representation system.
The office of Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) should be abolished.
No one should be allowed to vote on legislation without any mandate
from the people.
6. The Parliamentary Elections Act will be amended to allow all
Singaporeans overseas to exercise their rights to vote and all Singapore
Missions Overseas will be required to facilitate the same during
1. All amendments to the Constitution must be sent to a Select
Committee consisting of Members of Parliament from different political
2. The right of every citizen to vote should be entrenched in the
C. Civil Service:
1. The civil service should be guided only by law and policy which
should be applied consistendy, and without fear or favour. There
should be no political interference in individual cases.
2. While discretion must be given to civil servants to make decisions,
such discretion should not be absolute and should be subject to
either judicial review (for rationality, not on merits) or review
by an independent ombudsman.
3. There should not be laws which make the decisions of the Executive
un-reviewable and, if already in force, should be repealed.
D. Civil Liberties:
1. The Internal Security Act, which provides for detention without
trial in cases of alleged subversion, should be abolished. Singapore
shall be brought in line with international practices to try such
cases including espionage, with modified procedures to protect official
secrets if necessary.
2. In cases of alleged terrorism, the government should be enabled
by a dedicated anti-terrorism law to make swift arrests and detain
suspects without trial. However, these suspects must be afforded
real avenues to challenge the legality of their arrests through
the courts and possibly an Advisory Board, who shall have powers
to order a release of the person if it is not satisfied as to the
basis of the detention.
3. Citizens shall be free to register and form societies so long
as they do not contravene the Constitution i.e. they do not undermine
public order, security or morality.
4. Peaceful demonstrations shall be allowed subject to prior notification
to the police to ensure minimum disruption to traffic and public
1. Ministers should be rewarded fairly and equitably for their
contribution to the country.
2. Ministers' remuneration should be benchmarked internationally
against the political office of developed countries. Their remuneration
should also take into account all associated benefits (e.g. benefits-in-kind)
under the total remuneration or total employment costs ("TEC").
3. Ministers should be paid variable bonuses upon achieving certain
measurable indicators such as GDP growth, change in unemployment
4. Ministers should declare all their assets to the public, including
deemed interests before, during and after office.
2 JUSTICE, LAW AND ORDER
Our legal system must strive for quality and fairness in its processes,
balancing the rights and interests of victims, suspects and the
When faced with crime, a balanced approach should be taken to solve
it at its roots, even if it may require more resources and more
accountability for law enforcement agencies, or even require changing
social conditions or policies.
There is inadequate government legal aid. Criminal legal aid is
provided from government funds only in cases where the accused person
faces the death penalty. In non-capital cases, the only form of
criminal legal aid is the voluntary scheme of the Law Society.
1. The independence of the Judiciary must be protected. Justice
should be dispensed by judicial officers who must be impartial and
are guided only by legal principles.
2. Mandatory sentences for offences should be removed as they take
away the discretion of the judge to adjust a sentence to suit the
individual case circumstances. Under the current system of mandatory
sentences, the real power to determine the offender's sentence shifts
from the Courts to the prosecution who will decide which charge
to proceed on to produce the appropriate sentence. This encourages
plea-bargaining which makes justice less transparent as the exercise
of prosecutorial discretion cannot be reviewed or appealed against.
3. Victims of crime are inadequately taken care of in our criminal
justice system. At present, the victim incurs expense and suffers
inconveniences, and stands to recover nothing in most crime cases.
The victim's interests should be protected in the criminal justice
4. Anyone who needs to use the justice system for redress should
have accessibility to justice. No person should be convicted of
a crime and punished because he is unable to present his case adequately
in court. Accused persons must be able to exercise their rights
to appeal without fear.
5. Existing procedures in criminal cases are weighed in favour
of the prosecution and sometimes to the point of being unfair to
the accused. The litigation process should promote fair-play and
an adequate presentation of cases by the parties involved.
6. The court system should strive for efficiency and quality in
7. We need more transparency in crime information so that more
focused crime prevention measures can be undertaken by authorities
and the public. Law enforcement agencies such as the Police must
be adequately resourced.
1. The present provisions for the appointment of High Court Judicial
Commissioners who function as High Court Judges but for ftxed terms
should be removed. Such schemes are convenient but risk undermining
the independence of such officers.
2. The Constitution should be amended to extend the retirement
age of High Court Judges from 65 to 70 years and there should be
no extension of this tenure.
3. A Judicial Service should be created, separate from the Legal
Service, for judicial posts such as Registrars, Deputy Registrars,
Magistrates and District Judges in the Subordinate Courts, and Registrars
and Assistant Registrars in the High Court. The structure will exclude
members of the Executive from decisions concerning their career
or their advancement. All persons desiring to serve either as government
legal or judicial officers will initially be recruited into a common
pool for posting into various non-judicial legal posts. After a
minimum period in these posts, those considered suitable will be
selected for entry into the judicial service and will not be liable
for transfer back to the mainstream unless they so request.
4. The fees charged by the Courts for initiating and maintaining
proceedings must be kept moderate and in keeping with the public
character of their services. Courts should be prudent in their spending
and resource management so as not to fuel unnecessary fee increases.
There should be flexibility in the review of waivers of fees in
cases of financial hardship.
5. Appeals from Subordinate Court criminal cases will continue
to go to the High Court which should be free to roster judges at
random to hear appeals. This will provide for continuity and stability
in the system.
6. For capital cases, there should be a tribunal of two judges
whose decision to impose the death sentence must be unanimous.
B. Legal Aid:
1. For civil legal aid, the means test under the Legal Aid and
Advice Act should be continuously reviewed to reflect a reasonable
cut off income.
2. Government legal aid should be provided for criminal cases.
A statutory criminal legal aid scheme should be set up to replace
the present voluntary legal aid scheme run by the Law Society. The
Law Society scheme is highly commendable but legal representation
for the poor in criminal cases should be a government concern. This
will also ensure continuity and resources.
C. Protection of Victims:
1. Victims' views and concerns should be highlighted to the court
for consideration in pre-trial decisions such as bail and in sentencing.
2. A state funded Board should be set up to offer compensation
to the victims of violent crimes, at least for the medical expenses
incurred, and to work with community-based agencies to assist the
victim to recover from the offence.
3. The official statistics on crime, which reflect only reported
crime as classified by the law enforcement authorities, should be
supplemented. In line with best practices internationally, victimisation
surveys should be conducted to ascertain the extent of unreported
crime, the reasons for non-reporting and why the authorities re-classify
reports. This will enable more focused crime prevention measures.
D. Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code:
1. Accused persons who are factually innocent but who have been
mistakenly arrested and/or prosecuted should be compensated. A mistaken
arrest and prosecution brings income loss, stress, loss of reputation
and payment of legal costs of defence. The burden of the executive's
errors should not be borne by the innocent.
2. The philosophy of sentencing should be reviewed to achieve a
balance between deterrence, retribution and rehabilitation. In particular,
the range and role of non-custodial sentences in rehabilitating
adults convicted of minor crime should be increased.
3. The Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code should be re-examined
to review the classification of cases which are non-seizable. Offences
such as cheating may need to be classified as seizable to enable
the police to investigate more efficiently.
4. The Criminal Procedure Code should be amended to make it clear
that an appellate court hearing an appeal from an accused person
against sentence does not have the power to enhance the sentence
unless the prosecution cross-appeals to enhance the sentence.
5. Criminal procedures should be reviewed to ensure that an arrested
person's constitutional right to consult legal counsel is protected
by allowing early access.
6. There should be proper disclosure of evidence from the prosecution
and the defence throughout the pre-trial and trial process.
7. The Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act allowing detention
of suspected criminals without producing them in court should be
re¬examined to review whether it is still necessary in the context
1. Adequate resources should be allocated to the police to fight
crime, including additional manpower if required. While there is
a role for the police in community policing, they should be, as
far as possible, divested from attending to calls for services not
within their core competencies.
3 ECONOMIC POLICY
The Workers' Party is committed to an economic growth whereby each
citizen can contribute to the best of his ability and live a dignified
life. Strategically located in South-East Asia, Singapore is well
poised to be a centre of finance, logistics, communications, business
rescue, back up and emergency operations.
Competition is intense and neighbouring countries are all competing
to acquire a "Hub" status. The fragility of being a hub
is its interdependent nature that can be undermined easily by new
facilities of neighbouring countries due to cost and service factors.
Globalisation and advances in technology suddenly diminish our
comparative advantage of being cheaper, faster and better as profit
margins decline under fierce competition.
Globalisation also quickens the evolution of the economy from a
"knowledge economy" to a "creative economy".
WP believes that in empowering the individual and not the state,
we will have a creative economy that will propel us forward in our
next stage of economic development.
WP recognises that the consequential effect of a free market economy
is income disparity and the better educated, skilled and younger
members of our society will have more bargaining power in the policy
formulation process than those who are less so.
The subtle manifestation of this trend can be seen from government
tax measures. The Goods & Services Tax (GST), a regressive tax,
has been increased from 3% to 5% and correspondingly as announced
in the 2005 Annual Budget, the income tax rate for the higher income
bracket was reduced by 1%.
Economic growth is meaningful only if the fruit of growth is not
spread too thin for those who are less successful or we will risk
being a society clearly divided along the lines of income, economic
benefit and political influence. While each person's contribution
is different in the material economic sense, the role each one plays
is as valuable.
1. Social Mobility should not be disrupted and taken over by the
"free market" based on the fInancial might of the individual.
2. There should be a re-distribution of wealth through fiscal and
tax measures and social policy to ensure that the fruits of the
economy are shared equitable.
3. Independent thinking, self-reliance, courage to fIght for one's
rights and being prepared to pay a price are necessary ingredients
of entrepreneurship. We must cultivate resilience through the spirit
of risk taking and a 'not afraid to fail' attitude.
4. There must be more support for Small & Medium Enterprises
(SMEs) and Start-ups.
5. Singapore Government Investment Corporation (SGIC) and Government
Linked Corporations (GLCs) can playing positive role to strengthen
the economic position of Singapore.
6. Companies should be encouraged to exercise corporate social
responsibility and get involved in the building and developing of
the community they are benefiting from. In the long run, it will
benefIt their businesses too.
7. We need to strengthen our fInancial sector to anchor our position
as one of the key global financial centres.
8. Land cost is an important factor in economic competitiveness
in land scarce Singapore.
A. SMEs and Local Businesses:
1. There is a lack of focus in developing local SMEs and new start-ups.
Various programmes to assist and develop the SMEs are separately
managed by Spring Singapore, IE Singapore & the Economic Development
Board (EDB). Instead, we should have a one-stop centre to better
focus and promote the development of the SMEs.
2. Instead of crowding out local business with its government linked
status and fInancial muscle, GLCs should instead invest in SMEs
to propel their growth and development.
3. All government and related entities can invest public money
into viable businesses but this investment cannot be a controlling
stake in the businesses.
4. High rentals and land costs will affect the costs of businesses.
Effective measures to curb property and land speculation should
be in place to maintain the cost competitiveness of SMEs.
5. There should be an incentive scheme to attract international
talents to Singapore who are able to create or entrench a specifIc
business / sector /industry.
B. Potential Sectors of Growth:
1. The experience of the Singapore Technology (ST) group of companies
in building military capability and the experience of the local
precision engineering industry make it possible for us to develop
our own robotic industry. It is a sector that could yield potential
2. There is a worldwide shortage of water and energy and we should
develop our Utilities Resource industry. Further refInement and
research into membrane technology could yield results and research
into solar cells could also have potential in developing the use
of solar energy.
3. Areas such as derivatives markets, pension fund management and
financial management of "high net worth individuals" should
be developed to enhance our position as a fInancial centre.
4. To secure our future position in shipping and port operations,
we should develop a strategic shipping line with PSA to make Singapore
a choice port of call and strengthen Singapore as an international
shipping business hub.
1. The mind-set and complacency that Singapore has the best infrastructure
in this region, is more efficient and hence should command a premium
price must be changed. The loss of two international shipping lines
to Tanjong Pelepas is a lesson to learn.
2. There should be a waiver of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on
basic necessities. Although GST is a consumption tax, it should
be the consumption of luxury goods that should be taxed. Basic necessities
such as rice should not be taxed at all.
3. We can leverage on the huge reserves and existing business network
that the GLCs and SGIC have built up over the years to strengthen
the position of Singapore and re-invest locally to create new sectors
WP is for a Caring Society and believes that social justice must
be intrinsic to the concept of government. It also recognises that
Singapore is a multicultural society and everyone should be treated
Every citizen has a right to a decent standard of living, work
and a life of choices and opportunities without discrimination.
