For their GE2020 One Year On feature story, The Straits Times contacted us for an update of the SDA’s latest initiatives and developments. Here are the questions, and responses given by our chairman, Desmond Lim.
(1) What is the current state of affairs for SDA without representation in Parliament? How is SDA faring?
As we have been doing for the past 15 years, the SDA is focused on interacting with residents, understanding their concerns and helping them to improve their lives. If you’ve a sincere heart for the people, you don’t have to be in parliament to do all of that.
We’re continuing our programmes to offer help to needy residents, which include the distribution of instant noodles, face masks, hand sanitisers, amongst other daily necessities. This is because we believe that the weakest in society must be protected, just like how we gave $10,000 from our GE2020 donations to the ST Pocket Money Fund. A small amount, but we will always try our best.
From engagements during our weekly house visits and walkabouts, to the well-received charity fund-raising sale of our GE2020 posters, it looks like residents are welcoming and happy to have a chat with us. We appreciate their kindness very much.
(2) What policies are SDA championing, and looking to champion in future?
The SDA continues to champion initiatives that improve the lives of Common Singaporeans and not just the elite.
Reading our manifesto, you’ll see that much of these focuses on social justice, and social mobility.
I’ll sum them up below.
We urge the government to cut fiscal spending on extravagant projects increase social spending to invest resources into developing Singapore’s greatest asset – our people. This pragmatic reallocation of funds will:
- give over 100,000 families living in extreme poverty a shot at success in life
- help elderly Singaporeans who built Singapore to what it is today cope with their living expenses
- reduce the need to increase GST and other taxes that put a tighter squeeze on the middle-class so they can build wholesome families and nurture future generations of Singaporeans
There must be a stop to the current irresponsible immigration and hiring practices that erode Singaporeans’ core identity and put us at a disadvantage in the market for high-skilled jobs.
And, the broken CPF retirement scheme must be fixed.
(3) What’s next for the SDA, leading up to the next GE? What else is on the horizon?
We continue to do good for residents, and be a constructive voice that
Our volunteer and member base has been growing. Good people from all walks of life have joined us because they believe in our direction, and have seen us in action.
(4) You mention that SDA is “looking forward to cooperating more closely with other political parties that share our vision, beliefs and objectives”. Could you share if this is already happening, or if there are concrete plans to? Which parties are you referring to, and what do you mean by cooperating more closely?
You’ve seen from GE2020 that we have forged good friendships with parties of substance, such as the PSP and SDP. We will continue to build on this bond, help one another, and share ideas to better the lives of Singaporeans. We are also working with other parties that truly have a heart for the people.
(5) At GE2020, you said you would be stepping down as a party leader/chairman, and we understood then that Mr Harminder Pal Singh would take over. Is this still the case? Also understand you will remain with the party – do you plan to take part in the next election?
I am already 54 years old this year. Though I’m in good health, I’ll eventually have to step down as chairman of the SDA. Right now, I am continuing the plan for leadership renewal. We have good, young members who are willing to step up. What is key is to groom them in the SDA’s core belief of service before self, guide them in helping common Singaporeans improve their lives, and impart skills so they can navigate the political realm.
(6) For the first time, Singapore now has an official leader of the opposition. There is also a new party in Parliament. As an opposition party, what are your thoughts on the current level and standard of representation of the opposition in Parliament?
Singapore has good, tough opposition leaders who are brave enough to voice the concerns of Singaporeans in parliament. Yet, their efforts are constantly hampered by the lack of transparency of information from the PAP-led government. It is the government’s respect for and etiquette towards opposition leaders that needs improvement.
(7) Could you also provide an update on the party’s strength in terms of members, volunteers etc.?
The SDA is a coalition between the SJP and PKMS. Together, we have around a thousand members and volunteers.