On the campaign trail

Government thinks long-term and is systematic: Heng

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the Government things long-term and implements policies in a systematic way on Sept 4, 2015.
Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the Government things long-term and implements policies in a systematic way on Sept 4, 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Government thinks long-term and implements policies in a systematic way, whether it is about jobs or education, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday.

He made these comments while on a walkabout in Tampines with his People's Action Party teammates - Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Masagos Zulkifli, Mr Baey Yam Keng, Mr Desmond Choo and Ms Cheng Li Hui.

The PAP team is facing 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, from the National Solidarity Party (NSP).

Asked about the bigger issues concerning Tampines residents and Singaporeans, some of which have been raised by the NSP, Mr Heng said the PAP Government had 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.

He pointed to 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 entering politics in 2011, said long-term thinking had also been applied to education as it is a long-term endeavour and a child in Primary 1 today will go to work only 15 to 20 years from now.

He cited the SkillsFuture initiatives to build deep skills and expertise in Singaporeans as an example of policy that is forward-looking as, increasingly, employers value skills over paper qualifications.

Asked what he thought of the NSP fielding its strongest team to stand against his team in Tampines, Mr Heng said Tampines voters will have to decide.

"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 lives of residents in Tampines," he said.

"Residents will judge which is the team that has consistently been attending to them, that has ideas to take Tampines forward, that has the ideas to take Singapore forward."

The PAP's development plans for the GRC have the Tampines Town Hub as a centrepiece. Opening next year, it will have a range of facilities, including a library, sports centre and hawker centre under one roof. It will also have clinics, childcare centres, culinary and music studios, and the offices of government agencies such as the National Heritage Board and the North East Community Development Council.

Its sports centre will be Singapore's first regional sports centre, complete with swimming pools, tennis courts, gymnasium facilities and a jogging track

Mr Heng's team includes Mr Choo, who lost twice in Hougang before being moved to Tampines this time.

Asked about the opposition jibe that he lacks "fighting spirit" for moving away from Hougang, Mr Choo said: "I believe hard work will prevail at the end of the day and I will continue to work on the ground in Tampines."

He added that he is encouraged by the warm reception so far from Tampines residents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2015, with the headline 'Government thinks long-term and is systematic: Heng'. Print Edition | Subscribe