Xenophobic? Populist? Ex-PAP members? United Opposition? The formation of SFP has raised many eyebrows and it’s to take a closer look at SFP.
Yesterday, former Presidential Candidate Tan Jee Say announced the formation of a new Political Party in Singapore called Singaporeans First. This has been met with mixed reactions and many misunderstandings, some call the name of the Party a xenophobic and populist one. Others even came up with theory that Tan Jee Say was a mole from the PAP who formed the Party instead of joining an already existing one to dilute the non-PAP votes, the presence of former government servants and YPAP members also furthers strengthens this theory. Netizens also made a comparison of the Party’s Logo with the logo of Wall’s Ice Cream! I was present at their press conference yesterday and actually many of these questions were raised in a straightforward way towards Tan Jee Say and the rest of the members and he addressed them.
Here are 10 things you should know about SFP!
1) SPF’s logo is evolved from Tan Jee Say’s 2011 Presidential Election Logos
Altough many have compared SFP’s new logo with the logo of Wall’s Ice Cream, it is actually an ‘evolution’ from Tan Jee Say’s logo from his Presidential Election Campaign. In 2011, he campaigned for Presidency under the logo of a heat at the slogan, ‘The Heart of a Nation.’ And SFP’s logo is actually a head (circle) with a heart inside of it, as they pledge to put ‘people at the heart of everything that they do.’ The heart also represents the fact that the Party would think with not only their Brains, but it would think with their hearts too.
2) There are 3 former PAP leaders in SFP
Out of the 11 founding members, 3 were formerly with PAP. Tan Peng Ann was a former PAP Grassroots leader and both David Foo and Fahmi Rais were from the Young PAP. It is interesting to note that Fahmi Rais used to be the leader of YPAP in Ang Mo Kio GRC. Well, I guess this may be a sign that the climate of fear is certainly being eradicated. Instead of arousing suspicion, this actually makes trust SFP more. Allow me to elaborate why.
Firstly, I believe that when youths join YECs and YPAP, some of them truly want to make a positive change in our nation. But unfortunately, it is very hard to break the status quo and the party whip. People either conform, or they leave to pave their own ways. And it’s a clear sign that these 3 do want to make a difference and SFP would be an excellent platform for them to be the catalysts of that change that they want to see.
Secondly, I like how SFP was very transparent and upfront about this. Singapore has its fair share of conspiracy theorists an who may jump on this fact to fabricate stories, but still SFP was honest about it. Not only were they honest, they also used it to their advantage as having key leaders from the PAP who have knowledge in Walkabouts, Campaigning and ground work which would be a big asset to a new Political Party like SFP.
3) Their name is neither xenophobic nor populist. It is to represent people.
Singaporeans First may be mistaken for a xenophobic war-cry or a populist move riding on the rising hyper-nationalistic sentiments, but it is not. Yesterday during the press conference, this was what Tan Jee Say said,
“I would like to make a clarification on this. People might accuse us for being xenophobic because we are called ‘Singaporeans First’. Let me emphasize that here we are talking about Singaporeans as people and not as economic digits. We must know the difference. It’s not just versus foreign workers, it is versus economic digits. The PAP is good for seeing everybody as an economic digit, but we are treating people with feelings. It is not versus foreigners, it is versus economic digits.”
However SFP has said that it is concerned with over-crowding and attributes the overcrowding to Singapore’s economic structure and says that it will provide viable alternative solutions, which is present in their manifesto.
4) Opposition Unity and a Coalition is of utmost importance for SFP
With the addition of SFP, there are now 8 Opposition Parties in Singapore. Many netizens argued that Tan Jee Say’s formation of SFP would only further confuse the electorate and dilute the non-PAP votes. I have clarified why this may not be true in this blogpost, But I was glad to see that this was the first thing that Tan Jee Say addressed in his press conference yesterday. During the Presidential Elections, Tan Jee Say was known as a ‘Unifying Figure.’ And his answers and actions recently have lived up to the title. He said he formed his own Party, as it would allow him to work with all other Opposition Parties and not just one Party. Tan Jee Say has said that “An united Opposition is key because we are meeting with a Mammoth Opponent.’
He said that he has already met some fellow Opposition Parties to talk about working together. And this morning, there was confirmation of DPP and SDP being open to work together with SFP. They said that they would want to discuss the constituencies with other Parties so as to beef each others’ teams. He has also said that he is very keen on forming a coalition with all the other Parties.
5) They intend to increase our fertility rate from 1.2 to well above 2
They plan to do achieve this by taking the following steps
- Larger Child Allowances
- Free Universal Education
- Heavily Subsidized Childcare facilities
- Jobs and Service Centers no more than 15 minutes away from Homes
- Introducing Seniors and Housewives into the Workforce
In the long term, they plan to develop a robust and internationally competitive economy without a high dependence on foreign labour, following in the footsteps of nations like Denmark and Finland who also have a population of 5 million people
6) They want to eradicate the ‘kiasu’ and elitist mentality in Singapore to make Singaporeans happier
It’s not everyday that you see words like ‘kiasu’ in a Party’s manifesto, but you will find it in SFP’s Manifesto. And I think that is important, what is the use of all the economic growth when you are not happy?
Dr Ang Yong Guan, a Psychiatrist, begun by saying that Singaporeans are the most unhappiest, unemotional and stressed people in the World. He said that we were kiasu because we feared failure, as failure exacts a heavy social and economic price. To counter this fear, SFP has proposed a strong safety nets which consists of
- truly affordable universal and comprehensive healthcare insurance,
- unemployment insurance and
- an old age pension provided by the state outside of the inadequate CPF.
SFP aims to create Singaporeans with dignity, self-esteem and grace.
7) They disagree with Singapore’s high dependence on Foreign Workers and MNCs
“For almost 50 years we have been boasting about MNCs, and I think it is about time we ‘Grow our own Timber.’” SFP aims to develop local enterprises like SMEs into major regional and global firms by providing grants for development capital and reducing rental. It believes that we have great room for growth in the education and healthcare sector.
In our shipyards, 100,000 workers out of 120,000 are not Singaporeans.
SFP began with this startling fact, and went on to express their intention to re-structure our economy to make it less dependent on foreign labour. They say that Singapore’s high dependence on foreign labour depresses our levels, lowers overall productivity, sustains low-skill industries and adds to over-crowding
8) Free Universal Education: Free schooling from pre-school till University
“Will it cost a lot of money? Yes of course it wil. But it also costs a lot of money to give tuition grants to foreigners every year. It costs of 400 million dollars. With that 400 million dolllars we could give free education in Universities to all Singaporeans.”
9) They plan to remove the GST
SFP plans to remove the GST as it fee as it poses an unfair burden on the lower and middle class of Singapore. A conservative estimate of our surplueses would be 1 trillion dollars. We don’t have to spend the principle amount, we spend the returns. A 6% returns equates to a 60 billion dollar a year return. We collected 10 billion dollars from GST last year, along with a budget surplus of 30 billion dollar. I think we can afford to remove the GST.
10) SFP believes the 2016 GE will be the mother of all Black Swans
“GE 2016 will be a Black Swan. Swans are supposed to be white, until Black Swans were discovered in Australia. A Black Swan is an unexpected event, so we are confident that our success will be a Black Swan. I am saying this confidently because we have seen many Black Swans in Singapore over the past few years, like the bus strikes, the riots, the escape from high security prison, the Orchard Road Floods.
And the next elections we will see the mother of all Black Swans” – Tan Jee Say
SFP do look promising indeed. I’m looking forward to what SFP has in store for Singapore!