Party Convention 2013: Speech by Chan Chun Sing

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Good morning Party Chairman, Sec-Gen fellow Comrades and brothers and sisters from NTUC. Let us also wish Party Chairman Happy Birthday today.

Today's Party Convention probably marks the midpoint between the last GE and our next. We should take stock of our progress and chart the way forward.

Recap

At the last Party Convention, after GE2011, Party Chairman led our internal debrief.

Three key points emerged.

First, we have to quickly adjust our policies to address the pain points faced by Singaporeans. These included the inflow of foreigners, housing, transport, healthcare and others.

Second, we needed to improve our communications. We need to better communicate our policies, the logic of our policies and more fundamentally, the basis for our decisions, the tradeoffs and option space available to us. So that Singaporeans do not just understand what we do, but also why we do what we do for the good of our country and people.

Third, we have to strengthen our party organisation to meet the evolving challenges and changing demographics.

Policies

Two years have since passed. We made progress. We are on the right policy trajectory even as we desire to do more, to do faster and to do better for Singapore and Singaporeans.

Housing supply has gone up significantly and HDB prices are stabilising.

Foreigner inflows have slowed, while businesses are given time and support to make the necessary adjustments.

Our train and bus capacities continue to increase steadily.

We are implementing various measures to help reduce the medical costs for Singaporeans. The Government will do more, especially to help the lower income and elderly.

We are not done yet. We will continue to make improvements to deliver our promise to make life better for Singaporeans.

There will be difficult decisions to be made. Others may choose to say convenient things to try and win votes. But we, the ruling Party, must hold ourselves to higher standards. We demonstrate moral courage to take a position even if it is tough. So that we bear faith with Singaporeans.

Communications

Our approach to governance has also evolved.

Instead of announcing policy after it is cooked, we now share with Singaporeans, the broad intent early, engage Singaporeans in the process of policy formulation, before we finalise the details.

We did this for Vision 2030 Sports Masterplan, Our Singapore Conversation, Medishield Life, Committee to Strengthen National Service, Enabling Masterplan for the disability sector and many more.

It will take us more time.

It also requires us to carefully manage expectations. Even as we try our best, it is not possible to reconcile all inputs and suggestions. Different segments of Singaporeans have different perspectives and needs. We will do our best to benefit as many Singaporeans as possible.

Many officer holders and MPs are spending much more time to engage the ground, to have dialogues with different segments of society and hear their views. These are good and useful. We will continue to widen our outreach.

Internally, we have also stepped up our Party communications. All activists should be getting regular updates. There will also be more formal and informal sessions to allow activists to contribute their perspectives. Today's Party Resolution is but one of the products of your hard work.

Party Organisation

We have strengthened our party organisation and streamlined various processes. We will continue to be lean but our processes must be sharp. We must not do things mechanically. But we must all do things purposefully to serve Singaporeans and to win their hearts and minds.

Going Forward

Many have asked what our plans going forward. Many activists are keen to do battle. Actually, every activist is already doing battle every day, to win the hearts and minds of fellow Singaporeans.

Let me sketch out our priorities in the coming years. I call this the 3-2-1 Plan.

Three priorities at the national level. Two areas of focus at the local level. One Resolution at the Party level.

Priorities at National Level

The three priorities at the national level are "Deliver", "Enable" and "Communicate".

"Deliver". We will also have to convince Singaporeans that we are the best party to deliver beyond these five years.

"Deliver" must not just mean being better at the respective areas like housing, transport, healthcare, education and so forth. That we will do. "Deliver" will also mean that we have to better integrate our policies across different areas to achieve the desired effect.

For example, to deliver "opportunities" as laid out in OSC will require the integration of our plans from pre-school, to education, to manpower training and attracting companies to come to Singapore to set up business to provide jobs for Singaporeans.

To deliver "sense of security", we will need to integrate our plans across housing, CPF, healthcare and so forth.

To deliver quality social assistance, we will have to integrate our plans across MSF, MOH, MOE, MND, MOM, MHA and mobilising the community to work together as one.

Enable

But the Government cannot be the one to deliver all things that Singaporeans desire. It should not be so. Even if the Government can, it may not be the best way to do things. Instead, we must also "enable". Enable our people to seek and develop solutions for themselves and for their communities.

