SINGAPORE - The 2015 General Election results will greatly bolster confidence in Singapore and is an endorsement of the People's Action Party (PAP) Government's performance, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in an early morning press conference on Saturday (Sept 12).
The ruling PAP won 83 of the 89 seats in 29 constituencies, with a landslide vote share of 69.9 per cent - close to a 10 percentage point increase from the 60.1 per cent it got in the 2011 polls.
It saw large gains in many wards, many with 10 or even 15 percentage point increases.
Speaking at a press conference to give his take on the results, PM Lee said he called the election because Singapore is at a turning point, moving past its 50th jubilee.
"I needed to ask for a fresh and clear mandate from Singaporeans," he said, adding that the outcome was a good result for the PAP, and "an excellent result for Singapore".
He noted that it was not possible to have such results without strong support from all groups, in particular the young. It showed that young people understand what is at stake, he said.
Noting that he was deeply humbled by the confidence Singaporeans have shown in him and his team, he also reminded his MPs that the mandate means they have to work extra hard to serve residents.
"We are elected to take care of Singaporeans to the best of our ability, and we need to account for our performance at the next general election."
The election results had exceeded expectations, said PM Lee, adding that recapturing Punggol East from the Workers' Party was especially satisfying.
The PAP had dispatched veteran six-term MP Charles Chong to wrest back the opposition ward from WP incumbent Lee Li Lian, and the move paid off. Mr Chong won with 51.76 per cent of the vote.
He was also pleased that the PAP had improved its vote share in Hougang, and nearly won in Aljunied.
With the election over, he said the PAP will work with all, including those who voted against it, to take Singapore forward.
He noted that one issue that has surfaced is the desire for diverse voices to be heard more and given more weight.
While the PAP has been engaging Singaporeans directly and on social media, it will redouble its efforts in this area, he said.
At the same time, it will do so in a way that maintains the strength of the system -keeping politics clean, containing populist pressures while being responsive to popular needs, and advancing the shared interests of a broad majority, he said.
PM Lee said he looked forward to a full discussion and open debate on important issues in Parliament. This also depends on the opposition making the effort to master issues and having the courage to take clear positions, acting to advance the national interest and not for partisan advantage, he said.
Noting that there would be nine opposition MPs in the next Parliament - six elected WP MPs and three Non-Constituency MPs - he said he looked forward to their contributions.
The press conference was held at the Treasury auditorium. PM Lee was joined by Deputy Prime Ministers Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Teo Chee Hean; Cabinet ministers Ng Eng Hen, Heng Swee Keat, Grace Fu and Yaacob Ibrahim; as well as newly elected candidates Ong Ye Kung, Ng Chee Meng and Cheryl Chan.
DPM Tharman said the PAP had forged an agenda "that reflects a consensus across a broad base of Singaporeans and people have confidence in that". That accounts for the swing to the PAP, he added.
PM Lee also said that he intends to reshuffle his Cabinet soon, so younger faces are put into positions of responsibility quickly. He had raised leadership renewal and the need to establish the PAP's fourth generation of leaders as a key issue during the hustings.
He also praised Ms Chan, whom he said had distinguished herself as a first-time candidate. She won Fengshan SMC with 57.52 per cent of the vote, in a contest against the WP that many expected would be hard-fought.
On her win, Ms Chan said: "I think by and large the key was deeper engagement with residents. It's important we put their welfare first."