Good Evening, Dear Guests & Friends of the Workers’ Party, and Party Colleagues,
On behalf of the Executive Council, I extend our deep gratitude to each and every one of you, for taking precious time and effort to be with us this evening as we celebrate the Workers’ Party’s 60th Anniversary.
What does reaching 60 mean? We know it is a milestone of sorts. For human beings, 60 is the age at which we are called senior citizens and may start to think of the next phase of life. What does 60 mean for political parties? The fact that WP has been an active opposition party for 60 years did not happen by accident.
60 years ago, in pre-independence Singapore, our founder David Marshall had a vision of a party representing the interests of workers who were being exploited, living and working in poor conditions. 60 years on, WP remains as committed as ever, fighting for the principles of social justice and equal treatment of all citizens.
On a personal note, I joined the Party 16 years ago. At that time, Nov 2001, Party morale was low. Mr JB Jeyaretnam had left the Party, bringing with him some others. The Party Council was at half-strength; even though the WP Constitution provides for the Council to have14 members, there were vacancies to be filled. The Party had just gone through the 2001 General Elections, a snap election called after the 9-11 attacks in New York. At that election, two-thirds of the seats were uncontested. By the end of that campaign, WP had retained Hougang SMC but lost badly in Nee Soon East. Faced with all this, I knew that my time of being a passive bystander was over. And so I walked up the stairs to our old party office at Jalan Besar for the first time, and entered a new world.
Fast forward to today. Many like-minded men and women have come forward to join us on this journey, and together, we have progressed. Today, the Party has 6 elected MPs in Parliament. Within the Party, there are healthy contests for leadership positions. We have a thriving Youth Wing, and several grassroots committees active in Hougang, Aljunied, and beyond. We have a creative media team which includes many young members, upping our game in social media. And, with your help, we have also recently bought our very own Party office.
With our electoral success in 2011 in Aljunied GRC, we met the challenge of managing a Town Council at GRC level. There has been a lot of adverse news about Aljunied-Hougang Town Council. But what are the facts that are not reported? When we took over officially in August 2011, there was no disruption of services to residents. If you were to look around Aljunied-Hougang Town today and talk to residents, you would see that the Town is progressively being renewed and improved. AHTC is in good hands under the leadership of TC Chairman Pritam Singh. Back in 2011, we were denied the use of the town council management system software that our residents paid for. We coped as best we could with the system used in Hougang SMC for 5 years. Today I am pleased to inform everyone that AHTC has now put in place a new integrated TC management software, comparable to the system used by other TCs. This was possible through the meticulous direction of TC Vice Chairman Png Eng Huat.
There are many, many men and women who kept WP alive and moving forward in the last 60 years. Some of them are here today among us. Others are not here; some have died. Their contribution has not been in vain.
We now have an organisation that will survive beyond the personalities of any individual leader, an organisation for the future. For this, we thank not only those who have joined the Party, but all Singaporeans who have voted for WP and supported us, in one way or another, for the last 60 years.
There is still much more for the Workers’ Party to contribute. Walk with us, as we write the next chapter of this remarkable journey.