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Time to go beyond complaining

Andrew Loh /

The General Elections have resulted in what PM Lee called "epochal" changes to the Cabinet. We have seen 2 Senior Ministers, the Minister Mentor, and 6 other ministers stepping down from the Cabinet.

The GE also saw historic achievements by the opposition parties which collectively brought the PAP's vote share to its lowest since Independence. The Workers' Party managed to do what many had thought unthinkable - breaking through the iron wall of the GRC system. The WP now has 8 MPs in the new Parliament. Mrs Chiam from the Singapore People's Party is the 9th opposition MP.

PM Lee has said he wants to listen to the people. So did other ministers. While skeptics and critics of the PAP government were quick to question the PAP's sincerity, it would perhaps be more important and productive to see how we as citizens can hold the PAP, and PM Lee in particular, to their words.

After all, citizens too have a responsibility and a role to play in effecting the changes that they want to see.

Yes, reform, renewal and change are not new ideas or goals the PAP is offering. Throughout the years, these have been constant promises. One of the most memorable instances was after the 2001 GE where the so-called "Super Seven" newly-elected MPs were inducted into the PAP and made ministers. Some of them have, in some people's eyes, failed - such as Raymond Lim who has stepped down as Transport Minister and from the Cabinet, and MCYS's Vivian Balakrishnan who has now been posted to the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.

But others have performed credibly, most notable of which is Tharman Shanmugaratnam who now is given several meaty and heavy portfolios.

But a switching of personnel does not equate to reform, as some have said. This is true. But one should not expect reform or policy changes to take place immediately. More probably these will take time and this is how it should be. After all, we want the changes to result in better policies, not worse ones. And to do this will take time.

Where citizens can do their part is to keep highlighting the flaws and failings of government policies. But to do this in a meaningful way, leaving aside the diatribes and personal smears for these do not achieve anything.

The elections have ended and we as Singaporeans should see the road ahead and realise that we are all traveling on the same road, trying to get to the same destination. Along the way, we argue and, to use Low Thia Khiang's analogy, we may even "slap" the driver. But, and I am sure this is what Mr Low meant and he will agree with me, we "slap" the driver because we do not want him to drive us off course and into a ravine.

In other words, we want the best for Singapore and our fellow Singaporeans.

The Cabinet changes are a positive outcome of the elections, and the new Parliament holds promise.

As citizens, we are not outside of the arena. We are an integral part of it. And as such, we should take this opportunity to put forth our views, our worries and concerns, our hopes and expectations, to the government - and do so with respect, especially when we disagree vehemently with the government.

So yes, it is time to go beyond just compllaining and step up and help drive Singapore forward.

The job does not belong to just a select few.

There are various ways to go about being involved, which I shall leave for everyone to highlight and to discuss.