CNA: A Political Forum on Singapore's Future Pt4/4- 02Apr2011
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Uploaded on Apr 2, 2011
SINGAPORE - For the first time in more than two decades, the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and four Opposition parties have engaged in a lively pre-General Election television forum.
Organised by Channel NewsAsia (CNA), the one-hour programme in English entitled A Political Forum on Singapore's Future - to be broadcast unedited on Saturday and again on Sunday and Monday - saw the five political parties discuss a variety of immediate and long-term challenges facing Singapore.
The PAP was represented at the forum, which was recorded yesterday, by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Josephine Teo; the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) by its assistant secretary-general Mohamed Nazem Suki; the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) by assistant treasurer Vincent Wijeysingha; the Singapore People's Party (SPP) by second vice-chairwoman Lina Chiam; and the Workers' Party (WP) by assistant webmaster Gerald Giam.
The forum saw the participants squaring off on issues such as the Republic's economic growth, educating the next generation, as well as Singapore's social and healthcare needs. Apart from allotted time for them to state their party's position and plans on these issues, there were also free-flowing segments during which the politicians locked horns on the rising cost of living and the influx of foreign workers - issues that are widely expected to be hot-button topics during the coming General Election.
Half the time of the forum was allotted to the Opposition and half to the ruling party.
The SDP had initially baulked at the forum's format and the condition that participants had to be either an elected Member of Parliament, or a member of the party's central executive committee, who was eligible to contest the General Election.
But after the recording at MediaCorp's Andrew Road studios, the opposition party's representative, Dr Wijeysingha, praised the forum, describing it as "effective".
"It's a good format ... you have some structure but within that structure you allow people to debate, to talk, to reflect off each other. It's an effective forum. We need more of this," the SDP representative told Today. "It was interesting, we managed to get some views out, there was a good debate between ourselves and the PAP MP and it was good to have a Minister on as well," Dr Wijeysingha added.
Other opposition participants also gave the forum the thumbs up.
"I think it's a good opportunity for us to address voters directly. I hope this will give voters a better idea of what the WP is about, the kinds of candidates we have, our objective to build up a rational, responsible and respectable party," said WP's Mr Giam.
Echoing his view, SPP's Mrs Chiam said: "This is the first time I have taken part in this sort of forum ... and I think it was an honour to be speaking in front of the Minister ... I think it is a great experience for me. Initially I was a bit nervous."
Speaking to Today, Mr Tharman, who is also the PAP's treasurer, said the forum "went very well".
Said Mr Tharman: "It's a good idea to have this exchange well before the election so that people get to know what the different parties represent and whether they've got real policies or rhetoric."
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