A political party does not have a “fixed lifespan”, and its survival depends on its ability to renew itself and continue serving the people, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday (16 May).
Speaking in Parliament, Lee said, “If the PAP (People’s Action Party) can keep on successfully doing that, we can stay in government. But if we ever fail, we deserve to lose.”
The 66-year-old recounted his conversation with Aljunied Member of Parliament and opposition veteran Low Thia Khiang at the reopening of Parliament last week. Lee had asked Low what would change now that Pritam Singh had succeeded him as the Workers’ Party (WP) leader.
“And he replied, ‘Nothing much.’ ‘We the WP have our role. These things should not change suddenly. Don’t you agree?'” said Lee, recounting Low’s words.
“Opposition parties keep Singapore politics contestable. In other words, the ruling party, the PAP, does not have a monopoly on power, does not have the right to rule Singapore indefinitely. So long as the PAP performs, it keeps the voters’ support, it stays in power and the opposition cannot gain ground,” said Lee, echoing Low’s sentiment.
“But if the PAP government becomes incompetent or corrupt then, of course, the opposition will grow,” said Lee, adding that the PAP is determined to perform.
“We treat every election as a serious contest. We take every debate in the House seriously. And that’s why we amended the Constitution to ensure that there will always be at least 12 opposition and (Non-Constituency Members of Parliament) in the House, whatever the outcome of the General Election.”