Workers' Party MPs to skip National Day Rally

Workers' Party MPs will give the National Day Rally a miss this year, a move observers say may be part of a strategy to distance itself from the event.

The WP will be hosting an SG50 dinner for residents on Aug 23, when the rally will take place.

A WP spokesman said the party's seven MPs and two Non-Constituency MPs have already informed the rally organisers that they will not be able to attend.

The date for the WP dinner was decided in December, the spokesman added, and the party has been selling tickets to residents for the past few months.

While the National Day Rally date changes every year, it is typically held about two weeks after National Day. At the annual event, the Prime Minister usually outlines future directions for Singapore.

Some netizens commenting on online forums and websites said the WP should have known not to arrange a dinner during the period. Others said there was no reason for the MPs to attend a rally where the Prime Minister will likely be doling out goodies ahead of the election.

However, observers warned against politicising the matter.

"Some people may think of it as a snub of sorts... but I would rather take it at face value and not read too much into it," said National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser. "I'd argue that WP MPs are better off attending the rally, as it could give them a sense of the political sentiments of some segments of the population."

Besides Cabinet ministers and MPs, other guests at the rally typically include civil servants, grassroots leaders, teachers, students and business leaders.

Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan, however, felt that the WP was trying to send a message with its "snub". The party is probably expecting the speech to have an election subtext.

"In a way, they are signalling that they are not going to be there just to listen to it, and would rather engage their supporters since time is of the essence during hustings," he added.


This article was first published on Aug 15, 2015.
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