SINGAPORE : Political watchers say Singapore's next General Election will likely be fought upon bread and butter issues.
When Singaporeans went to the polls in the last General Election in 2001, unemployment was at a high; many had wanted jobs that could in turn provide better lives.
Some four years later, political watchers say such issues will still form the backbone of the upcoming contest, due by June next year.
Said Dr Gillian Koh, research fellow, at the Institute of Policy Studies, "Certainly on employment, on health care -- maybe some people will still remember the issues on transport costs. I think that last time round, there was some discussion about the education system. There is always this nagging question to which we can tweak and adjust the foreign worker policy, does that foreign worker policy mean a heavy price, a trade-off for us."
The past years saw numerous initiatives to improve the people's lives and to shore up the economy.
Last June, the ComCare Fund with an annual budget of over S$10 million was set aside to help the needy.
Soon, more measures will be announced as part of Workfare to cast a wider social safety net for the lower income families.
There are also programmes to redesign jobs and re-skill older workers so they can stay employed.
Political watchers say the PAP has a fair report card for the manner in which it tackled the recession, globalisation and SARS, among others; but it is important to see if these filter to the ground.
Going forward, some issues which need addressing include narrowing the income gap as well as promoting a freer and more inclusive society.
Said former Nominated MP Chandra Mohan, "I believe the PAP will have better mileage by being liberal. Probably by having that Singaporeans will have not just economic progress but progress in terms of the Singapore soul. That is important if you want the international community to judge us not just by economic progress, which is a given almost now. The next phase of progress is more difficult, that is the mental phase of progress".
And it isn't just some political watchers who expect the PAP to face a tougher challenge at the upcoming polls.
Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong had also commented that the ruling party
will face tougher competition this time round as the opposition parties have
been preparing for their campaign.
For now, many questions beg answers -- when is the election; what are the electoral boundaries; who are the new candidates?
More, hopefully, will be revealed after the Budget on February 17. - CNA /ct
This probably explains why reports on the declining unemployment rate was announced. For the average person on the street (and one does not have to be a politician to know this) is employment which leads to bringing home the bacon. While we cannot verify the veracity of the published figures, we are aware of the strategic timing that has led to this reporting.
Perhaps it is a reminder of how the elected government has served its people. Perhaps it is bait for the opposition parties to act upon. Regardless of your stand, I think we all agree that all goodies/rewards announced are good.