While he believes that the People's Action Party (PAP) had managed to garner overwhelming support from Singaporeans in the last General Election (GE), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has also expressed his reservations about falling into complacency, and cautions the party against taking such support for granted.
Delivering part of his address in Mandarin during the recent PAP conference on Sunday (11 Nov), Mr Lee said: “Compared to the last GE, the next GE will be completely different.”
“It will be a new test for the PAP,” he added.
Mr Lee, who is the party's secretary-general, also hinted at the possibility of bringing the GE forward, stating that the conference on Sunday might be the final one before the next GE.
Previously, the Prime Minister stated at at the welcome dinner dialogue of the Bloomberg New Economic Forum that it is “always possible” to bring forward the GE as there are “many reasons to do so”.
Trust between PAP leaders and Singaporeans must be built to preserve political harmony in the Republic
Touching on the subject of maintaining political stability in Singapore, Mr Lee said: “To understand people’s concerns, give people hope for the future and unite people towards common purposes, the PAP must have good leaders ... And Singaporeans must have confidence that the party has good men and women who can take the country forward.”
He added: “They must know that the PAP comprises men and women who are here not for themselves, but to serve Singapore,” which encompasses "every party member, from branch activists to CEC members, to the secretary-general and chairman of the party.”
In light of several current social issues that have been the topic of debate in the public eye in the recent months, Mr Lee acknowledges that while all of the party's members have the party's fundamental values in common, the PAP itself is a "broad tent" that contains a plethora of views “across the whole spectrum”.
He illustrated: “Some are conservative, others are liberal, some want to keep the PSLE examination, others favour scrapping it, some want to retain Section 377A, others want to repeal it.”
“Regardless of these differences, all can be good, loyal members of the PAP,” said Mr Lee, adding that by uniting themselves with the party's core tenets will Singaporeans then be able to "unite to create happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation,” he said.
Working to help Singaporeans will be "tiring" and "sometimes discouraging," but it is still a "privilege" to "serve" the people
Citing government policies such as multiplying and increasing the availability of HDB flats, and optimising the quality of preschool education under the PAP Community Foundation's Sparkletots centres islandwide, Mr Lee suggested that such policies must be accompanied a personal touch that goes beyond mere legislation and bureaucracy.
“If we understand people’s concerns well, then we can respond, work with them to address their specific worries, and give them the confidence that together, we can make things better,” he said.
“By showing voters that you personally care, you convince them that the PAP cares, and the Government cares,” he said.
He added that while the efforts "will be tiring, and sometimes even discouraging," the PAP leaders' and activists' efforts will be "worthwhile" because "we count it a privilege to serve.”
“Every person we succeed in helping, and whose life we make better, makes it all worthwhile,” Mr Lee assured.
An egalitarian "social ethos" should supplement material progress avoid cementing "social prejudice and barriers"
Mr Lee also believes that sheer material progress as a nation "without ... a social ethos" will only solidify "social prejudice and barriers," adding that meritocracy without social ethos will "make it tougher for someone from poorer families to rise up, do well and be accepted for his worth."
“Not only must the country as a whole prosper, but people must believe that they themselves have every chance to improve their own lives, and especially their children’s lives.
“This ethos will also help us feel that we are all Singaporeans together, and make for a more cohesive and much happier society,” said Mr Lee.