PAP: Always serving Singapore
Sixty years ago, Comrade Lee Kuan Yew led a group of nationalists to form the PAP to fight for independence. He and his pioneer generation of party activists rallied the people behind a noble cause: to build a fair and equal society, to deliver a better life for all Singaporeans.
They fought against huge odds. Not many expected them, or Singapore, to succeed. But they were from an extraordinary generation, imbued with strong values and great determination. They set an audacious ideal and pursued it with courage, wisdom and integrity. No obstacle was too daunting for their indomitable spirit; no problem was too intractable for their creative minds. They implemented many out-of-box solutions which have withstood the test of time.
They succeeded brilliantly. A disparate immigrant people bonded, through multiple crises, into one people, one nation. The Singapore passport is now a proud possession.
The Singapore brand is readily recognised, admired and respected internationally. How did they do it? Comrade Goh Chok Tong summed it thus: "The party leaders built institutions, not monuments. They entrenched the party values - integrity, justice, fair play, equal opportunities, meritocracy, compassion, discipline and hard work. They instilled in the party the mission of looking after the interests of Singapore and Singaporeans. They prepared for succession so that Singapore could endure after them."
Over 60 years, as the party leadership baton was passed on to the second-generation and then, the third, the PAP philosophy and values have been carefully transmitted to our genes. Successful battles through crises bonded the party with the people, nurturing deep trust. Singaporeans know our decisions are always in the best interest of Singapore. We work hard, for and with our people, to build a caring society, a nation of opportunities, where the young can achieve their dreams and where the old can retire with optimism. Through its actions and results, the party shows that we care, we serve, we act and we deliver.
Evolve with the times
External and domestic conditions do change, and so must we. And we have. But our mission to build a fair and just society remains steadfast and the PAP values, relevant. Indeed they define us and distinguish the PAP from the other political parties. Adhering to these values, we have led Singapore successfully through numerous crises and problems.
But our style does change, to respect evolving new political realities, for example, to respond to Singaporeans' desire for greater participation. In particular, we actively engage the young, who had not experienced the early years of nation building, to connect and work with them to advance the cause of Singapore.
Our approach has also changed. We tap on new platforms, for example, the social media, to enhance our outreach. In particular, we strive to put our message across to resonate more emotionally with Singaporeans, to inspire a new generation who desires something beyond material success.
At the same time, we continue to reinforce our roots, as a People's party and an Action party, and to uphold our tradition of delivering on our promises and fighting for our convictions.
Continued dedication to Singapore
Today's Singapore is the result of bold vision, careful and long-term planning. It is the result of the hard work and sacrifices of many of our pioneers, working together and with the government to create a gem we call home. The role of the PAP and its activists is immense. What we have in Singapore is special - it was achieved through a party that works hard for the people, and upholds high principles like incorruptibility, integrity and meritocracy - and if we are not careful, we may end up with corruption, nepotism, constant bickering and money politics.
As Comrade Lee Hsien Loong put it: "We are building something unique and precious here. In a world full of strife, we have many races living in harmony. In a region where corruption is everywhere, we have a clean and meritocratic system. We invest in our young to help each one find his strengths and realise his aspirations. We offer special opportunities to all, to do well and also to contribute to Singapore. It's not yet a long history but year by year, with each crisis, with each joy and each sorrow, we build on it."
The party has contributed to the transformation of Singapore in the 20th century. Let us dedicate ourselves to working together and building an even better Singapore in the 21st century, with a brighter future for all.
The writer is the chairman of the People's Action Party. This article was first published in the November 2014 issue of Petir Magazine.