Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC

'Let's not have opposition just for the sake of it'

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong.PHOTO: ST FILE

Young Singaporeans may feel the need for more opposition, but Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said yesterday at the People's Action Party's Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC rally that we should not "have opposition for the sake of having an opposition".

Speaking at Woodlands Stadium, he said: "I know some people want diversity in Parliament. I would like diversity too, but let's not have diversity for diversity's sake. Let's not have opposition for the sake of having an opposition."

Addressing the crowd after the other three members of his team - Mr Alex Yam, Mr Ong Teng Koon and Madam Halimah Yacob - had spoken, Mr Wong said the idea of diversity in Parliament is not new.

He quoted founding father S. Rajaratnam: "The argument that opposition by itself promotes efficient government and automatically guarantees justice and welfare for the people is not true. In Western Europe, the birthplace of democracy, oppositional politics has resulted in weak and unstable governments and, in some instances, no governments at all."

Mr Wong maintained that this is relevant today, perhaps even more so. He pointed to the political gridlock in the US two years ago. The US Congress could not agree on the Budget and the whole government had to shut down, he said.

"The world's most powerful country, America, but the government shut down. Why? Because of political fighting, because of political gridlock. So this is a real concern that we should all bear in mind."

Mr Wong spoke about a different kind of democracy for Singapore, one "involving citizen participation at all levels to solve the problems we face together".

He then made a call to Singaporeans, especially young Singaporeans: "Come and work with us to solve our problems together and shape our nation's future together."

Madam Halimah said the PAP does not "just come up with papers, with policies only" but also makes sure that these are implemented. Mr Wong added that the opposition "will sell you the benefits of their proposals" but "won't tell you to read the fine print".

"There's a price tag attached and, in the end, our children and grandchildren will be the ones who have to pay the price."

He added that the PAP's approach is honest and upfront. "Our approach is one of hard work and action on the ground. That's the PAP way."

• Additional reporting by Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2015, with the headline ''Let's not have opposition just for the sake of it''. Print Edition | Subscribe