Chee poses three queries on population to Sim Ann

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan sought answers to three population-related questions from Minister of State Sim Ann - who was director of the National Population and Talent Division before she entered politics.

What is the Government's population target for Singapore, Dr Chee wanted to know. Could the optimal population be based on how happily Singaporeans can live here? And can foreign PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) be assessed on a points system and allowed to work in the country only when jobs cannot be filled by Singaporeans?

He said this is how election candidates should "attack the policy, not the person... in football parlance, you play the ball, not the man".

Dr Chee is leading a team to contest Holland-Bukit Timah GRC where Ms Sim is also a candidate in the coming polls for the People's Action Party (PAP). In the lead-up to last night's rally at Woodlands Stadium, Dr Chee was singled out by opponents in what he termed as "name-smearing".

It was Dr Chee's seventh campaign speech and he will deliver his last on the hustings tonight, when the SDP holds its rally in Clementi, before Polling Day on Friday.

"I will not engage in gutter politics," he said. "I've made a promise to myself that if I win this election, I want to win with honour. "And if I lose, I want to lose with grace and dignity."

Dr Chee also urged his supporters not to call his opponents names as it will hurt their loved ones. "I know that, because they have called me all sorts of names and it hurts my loved ones," he said.

On Monday, Ms Sim had used a Singlish phrase, which meant someone who is full of antics, to describe Dr Chee. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan also took a swipe at Dr Chee for falling out with his mentor Chiam See Tong, who was then with the SDP.

Professor Paul Tambyah, also an SDP candidate in Holland-Bukit Timah, said the PAP is channelling "their insecurities into scaremongering as if they were trying to frighten the electorate into voting for them".

He was referring to National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan's comments about how there is no guarantee the PAP would form the next government.

"We cannot form the next government with 11 candidates... we cannot even implement some of those so-called dangerous policies that we've proposed," Prof Tambyah said, adding that the biggest opposition party is fielding only 28 candidates.

Dr Chee said: "Let us not fear the alternative. If you let the PAP lead you to believe that the alternative is dangerous, then you will let it control what you think and how you live your lives.

"We're not saying that we change everything overnight. We're not even saying that we've all the answers. We believe that our alternative ideas are good, but we know that they are not perfect."

This article was first published on September 9, 2015.
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