GE2015: Government thinks long-term when developing policies, says Heng Swee Keat

Minister Heng Swee Keat (centre) leading his PAP Tampines candidates walkabout at Tampines on Sept 4, 2015. Behind him are Desmond Choo and Masagos Zulkifli.
Minister Heng Swee Keat (centre) leading his PAP Tampines candidates walkabout at Tampines on Sept 4, 2015. Behind him are Desmond Choo and Masagos Zulkifli. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
Mr Heng Swee Keat (centre) speaking with Tampines residents during his walkabout.
Mr Heng Swee Keat (centre) speaking with Tampines residents during his walkabout.ST PHOTO: SANDRA DAVIE

SINGAPORE - The Government thinks long-term and implements policies in a systematic way, whether it is with regards to employment issues or education, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat on Friday.

Mr Heng made these comments while on a morning walkabout in Tampines GRC with his People's Action Party team mates - Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Masagos Zulkifli, Mr Baey Yam Keng, and newcomers Desmond Choo and Cheng Li Hui.

They are facing National Solidarity Party (NSP)'s Cambridge-educated legal consultant Lim Tean, 50, executive director Sebastian Teo, 67, business director Reno Fong, 46, business consultant Nor Lella Mardiiiah Mohamed, 41, and business administrator Choong Hon Heng, 45.

Asked about the bigger issues such as jobs and rising costs of living concerning Tampines residents and Singaporeans at large, some of which have been raised by the NSP, Mr Heng said the government led by PAP has responded to both the immediate concerns of Singaporeans and the larger issues.

"If you look at policies over the years, we have been very systematic.

"Whether it is about jobs or preparing our children for the future," he said, bringing up policies such as the Workfare scheme launched in 2007 to top up the wages of low-income workers and the government's move to slow down foreign labour inflows since 2010.

Mr Heng, who has held the education portfolio since he entered politics in 2011, said this long-term thinking has also been applied to education "as a child in Primary 1 today will only go out to work 15 to 20 years from now".

He brought up the SkillsFuture initiatives to build deep skills and expertise in Singaporean workers as an example of policy that is forward-looking.

Asked about NSP fielding its "A-team" in Tampines, Mr Heng said Tampines residents will have to decide which is the better team.

"We have a team that has been here, that has continuity, that has been working day in, day out for many years to improve the life of residents in Tampines.

"Residents will judge which is the team that has consistently been engaging them, that has ideas to take Tampines forward, that has the ideas to take Singapore forward," he said, bringing up the development plans for Tampines.

Mr Choo, who was asked about the opposition jibe that he lacks the "fighting spirit" for switching wards after losing twice in Hougang, said he has been very encouraged by the warm reception of Tampines residents.

"I believe hard work will prevail at the end of the day and I will continue to work on the ground at Tampines," he said.