The government has the responsibility to look after its citizens
and should not just play a "charity role" when tackling
the needs of the people and building a community.
WP feels that more efforts should be placed to look into vulnerable
groups such as the physically challenged and the elderly. Infrastructure
and medical support for these groups need to be improved.
Community building is a long-term process whereby people living
in a specific geographical area over time develop a sense of closeness
as a community. The identification of being a community serves as
a process to root the people and thereby help to cultivate a sense
However a by-product of urbanisation and the price that every nation
has to pay for modernisation is the erosion of community bonds and
the weakening identity of a community.
In the case of Singapore, this erosion is even more stark as our
unique urbanisation and modernisation process has resulted in a
whole population being deliberately uprooted and re-distributed
from traditional kampongs to HDB estates over a period of about
This is a large-scale re-settlement process that the government
consciously planned and which presented an opportunity for the government
to preserve the spirit of self-reliance in the old kampongs, cultivate
community bonding and develop a cohesive society.
Unfortunately, today, after 40 years of nation building, many younger
Singaporeans have scant idea of living in a community.
1. There must be an unconditional needs-based welfare safety net
to ensure that no one who needs help is left stranded. Every case
is different and although it may mean that more resources and effort
will be needed by the government to examine the case, no citizen
must be deprived of a need because of his inability to afford it.
2. Just like everyone else, the disabled have a right to live a
life as full as possible and to be integrated with the rest of the
3. The problems of the aged, especially the chronically ill, do
not only refer to those who are destitute but also those whose families
are unable to care for them for genuine reasons. Affordable healthcare
and support facilities for them are essential. Voluntary organisations
are playing important roles here and more support from the government
4. Besides physical health, the mental health of the elderly is
equally important. Many retirees are still able to contribute to
society and should be encouraged and given the opportunity to do
5. Single parents must not be left out of available assistance
6. As the government is unable to provide consistent growth and
employment opportunities, many people have been retrenched from
their jobs. Looking for alternative employment takes time. There
must be some level of support for the unemployed to continue to
live a decent and dignified life.
7. The development of a strong and vibrant community will strengthen
our social fabric, foster social cohesion and in the process build
a national identity. We need to encourage individuals within the
community to serve the neighbourhood to foster the growth of a natural
8. Multiculturalism should be actively promoted and should form
a corner stone of our social policies.
1. Better infrastructures must be put in place for the education,
training for employment and the transport needs of the disabled.
As such, more support is needed for the development of trainers
and staff for their education.
2. Medical assistance and healthcare to assist and diagnose disabled
children should be improved. For example, there is currently a long
queue for medical tests for autism.
3. More incentives should be given to employers to encourage them
to employ those capable of work. In this respect, social education
is also necessary to eradicate any pre-conceived perceptions and
prejudice against them and their ability to contribute to society.
B. Elderly and Family:
1. We need to provide an avenue to train/educate the "younger
elderly" to provide care and social events for the aged within
the community they live.
This could be done through clan associations, community based organisations
or voluntary organisations with support from the government for
the training and perhaps allowance for basic costs such as food
and transport. While this requires some government expenditure and
effort, it will engage an able group of elderly to contribute to
the heartware of the community and at the same time, develop their
own mental health.
2. There should be sufficient choices for parents and the aged
to live within the community rather than confined to a Home. A care
centre can be built in each precinct for those elderly whose family
members are unable to look after them. The centre can be jointly
maintained by those using it and volunteers from the neighbourhood.
3. We should extend the current policy of encouraging children
living near parents to living near siblings and close relatives.
1. Unemployment insurance will help workers cope during the difficult
period of unemployment. The premium can be covered by a compulsory
deduction of 1% of the earned income with the company contributing
another 1%. The funds should be managed by third-party corporations.
Employees who have been with the same company for more than 2 years
would be eligible to claim when they are retrenched. The payout
can be 75% of their last drawn pay. This would be reduced by 7.5%
per month until the payout is zero and would help to pay their immediate
bills while they look for alternative employment or attend upgrading
2. Citizens who are in dire straits should be allowed to withdraw
from their own CPF to avoid abuse, withdrawals must fulfill strict
guidelines and the amount withdrawn will not be entided to the 2.5%
1. The system of Resident Committees (RCs) and the Citizens Consultative
Committee (CCC) should be abolished. Government grassroots serving
as eyes and ears of the government cripple the growth of natural
community leadership and hinder the development of community living.
The attempts by RCs in some areas to segregate the neighbourhood
by zones further hinder the population from developing a true sense
of community identity.
2. The Group Representation Constituency (GRC) system should be
abolished and we should revert to constituencies based on geographical
3. Rules and controls on individuals organising events for the
community should be relaxed.
4. Community Centres should be run for the purpose of providing
amenities and services, disseminating information and gatheing feedback
for the government on policy and community issues.
They must be non-political; the chairman and members of the Community
Centre Management Committee (CCMC) should be elected by the community
through a localised election. The Elected MP for the constituency
should assume the role of advisor of CCMC.
5. The policy of upgrading of older estates and building new flats
in mature estates to minimise the movement of population should
1. We should declare a Social Cohesion Public Holiday to mark the
successful integration of Singapore as a multi-racial and multi-religious
society and to remind ourselves of the need to continue the social
cohesion process and not to take religious and racial harmony for
2. All discriminatory policies, for example excluding single parents
from housing subsidies, should be removed.
3. We should increase the number of Community Mediation Centres
and promote it as "the" place to settle community disputes.
The Centres should also promote and educate the public on harmonious
4. There should be a Board of Equal Opportunities to ensure that
there is no discrimination on account of ethnic origin, religious
belief, gender, social economic class or age.
Our human resource is one of our valuable assets. Thus a carefully
planned curriculum of education is of utmost importance in order
to develop our people to the best of their abilities and talents.
WP is pleased to note that the government has implemented compulsory
primary education and 10 years' of formal education to equip our
citizens with basic knowledge and academic skills. This was proposed
in our 1994 Manifesto.
However interests must be cultivated to help our people to excel
in their specific fields. These interests should not be confined
to school syllabus but should cover a wider spectrum.
Schools are embarking on more activities in line with the broad
policy of "thinking schools learning nation" where principals
are empowered to take initiative and make decisions on the ground.
There is a risk that teachers might end up with additional meetings
and become event organisers.
Though it is difficult to quantify the work of teachers, a mechanism
should be in place to monitor whether teachers are overloaded with
other responsibilities instead of focusing on the fundamental duty
of a teacher.
