By Secretary General Lee Hsien Loong[adapted from an address by Secretary General Lee to the Party Caucus of MPs]
The General Election results were better than we had dared to hope; indeed better than anyone expected. People’s Action Party MPs on the ground and Government ministries and agencies put in much hard work over the last four years, and longer. But election outcomes are never fully predictable, and we must never take anything for granted.
Politics always requires a stout heart, wherever the contest may be. But the stoutest hearted were our candidates who stood in the opposition wards and did very well – Charles Chong in Punggol East, Lee Hong Chuang in Hougang, as well as the Aljunied team, guided by Lim Boon Heng.
Retiring MPs deserve our thanks. Their patient efforts tending the soil in years gone by, have yielded the fruit we harvested this GE. The team at party HQ deserves our thanks too. Good execution bridges the gap between vision and reality.
Why GE 2015 is important for Singapore and Singaporeans
GE 2015 is an important success for the PAP, and – more importantly – for Singapore and Singaporeans. Since GE 2011, investors overseas have been asking if Singapore is still open for business. A weak result this time would have affected their confidence. Businesses and jobs could have been impacted. Instead, GE 2015 has boosted confidence in Singapore. This will create more opportunities for our people, despite a challenging regional and international environment.
The strong result also gives leadership renewal the best chance to succeed. We have reinforced and rejuvenated our team. We have more good people whom we can groom and expose early, to enable us to build the strongest team to serve Singapore.
GE 2015 has assured Singapore’s future beyond SG50. Retired MP Hwang Soo-Jin wrote to congratulate me, saying: “Thanks for giving me peace of mind in my old age”. Indeed, our New Way Forward includes both creating opportunities for the young, and looking after those who helped build today’s Singapore.
Humility in victory
With this good result, the PAP must work even harder for Singaporeans. In victory, we must be humble, and stay close to the people whom we serve. The PAP must never become arrogant – whether in the personal behaviour and attitudes of MPs and activists, or in the policies and actions of the party and government.
A good mandate gives us precious political capital, which we must make good use of, wisely. Inevitably, from time to time the government will have to take hard decisions. All governments have to do that, but especially ours on a small island with limited resources, in an unpredictable and often unfriendly world. When we do, we must justify them to the people and win their support, to maintain trust and confidence in the PAP.
We must be prepared to fight for what we believe in, and take the fight to the opposition when necessary. It is healthy for the PAP that there were no walkovers in GE 2015. Every MP has had to fight and win, and has learnt how to win votes and not to take voters for granted. The party has strengthened its fighting spirit, and fighting skills.
In contesting, we should not be belligerent or shrill. But whether loud or quiet in temperament, each of us must have the courage to stand our ground, to discuss and argue different points of view, and to persuade others. Voters want leaders who believe in their cause and will fight for it, and for them.
We must not assume that the next election will be easy. Each election is different. Each generation has different values and ideas. We must keep on working to persuade new voters of our ideals and convictions, and keep on updating our party and programmes to stay in touch with voters.
In a fortnight’s time, we will announce and swear-in the new Cabinet. My emphasis will be on pushing leadership renewal, and putting younger ministers into positions of heavier responsibility as quickly as we can.
Parliament will open in January. Think about what you want to say in your maiden speeches. We may all wear white, but each of us brings a different experience and perspective. Each strengthens the party in a different way, with different groups in our society.
Meanwhile, MPs should lose no time getting going on the ground, engaging residents and building support. MPs and the government must work to deliver on what we have promised to do, build on our mandate and consolidate our position. Winning GE 2021 starts now.
Together, we will work with Singaporeans to put the country on a strong start towards SG100.