SINGAPORE: The People’s Action Party (PAP) takes governance and governing Singapore very seriously, and has worked hard to improve the lives of Singaporeans, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Saturday (Jul 27).
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a ministerial community walkabout in Bedok, Mr Heng said PAP leaders “fundamentally disagree” with Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s assertion that there has been an “erosion” of transparency and accountability within the Government.
“We fundamentally disagree with Dr Tan. But of course he is entitled to his opinions just as all Singaporeans are entitled to opinions,” said Mr Heng, who is the PAP’s first assistant secretary-general.
Dr Tan, leader of the new Progress Singapore Party, said on Friday that “the processes of good governance have gone astray”.
At a press conference to officially introduce his party, the former PAP Member of Parliament had also raised the issue of how Parliament was not the right place to debate the fate of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's house at 38 Oxley Road.
"In some ways, Dr Tan contradicted himself. He said that there's no transparency but at the same time he attacked the fact that the issue of Oxley Road was raised in Parliament," Mr Heng said on Saturday.
"Now that is transparency, the fact that the Prime Minister was prepared to have this issue debated in Parliament, clarified in Parliament, is a very important aspect of our governance."
The PAP has proven that it has worked hard for Singaporeans, Mr Heng said, including tackling the challenges that the country faces in a rapidly changing global environment, creating jobs as the economy restructures, as well as taking care of an ageing population.
Mr Heng said many residents he spoke to during the community visit had expressed support for government policies and how they have improved their lives.
“At the end of the day, the test is which party, which group of candidates have better ideas and better ability to deliver results for Singaporeans,” he added.
Mr Heng said Singaporeans are fair-minded, and will look at the quality of ideas and the ability to deliver results when they decide which political party or candidate can best serve them and take Singapore forward.
He noted that Dr Tan has yet to articulate any policies for Singapore.
Echoing Mr Heng’s comments, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that the PAP is not distracted by other political parties as its focus is to work hard to meet Singaporeans’ needs and to ensure that the country stands out among its competitors.
“We are not here to worry about politics and what not. That can take care of itself. But if Singapore and Singaporeans are well taken care of, I'm sure Singaporeans will know who to place their trust in,” said Mr Chan, who is PAP’s second assistant secretary-general.
“So let's start with focusing on the substantive issues that really matter to fellow Singaporeans, and at this point in time, I think, on the minds of most Singaporeans will be the direction of economy and the jobs. Whether, is it election or non-election time, we must make sure that fellow Singaporeans are well taken care of.”
NEW ANCHOR MINISTER AT EAST COAST GRC?
Mr Heng and Mr Chan's walkabout in Bedok, together with East Coast GRC MP Lim Swee Say, is part of the PAP’s ministerial community visits. So far, party leaders have made 40 of such visits.
Mr Heng said it is not the first time both he and Mr Chan have done a joint walkabout, adding that they have done so twice previously in other GRCs, and will do more if their schedules allow.
East Coast GRC was hotly contested in previous elections.
In the 2015 polls, the PAP won nearly 61 per cent of votes in the GRC, while the Workers’ Party (WP) secured 39 per cent of the votes. In the 2011 General Election, the PAP won 54.8 per cent of the votes, with WP clinching 45 per cent.
With Mr Lim retiring from Cabinet last May, the PAP does not have an anchor minister in East Coast GRC.
When asked if another minister would be deployed to East Coast, Mr Heng declined to share details, saying only that the party will make a decision in time to come.