PAP activists honoured for efforts and commitment

Mr Lim Joo Kwan (right in photo), one of three recipients of the Dedicated Service Star, receiving his award from Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan at the awards ceremony yesterday.
Mr Lim Joo Kwan (right in photo), one of three recipients of the Dedicated Service Star, receiving his award from Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan at the awards ceremony yesterday.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Party chairman Khaw Boon Wan calls on PAP branches to identify, groom potential leaders

When Mr Lim Joo Kwan first volunteered with the People's Action Party more than 50 years ago, one of his tasks was to put up candidate posters during election campaigns.

In those days, that meant climbing up coconut trees to nail the posters, and his chest and singlet would be stained with blood.

"Back in 1959, there were no lampposts - only coconut trees," the 71-year-old recalled. "We had to 'hug' each tree, climbing them to put up the campaign posters."

He stuck with the party through 13 general elections, and helped the PAP improve its vote share in East Coast GRC in the Sept 11 election.

Yesterday, the businessman was one of nearly 600 PAP members to receive awards for sweating it out for the party, including those who made significant efforts in GE2015.

Mr Lim was one of three recipients of the Dedicated Service Star.

PAP chairman Khaw Boon Wan lauded the commitment of the award winners and activists to being "servants of the people" and for helping win voters' trust at the GE in a speech to 2,000 party members at the awards ceremony at the Singapore Expo.

Mr Khaw, who is Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport, called on party branches to identify and groom potential leaders to help the PAP do more for Singaporeans.

Self-renewal was a continuing priority for the party, he stressed.

He also said that an "overwhelming" 70 per cent of Singaporeans said they wanted the PAP to be the government. This was an endorsement of what the PAP had done, and sent a clear signal of the direction they wanted Singapore to take beyond SG50 and the kind of government they wanted to work with.

"Much work remains to be done. We will continue on the new way forward: more inclusive focus on social needs, especially for the elderly and the disadvantaged," he added. "And more involvement by citizens, working in partnership with the Government to improve our lives."

Mr Khaw cited Mr Lim and several award winners as activists who carry the PAP core values proudly. Among them was Mr Mohamed Said Ali, who took two weeks of leave over the GE to oversee daily operations at the Changi-Simei branch. Also recognised were Mr and Mrs Gopal Kanapatty from the Queenstown branch. Mrs Gopal, 68, speaks English, Tamil, Mandarin, Malay and some Hokkien, Mr Khaw noted.

At the ceremony, the cast of local movie Ah Boys To Men also performed a song dedicated to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the PAP's first secretary-general, who died in March, aged 91.

In his speech, Mr Khaw said senior party members should also ensure that skills that have helped the PAP earn the trust of the people are passed down to the young.

For Mr Tan Kim Hock, 77, from PAP's Changi Simei branch, who also won a Dedicated Service Star, this means passing on values such as keeping one's promises and always being honest. Said the retired teacher: "Today's Singapore may be different, but basic values like these do not change."

Mr Lim said other skills that more experienced members can pass on to younger ones include ways to show empathy to residents at weekly Meet-the-People Sessions. "People come to see their MP because they are facing problems, so we must always remember not to say things that might antagonise them," he said. "It's about how you listen to them and take the case. There are no hopeless cases."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 06, 2015, with the headline 'PAP activists honoured for efforts and commitment'. Print Edition | Subscribe