WP MPs will be voice of people: Low Thia Khiang

Mr Low Thia Khiang vowed that he and his fellow Workers' Party (WP) Members of Parliament (MP) will be the voice of the people in parliamentary debates.

Making his first parliamentary speech today, the opposition leader said despite being hampered by a lack of resources and information, WP will do their best to contribute to the debates.

He said: "We (WP) will scrutinize policies for any loopholes and gaps that are likely to affect our people adversely.

"We will be the voice of the people in the House so that the Government will also consider their concerns and needs in any policy trade off.

Mr Low, MP for Aljunied GRC, also urged the Government to review its bilingual system.

Speaking in Mandarin, Mr Loh suggested that the Government could focus on teaching mother tongues more effectively through the appreciation of cultures.

He said this was necessary as the current bilingualism policy has eroded the ability among Chinese Singaporeans to read and write proficiently in the mother tongue.

The Straits Times reported that teaching mother tongue better could affect Singapore's ability to compete globally, given that many youth in other countries are becoming effectively bilingual and could exploit opportunities in a rising China.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said he was 'very shocked' and asked if Mr Low was aware of the Education Ministry's efforts in this area over the years and its plans going forward.

Ms Sim Ann, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education, said she agreed with Mr Low, adding that his comments reflected sentiments among the Chinese community.

However, she said that there has been progress under the bilingualism policy and that the future of Singaporeans remains bright.

Mr Low urged the Government to view indicators such as the Gross National Happiness to reflect 'the new normal' described by the President in his opening speech to Parliament.

He said he was puzzled that some PAP MPs made a fuss when Sylvia Lim said that the government should bear in mind that happiness should be the ultimate aim of its policy goals.

The WP Secretary General suggested the Government consider the Gross National Happiness indicator as part of the 'new normal' which the President described in his opening address to Parliament.

Speaking in English, he said: "The President described the situation after the general elections as a 'new normal'. Should the government not view indicators such as GNH as a 'new normal' in addition to GDP & GNP?

"I hope that this is not a sign that the government's memory of the people's reactions to its policies during the General Election is fading."

dassa@sph.com.sg

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