We should also pay attention to how our educational institutions
evolve, especially our tertiary institutions. As tertiary education
becomes a full fledged business, we need to ensure that issues of
funding, cost of education and academic freedom are adequately addressed.
1. Teaching content should be reduced so that teachers can move
beyond textbooks and share with students life skills in areas such
as current affairs, inter-personal communication, enterprising initiatives
and creative development in the arts, music and culture.
2. Cross training and learning should be encouraged and we should
not narrowly defIne the fIelds of learning for our students.
3. To effectively cope with Globalisation, we should liberalise
our language policy and put emphasis on multi-lingualism.
4. Every student should be required to learn his/her mother tongue
and to attain as high a standard of profIciency as possible for
5. A multi-tiered approach in advancement to different academic
levels should be provided in the system. Students could decide their
own pace of advancement to achieve their potential academic qualifIcation
based on their interest and ability.
6. Funding models for local tertiary education should reflect investment
of public funds in human capital development. The benefIts of tertiary
education accrue not only to the individual student but to Singapore
as a whole.
A. Replacement Of The Streaming System With A Multi-tiered Advancement
1. The current system of streaming is based on aggregate points
of subjects obtained at an examination and is used as the basis
for segregating students. This does not really measure the potential
ability of students. In addition, the social stigma of streaming
far outweighs its usefulness as a convenient way to segregate the
students based on academic results.
2. WP welcomes the launch of the subject-based pilot classrooms
plan. Further customisation of the education and learning process
by re-organising the class system based on subject and module should
be looked into.
3. Each student should be allowed to advance in different subjects
at his pace. For instance, a student may have some subjects taught
at the express level and others at the normal level.
4. Every student will take the current "O" level examination
at secondary 4. The grading system should be re-designed to cater
for awarding an academic standard equivalent to the current "N"
level standard if the students cannot achieve the "O"
5. Students who do not qualify for Junior Colleges or Polytechnics
should be given a second chance in their schools to repeat their
Secondary 4 to better their grades.
B. Balanced Resource Allocation:
1. There is a need to balance resources of "elite schools"
(Independent Schools) and neighbourhood schools.
2. Additional funding and support should be given to neighbourhood
schools as elite schools, with their strong community support and
well-established alumni network, are better able to garner sufficient
3. The government should pay more attention to educating students
who need help to achieve the basic standard required to progress
academically, so as to uplift the general quality of manpower resource
C. Tertiary Education:
1. The Government should fund the infrastructure costs of local
2. Co-payment by university students should be pegged at 10% of
operating expenditure of local tertiary institutions.
3. The intellectual climate of all tertiary institutions in Singapore
should be kept free whereby lecturers and students are able to explore
the full limits of academia.
4. Local tertiary institutions should ensure that there is a sizeable
community of local students and staff.
S. Local academic staff in local tertiary institutions as well
as knowledge workers in research institutions should be paid equitable
salaries compared with non-resident colleagues of equivalent standing
6. Any tuition fee increases for tertiary institutions should be
subject to scrutiny by an independent watchdog that will ensure
that increases are minimal and justifiable. It is imprudent to fix
a quantum for permitted tuition fee increases per year.
7. The basis of funding of tertiary education should be reviewed.
A sound funding model should incorporate not only graduate numbers
but also input and output targets. Output targets should consider
factors such as the number of subjects passed, percentage of teaching
staff receiving good ratings etc. The details of such a formula
will be worked out at the appropriate time.
1. WP supports and encourages schools in their efforts to provide
an all rounded education. Instead of the current school ranking
system, MOE should provide key data and highlight the strengths
of each school so that parents can make informed choices.
2. The curriculum content of the National Education should be reviewed
to incorporate the teaching of our Constitution, the political system
of Parliamentary Democracy, the rights and obligations of being
a citizen and the meaning and spirit of our national symbols such
as the national flag and national pledge.
3. A Professional Teachers Association should be established with
statutory powers to promote professionalism of the profession, audit
the workload of teachers in school and make recommendations to MOE
for improvement of teachers' morale and welfare.
6 HEALTH CARE
"We can die but cannot afford to be sick." This common
refrain from the people is certainly no laughing matter. Health
care is an essential service and no one should be deprived of health
care for any reason.
We urge the government to increase our Health Budget further, given
the situation below:
a) Relative longevity
b) Aging population
c) Weaker disposable earnings
d) Emergence of more virulent and hardier strains of viruses and
e) More sedate life-style.
While WP recognizes the need for prudence in health care expenditure,
we should be mindful that if we continue to tighten the budget,
it would inevitably result in "cutting corners" and a
deterioration of basic standards of medical service.
Currently, the government fInances health care by providing subsidies
for hospitals based on classes of ward and paying for patients who
are unable to afford even the C-class ward through Medifund.
The people fInance their health care cost through Medisave and
Medishield. The philosophy has been "personal responsibility".
While we need to encourage people to lead a healthy life style,
it is the fundamental duty of the government to ensure that our
citizens, rich or poor, have access to the best possible health
care the nation can afford.
1. We need to develop a proper health care fInancing model and
an effective system of checks to prevent runaway costs.
2. In checking costs, we should take care not to undermine the
quality of our health care services.
3. It would be more cost effective to pool the risks of the population
in meeting health care needs.
4. All citizens should be provided with quality basic health care
A. Medishie1d and Public Health Insurance:
1. Medishield is designed to cover catastrophic illnesses with
large hospital bills and the limitation on claims per year of $50,000
could be a loophole in coverage. The deductibles may also increase
to a point where Medisave may not be sufficient. It will ease the
burden of Singaporeans if health care costs are largely funded by
the government and through insurance. A small portion should be
paid upfront as deductibles by the patient to prevent abuse of the
2. In our 1994 Manifesto, WP highlighted the inadequacy of Medisave.
We proposed a comprehensive Public Health Insurance scheme with
participation from private health care providers.
We should implement a compulsory Basic Hospitalisation Insurance
Scheme with co-payment of the premium from the government. We should
also learn from other countries with similar schemes. In particular,
we should explore the following:
Universal coverage for all basic hospital health care should
be based on costs of class B2 ward of government re-structured hospitals.
The premium should be the same regardless of age.
There should be maximum life-time payout for any illness
with no yearly claim limit.
