Together, our new way forward
The People's Action Party has a special responsibility for Singapore, and has always been a party of action, not of words, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who is the Party's Secretary-General.
With Singapore now at an inflection point in its evolution, there must be a new way forward for the PAP, which has been entrusted by Singaporeans to lead time after time, since 1959.
Noting the crucial role that the PAP has played in Singapore's history and progress, Comrade Lee said the party's role is, among others, to provide good leadership, and to be a responsive and responsible government. Above all, it must give people hope and confidence.
He said: "The PAP has got to continue offering Singaporeans the leadership to implement plans and take Singapore forward."
To ensure that Singapore continues on the right path, Mr Lee expounded on two key goals: upholding an open and compassionate meritocracy, and building a fair and just society. They were among the key goals adopted by the Party Resolution at the Convention held on December 8, 2013.
The first goal focuses on maximising equality of opportunity, while moderating the inequality of outcomes. Comrade Lee pointed out that the country is now at a higher level of development, and that social mobility is harder to maintain.
The party must therefore ensure that an individual's success does not depend on social background or family circumstances, by helping those who are born with less get to a good starting point.
Comrade Lee declared: "We will provide diverse pathways of success, treat all with dignity and respect, whether it is white collar, blue collar, any colour, any collar. Thereby, we can keep our society open and mobile, and enable our people to rise."
More help must also be given to those who are struggling, while those who do well must give back to society.
Secondly, a fair and just society means that individuals are rewarded fairly for their efforts, social safety nets ensure vulnerable groups are not left behind and the elderly are given special care.
To that end, policies such as MediShield- Life will provide more assurance that everyone can meet their health-care needs.
Comrade Lee also highlighted the Pioneer Generation Package, which will focus especially on their medical needs to recognise our pioneers' special contribution to Singapore.
Details of the Pioneer Generation Package are expected to be announced in the next Budget in February 2014.
Furthermore, the PAP Seniors Group will be set up to focus on ageing issues as well as enable senior party activists to mentor younger officers.
Comrade Lee also elaborated on the other key points in the Party Resolution: strengthening the Singaporean identity, creating opportunities for all Singaporeans, developing a democracy of deeds and being a responsive and responsible government.
As Singapore is now a more diverse society with a more contested political landscape, the new strategic approach for the PAP will be vital.
Ending the Convention on a light-hearted note, Comrade Lee referred to activist Khartini bte Abdul Halid's earlier comment about Singaporeans' tendency to 'Kow Bei Kow Bu' (Hokkien for complain vigorously) in the face of adversity.
He quipped: "Join the PAP, fight for what you believe in, change what is not good and help the 'Zhenghu' (government) so that there is less need for other people to 'Kow Bei Kow Bu'.
Formation of PAP Seniors Group
The PAP Seniors Group (PAP.SG) will champion elderly causes. Chaired by Speaker Halimah Yaacob, it will work with the PAP Community Foundation to pilot new solutions to eldercare needs such as their quality of life and security. PAP.SG will also engage senior party activists to mentor younger officers. The group's executive committee will comprise a cross-section of members reflecting the country's social make up, needs and aspirations. ESM Goh Chok Tong will be PAP.SG's advisor
This article was first published in the Jan 2014 issue of Petir Magazine