Always maintain a sense of humility and service.
Be as strict with ourselves as we are with others.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reminded his audience of these key points as he launched the ruling People's Action Party manifesto during the Young PAP's 25th Anniversary Rally held at the NTUC auditorium on Sunday morning.
In his opening address to senior PAP cadre members, new General Election candidates as well as government Ministers, he said, "Never forget we are servants of the people, not their masters. Always maintain a sense of humility and service. Never lord it over the people we are looking after and serving."
He added, "Be as strict with ourselves as we are with others, because that is the way for us to win respect and support... However many years you may be in power, however long you may have been an MP, remember the People's Action Party, you are acting on behalf of the people."
Looking back over the last five years, PM Lee, who is also the party's secretary-general, said the PAP had done well and "passed the examination."
"We don't give ourselves our own report card, but I think if people asked me, I would say, we have passed the examination," he said. "What we can do we have done, and in a practical outcome. I think it has helped many, many Singaporeans."Touching on the wide-ranging 30-page manifesto, titled Securing our Future Together, PM Lee said "the PAP has always delivered" and that was why the people should "trust the PAP".
He went on to outline the party's vision and programmes for the Republic over the next five years.
The manifesto's six key objectives are:
1) Create opportunities for higher incomes
2) Improve the lives of lower-income Singaporeans
3) Bring out the best in every child
4) Develop a vibrant city and an endearing home
5) Help the elderly stay active, healthy and engaged
6) Involve all Singaporeans in shaping the future.
He pointed to the revolution in the Middle East pushing up energy prices, the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan potentially impacting Singapore's economy and Europe's debt problem.
He urged Singaporeans to "take no chances", maintain reserves for rainy days and to have a "capable government in charge".
Even as PM Lee acknowledged that the past five years have not been "without challenges", citing issues such as the rising cost of living, foreign workers and immigration, he said, the vast majority of Singaporeans have seen their lives improve over the past 5 years.
"We can honestly report that the PAP has lived up to its responsibilities to the people."
Call to support leadership renewal
PM Lee also highlight the critical issue of leadership renewal at the coming Elections.
He said that the current Ministers have had about 20 years of experience and preparation and are able to continue for another 10 years but there is a need to "renew and deepen the leadership now".
Introducing each of the new 24 PAP candidates, PM Lee stressed that this batch will produce the next leadership team for Singapore. They need to be ready within two terms, by around 2020, he said.
Pointing to the "exceptional effort" the party took to gather the new slate of candidates, the Prime Minister said at least five have the potential to be Ministers, while half could, over time, "become more than backbenchers".After the event, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan weighed in on the manifesto.
He said, "The key challenge is making it happen... you will be amazed at the amount of work that has to go on behind the scenes to make things happen... Maybe, sometimes the problem for the PAP is that we make it look too easy. We make it look too safe. And the risk is that we take things for granted when actually, what we need is to focus people’s minds on both the dreams, as well as the fears."
Opposition reaction to manifesto
Asked by the media for his reaction to the PAP manifesto, veteran opposition member Chiam See Tong welcomed the points made and said they mirrored that of his party's closely.
Benjamin Pwee, a member of Chiam's Singapore People's Party (SPP), told Channel News Asia, "If you notice our manifesto and the
key points we have raised, education is not one that we will be speaking largely
into, partly because many of our other colleagues of other opposition parties
will be taking it up.
"But we do want to come from the angle of public accountability, to the entire policy formulation process, and that would definitely include policies surrounding education as well."
Singapore Democratic Alliance chief Desmond Lim told Yahoo! Singapore they welcomed the PAP's goal of an inclusive society.
"I am glad that the PAP has realised our ground sentiments that Singapore is for Singaporeans and Singaporeans first," he said. It is an area the SDA, which Lim described as a "people team", is advocating.
"But we want to have more say and we want our people to participate in the policy making process," he added.
The SDA has revised its manifesto to focus on five issues. These are the cost of living, prices of HDB flats, the income gap, job security and medical expenses.
Meanwhile Reform Party chairman K. Jeyaratnam said he was doubtful the PAP could fulfill its promise.
"The PAP have failed to raise median household income significantly over the last decade so why should the electorate trust them to do better over the next decade when global economic conditions are likely to be worse?," he said in an email reply.
He also questioned how the PAP intends to raise productivity, help seniors cope with health care costs and raise the educational levels of the lower-income groups. The RP released its manifesto last August.
National Solidarity Party chief Goh Meng Seng said, "We feel that since PAP is unable to secure cheap housing for the young and future generations of Singaporeans, what future could we possibly talk about?" The party will be studying the PAP manifesto in detail.
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