PAP's rallying call

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Party Secretary-General Lee Hsien Loong says PAP envisions Singapore as a nation of opportunities, where we can dream big and achieve our aspirations. And the PAP vision is the best, so spread the message to your families and friends.

Comrade Lee Hsien Loong issued a rallying call to over 6,000 PAP members during the 33rd Party Conference held at the Singapore Expo on December 7 when he called on them to fight for what we believe in."

"We depend on you to keep us close to the ground," he said. "We depend on you to speak up for our party, we depend on you to win the hearts and minds of Singaporeans... Go out, talk to your families, friends, colleagues, residents, convince them that PAP's vision is best for Singapore," said Mr Lee, who is the party Secretary-General.

Part of the impetus for his rallying call was because this would be the last party conference before the next general election.

"The next general election will be about who forms the government, not how many seats the opposition gets," said Mr Lee, who also spoke in Malay and Mandarin.

"Every seat, every GRC and SMC, will be a national contest and not a local one."

In a pre-rally warm-up, attendees bounced giant balls as a group above their heads, without letting them touch the ground. "Don't drop the ball," reminded emcees Daryl David and Tin Pei Ling.

Mr Lee said: "The next GE will be about whether we continue to have a First World government, not about the so-called First World Parliament," in a reference to the Workers' Party rhetoric made at the last election about a First World Parliament.

As Mr Lee put it, the opposition likes to say "do more" without elaborating how; the opposition says "give more" without explaining where the money will come from; and the opposition claims that they serve as a check so that the PAP will work harder.

Said Mr Lee: "If everyone accepts what they say, we will only have politicians checking each other, and we will have a gridlock like in other countries. For every checker, there will be one less doer... then it will be checkmate for Singapore."

The PAP conference and rally was the capstone event for the party's 60th anniversary celebrations - which included a book launch and a Party Awards dinner - during which Mr Lee pointed out how the party has "always been on the side" of Singaporeans, even from the British colonial times.

Moving forward, PAP is changing itself to stay relevant. PAP cadres approved amendments to Article II of the Party Constitution, to sharpen the party's objectives and vision in its new way forward. The constitution was last amended in 1982.

The party has also strategically shifted its approach to greater engagement with people and communities, including through social media, and strengthened social safety nets for lower-income Singaporeans. "The PAP has adapted to the times, while staying true to our promise to improve the lives of Singaporeans," said Mr Lee.

Ultimately, the PAP envisions Singapore as a nation of opportunity. Creating "good and fulfilling jobs" for Singaporeans and emphasising the importance of education will mean opportunities for all and not just a privileged few.

"Singapore will be a place where our children can dream big, achieve their aspirations and live well in Singapore," he said.

It will be a fair and just society. This, he said, has become challenging due to global competition, an ageing population and income inequality.

But the PAP continues to help Singaporeans level up through schemes such as Com-Care which provides financial assistance to the low-income and the Silver Support Scheme which gives low-income workers a basic sum every month to help them in their old age.

It will also be a democracy of deeds, a society in which people help themselves and solve problems together.

"People cannot leave everything to the government. They must take the initiative, organise themselves, pass the hat around, get things done," said Mr Lee.

To realise these visions, the PAP will remain a national party for all Singaporeans, a responsible party which delivers on its promises and a party with courage and conviction.

Said Mr Lee: "We will be courageous to stand up to defend our ideas, to do the right thing for Singaporeans."

Leadership renewal is key to long-term sustainability.

During the conference, about 2,000 party cadres voted in members of the Central Executive Committee (CEC), PAP's highest decision-making body, for a two-year term.

The PAP has already started work on refreshing its ranks.

Said Mr Lee: "We already have identified many promising candidates, including a few potential office holders. Some are from the private sector, some from the public sector, and quite a number of grassroots activists.

"Well before the end of next term, we will have a younger, passionate and capable team, ready to take over the reins."

This article was first published in the January 2015 issue of Petir Magazine

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