DPP’s National Day Message 2015

Dear fellow Singaporeans,

Congratulations and best wishes to all Singaporeans on this 50th National Day. It is indeed a time to give thanks for what we have achieved over the past 50 years to-date. And it is a day that we can stand proud as an independent nation and an independent people in today’s globalized world.

We have been celebrating SG50 since the start of this year, and we have heard countless times the achievements we have attained, and how far we have come from our past.

Singapore – the achievement of every one

I would like to thank each and every one of your forefathers, who played a part in building Singapore to what it is today. Singapore is not the achievement of one man, or a band of men. It is the achievement of every Singaporean man and woman who have lived through the tumultuous years of the 1960s, till today. Singapore therefore is a shared achievement of each and every Singaporean. We should all stand proud this 50th National Day.

Today’s challenges

However, our forefathers have passed away, our first-and-second-generation political leaders are fast retiring. And the challenges that we face today as Singapore, are far more complex than before. SG50 is a time for rejoicing, but it is also a time for awakening.

The international economy is challenging. China is slowing down. India is rising. Next-door countries like Indonesia and Philippines are taking off. Domestic issues are spilling over to other countries. The Rohinga refugees and ISIS militants are at our doorsteps. International monetary flows are cross-border tax regimes are getting tighter. And we in Singapore are being fast drawn into the storm.

Immigrants and overcrowding in Singapore, the rising gap between the rich and the poor, fast but poor quality construction around us, hospital bed crunch and public transport disruptions, all these are very real, but they are also symptoms of much larger regional and global forces at play, and we are being hit no differently from every other key globalized city in the world.

So as we celebrate and rejoice in how far we have come over the past 50 years, let us also wake up and take a good hard look at how we are going to weather the storm and continue to survive and succeed in the coming 50 years.

Your contribution to Singapore

At this 50th National Day, I would like to strongly urge all Singaporeans to step forward and contribute strongly to Singapore’s next 50 years in three key ways:

· Give of yourself and what you have to fellow Singaporeans around you in need. Build our community from ground-up, starting with yourself
· Lift up your heads and see our shared challenges, and lets pull together and find solutions, not break apart by throwing stones
· Step into community, social and political leadership, at the grassroots or nationally. Our country urgently need a new generation of community and political leaders, whatever the colour

So stand up for Singapore – not just for the national anthem, or the parade, but for the interest and well-being of your family, your future. And don’t just stand up, step forth. Singapore needs you. To be interested. To be involved. To participate. To Lead.

This is OUR Singapore. This is YOUR Singapore. Lets together create the next 50 years for ourselves and our families. Majulah Singapura!

Ben Pwee

Secretary-General
Democratic Progressive Party

DPP aiming to have a go in five constituencies

Article featured in TodayOnline and ChannelnewsAsia

SINGAPORE: Just two years after he revived the dormant Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Mr Benjamin Pwee, 46, has keen ambitions for the coming elections, saying he has corralled enough potential candidates to gun for five constituencies.

While the secretary-general did not divulge the identities of his entire slate of 15, Mr Pwee said the teams he intends to field are made up of, across the board, professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) in their mid-30s to late-40s. He added that they hold middle to senior management positions and have “experience in government, private sector and non-profit civic organisations”, citing architect Juliana Juwahir as one of the DPP’s potential candidates.

Mr Pwee explained that the make-up of his stable of potential candidates is so because their profiles mirror that of the majority of swing voters in many constituencies, by his estimates.

“SANDWICHED CLASS”

In an interview with TODAY, Mr Pwee, who contested in the 2011 elections on a Singapore People’s Party (SPP) ticket, contends that many PMETs in the sandwiched class are still saddled with a bag of issues and bear “a lot of political unhappiness”.

“The mid- to lower-class PMETs are the sandwiched class ever since the previous General Election, facing rising living costs, but slower rising wages. There is a lot of political unhappiness in this group, asking for political changes,” he said. “We have been speaking on key issues that matter to these PMETs, such as wages and jobs, education and promotions, Central Provident Fund and cost of living.”

His party is calling for “a more equitable distribution of national wealth to the bottom half of the pyramid, through more sustainable policies, rather than short-term handouts”.

He also described these PMETs as “discerning voters who will vote with their heads and not their hearts”.

