HQ Exco’s roadmap
Labour chief Chan Chun Sing is heading the executive committee of the party's headquarters (HQ Exco), having taken over from Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. He tells Petir his new responsibilities.
Q: How do you see the GE2015 results – PAP won 69.9 per cent of the popular vote and 83 out of 89 seats? What are some of the key learnings for the party?
Chan Chun Sing (CCS): Singaporeans are fair-minded. Things may not be perfect, and there are problems yet to be solved, but if you are hardworking, people can see it for themselves. They know you have tried your best. Our philosophy in Tanjong Pagar GRC (where he is a MP) is always to do our work conscientiously, take care of our residents properly, then we leave it to the residents to take care of the results.
The key takeaways for us is to always maintain focus in two areas: one, take care of Singaporeans, make sure they live well; and two, never jeopardise the long term interests of the country.
Q: What does the HQ Exco do?
CCS: Take the analogy of running a company. The party’s Central Executive Committee is like the board of the company. The HQ Exco is like the management. The board provides broad directions to the management which executes the directions. The HQ Exco oversees the administration and coordination of party activities across all its 89 branches. We have sub-committees in the HQ Exco handling various things, such as feedback and communications, outreach, training and administration.
There are formal meetings at least once every two months to discuss our tasks ahead, like how to strengthen the training modules for our activists to keep pace with the times; facilitate more best practices sharing across different branches, also to share some of the mistakes made so that others can avoid them.
Besides the formal meetings, as and when the sub groups have issues to discuss, we'll meet.
Q: The term, which began recently, is for two years. What are your directions and plans?
CCS: We hope to strengthen in three areas:
• Strengthen the training of our activists to ensure that they are well versed in groundwork, understand our policies as well as the concerns and aspirations of our people,
• Strengthen our outreach. This is to ensure that we continue to reach out to groups that we previously may not have reached, and
• Strengthen our feedback mechanism. This is to ensure that the voices of our people are heard and conveyed, so that the government can be more nimble in making policies and addressing those issues closest to the heart of the people.
Q: Will HQ staff be beefed up to handle increased workload?
CCS: PAP's system is always very lean, we don’t have a very large HQ. It always depended on our network of activists and volunteers. The strength of our party has always lied in the strength of the branches, which is our ground network. The aim is to find ways to mobilise the strength, to leverage on the network of the branches.
Q: You are the HQ Exco chair and YP chair, in addition to being a Cabinet minister. How do you manage your time?
CCS: I must manage it carefully. Everybody has only 24 hours. Nobody can do everything by themselves, teamwork is very important. Also, it is not only how we manage our time, we must bear in mind that the time of our people is very precious too. As leaders, we must set our priorities right. It is our job to make sure that the time and resources we have are wisely applied to the areas which are most important and our people's energy are applied most effectively.
Amidst my tight schedule, I will set aside time for my family, at least have a meal with them during weekends and try my best to spend one or two week nights with them. Otherwise I will only know how old my kids are and not how tall they have grown.
This article was first published in the December 2015 issue of Petir Magazine.