GE 2015: Opposition can continue to contribute to Singapore, says DPM Tharman

Mr Tharman greeting the crowd at the launch of the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations in Chinatown yesterday. He said Singapore must remain a society with diverse voices, not just during the elections.
Mr Tharman greeting the crowd at the launch of the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations in Chinatown yesterday. He said Singapore must remain a society with diverse voices, not just during the elections.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

It fielded interesting new faces and should continue playing constructive role: Tharman

SINGAPORE - As Singaporeans reflect on the general election and move forward, the opposition can adopt a more reflective attitude and see how it can keep playing a constructive role in Singapore politics, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has said.

He told reporters that the opposition plays a critical role in advancing the country. "It is important for the opposition to reflect on what happened - not just in terms of whether the electorate didn't know better or the electorate made a mistake - but how they could have done better in their strategies," he said.

"We need a more reflective attitude after each election, and on how the opposition can continue to play a constructive and positive role in Singapore politics, as they must."

His comments come after the People's Action Party's landslide victory in the Sept 11 elections saw it sweep 83 out of 89 seats in Parliament and get 69.9 per cent of the popular vote, a near 10 percentage point swing from 2011.

Mr Tharman also acknowledged the presence of several new opposition candidates who failed to get elected, and hoped they would continue to be active in public life.

"It is very good that we saw some new faces in the elections. Several very interesting new faces," he said.

"I hope they continue to contribute to Singapore - even though they didn't win - whether in politics or outside."

Singapore, he added, has to remain a society with diverse voices and views, not just during elections - a point Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had made over the past two days.

"We will take views from the opposition, we will take views from civil society, we will take views from people from different walks of life," Mr Tharman said, adding: "Everyone will be included in the way we go forward, and everyone must feel included in the way we go forward."

This includes online and social media, which play an important role in shaping opinion, and should continue to do so as constructively as possible, he said.

"This is a very unique moment for Singapore in an uncertain world, but a vote for steady progress and a vote for inclusive progress," he added.

Mr Tharman was in Chinatown to launch the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations. Some 2,300 giant lanterns, alongside decorative installations, will be lit nightly until Oct 12.

He also said there was a high degree of uncertainty in the region, which could affect Singapore.

"We've got to make sure our economy - not just short term but over the next few years - stays on an even keel and we are able to continue to create good jobs for Singaporeans."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2015, with the headline 'Opposition 'can continue to contribute to Singapore''. Print Edition | Subscribe