SINGAPORE – The PAP’s manifesto for the upcoming polls on July 10 will be launched by its secretary-general, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on Saturday (June 27).
The ruling party will also progressively introduce its line-up of candidates for the GRCs and SMCs in the next few days, said PAP second assistant secretary-general Chan Chun Sing on Friday (June 26).
He made the announcement at a virtual press conference to introduce the last eight of 27 new faces who will contest the election.
Unveiled over three days, the newcomers are a varied lot: 15 are from the private sector, including such fields as law, banking and business, while the remaining dozen are from the public service, the social and non-profit sector, and the military.
Asked if any of the new faces are of ministerial calibre, Mr Chan said it is “premature to do any such comparisons”.
“Even for the 2011 and 2015 batches, I think it is premature for us to try to claim credit or success,” he added, referring to the new PAP faces in the last two general elections.
In 2011, when Mr Chan was introduced along with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong and Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, they were called the “Fantastic Five” – touted to be the core of the fourth-generation leadership.
On Friday, Mr Chan told reporters that after he took the helm at the newly formed Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in 2012, many had asked him if he thought he had done well enough as a minister or done enough for vulnerable families.
But such policy work, he said, are long-term projects.
“Many of the children whom we are helping will take 15 or 20 years to grow up. We will never really know whether we have done well until, perhaps, 15 or 20 years later… But we all hope that we have done the right thing, and (that we have given) these underprivileged children the best chance to succeed in life.”
The same logic applies to other policies and issues, he added at the press conference streamed from the PAP headquarters in New Upper Changi Road.
“How we measure success is not whether they do well today or tomorrow only. It is whether they do well beyond the short term, in the medium and long term. And how do we collectively do well as a country. That is the real mark of success.”
As electoral candidates, the mindset to adopt is, “Never be too anxious to claim success, but always be the first one to take responsibility to take Singapore forward,” he said.
“And if we can have that kind of mindset, we will have the right set of people.”
Mr Chan was also asked about criticisms that the PAP candidates have similar backgrounds, and the possible danger of groupthink in the party,
He pointed out that the entire slate of 93 candidates, including incumbents, come from diverse backgrounds, including business, social and the public service sectors.
“We have covered the various sectors, but more importantly, beyond just where they come from… we should avoid pigeon-holing people just because of (their) profession,” he added.
Every candidate, he said, has a unique personality, and Singaporeans will get a chance to know them better in the coming weeks and months – “their personalities, their working styles, the causes that they believe in”.
The PAP, he said, has tried hard to bring in people from all walks of life.
“(The candidates) represent Singapore, they represent Singaporeans, they understand, they feel the fears, concerns and aspirations of our people.
“We have chosen them from diverse backgrounds but, as I’ve said, they are united only by one thing – the commitment to serve Singapore and Singaporeans, the commitment to take Singapore forward and to distinguish ourselves among all other nations.”
On the lack of Indian candidates among the 27 newcomers, Mr Chan replied that in the total slate of 93 PAP candidates – including newcomers and old-timers – there is an above-average representation of the Indian community.
Currently, there are nine Indian MPs in Parliament, six of whom are office holders, he noted.
This works out to 9.7 per cent of the total slate of PAP candidates, slightly higher than the ethnic composition of the population, as Indians make up 9 per cent of the resident population in 2019.
“So the quality of our Indian candidates is very high, both numerically and proportionally,” he added.
With the number of seats increasing from 89 to 93 seats in the upcoming election, more PAP branches will also need to be set up.
These branches will be set up after the election, he said.
“At this point in time, we are focused on taking care of the (Covid-19) situation, both at the national level and the local level, to help manage the health situation and also overcome the economic challenges, particularly the emphasis to help those who have been displaced to get jobs,” he said.
The branches will be progressively set up according to the new boundaries drawn up by the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee, he added.
The need for all 93 candidates with different experiences to work as a team was reiterated by Mr Chan.
He said the PAP’s leadership system is not one that involves pitting one batch of candidates against another.
“It is about different batches of people all coming together to serve with a common purpose. There is continuity in the way we do our policies – we reach out to the residents and we make long-term plans for the country.
“There is a certain consistency, and a certain coherence and it is not done by just any single batch of people or any individual.
“So that is how we will perform as a team for the good of Singapore”.
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