SingFirst to fight for 'social justice'

SingFirst to fight for 'social justice'
Singaporeans First candidates (from left) Chirag Desai, Wong Chee Wai, Tan Jee Say, Fahmi Rais and Melvyn Chiu.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Singaporeans First (SingFirst) party chief Tan Jee Say yesterday said his party will campaign for "social justice" this general election.

"This country has been divided by the government's policies on immigration that pitted our citizens against foreigners and employers," he said, hitting out at what he calls liberal immigration policies by the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) government.

The 61-year-old former presidential candidate was speaking at SingFirst's office in Tras Street, where he introduced the first batch of the party's candidates contesting the Sept 11 polls.

Market risk manager Chirag Desai, 38, IT consultant Wong Chee Wai, 44, trainer and communication and media consultant Fahmi Rais, 48, and sales executive Melvyn Chiu Weng Hoe, 36, will join Mr Tan and be fielded in either Tanjong Pagar GRC or Jurong GRC.

"You won't know who is going where until Nomination Day," said Mr Tan.

He described the candidates - who all hold master's degrees - as brave and passionate people who have stepped forward because of their love for Singapore.

If his party is elected, SingFirst will push to provide monthly cash allowances of $300 for children and the elderly, and subsidise healthcare, transport and childcare fees. "We will not question those who come to us for help," he said.

The party will also root for a minimum wage and abolish the current system of certificates of entitlement for vehicle ownership.

"We have a $6 billion social safety net to help the poor and middle- class Singaporeans," reads the party manifesto, released yesterday. "We invest in our own people, strengthen families and will not bankrupt Singapore."

The number of foreigners in Singapore is expected to be a hot-button issue for the coming general election.

Mr Tan said the influx of foreigners has taken away locals' jobs and places in schools. "As a result, locals' self-esteem has been destroyed," he said.

The party also unveiled its campaign slogan: "Restore our nation".

It stems from the need to "take back our country from the government that has given the country away to foreigners", he said. However, he does not see his party as xenophobic.

"We do realise that top companies actually are making a lot of investments. That's at the top level," he said. "We have the work permit level, which is down below... What we are really concerned with is actually the (white-collar workers). This is where Singaporeans really get squeezed."

He had said previously that he wanted to contest Tanjong Pagar GRC because residents there had not had the chance to vote for more than 20 years. His team is expected to compete with the incumbent PAP team, led by labour chief Chan Chun Sing, who is also a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

The constituency had been won by the PAP in walkovers since it was created in 1991.

Founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March this year, had been MP for Tanjong Pagar since 1955.

Mr Tan did not outline town council-specific plans for Tanjong Pagar GRC when asked, but would only say that "estates are well-run". His party would focus on "national issues because HDB, the town council is a non-issue as far as we are concerned".

Instead, his party will focus on national concerns such as labour, immigration and education.

"We will have a proper handover and scrutiny of the accounts before we take over," said Mr Tan, who stressed that he has people with "town council management experience".

For example, Mr Chirag, who graduated from Columbia University, has a Master of Science in financial engineering.

At the last election, Mr Tan contested Holland-Bukit Timah GRC on a Singapore Democratic Party ticket. His team won 39.9 per cent of the vote.

Later in August 2011, Mr Tan won 25 per cent of the vote in a four-way fight for the presidency.

SingFirst said it plans to unveil its second batch of candidates today.

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