Adding that the DPP wants to demonstrate that the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) is no longer the only party capable of attracting white-collar talent, he argued that government policies should be formulated with input from all political parties, civic groups and key stakeholders.

“The PAP no longer has a monopoly on talent, there is also a lot of talent in the private sector and civic groups that has not been tapped. We should consult them in developing policies in the best interest of Singapore,” said Mr Pwee. “We do not want to take a combative stand against the PAP, we just want to be constructive.”

“BEST MAN FORWARD”

Last weekend, the DPP, which last contested in 2006 under the Singapore Democratic Alliance banner, announced it is eyeing the single seats of Potong Pasir, Fengshan and Hong Kah North, as well as Bishan-Toa Payoh and Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs). But Mr Pwee conceded that, out of these constituencies, he rates his party’s chances in Potong Pasir and Bishan-Toa Payoh — both were contested by his former party in the last elections.

“We have been walking the ground monthly, and we know the residents and they know and support us,” he said. Since January, party members have also been doing door-to-door visits in the two constituencies, he added.

On the DPP’s prospects in the remaining three constituencies, he was less sanguine: “Tanjong Pagar is very big, geographically speaking, while Dr Amy Khor has done a good job in Hong Kah North, in all honesty. Fengshan is just very new to us.”

While contesting in Potong Pasir would mean a head-on clash with his former mentor Chiam See Tong — earlier this week, SPP chairman Lina Chiam said the party would not budge from contesting the ward, even in a multi-cornered fight — Mr Pwee downplayed any potential tensions.

“Fielding a top-quality candidate in Potong Pasir is about winning it from the PAP, and putting one more credible opposition MP into Parliament,” he said — the ward was held by Mr Chiam for 27 years until PAP wrested it in 2011.

“We have reached out a number of times to talk to Mrs Chiam, to jointly discuss and coordinate a common strategy to partner and together compete in the coming GE … We have full respect for Mr Chiam and what he has done for Potong Pasir, and given his age and physical frailty, the opposition parties need to put the best man forward, to win Potong Pasir back from the PAP into fellow opposition hands.”

Multi-cornered fights? We should trust our voters, says DPP’s Pwee

Article featured in TodayOnline, By Tan Weizhen

SINGAPORE — Voters are mature and smart enough to choose between the People’s Action Party and “the best of the opposition candidates”, regardless of how many candidates there are in the same constituency. This is the view of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secretary-general Benjamin Pwee, 46, on multi-cornered fights.

“We should trust our voters,” he said in an interview on Tuesday (July 28) .
With the opposition parties set to hold their traditional horse-trading talks on Monday (Aug 3), the spotlight in recent days has been on the potential multi-cornered fights that some analysts feel could be inevitable given the high number of political parties that are set to take part in the coming General Election.

Compared with the previous GE in 2011, three more parties are expected to enter the fray — DPP, People’s Power Party and Singaporeans First — bringing the total to nine. Out of the 29 constituencies in all, a dozen are being eyed by more than one opposition party.

“If our fellow opposition friends field a candidate stronger than ours, we will obviously either not field our candidate there, or pull back our candidate,” Mr Pwee said. “If our candidate is stronger… then we will certainly continue to field our candidate there against the PAP, and trust that the other weaker opposition candidates will pull out. If they don’t … I strongly believe that voters would learn from the last Presidential Elections and not split their votes.”

Dr Tony Tan won the 2011 Presidential Elections with 35.2 per cent of the votes, beating three other candidates — Dr Tan Cheng Bock (34.9 per cent), Mr Tan Jee Say (25 per cent) and Mr Tan Kin Lian (4.9 per cent).

Mr Pwee also referred to the Punggol East by-election in 2013, as an example of how the two strongest candidates in a multi-cornered fight would capture the lion’s share of the votes. Workers’ Party’s Lee Li Lian won the by-election with 54.5 per cent of the votes, with her nearest challenger, PAP’s Koh Poh Koon, garnering 43.8 per cent of the votes. Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam and Singapore Democratic Alliance secretary-general Desmond Lim received only 1.2 per cent and 0.6 per cent of the votes, respectively.

Mr Pwee felt that there is “enough mutual respect” among the various parties to work together. There is a new generation of opposition members who are free from historical baggage, he said. “We have definitely been talking to each other, and informal discussions have been ongoing,” he said.