PAP rallies

Future of PAP 'in hands of voters'

The crowd at a PAP rally for Sembawang GRC on Sept 7, 2015.
The crowd at a PAP rally for Sembawang GRC on Sept 7, 2015.ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN
(Above) The PAP candidate for Yuhua SMC, Ms Grace Fu (front row, centre), taking a picture with her supporters at the party's rally in Jurong East Stadium last night.
(Above) The PAP candidate for Yuhua SMC, Ms Grace Fu (front row, centre), taking a picture with her supporters at the party's rally in Jurong East Stadium last night.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
(Above) The crowd at last night's PAP rally for Sembawang GRC.
MR ONG YE KUNG, PAP candidate for Sembawang GRCST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

They have power to write its last chapter, or a new PAP's first chapter, says Ong Ye Kung

Voters have the power on Sept 11 to "write the last chapter of the PAP, or write the first chapter of a new PAP", said Sembawang GRC candidate Ong Ye Kung last night.

Mr Ong was referring to the possibility of the People's Action Party (PAP) not being returned to power on Polling Day.

In a stirring appearance at the PAP's rally in Woodlands, the second-time candidate said the ruling party is prepared to "build upon our legacy and evolve with the times".

With technology changing politics and governance at a rapid pace, Singaporeans need to work together more than ever, said the former top civil servant who entered politics in 2011, only to lose as part of the PAP's Aljunied GRC slate.

Unity and consensus - and the PAP's role as the party that stands for a united Singapore - were the themes that dominated his speeches last night in Malay, Mandarin and English.

CALL FOR UNITY AND CONSENSUS

I would like to see a genuine diversity of opinions when we make national policies, so that when we move forward, we have a stronger consensus... I don't want democracy for democracy's sake or debate for debate's sake.

MR ONG YE KUNG, PAP candidate for Sembawang GRC

He said he felt that Singaporeans did not "come back together" after the 2011 polls as they usually did after every general election.

An "antisocial fringe" has exploited the fissures that emerged in Singapore society, he said, citing incidents like graffiti in public housing estates, an "illegal bus-driver strike" and "protests in Hong Lim Park when children were performing on stage" in the past four years.

"We see people setting up websites to tell lies in order to make profits," he said. "We see vitriol and negativity on the Internet."

Then, earlier this year, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's death at the age of 91 acted as a catalyst. "Singaporeans paused, reflected, and we came back together as one again," he said.

In this, Mr Lee gave his "last gift to us", said Mr Ong.

Listing an agenda he said he wanted to see as a voter, Mr Ong gave a glimpse into his policy priorities as a potential fourth-generation political leader.

He wants to see academic credentials junked as the yardstick on which job applicants are judged, and a government that helps every child with quality pre-school education.

He wants a strong defence force - "don't cut the budget!" - so that Singapore stands tall and proud in the international community of nations.

"I want the Singapore economy to be vibrant so that we as a country will always have the dignity to make our own living, and not depend on large powers," he said.

"I would like to see a genuine diversity of opinions when we make national policies, so that when we move forward, we have a stronger consensus.

"I don't want democracy for democracy's sake or debate for debate's sake. I don't want to blindly follow Western liberal systems like (in) the United States, because even they know that their system is not quite working," he said.

"I want a government that is capable and stable and runs the country well, because if we don't have that, then we can't have everything I just listed above," he concluded.

In his Mandarin speech, he spoke about his late father, Mr Ong Lian Teng, a former MP of the Barisan Sosialis, which split from the PAP in 1966.

He said of Singapore's early politicians: "They gave their youth to this place, to build a society that belonged to them. Building a better future for our descendants is our responsibility and that is why I entered politics."

Three other Sembawang GRC candidates - former backbenchers Lim Wee Kiak and Vikram Nair, as well as new face Amrin Amin - focused their speeches on municipal improvements in the constituency.

Dr Lim said that the team had plans to add facilities to make health and fitness "an integral feature of life" there, while Mr Nair said a major development near the Causeway Point hub is slated for the coming decade.

Mr Amrin recalled a frugal childhood and said: "I am here today because of the Singapore system. Things are not perfect but we should work together and never lose sight of how we got here."

• Additional reporting by Lydia Lam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline 'Future of PAP 'in hands of voters' PAP rallies'. Print Edition | Subscribe