The premium should be kept affordable to the 90 percentile
of the working population based on Medisave contribution. The government
should pay for those who have insufficient money in their Medisave
Maximum deductibles should not be more than 2 years of the
total Medisave contribution based on a monthly income of $2000.
Singaporeans who wish to have insurance cover for higher
classes of wards and for better terms of coverage may do so on top
of the basic hospitalisation insurance scheme at their own cost.
Patients who opt for a better class of ward will pay the
difference between the insurance payout and the charges of the class
of ward opted for.
Medifund should be used to pay for those who cannot afford
the basic hospitalisation insurance scheme.
3. Subsidies to government hospitals for hospitalisation treatment
can be removed after full implementation of the above basic hospitalisation
insurance scheme to allow private hospitals to compete based on
4. Local polyclinics for outpatient treatments and medication should
be subsidised and the level of subsidies for each patient can be
determined by means testing. Medifund can be used to pay for those
who cannot afford to pay.
5. Medisave should be allowed, with a cap on its usage, for specialist
outpatient or major medical treatments not classified as Basic Hospitalisation
6. We should maintain Medifund as a safety net for health care.
B. Containing Health Care Costs:
1. A National Basic Health Care Council could be set up to decide
what should be included in the Health Care package covered by the
Basic Hospitalisation Insurance Scheme.
2. We need to study how advancement in Medical Technology can reduce
rather than increase health care costs.
3. Information Technology could be used to reduce administrative
and manpower costs in health care.
4. Outsourcing of some areas of health care delivery could reduce
5. All hospitals should provide detailed costing of each medical
treatment and make such information public.
6. A National Medical Standards Board should be set up to ensure
quality of health care services, treatment and delivery.
7. HIV/Aids medication and treatment should be covered under the
Basic Health Care package.
8. The government should continue to ensure that basic health care
at primary health care level such as polyclinics and step-down institutional
care are affordable.
9. Government subsidies for non-hospitalisation medical care should
be calibrated to assist the needy. Means testing based on per capita
income of immediate dependents residing with the patient could be
a useful tool to achieve the objective. In the case of a patient
without any dependents, the patient should be assessed individually.
10. A National Central Pharmacy should be set up to monitor and
manage the supply and inventory of drugs of the pharmacies and medical
community of Singapore. It should negotiate bulk rates with drug
manufacturers for the benefit of patients and ensure the availability
of ample supply of drugs in a national emergency.
C. Step-Down Care Facilities:
1. Sufficient institutional care facilities such as convalescent
homes, community hospitals, rehabilitation centres, and hospices
should be provided to cater to the different needs of patients.
2. We should encourage and facilitate step-down care within the
community and at the home of the patient by providing supporting
facilities and promoting private services of medical care givers
and equipment. We should allow the use of Medisave and Medifund
for payment for such purposes.
3. Subsidies for each patient should be based on means test and
Medifund will fund those who cannot afford to pay. Medisave should
also be allowed for such a purpose, subject to a set of guidelines
to prevent abuse.
7 PUBLIC HOUSING
In the economic growth of the early 90s, the original objective
of the government to have Singaporeans to own homes was distracted
by the PAP's asset enhancement scheme to one of profit making in
HDB flat investment.
Many citizens who believed in the PAP's propaganda of "enhancing"
of their assets upgraded to bigger HDB flats or rushed to purchase
HDB flats from the open market at the height of the property market.
However, in the 1998 financial crisis and the subsequent problem
of structural unemployment, they saw the value of their properties
plummeting and faced financial difficulty in repaying their housing
The PAP government was caught in a dilemma. If they allowed the
HDB to repossess the flats as stipulated in the contract, or worse,
revalued the flats in accordance with private financial institutions
practice, they would have to pay a heavy political price. So they
came up with various schemes to "assist" HDB flat buyers
who are in arrears of mortgage payments. These include loan payment
deferment, partial repayment and downgrading to smaller flats.
Housing loans from HDB are now only available if you are a first
time flat buyer and in the case of the second time buyer, only if
you are upgrading to a "bigger" flat. The private banking
sector now offers HDB housing loans and they now have first mortgage
on the flats which has priority over monies withdrawn from CPR Once
the flat is seized and placed under forced sale, your savings in
CPF could be gone and you would not have a roof over you!
This is a major policy shift to make a clear distinction between
HDB as a public housing provider (with a responsibility to citizens
who are first time flat owners purchasing flats direcdy from the
HDB or the "open market") and eligible HDB flat purchasers
who buy and sell from the "open market".
WP noted this refocusing of housing policy and the limiting of
the role and responsibility of the government in public housing.
More resources could be used to focus on achieving home ownership
and provide greater housing benefits to Singaporeans.
1. Public housing subsidies for flats should be allocated fairly
and equally to all citizens. Single parents should not be penalised.
2. All citizens should be able to afford a roof over their heads.
This should be the premise for public housing.
3. All eligible Singaporeans should have a choice of either renting
or buying an HDB flat.
A. Home Ownership:
1. All citizens should be able to apply directly to HDB for flats
twice. The lessee has to live in both flats for 5 years each before
he is allowed to sell it on the open market.
2. The re-sale levy should be removed but purchasers should use
80% of the proceeds from sale of the first flat to finance the second
new HDB flat.
3. A cash grant equivalent to 10% of the average selling price
of a 4¬room flat on the open market in sub-urban mature estates
should be provided for the first time buyer. For the second time
buyer, a subsidy of 5% shall be given on the same basis of calculation.
4. The cash grants could be used to either purchase flats directly
from the HDB or from the open market.
5. A second cash grant could help Singaporeans plan for their retirement
needs as many downgrade to smaller flats to obtain cash for retirement
6. CPF should provide housing loans at market rates to the fIrst
and second time flat purchasers with CPF having the fIrst charge
on the property.
7. As our society has now attained a level of multi-racial integration,
the ethnic quotas governing home ownership of HDB flats should be
removed to allow all Singaporeans equal freedom of choice of home
B. Housing Administration:
1. The HDB Branch OffIce could be further re-organised and its
numbers reduced into service centres specialising in professional
advice, tenancy matters, regulatory control and monitoring of HDB
2. A housing tribunal could be set up to handle disputes between
the HDB and flat lessees, and disputes between lessees. Currently,
lessees and HDB would have to settle their disputes through the
court, which is a tedious process. In cases where the HDB or Town
Council fails to settle disputes between lessees, the lessees can
bring the matter before the tribunal for adjudication.
