Singapore

PM Lee: Opposition is late in suggesting changes

The opposition parties have been arguing for change in existing policies.

But several Cabinet ministers and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in many cases, the opposition was late in calling for change - the People's Action Party (PAP) had already adjusted policies even before this election.

Speaking last night at the PAP rally for Jalan Besar GRC, PM Lee mentioned that the opposition had called for a restructuring of transport.

He said: "Actually they are slow - we are already restructuring. So we are already doing it (but) they say why don't you do it.

"The rooster was supposed to wake up before dawn, I think it woke up late this morning."

PM Lee also said there has been progress made for Singaporeans including senior citizens, the middle-income group, the disadvantaged and the young.

He cited initiatives like the Pioneer Generation Package, housing grants and SkillsFuture as examples.

But the opposition will still call for change when the policy is good.

"If the Government has a good thing, (the opposition will) ask for more.

"We introduced the Pioneer Generation Package - it's a good thing, wildly popular.

"So what does the opposition say? They cannot oppose this. So (they say) it's not good enough, must have more! More privileges and more people should get.

"If it's good, ask for more. If it's not good, PAP's fault."

The PAP held six rallies around the island yesterday, the last day of campaigning. Different ministers provided examples of changes the Government had initiated long before the opposition suggested them.

WOMEN IN THE WORKFORCE

At his East Coast GRC rally in Simei, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said the Workers' Party (WP) was late in suggesting the idea of getting more women and the elderly back to work.

Five years ago, the Government introduced measures such as marriage and parenthood packages to encourage more women to remain employed after starting a family.

Between 2009 and last year, the number of women in employment went up from 800,000 to 940,000, Mr Lim said.

"In this General Election, the WP came up to say that one best way to grow the workforce is to get more women to come back to work.

"When I heard that, I said: 'Eh, that is a good idea except they're five years too late.'

"I'm sure they know that we have been promoting this for many years."

ELDERLY WORKFORCE

Likewise, Mr Lim had five years ago pushed for senior citizens to be re-employed.

While the retirement age remains at 62, the Government will pass a law to raise the re-employment age from the current 65 to 67 by 2017.

There were 260,000 seniors in employment last year - up from 145,000 in 2009.

"This time round, the WP again proposed that one good way to grow our employment is to help more mature people to come back.

"Good idea but five years too late."

CHANGE HOW GOVERNMENT WORKS

The Government is no longer a top-down, heavy-handed one of the past.

Today, its leaders are always actively engaging Singaporeans, adapting and moving with the people, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at an East Coast GRC rally in Simei yesterday.

"We have changed," he said. "We are changing in fundamental ways. We are re-balancing between economic and social policies.

"No matter how successful our economy is, a successful economy by itself will not give us an inclusive and fair society.

"Economic policy has, together with active social policies, to help who those start with less, to help our mid-career Singaporeans including our PMEs (professionals, managers and executives) and to help older Singaporeans age with grace and dignity.

"It is this combination of economic and social policies that we are forging today. We are not starting now. We started 10 years ago."


"We introduced the Pioneer Generation Package - it's a good thing, wildly popular. So, what does the opposition say? They cannot oppose this. So (they say) it's not good enough, must have more!"

- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Singapore ElectionsLee Hsien LoongPeople's Action PartyPAPUncategorisedpoliticsWorkers' PartyLim Swee Say