In a first for the PAP, its leaders gave insights into their thinking behind the carefully-crafted PAP election manifesto.
This has never been done for previous manifestos, and it is a reflection of the seriousness of the crisis which Singapore is going through.
Said 1st Assistant Secretary-General (1ASG) Heng Swee Keat: “We are no longer in a normal situation, and this cannot be a normal election or manifesto. Our lives, our jobs and our future are all at stake.”
During the virtual panel session on 28 June, 13 PAP leaders who were split into three different rooms put the spotlight on different aspects of the manifesto which is titled “Our Lives, Our Jobs, Our Future”.
In the first “room,”, 1ASG Heng, with Ministers Indranee Rajah, Lawrence Wong and Vivian Balakrishnan, gave an overview of the manifesto, and the challenges which confront Singapore in an uncertain global climate.
In the second “room”, 2ASG Chan Chun Sing with Ministers Josephine Teo, Ng Chee Meng and S Iswaran honed in on saving businesses and jobs – identifying new opportunities, ensuring that middle-aged workers are not left behind and how Singapore has a unique tripartite network to safeguard jobs.
In the third “room”, Ministers Ong Ye Kung, Desmond Lee, Grace Fu, Masagos Zulkifli and Speaker Tan Chuan Jin talked about care and support for Singaporeans, especially since COVID-19 may be taking a larger toll on vulnerable families.
PAP’s Vice-Chairman Masagos also dived into how the manifesto addresses longer-term issues like global warming, environmental sustainability and food supply issues in Singapore.
Collectively, the manifesto provides a targeted response to a crisis which demands a robust and clear strategy to take Singapore out of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Conceptualised as a team
Giving insights into how the manifesto was derived, Mr Heng said that it was a team effort.
Work on the manifesto started even before COVID-19.
Said Ms Indranee, “We started the process of working on the manifesto several months ago, engaging with people on many different levels via dialogues, conversations, walkabouts in the market. People would tell us what their concerns were.”
But once COVID-19 hit, new elements to address immediate and urgent needs were added in.
The younger Ministers who were keenly involved in the day-to-day running of the country and were already actively managing the COVID-19 crisis took the lead in laying out the manifesto’s key tenets.
Then Secretary-General Lee Hsien Loong and the earlier generation of Ministers, armed with experience in dealing with past crises, sharpened the proposals.
Said Mr Heng, “This was an iterative effort – we had plenty of discussion and debate – and the whole process reflected the breadth and depth of experiences and perspectives within our team.”
Added Ms Indranee, “This manifesto is a people’s manifesto. Every single idea, plan and thought that went into this was developed drawing on your feedback, thoughts, dreams, what was of urgency and importance.”
A team to deliver
But more importantly, going forward, it takes a team working in a concerted effort to realise the strategies and goals set out in the manifesto.
Said Mr Heng, “We have a strong agenda for Singapore, for the next few years and beyond. And this is only possible with a strong, steady and capable team behind it – ready to put it into action.”
That team includes Singaporeans, whose voices had shaped the manifesto.
Going beyond, Ms Indranee said that the manifesto encapsulates the nation which Singaporeans wants to build for their children and grandchildren.
She said, “It is about the PAP and the people coming together, not just to come up with ideas but to implement them. When we come together, we’ll be an unbeatable team.”
Watch the Making of the Manifesto here.