PM Lee: 'Young people understand what's at stake'
The Prime Minister recognises the social media savvy, new generation expect their views to be heard and given more weight
His mission was to get new talent into Parliament as Singapore’s next generation of leaders.
After the results were announced, it was mission accomplished for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, with high-profile newbies Ng Chee Meng, Ong Ye Kung, and Chee Hong Tat getting elected.
And PM Lee scored a bonus as well — an almost 10 percentage point swing in favour of the People’s Action Party (PAP).
When all the votes had been counted, the PAP had won 69.89 per cent of total valid votes cast, compared with 60.1 per cent in the 2011 election.
This is the highest vote share the PAP has had since 2001, when it garnered 75.3 per cent.
Speaking at the post-election press conference, PM Lee looked relaxed and even cracked jokes — a stark contrast to the grim look he wore during the post-election press conference in 2011.
“I am happy with the outcome of the election,” said PM Lee, who is PAP’s secretary-general.
“It is a good result for the PAP, but it is an excellent result for Singapore.”
PM Lee noted that part of the reason for this big swing was what the PAP Government has been doing since 2011. This includes making improvements to housing, healthcare, public transportation, and the introduction of the Pioneer Generation Package. (See report above.)
He said this result would not have been possible without the strong support of younger voters.
“It shows that the young people understand what is at stake, support what we are doing, really to secure a bright future for Singapore,” he said.
Voters had expressed the desire for a diversity of voices in Singapore’s political system during the election, PM Lee noted.
“We have a new generation, with better education, with access to social media, who expect their views to be heard and given more weight,” he said.
“And we have been engaging Singaporeans directly as a result of this, enabling them to make a constructive contribution.”
PM Lee also relished the fact that PAP’s Charles Chong managed to win back Punggol East SMC from Workers’ Party (WP) incumbent Lee Li Lian.
“He has done an outstanding job, as he has done more than once in his career,” he said.
“And it showed that even though it was an opposition ward, we can...take the fight to our opponent, make the case to the voters, and win them back and serve them well.”
While the PAP could not win back Hougang SMC and Aljunied GRC, PM Lee said he was pleased with the performance of the PAP team in the two wards.
He pointed out that the PAP team in Aljunied, which was led by veteran Yeo Guat Kwang, almost won, with just a 1.9 percentage point separating them from the WP team.
“Next time we will get there,” he said.
Despite the success of his party at the election, PM reminded his newly elected Members of Parliament that it doesn’t mean they can coast from now on. In fact, it is the opposite.
He said: “This mandate means that you have to work extra hard to serve because we are trustees and stewards. We are elected to take care of Singapore to the best of our abilities.
“And we will have to account for our performance at the next general election.”
"And it showed that even though it was an opposition ward, we can... take the fight to our opponent, make the case to the voters, and win them back and serve them well."
— PM Lee on regaining Punggol East SMC
PM Lee touched on a number of other issues during the press conference:
ON WORKERS’ PARTY
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he is looking forward to a robust exchange in Parliament with the returning opposition MPs, all of whom are from the Workers’ Party (WP).
“We have mechanisms in Parliament to debate,” he said.
“It’s a matter of making full use of the mechanisms, of the content that goes in, and determine whether we have a good debate or not.”
He also said he hoped that the WP, which won six of the 89 seats in the General Election, would come fully prepared to debate on issues that they raised during the hustings.
For example, the WP candidates had suggested implementing a minimum wage — an issue that they had not raised during their previous term in parliament, PM Lee said.
ON TAN JEE SAY
When asked about Singaporeans First chief Tan Jee Say’s comments that the results did not reflect the feedback and unhappiness that the opposition party had heard, PM Lee said that he was not familiar with the feedback mechanisms of the opposition.
PM lee said: “I would summarise that in this case, it was not just that he heard people were unhappy but he was trying to make people unhappy.”
ON SELLING POLICIES
He added that the Government would continue to do what is right for the country.
“We carry out the policies which we think are necessary and we do that whether the majority is one or 50 or 70.”
He said the support has been good in this election and it reflects what the Government had done over the last four years or more.
“Not only doing the policies which are necessary but working hard to explain to people who understand it and will support it,” said PM Lee.
“Even during the election campaign, we felt it was necessary to touch on issues so that people understand our motives in doing them.
“So nobody can say that I’m doing this behind anybody’s back and when the moment came, we avoided the subject.
“We confront the subject, we explain what we are doing.”
ON SG50 FACTOR
He also said that this being the SG50 year was important as it made Singaporeans realise what was at stake as the country moves towards the next 50 years.
“We have taken great pains to explain to people why this is not just a party but really, it’s time for introspection, time for commitment and time for resolution. And this election is part of that.”