8 PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Most Singaporeans depend on public transport for their daily transportation
needs. As such, it is strategic and necessary that we develop a
cost-effective, reliable and convenient public transport system.
This will also help to mitigate the high cost of living, dampen
the demand for cars and thereby minimize the undesirable effect
of having too many private cars clogging up the roads.
An efficient and relatively cheap public transport system will
help to attract more middle class tourists with higher purchasing
power who usually like to travel "free and easy" rather
than join group tours. Shops and sales outlets in heartland areas
will also benefit from this.
1. Public transport should be a service to the community and not
a profit¬oriented business.
2. The transport system must be efficient and run cost-effectively.
3. Transport costs must be kept affordable for everyone.
1. The Public Transport Council should be dissolved. All public
transport including the MRT & public buses servicing major trunk/inter-town
routes should be brought under a National Transport Corporation
which will oversee and provide universal transport service to all.
This will ensure a smooth integration of the overall national transport
network to avoid unnecessary duplication of services and cost of
overheads incurred by multiple operators.
2. The National Transport Corporation should not be profit-oriented
and should aim to provide public transportation service on the basis
of cost and depreciation recovery.
3. The National Transport Corporation should concentrate on providing
4. Inter-town feeder bus services should be de-regulated to allow
individual private operators to operate as in the case of the mini-bus
system in Hong Kong. The high mobility and relatively low overheads
of the private operators would give them the flexibility to effectively
meet the requirements of the local residents.
5. Service routes, prices and service levels could be determined
based on market demand, affordability of commuters in the area,
and sustainability of the service operators/providers.
6. The network of train service should be extended with the aim
of gradually replacing bus with train service. Different types and
systems of trains could be used to ensure cost-efficiency.
7. The National Transport Corporation should be allowed to operate
shops and outlets within the property under its control to cross
subsidise its operation.
8. Service levels should be benchmarked with other relevant service
industries and monitored regularly by the relevant regulatory authority.
9. A unit should be set up under the Ministry of Transport to:
a) receive feedback and complaint of public transport services
b) audit the standard of services
c) periodically review productivity of the Corporation
d) examine the need to adjust the fare
10. Public buses should be exempted from unnecessary or additional
taxes as the general public will eventually be made to bear this.
11. The government should build the infrastructure and pay for
the initial operational equipment of public transport service as
a social investment. The National Transport Corporation is to ensure
its proper routine and cyclical maintenance as well as timely replacement,
the costs of which should be borne by the Corporation.
Singapore's economic development has naturally put toll on our
natural resources and created pollutants in our environment in the
process. We are rapidly losing our natural heritage as a result
of urbanization and rapid development.
While we are mindful of the scarcity of land in Singapore for housing
and economic development, we must not forget the importance of balancing
between the needs of humans and nature.
There is a need to protect our environment. A rich ecosystem is
necessary for a quality lifestyle and it is the responsibility of
the government and our people to protect our natural heritage.
In addition to taking care of our natural environment, we should
also be mindful to ensure a 'civic and gracious' social environment.
1. We should encourage research and implementation of energy saving
equipment and products.
2. We should implement policies that would encourage commercial
users to rein in their energy and water usage.
3. Corporations should be encouraged to exercise corporate social
responsibility to protect the environment.
4. Apart from the marshland habitats, mangrove swamps and coral
reefs, marine animals and wild birds must be protected for our future
generations. A clean and healthy environment is also essential to
ensure the physical well being of our people.
1. Nature areas such as Chek Jawa at Pulau Ubin should be gazetted
as a permanent natural reserve. It has great ecological and educational
2. We need to strive for more regional cooperation to contain environmental
hazards such as forest fires or chemical leaks so as not to affect
3. For climate regulation and control, we should have a wide variety
of solid and sturdy trees. For instance the choice of fan palms
is not suitable as sun shields. We also need a more diverse variety
of blossoming plants to enrich our environment. We need to evolve
from a green and clean city-state to a more attractive city with
flowers that bloom all year.
4. We should explore ways to reduce our reliance on traditional
food suppliers. Whenever possible, we should allow commercial farms
to grow vegetables on undeveloped land that do not have any developmental
plans for up to two years.
5. Budget should be provided for research into solar power usage
for water reclamation plants. A possible investment in offshore
water catchments and processing plant should be studied.
6. As an equatorial country, we should explore alternative ways
such as fuel cell and solar energy to mitigate the worldwide shortage
of natural gases and fossil fueL This may also create maintenance
and engineering jobs and reduce expenditure on raw energy resources.
We could perhaps even export our knowledge and products based on
fuel cell and solar technology.
7. The use of green vehicles via tax rebates on a bigger scale
should be explored.
8. We can provide tax relief and incentives for companies to encourage
innovative ways of recycling used / by-products.
9. Civic awareness of "social noise pollution" such as
karaoke sessions at home, dog barks and children playing at common
areas and its disturbance of the comfort of others in a "high-density
living environment" should be cultivated.
10 NATIONAL SECURITY
Geographically, we are a small island city-state. Economically,
we do not have any natural resources and we depend largely on our
geographical position to serve as a gateway to South East Asia and
for the export of our industrial products to the international market.
Historically, we were part of Malaysia and a founding member of
ASEAN. Politically, however, the government has been pro Western
Given the nature of these geopolitical factors, besides being able
to defend ourselves, we also need to develop strong ties with our
neighbours and the international community. National Defence and
Foreign Affairs are the major pillars of national security and are
challenging areas that must be handled sensitively.
There is therefore a need to build up our defence capability and
maintain operational readiness of the SAE We should also bear in
mind that the successful transformation of the SAF must come with
the transformation of its officers and rank and file and not only
the military hardware and software.
WP supports National Defence and Total Defence.
1. WP believes that while advanced military hardware and software
will increase our defence capability, the morale and fighting spirit
of the SAF is the best assurance of success in our national defence.
2. Every citizen must put in his/her fair share of responsibility
towards the defence of Singapore. This will instill a sense of ownership,
especially to new citizens.
3. We denounce all forms of terrorism and urge cooperation with
other countries to counter terrorism. We should adopt all precautionary
measures to ensure the safety of Singapore against terrorist threats.
4. As far as possible, there must be transparency in the expenditure
of national defence without compromising defence security.
5. We must maintain a balanced relationship between our strategic
partners in regional and international politics.
