PM's press conference

GE2015: Strong mandate means MPs must work extra hard to serve, says PM Lee

PM Lee Hsien Loong speaking at a post-election press conference in the early hours of Sept 12.
PM Lee Hsien Loong speaking at a post-election press conference in the early hours of Sept 12. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

PM Lee's opening remarks at his press conference early on Saturday (Sept 12) morning, following his party's resounding win in the 2015 General Election

Here are PM Lee's opening remarks at his press conference: 

Friends and fellow citizens. It's very early in the morning but let me say a few words to sum up this General Election and the results.

I called this election because Singapore is at a turning point. We're advancing beyond SG50 and I needed and asked for a fresh and clear mandate from Singaporeans so that the PAP can work together with you in order to take the country forward.

I'm happy with the outcome of the election. The popular vote is 69.9 per cent, nearly 70 per cent. We won 83 constituencies out of 89 and what was particularly satisfying, we won back Punggol East.

It's a good result for the PAP, but it is an excellent result for Singapore.

I'd like to thank voters of all ages, all races across the island for their confidence and for their support because it's not possible to have a result like this across the board and such a high number without strong support from all groups and, in particular, it could not have been done without strong support from the young.

And that's a particularly important conclusion from this election because it shows that the young people understand what is at stake, support what we are doing, really to secure a bright future for Singapore and for the young and, in due time, will be able to take up this responsibility and take the country further forward.

At the same time I'm deeply humbled by the confidence which Singaporeans have shown in me and my team and by the heavy responsibility which the voters have entrusted to us.

I'd like to remind all my newly elected MPs that you're elected to serve the people; that this mandate means that you have to work extra hard to serve because we are trustees and stewards.

We're elected to take care of Singapore to the best of our ability and we will have to account for our performance at the next general election.

After the hustings, now we need to pull together to resume our nation-building efforts. We will work with all Singaporeans, including those who voted against us, in order to take Singapore forward.

This election results show that Singaporeans understand what is at stake - that we can prosper only if we stay united and that we need to get the best team possible assembled in order to serve Singapore.

The results are also an endorsement of the policies and the performance of the PAP Government.

We've worked hard to engage Singaporeans, to partner you, to solve problems, to open new opportunities and to work out policies which suit our needs.

These elections have been closely watched. You read the international newspapers, BBC, International Herald Tribune, Financial Times. They all write about it, they all have some analysis and they're all waiting to see what this election will show.

So the results tonight will be noted by the outside world, by the media, of course, but by investors, by other powers and by our neighbours. And I believe these results will greatly bolster confidence in Singapore and in Singapore's future.

These results are also a strong signal of confidence to ourselves that we Singaporeans in the post-Lee Kuan Yew era are able to find the winning formula which can keep us progressing and succeeding.

One issue in this election has been the desire for diverse voices to be heard more in our political system.

I understand this. We have a new generation with better education, with access to social media, who expect their views to be heard and given more weight.

And we have been engaging Singaporeans directly as a result of this, enabling them to make a constructive contribution.

We also have gone into the social media. Since the election results, since 12 o'clock, I've already had two Facebook posts. And I'm sure so have other candidates.

We will redouble these efforts but we must do this in a way that maintains the unique strengths of our system. What are they, these strengths?

The ability to maintain a national consensus over the long term, the ability to keep our politics clean and non-corrupt, the ability to contain populist pressures while being responsive to popular needs, the ability to solve short-term issues but also focus on long-term opportunities and challenges, and the ability to advance the shared interest of a broad majority of Singaporeans.

In Parliament, we look forward to a full discussion and open debate on important issues because Parliament is where the most vital national issues should be debated and decided.

That depends on the government, ministers and MPs. But it also depends on the opposition and on other stakeholders - on them making the effort to master the issues, having the courage and commitment to take clear positions, upholding the same standards of integrity and acting to advance the national interests and not for partisan advantage.

In the next Parliament, there would be nine opposition MPs - six elected MPs and three Non-Constituency MPs - and we look forward to their contributions in Parliament.

I'd like to thank all the PAP activists and candidates who have worked so hard to serve voters to win their support, to campaign during these nine days, but much more than these nine days, to have served during the past term of government and often for many years before that.

I'd like to mention particularly my satisfaction that we have won back Punggol East. I've sent Charles Chong there. He did an outstanding job as he has done more than once in his career. And it showed that even though it may be an opposition ward, we can make the fight, take the fight to our opponent, make the case to the voters and win them back and serve them well.

I'm also pleased with the result in Hougang SMC. We did better this time than the last round. We improved on our vote share.

We knew it would be a tough fight. I sent Lee Hong Chuang there. He knew it would be a tough fight, but he has done well, he has shifted the sentiments. And we will keep working hard to win over the voters in Hougang. And one day we will win it back.

I'm very pleased with the result in Aljunied GRC. I spoke to the candidates this evening and congratulated them on what they had succeeded in doing. We very nearly won - to the point where we forced a recount. And we missed only by 0.9 percentage point, and that's it. But next time we will get there.

So I'd like to thank Victor Lye, Yeo Guat Kwang, Murali, Chua Eng Leong, Shamsul Kamar for an excellent job. And I'd especially like to thank Mr Lim Boon Heng who has been their coach and mentor and has helped to guide them to reach this point.

I should mention also the public servants who have worked hard throughout the day to serve Singaporeans voting, taking care of them, making sure everything will run smoothly.

Thank you very much. You made double efforts. Finally I thank my fellow Singaporeans for your strong mandate. The elections are over but our work has just begun. So let us unite - those who voted for us, as well as those who didn't vote for us, to build a bright future for every Singaporean.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2015, with the headline 'Strong mandate means MPs must work extra hard to serve'. Print Edition | Subscribe