Often, these opportunities to participate, will not only bring about more customised solutions, it will also more importantly engender the sense of commitment to our community and nation.

No one feels they belong because they get served or someone else delivered the goodies for them. We feel we belong because we participated and contributed. This is crucial to the next phase of our nation's development of building our national spirit and identity.

So we will do more to enable individuals and communities to come forward to participate and contribute. An example will be the Care and Share Programme launched to mobilise Singaporeans to come forward to contribute their time, talent and resources to develop solutions for fellow Singaporeans in need. Likewise, for causes from the environment to heritage to community building, we will "enable" and not just "deliver". The Government will partner and catalyse like-minded groups to achieve and accomplish.

Communications

We must continue to improve our communications. We will simplify and customise our messages to the diverse target audiences.

This is not just an exercise to improve communication between Government and people. It must also be an exercise to allow people from diverse background to come forward, understand each other's perspectives and seek consensus on the way forward especially when our country will see increasing needs and "diverseness".

This is why we must continuously and strenuously defend the common space for people to speak up. If we do not stand up for what we believe, others will occupy that space and cast us into irrelevance. We must not concede the space - physical or cyber. We will have to learn from the 1960 generation of PAP pioneers - to fight to get our message across at every corner - every street corner, cyberspace corner be it in the mass media, and social media. We will have to do battle everywhere as necessary.

Connecting the Last Mile

Let me turn to the two focus areas at the local level. No matter how good our policies are at the national level, they must be delivered across the last mile. All politics are local as the saying goes. Our MPs (Our PAP MPs) must make the difference. There must be a difference between a PAP MP and others.

We must focus our efforts to alleviate pain points at the local level. Where national policies are not well connected at the local level, we must connect them. Where national policies work at cross purposes at the local level, we must iron them out. Unlike others, we do not wait for the government to solve the difficult issues. We are the Government. Unlike others, we do not say that taking care of the poor people is the Government business. We are the Government. We close the last mile and we go the extra mile.

Even in Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East, I know our activists are working hard every day to care for fellow Singaporeans, regardless if they have voted for us. This is the spirit of our Party and this is the spirit of our activists. We can be proud of them. We will do even more with Singaporeans' support.

Connecting

The second area of focus at the local level is to move beyond "contact" to "connect" and "convert". This refers to the way we carry ourselves and the way we conduct ourselves and activities. All activities will allow us to "contact". But not all activities will allow us to "connect" and "convert". We must do better. We can. There are many good practices around. We will continue to share them and proliferate so that all of us in the party can level up.

Our KPI is not to solve everyone's problems. We cannot. Our KPIs are also to enable the individuals and community to solve their problems. PM shared some of Maliki's examples at NDR 2013. The same approach must be extended to other areas. Even if the problem cannot be solved, we must connect with the residents in managing the problem. On the other hand, we can solve a problem, without connecting or converting. Clearly, solving the problem is not the only measure of success. We must touch the hearts and minds of our people.

Party

Finally, One Party Resolution. Article 2 of our Constitution spells out what we stand for as a Party. In 1988 we adopted a set of resolutions to refresh our positioning. Over the years, we have continued to evolve. Often, we have done what is right and what is best for Singapore and Singaporeans, even without enunciating it.

Today, we take stock of where we are and chart out our way forward. We will adopt the Resolution before you… that will clearly state what we stand for and how we intend to lead.

This is the result of the previous years of hard work and debate within our Party. The words are carefully chosen and crafted to reflect and represent the aspirations of fellow Singaporeans.

Sec-Gen will elaborate on Party Resolution 2013 after the break.

Conclusion

Let me conclude. We are the Governing Party. Singaporeans have entrusted their trust in us.

We must do our best. We must not fail Singapore and Singaporeans. This is our promise. We must do the right things and we must do things right. We will do so with or without others watching, or claiming to be watching, over us. Our responsibility is first and foremost to all Singaporeans.

Together, we will build a better Singapore, for Singaporeans, and with Singaporeans.

This speech was delivered by Mr Chan Chun Sing at the Party Convention 2013 at Kallang Theatre.

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