A. National Defence:
1. Our defence resources are limited. We need to co-operate with
other countries with advanced military technology in our R&D
efforts to capture a share of international defence economy. Just
as how Singapore has managed to build an external economy to propel
our economic progress, we should consider building a defence economy
with external partners to propel our resources & R&D efforts
to a higher capability level.
2. With the advent of information technology and more sophisticated
military hardware, we could explore the framework of an external
defence wing that could respond effectively to the defence need
3. We should be mindful of using the publicity of our defence assets
as a deterrent strategy vis-a-viz the risks of triggering off an
arms race and undermining our efforts in diplomacy to build a robust
relationship with our neighbours.
4. Instead of the current yearly budget, we should introduce a
5-year defence budget to enable the armed forces to have long term
5. We support participation in internationally sanctioned actions
but we must also be transparent and be able to justify how much
taxpayers' money should be used to participate in peacekeeping efforts
to fulfil our international obligations.
B. Foreign Affairs:
1. We should never be compelled to or willingly participate in
non-internationally sanctioned activities.
2. While maintaining our international outreach we should reposition
Singapore as a good regional partner.
3. We should ensure that our foreign policy does not leave us beholden
to only one strategic partner.
4. We should actively support and participate in the initiatives
of the United Nations' in International Affairs.
11 ARTS, MEDIA, INFORMATION AND
To develop a vibrant nation and to allow people to develop their
potential, there must be a free and open environment where the arts,
media and information can thrive.
Citizens must have timely and easy access to public information.
At the same time, we must create a social milieu where creativity
can be explored in a wide variety of ways and yet respect the beliefs
and sensitivities of Singapore's multi-ethnic, multi-religious,
cosmopolitan and globalised population.
1. Support for the arts must cater to the needs of the local arts
community in order for them to gain international exposure.
2. There should also be support for art activities at grassroots
3. The media should not only be socially responsible but also be
free from political influence with respect to content.
4. Public information should be freely available for members of
5. New media technology should be legislated only in as much as
the vision of making Singapore a technological "hub" requires.
1. The licensing of art will be taken out of government control
and given to an independent body with representation from the arts
2. Financial and infra structural assistance should be provided
for community-based arts at the grassroots level.
3. More diverse and well-defined arts programmes in educational
institutions that channel students' creative energies should be
created. This will give them more options in their career and lifestyle
1. The Newspapers and Printing Presses Act should be amended to
abolish clauses which give the government the right to appoint the
management and boards of directors of media companies.
2. We should create competition by issuing licences to allow private
and commercial media (in particular television and newspaper) with
no government ownership to operate in Singapore.
3. Independent and professional organisations should be established
to monitor the media. These organisations can include ex-journalists
and civil society activists, for the purpose of making journalists
and media companies more accountable to Singaporeans when they report
on issues of national interest.
4. The Films Act should be amended to liberalise the law on making
"political" fIlms, allowing groups and individuals to
express their views by making such fIlms.
1. Constitutional provisions entrenching a right to privacy and
legislation such as a Privacy Act should be enacted to ensure that
ordinary citizens' rights to privacy are protected.
2. We should create a Freedom of Information Act containing provisions
to allow citizens to gather information from the State and to ensure
that the government puts out suffIcient information.
3. Excess layers of bureaucracy should be removed and the period
of waiting for the public to access government information and statistics
should be shortened.
4. Temporary statistics and information collected by the government,
particularly aggregated social statistics, shall, as far as possible,
be de¬classified and made available in the public domain to
promote research and informed debate on matters of public interest.
D. New technology:
1. The restriction on use and ownership of satellite dishes should
2. We need to amend aspects of the Broadcasting Act such as the
Internet Code of Practice to remove the requirement for religious
and political sites to register, and allow web sites to operate
without any restrictive conditions.
3. The Parliamentary Elections Act should be amended to allow local
NGOs and civil society groups to freely use the online medium to
provide information and monitor the electoral process during election
4. We should pursue a policy which guarantees that the internet
would not be subject to direct censorship.
12 SPORTS AND RECREATION
In a highly urbanised society such as Singapore, sports and recreation
are important as daily outlets to manage the stressful lifestyle
of many Singaporeans. Sports should be an activity not just for
athletes, but also for the average Singaporean to keep fit and develop
a more well-rounded state of mind.
Sports development at the grassroots level can be further improved
by fostering the appreciation and enjoyment of sports at the community
While there is a desire to improve the pool of sporting talent
in Singapore and we should not neglect the advantages of importing
foreign talent, building up a base of home-grown sporting talents
should be a priority.
There should be a balance between spending on sports for the community
and investing in building the Sports School and developing training
programmes for the sporting elite.
Sports should be used to imbue the spirit of fair play and a healthy
sporting attitude in Singaporeans. This sporting culture should
be fostered at the individual level and in the local communities.
1. Sports and recreational facilities should be accessible to all
and public facilities where possible should be free.
2. Sports activities and organisations should be community initiatives.
Hence, leaders of such organisations should be from the sporting
fraternity and not government ministries.
3. There should be a balance of foreign and local talent in our
sporting landscape. Sports can be an important tool to provide an
anchor for our young people who might be distracted by negative
4. Participation in sports should be motivated by the spirit of
sportsmanship and fair play.
1. Key positions in sports bodies should be filled with people
from the sporting community.
2. Low-cost sports and recreational facilities should be developed
within HDB estates so that youths and residents can easily access
3. Vacant space should be provided within HDB housing estates specifically
to enable youths to enjoy new innovations in sporting activities.
4. Spending on foreign sporting talent should be reviewed with
the objective of grooming local talents.
5. Funds for the development of sporting facilities should be allocated
to ensure that such facilities are accessible to all.
The population policy of the PAP government is erratic. They spend
one decade enforcing population control, the next decade stimulating
growth and perhaps, the third back to controlling it. Past policies
were also based on the PAP's fallacy of genetic elitism and stratification
based on economic requirements.
We should take a long-term view in population policy formulation
with a holistic approach to bring about a sustainable desirable
size of population.
Population and family planning policies and programs must be undertaken
in conjunction with other economic and social measures to promote
a more comprehensive and dignified development.
Besides providing material incentives to encourage Singaporeans
to have more babies, the government is also encouraging foreign
talents to take up Singapore citizenship to try and resolve the
issue of aging population. However it is also crucial that the government
look into the policy of allowing foreign spouses of Singaporeans
to reside and to work in Singapore.
