Singapore

Singapore needs to keep cycle of good governance: PM Lee

PAP must also adapt to Singaporeans' desire for stronger opposition

Singapore needs to keep up the virtuous cycle of good governance that results in political stability and enables long-term planning, even as the People's Action Party (PAP) responds to the country's changing politics, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

The PAP gained strong political support by delivering on aspects such as housing, education, healthcare and security, he said. This resulted in stability and allowed the party to think long term and bring good people into politics.

Taking a long-term view, in turn, allowed it to deliver better lives for all Singaporeans and further retain voters' confidence, he added.

Singapore must keep this cycle going for as long as possible, Mr Lee told 3,000 party activists at the PAP conference.

The hybrid event, with cadres gathered at branches to elect the party's central executive committee, and party leaders and MPs at NTUC Centre, was the first major gathering after the July general election where the PAP won 61 per cent of the vote and 83 out of 93 seats.

Mr Lee, the PAP's secretary-general, noted this outcome reflected a broader desire for more alternative voices and a stronger opposition to check the PAP government.

Many countries have fiercely contested democratic systems and more exciting politics, but these do not always deliver good government, he said.

Instead, contestation often makes politics unstable and divided, with those in power focusing only on their own short-term political survival, and those out of power offering remedies without being upfront about the costs and consequences, he added.

Governments cannot make long-term commitments or set a consistent long-term direction as a result.

Singapore is not like that, he said. But to sustain the Singapore model, the PAP cannot stand still as the country and its politics change, and has to adapt to what people want to see in their politics.

Singaporeans still want stability and progress, job security and opportunities. But increasingly, they want to take part in shaping society, re-examine basic assumptions, and look beyond the tried-and-tested way of doing things, said Mr Lee.

They also want greater checks and balances, more robust public debates and closer scrutiny of government policies.

The PAP has to respond to them.

But, he added: "We must continue representing all Singaporeans and not just a particular sliver or segment of the population."

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