PAP's six decades with Singapore

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To celebrate the party's 60th anniversary, it published a book entitled PAP60, Forward Together. We reproduce extracts of the last decade's milestones, 2005 to 2014.

Milestone 51: At home in a global city

Celebrating its 40th year of independence, Singapore set out its ambition to be a vibrant global city. It began with the rejuvenation of the HDB heartlands. There was also more activity and street life in the Orchard Road shopping belt and the arts and schools district of Bras Brash and Bugis. The Marina Bay Area was the centrepiece, with a business and financial district and the integrated resort.

Today, after a decade-long effort, the Bayfront has become the new signature image for Singapore

Milestone 52: Tenth term in power

The PAP won the 2006 general election with 82 out of 84 seats and was returned to power for the 10th time since independence.

It was Mr Lee Hsien Loong's first election as prime minister and the party campaigned under the slogan "Staying Together, Moving Ahead'', with a vision of opportunities for the young, active ageing and affordable healthcare.

Milestone 53: New media, old politics

The 2006 general election demonstrated new media's significant influence in shaping public perceptions. In forums, online videos and blogs, issues of the day were discussed with great fervour, with views ranging from the insightful to the incendiary.

Milestone 54: Fair wages

The Workfare Income Supplement was introduced in 2007 as a way to boost the income of low-wage workers. In the previous year, the government had tested a one-off Workfare bonus for workers aged 40 and above.

Milestone 55: Ideas and innovation

At Budget 2009, the government took the unprecedented step of seeking the President's approval to draw on $4.9 billion of reserves. This was in the wake of the US loan crisis and recession. This soon turned into a global financial crisis and Singapore was not spared.

Milestone 56: A diverse Parliament

Amendments to Singapore's Constitution, first mooted in 2009, were passed in April 2010 to allow for more parliamentarians who were not from the ruling party. The amendments were passed 74-1, with the lone dissenting vote, ironically, coming from the Workers' Party.

Milestone 57: A new political landscape

In the year leading up to the 2011 elections, Singapore experienced strong growth of 14.7 per cent, outperforming many countries which were still reeling from the subprime crisis. But this growth came with social costs, including a large inflow of foreigners, which put strains on transport, healthcare and housing.

Although the PAP was returned to power, taking more than 90 per cent of the seats up for grabs, its share of votes fell to 60.1 per cent. This was the lowest vote since independence.

It was also the first time PAP lost a GRC, when the Workers' Party took Aljunied. Analysts dubbed the post-2011 political landscape the "new normal'', characterised by a more vocal citizenry that took to social media to voice their views.

Milestone 58: Fourth generation of leaders

The months after 2011 general election saw the retirement of former prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong as well as other veteran ministers such as Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng. Stepping up were some of the Cabinet's youngest ministers. This was the third set of leadership changes since 2011, and put in place the key team for the next lap of Singapore's development. Together, these offce holders form the core of Singapore's fourth generation of leaders.

Milestone 59: Conversations with Singaporeans

In 2012, Singapore embarked on a nation-wide public consultation exercise for people from all walks of life to come together and discuss the future they want.

Milestone 60: Our new way forward

As Singapore stands on the cusp of its 50th year, the party that won the first general election proved that it still had bold ideas and youthful idealism. Informed by the Our Singapore Conversation, the government made three important policy shifts.

First, it pledged to do more to give all a share in the country's success. Second, it promised to strengthen social safety nets by providing essential social services. Third, it will do more to keep paths upwards open to all, keeping society open.

This article was first published in the November 2014 issue of Petir Magazine.

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