Using penalty, disincentive and punishment measures in an attempt
to achieve desired the population size is counter-productive and
bears the risk of alienating Singaporeans. The size of the family
and the decision whether to have a family is a private decision
of each individual and family.
Material incentives alone are not enough. An environment of belonging,
sense of nationhood and vision/hope of a better future is essential.
This might also stem the flow of migration. The mindset of the government
should be that our citizens are the 'heart and soul' of our nation
and whatever polices that are implemented must first and foremost
be for a more humane society that would anchor them and make Singapore
1. Material incentives are not enough to encourage population growth.
Besides the 'hardware' of support structures for families the 'software'
is equally important to take care of their holistic well-being.
2. Singles, by choice or otherwise, should not be "discriminated"
by pro family policies.
3. WP affirms the basic right of all families to decide freely
and responsibly the number of their children they want and when
to have them.
4. The policy of allowing foreign spouses of citizens to reside
in Singapore should be relaxed.
1. Medical assistance such as In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) for
couples who want to have children but have diffIculty in conceiving
should be made more affordable.
2. All foreign spouses should be accorded residency status and
allowed to work locally. This can be in the form of a new category
of Residential Visa.
3. Family education should start with the younger generation and
should not only focus on the importance or joys of family life but
also on the issues of an aging society, etc.
4. Foreign work-permit holders who have worked locally for at least
5 years should be allowed to marry Singapore citizens without the
need to seek approval from the Ministry of Manpower.
5. Work permit holders who have left Singapore for 5 years should
be allowed to marry Singaporeans without the need to seek approval
from the Ministry of Manpower.
14 LABOUR POLICY AND CPF
Singapore prides itself as a country with one of the most productive
and skilled labour forces. Our zero work stoppages and industrial
actions have contributed to the ability of the government to attract
Foreign Direct Investment.
However, the recent economic downturn after the Asian fInancial
crisis and the rise of China as an attractive manufacturing base
have both posed a challenge to us. In response to the new challenges,
the government has turned around and declared that our world class
productive labour force is now too expensive. We have priced ourselves
out of the market.
Pursuant to the U-turn, a barrage of measures was implemented at
the expense of the labour force. Unfortunately, the monopoly of
the umbrella union affiliated to the government leaves workers without
much bargaining power.
The amendments to the Employment Act allowing employers not to
pay workers for overtime with the excuse of protecting jobs is an
insight into how important the rights of workers are to the policy
makers. Workers bear the biggest brunt of the economic downturn
with huge Central Provident Fund (CPF) cuts as the major portion
of the government's cost saving package.
The government uses CPF contributions as a convenient tool to cut
cost in economic downturns. This has resulted in many Singaporeans
facing fInancial difficulty in servicing housing mortgages, meeting
future medical needs and providing for retirement.
During the good years, the government often uses CPF savings to
gauge the affordability of Singaporeans with regards to the sales
price of HDB flats and health care costs. Hence, a high CPF contribution
rate gives the government the tool to justify its increases.
The fundamental objective of the CPF is to cater to the retirement
needs of the people. The government seems to have forgotten this
until recently when the asset values fell substantially due to the
The gravity of our CPF savings being melted away with negative
assets mainly in housing and stocks hit home.
The government has now awakened to the consequence of ignoring
the retirement needs of the people and its over-confidence in enhancing
assets to enrich Singaporeans. WP is of the view that it is time
to do a comprehensive study as to whether the single pillar of CPF
is able to sustain the financing of retirement needs, health care
1. Singaporeans should be given priority for jobs created. We should
encourage local companies to venture outside Singapore and to employ
2. While WP understands the need to enlarge our talent pool with
foreign talents and for foreign workers to supplement our work force,
we must ensure that this policy does not depress the wages of our
3. The CPF contribution rate should not be used as a tool to respond
to economic downturns.
4. Unions should be independent and should be empowered to protect
the rights of workers. The composition and mission of the tripartite
system should be reviewed so as not to disadvantage workers.
A. Trade Unions:
1. Instead of just negotiating on retrenchment benefits, trade
unions should be allowed to discuss with the management the rationale
for retrenchments. This would enable unions to be involved and explore
with the management if an alternative solution might be viable.
2. All government ministers and executive council members of political
parties should not take office in trade unions at any level.
3. Executives should be allowed to join unions. Newly-promoted
junior executives who have served as officials in a trade union
should also be allowed to continue to hold office for a period of
4. The minimum wage in Collective Agreements should be strictly
enforced. Union leaders should educate employees on their minimum
wage and to make a report if they have been "short-changed".
B. Central Provident Fund (CPF):
1. The long term total CPF contribution rate should be ftxed at
35% for employees age 55 and below: Both the employer and employee
should contribute 17.5% each to the fund.
2. For employees above the age of 55, a reduced CPF rate will increase
their competitive advantage in the employment market.
3. There should be a more comprehensive investment scheme for CPF
savings. The government should look at ways to pool the funds together
to enable CPF members to enjoy economies of scale. They can then
avoid paying the hefty ftnancial charges incurred should they invest
on their own.
4. A statutory board can be set up to act as an asset management
company for CPF members.
For example, with the Hong Kong's Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF)
system, individual members can select the proportion of their retirement
savings they want to allocate to different ftnancial packages available
to them. This would allow members to formulate unique ftnancial
portfolios with different risk factors and expected returns.
5. Alternatively, since the Singapore Government Investment Corporation
(SGIC) has achieved consistent investment returns higher than the
international benchmark, the SGIC could manage the investment of
CPF savings to achieve a higher rate of returns.
C. Employment Act:
1. Given to day's increasingly volatile employment situation, the
required number of years of continuous services for entidement to
retrenchment beneftts should be reduced from three to two years.
2. In the absence of an agreement on retrenchment beneftts, the
mandatory retrenchment beneftt should be increased from one to two
weeks of the basic salary.
3. The definition of employee under the Employment Act should be
reviewed to allow employees who are in the managerial, executive
or confIdential positions to have certain protections under the
This will provide recourse to such employees in cases of unlawful
dismissal or to claim arrears of salary through the Commissioner
for Labour/ Ministry of Manpower. A salary ceiling should be fIxed
for this category of employees to be eligible for protection under
4. The amendments to the Employment Act allowing employers not
to pay workers for overtime should be repealed.
The print copy of the Manifesto 2006 is available at S$5 at Workers' Party Open House on Monday evenings from 8.00 pm to 9.30 pm (except public holidays).