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Singapore

PAP cannot assume that it will form the next government: Lawrence Wong

“While we put up good candidates and fight to win every seat, we have to be prepared that we will not win all of them,” said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.

02:38 Min
The People’s Action Party (PAP) cannot assume that it will win the next General Election and form the next government, but it will “work doubly hard” to regain seats that it has lost, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on Sunday (Nov 6). 

SINGAPORE: The People’s Action Party (PAP) cannot assume that it will win the next General Election and form the next government, but it will “work doubly hard” to regain seats that it has lost, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on Sunday (Nov 6).

Speaking at the party’s conference that is held once every two years, he said: “Every election from now on will be about which party forms the government.

“While we put up good candidates and fight to win every seat, we have to be prepared that we will not win all of them and nor can we assume that we will form the next government.”

“But I assure you we will work doubly hard, triply hard, to regain the seats we have lost and we will work day in and day out to secure a strong mandate to govern," he told more than 3,000 party members gathered at the conference.

Singapore’s next general election must be held by 2025.

“Whether it happens before or in 2025, we already know that it will be a tough battle. So the real questions to ask are not when the succession or when the election will take place.

“But how we can prepare ourselves to put up the strongest fight, how we can win the confidence and trust of Singaporeans, how we can secure a clear mandate. And to do that, we must do well in both government and in politics.” 

Mr Wong said that as a political party, the PAP has to be “clear-eyed” and confront its political challenges and political challengers head-on.

The PAP has governed Singapore since the country attained self-government in 1959, he added, noting that “many have become accustomed” to the PAP forming the Government.

“They assume that the PAP will automatically continue to govern Singapore no matter who they vote for. There is no such guarantee,” he said.

He noted that the party’s review of the last elections showed a stronger desire for checks and balances, or diversity in Parliament. This sentiment is “here to stay”, he said, which “means that the opposition is here to stay”.

“We must recognise and respect Singaporeans desire for this,” said Mr Wong.

Mr Wong said the Workers' Party (WP) is now an established political force" with two group representation constituencies and one single member constituency.

The party’s chief, Mr Pritam Singh, has been appointed as Leader of the Opposition, with extra resources and taxpayer-funded legislative assistants.

Noting that the WP contested in six constituencies and won three during the last elections, he said: “If you add up their votes across all six constituencies, the Workers' Party actually won slightly more votes than the PAP overall.

“What if the Workers' Party had contested more seats? Would the PAP still have won 61 per cent of the votes nationwide? Would we still have returned to power?"

He added: “This is why from day one after being designated the leader of the (fourth-generation) team, I said that I do not assume the PAP will win the next GE, or that I will inevitably become the next Prime Minister."

Mr Wong was named as leader of the PAP’s 4G team in April, paving the way for him to become Singapore’s next Prime Minister. In June, he was promoted to deputy prime minister.

Mr Wong, who is also the Finance Minister, said the party “must have the fighting spirit and go all out to earn the trust and support of Singaporeans.”

“This is the work of not just those of us in Government, but also all our MPs, and our activists on the ground.”

At the same time, he said that the party must continue to “meet Singaporeans where they are” and added that more Singaporeans, especially the young, are getting their news and views online.

“We have been building up our online presence and capabilities, but this goes beyond party platforms. Each and every one of us represents the party - whether we are in our party whites walking the ground, or engaging fellow Singaporeans through a screen.

“We must have the conviction to represent the PAP, stand up for our values, and explain our beliefs and policies,” he said.

“We must have the courage to correct misperceptions and untruths, and tell people what this party and this Government have done, and what we will continue to do as long as we have their mandate.”

Mr Wong added that he has "no doubt" that the political contest ahead will intensify and will only get more challenging with time.

"We have to brace and strengthen ourselves for tougher and more uncertain elections. But I am also confident that working together in solidarity, we will overcome the challenges and prevail.

“We must show through our words and actions that the PAP is the only party with the ability and the determination to take Singapore forward,” he said.

Source: CNA/sk(ac)
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