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Singapore

PAP must respond to desire for more debate, questioning of established ideas: PM Lee

08:06 Min
The People's Action Party (PAP) must continue to earn the public's trust and get its politics right to deliver results for Singapore, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the party's convention on Sunday (Nov 28). He added that Members of Parliament (MPs) must always be honest and clean, lest people lose faith in the system. Alif Amsyar and Brandon Tanoto with the reports.

SINGAPORE: The People's Action Party (PAP) needs to respond to the desire of a new generation of voters to see more debate, more contestation and more questioning of established ideas, said Prime Minister and party secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (Nov 28).

Speaking at the PAP Convention 2021, Mr Lee addressed more than 2,000 party activists, some of whom dialled in online while some were at the Suntec Convention Centre.

The party must show Singaporeans that it is not afraid of opposing views or being challenged and that it encourages healthy discourse, said Mr Lee.

"We welcome good ideas, wherever they may come from and just as importantly, we listen carefully to the opinions and concerns of Singaporeans," he said.

This is why the Government has launched the Conversations on Singapore Women’s Developments and put together an Emerging Stronger Taskforce, said Mr Lee.

It has also recently allowed nurses in public hospitals to wear the tudung, after extensive consultations and deliberations over many years.

"Our aim is to bring people together, understand the problems, and stay connected in order to co-create the right solutions, to co-build tomorrow's Singapore."

But political discourse is not just a matter of accepting or marketing good ideas and leaders have to "rebut wrong views", Mr Lee said.

That was the spirit of recent debates in Parliament on foreign workers and the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement or CECA.

"We have to expose those who, for their own reasons and political purposes, try to exploit issues to confuse people and to make them unhappy."

INTEGRITY AND HONESTY

Mr Lee also reminded PAP activists of the party's emphasis on integrity and honesty.

"If politicians are venal or dishonest ... voters will not trust their motives, cannot take what they say at face value, people will become disillusioned and cynical," he said.

"They will lose faith not just from individual leaders or political parties but from the political system as a whole."

There are too many examples where trust has eroded all over the world, he said.

"In Singapore, people expect MPs and political leaders to be clean, to be above reproach in their personal conduct, to be scrupulously truthful in what they say, inside Parliament or outside Parliament," he added.

The PAP has upheld "stringent standards" and anyone who misbehaves will be disciplined, and if someone misspeaks, the party will insist he "puts it right".

"The PAP’s rigour sets the tone for Singapore politics. And voters have to apply these same standards of integrity and honesty to every group and every person who participates in politics and public life, whichever side he may be on," said Mr Lee.

"Otherwise, we are signalling that we are prepared to lower standards, and this will eventually drag our system down."

POLITICS "CARRIES ON" EVEN DURING PANDEMIC

Mr Lee said that to remain a high-trust society, Singapore must get its politics right so that the system can deliver results for Singaporeans.

"Politics is about people’s lives and futures and it carries on even during a pandemic. We have to continue addressing people’s concerns, and striving towards our aspiration of a fair and inclusive society."

The Singapore Government has "pressed on" with important goals while tackling the pandemic, he said. Listing recent initiatives launched, Mr Lee said that it is improving social mobility and "redoubling efforts" to strengthen social cohesion.

This includes initiatives to uplift children from lower-income families and ensure fair opportunities at the workplace through anti-discrimination legislation.

"These are long-term endeavours and results will take time, but we are moving in the right direction, and we are making progress," he said.

It's also not enough to have good policies, the Government must also help people appreciate how these policies make a difference in their lives, he said.

"We must mobilise everyone in order to realise our common vision for Singapore. We have to help Singaporeans make that political connection: All these good things – social mobility, better jobs and better lives – they don't happen just by themselves," he said. "In many countries, they don’t happen at all.

"If you want to continue to get good results in Singapore, we've got to get our politics right, you have to support the PAP government, and we must work together to build the nation that we aspire towards."

Source: CNA/hm(cy)

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