New face acknowledges PAP has strong record but it is not a perfect one, and party must listen better
source: TodayOnline.com 4 May 2011
It must, he feels, so that the PAP’s moral authority to lead does not get eroded.
And the candidate in Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC) is clear how this should be done: The party must listen more and strike a better balance between efficiency and heart.
Right now, there is “frustration and angst”, he admitted yesterday to the crowd at the PAP’s lunchtime rally at UOB Plaza.
“Some feel that you’re being talked down to … and (that) we can be more compassionate and less calculating,” he said. “Some dislike the ways we attack the Opposition, some question the fairness of the GRC system, others feel aggrieved by the salary structures.”
At the heart of all these feelings is the issue of trust, Brigadier-General (NS) Tan felt.
“If we’re unable to address these perceptions and sentiments, our moral authority to lead will erode,” he said. “I know we need to listen and to communicate our ideas better. We need to balance efficiency and effectiveness and to temper it with more heart.”
He does not believe the PAP can monopolise wisdom: “If it’s pro-Singapore, it matters little where those views come from. I believe we can and should embrace them … because we need to walk this journey together.”
BG (NS) Tan, tipped to be a potential office holder, said the opportunities are endless if Singaporeans “get it right”.
“Our physical transformation is exciting, impressive and we’re growing our abilities across many fronts.
“But we also need to tend to our spirit and our soul,” he said.
While the PAP has a “very strong record” – “not a perfect one” – to take Singapore forward, he vowed to “listen with respect … care for those less able to fend for themselves … (and) do what’s right and change what has to be changed”.
“I believe and know we’ll change, and we’ll do better, just as I know we’ll endeavour to put our people and nation first,” he said.
And Mr George Yeo’s conviction is this: The People’s Action Party (PAP) must transform.
Give his team a strong mandate, and it will be the force from within for a new PAP and a “new unity” in Singapore, promised the leader of the incumbent team in Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC), in his final pitch to voters last night at Ubi Avenue.
In doing so, he reframed the contest as one of even greater national significance for Aljunied constituents.
With a speech from the heart, Foreign Minister Yeo tapped directly into the emotions – rather than the big issues or partisan rivalries – of a General Election where the Opposition has played on the growing sense of disconnect between the ruling party and Singaporeans.
The “real issue” of the contest in Aljunied is not the Workers’ Party; it is the groundswell of pent-up frustrations that the WP has merely been the “loudspeaker” for, Mr Yeo said.
He cited gripes about specific policies – among them, the affordability of housing, the influx of foreigners and the high cost of living – and related anecdotes of constituents who broke down when pouring out their woes to him and his team-mates.
“These are the sorrows of the people, of individuals who are unable to keep up … in this election, throughout Singapore, there is a cry from the heart that wants to be heard,” said Mr Yeo.
Then there are the “heartfelt feelings” among many who “think that the Government is high-handed and arrogant and they want to speak up”.
“We must recognise that there is widespread unhappiness about the Government. It is not only about specific policies, it is more than that. And we must not allow the emotions to be all bottled up,” he said.
He related how Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s comment, that those who voted in the Opposition would repent, has created “greater anger, greater resentment” among people. A man in his 40s told him on Wednesday night he was voting for the WP because of this. “I looked at him with a certain sadness, and I said, ‘I respect your feeling’,” said Mr Yeo.
Older Singaporeans, unable to catch up with globalisation and technological advancements, also feel a great sense of “dislocation and stress” and feel lonely.
Among the younger generation, many do not feel engaged in major national decisions, such as the building of the casinos. Mr Yeo said he felt “a little sad” that a two-minute video clip he had posted to address younger Singaporeans went viral. “If they could be moved by such a short clip, it shows that they crave communication and that they feel that somehow we are talking at them, and not talking to them,” he said.
“Unless we engage young people and allow them to teach us, I don’t think we can communicate with them. Once there’s communication, the influence becomes two-way … And the result is, they are better and I am better. And this is what our country should be.”
Mr Yeo said his Aljunied team have taken all these to heart, and have agreed to take it upon themselves to foster a change within the PAP, such that it truly hears Singaporeans’ voices. “Let people complete their sentences first before interrupting them. That is very important. Because it is only when they feel they’ve communicated, that they are prepared to receive.”
He also revealed that before his rally speech, he had sounded out Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Mr Lee’s answer to him: Say what is in your hearts.
“He said he will listen, he will listen hard. This is what we must do but I need your help … For us to have your voice in Parliament, in Government, in the PAP, we need a strong mandate. The stronger the mandate, the more influence we will be able to wield,” Mr Yeo said.
As for his opponents, Mr Yeo said the WP has “limited capabilities” and on meeting local needs, cannot match the PAP. He said WP chief Low Thia Khiang’s strategy is to force a choice on Aljunied voters as he knows many want him to remain in Parliament, and he can exploit the people’s resentment.
The WP has also tried to distract Singaporeans, he said, refering to a website sponsored by WP members calling for Mr Yeo to be elected President. But twice last night, Mr Yeo promised his constituents: “I’m not going anywhere.”
“Over 23 years, I’ve gotten to know many people … And it is these friendships which make it so fulfilling to be an MP in Aljunied GRC,” he said, shortly after which the night ended with the families of all five PAP candidates going on stage to thank Aljunied residents.
Article 3: What voters expect after PM’s apology
Source: ST Forums May 5, 2011
PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s admission of government mistakes and apology is a new face of the People’s Action Party (‘Being a minister means being able to say sorry’, commentary bySave & Close deputy review editor Chua Mui Hoong; yesterday).
It takes a gentleman to say sorry, and we, as Singaporeans, should be equally so and accept the apology.
There is no place for cynicism, but as Ms Chua noted, action speaks louder than words.
We would like to see members of the Cabinet, MPs and civil servants change to this humble attitude: to serve and not to lord it over the public.
The opposition should be equally civil. There is no need to slap the driver of the car, who is the chauffeur driving passengers to a common destination safely and satisfactorily.
The people and the Government have one common goal of making Singapore a better place for all. There should not be former US president George W. Bush’s philosophy of ‘If you are not with me, you are against me’.
Singaporeans are now better educated and more sophisticated.
I hope to see a more mature group of leaders who will lead Singapore to greater heights, who will govern by listening to all voters and not only to those who voted for them.
Those who do not vote for the PAP are not enemies but Singaporeans who hold different opinions.
George Wong (Dr)