Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking at the PAP65 Awards and Convention, 10 November 2019.

PM Lee reassures PAP’s mission “has not changed” — but Lee Hsien Yang says ruling party “no longer the PAP of my father”

The People’s Action Party (PAP)’s mission “to build a fair and just society” for all “has not changed” since its inception, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thu (21 Nov).

In an open letter published on the PAP website yesterday, Mr Lee said that PAP’s goal “to spread the benefits of progress widely to all” has stayed the same, from the era of Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and his team to that of the fourth-generation (4G) team poised to succeed the current PM Lee’s team.

“This mission has not changed, from our first Secretary-General Comrade Lee Kuan Yew and his team, to Comrade Goh Chok Tong and his team, to my team, and the next 4G Team. This mission will never change,” he wrote in the letter, which is an extension of Lee’s speech at the PAP65 Awards and Convention at the Singapore Expo on 10 Nov.

Stating that Singapore “has been totally transformed” from PAP’s inception in 1954, Mr Lee said that the nation continues to “face increasing external challenges” in addition to an evolved domestic political landscape.

“To overcome these challenges, and keep Singapore politics working for Singaporeans, we need a capable and effective government. Leaders must be responsive yet firm, to navigate Singapore skilfully through the difficulties ahead,” he urged, adding that Singaporeans “must be united, to show the world that we are a strong, cohesive red dot”.

“We will continue to uphold your trust in the PAP Government … We will continue to create opportunities for Singaporeans to improve their lives, to give people hope that the future Singapore will be better than today’s,” added Mr Lee.

PAP “must work even harder than any other political party, whether in Singapore or elsewhere” to sustain S’poreans’ trust in the party: PM Lee Hsien Loong

At the PAP65 convention, Mr Lee addressed some 2,500 People’s Action Party (PAP) activists as being among the “elite” in Singapore.

Mr Lee, who is also the ruling party’s secretary-general, warned party activists against allowing the seeds of discord to be planted between itself and the people of Singapore, in the midst of global sociopolitical and socioeconomic rifts between the people and their leaders.

“I was supposed to go to Chile next week for the APEC meeting … but APEC had to be cancelled because there were mass demonstrations in Chile, triggered by public anger over social issues like public transport fares, healthcare, education and pensions.

“The Chileans have lost faith in their political institutions. According to one survey, among the four institutions least trusted by their people, three were their political parties, senate and chamber of deputies,” said Mr Lee.

He also cited the examples of Hong Kong and Taiwan, where the young generation have become increasingly angry and pessimistic towards their governments.

“Their young people feel that no matter how hard they study or work, there is no path to a better future … One young demonstrator summed up this sentiment in a banner which said, “没有未来, 何必上学” (“There is no future, why go to school?”)” said Mr Lee.

The breakdown of trust, said Mr Lee, has led to the germination of populist movements that “explicitly want to upend the system, turn things upside down”, while not necessarily being able to offer anything better.

He said, however, that Singapore’s domestic politics “has been quite different” where the PAP is “humbled to enjoy the people’s trust”.

According to Mr Lee, the “anger and frustration that have divided societies elsewhere have not taken root here”, as “Singaporeans believe that the PAP will improve their lives and take the country forward”.

Despite that, he reminded his party activists to not be complacent, as Singapore “is not immune to these global pressures”, which may “overwhelm us too, if we are not careful”.

The repercussions, he warned, will be worse for Singapore than other countries “because we are so small and vulnerable”.

“Therefore, we must work even harder than any other political party, whether in Singapore or elsewhere, to keep this faith in the PAP.

“Every party member – you may be a leader, you may be an ordinary member – you must identify with the people, we must serve the people,” he added.

The PAP of today “no longer” the PAP of Lee Kuan Yew’s era, has “lost its way”: Lee Hsien Yang

Lee Hsien Yang, the brother of PM Lee, however, previously said at the end of Jul this year that the PAP of today is no longer the PAP of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s era, and that the present PAP “has lost its way”.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s statement echoed former PAP cadre and present Progress Singapore Party (PSP) founding chief Tan Cheng Bock’s claim that the ruling party has changed.

The erosion of “good governance” in Singapore was the catalyst behind his decision to set up PAP with several other PAP ex-cadres, according to Dr Tan.

Dr Tan also criticised the lack of transparency by the current government in making appointments to crucial positions, and cited Ho Ching’s appointment as the CEO of Temasek Holding, given her position as the Prime Minister’s wife.

In Jun 2017, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his sister Dr Lee Weiling issued a joint statement as the children of late founding Mr Lee Kuan Yew against PM Lee, alleging PM Lee of abusing his power as Prime Minister in the Oxley Road saga by using Parliament to “clear his name” of the allegations by declaring himself as innocent without any third-party investigations into the matter.

“The values of Lee Kuan Yew are being eroded by his own son. Our father placed our country and his people first, not his personal popularity or private agendas.

“We are very sad that we have been pushed to this. We feel hugely uncomfortable and closely monitored in our own country. We do not trust Hsien Loong as a brother or as a leader. We have lost confidence in him,” wrote the Lee siblings.

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