GE 2015

PAP will do even more to engage public: Heng Swee Keat

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat greeting residents in a coffee shop in Tampines Street 81. The Tampines GRC MP hopes more people will offer ideas, propose solutions and join the Government in initiating projects to build Singapore.
Education Minister Heng Swee Keat greeting residents in a coffee shop in Tampines Street 81. The Tampines GRC MP hopes more people will offer ideas, propose solutions and join the Government in initiating projects to build Singapore. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The strong mandate that voters gave the People's Action Party (PAP) at the ballot box last Friday (Sept 11) makes it all the more important for the party to step up its efforts to consult and involve Singaporeans in shaping programmes and policies, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said.

Their support for and confidence in the PAP meant the party had to "engage even more extensively and even more deeply", he said on Sunday (Sept 13) when visiting residents in Tampines GRC to thank them. And he hopes more people will offer ideas, propose solutions and join the Government in initiating projects to build Singapore.

Mr Heng led the year-long national engagement effort started in 2012 - Our Singapore Conversation - on a range of issues.

On Sunday, he said that while public engagement has always been part of how the PAP has worked, the conversation "significantly intensified the process".

For one thing, many ministries have since set up units to consult the public, he noted, and many major policies were borne out of "very intense" public consultation.

This style of getting ideas from people will continue, he said.

Mr Heng, who chairs the SG50 steering committee, also acknowledged residents' efforts in initiating ground-up projects to celebrate the Golden Jubilee.

The five-member team he anchored won 72.06 per cent of the votes against the National Solidarity Party, an upward swing of 14.8 percentage points from the 2011 result - outpacing the PAP's 9.8 percentage point national vote swing, which saw its popular vote share rise to 69.9 per cent.

Mr Heng, with teammates Masagos Zulkifli, Baey Yam Keng, Desmond Choo and Cheng Li Hui, rode on a lorry through Tampines, thanking residents.

He attributed the PAP's improved performance to a sense of pride over how far Singapore has come over the last 50 years, amid a time of increasing regional uncertainty and anxiety. The death of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in March also reminded many of the challenges Singapore had to overcome to succeed.

"Having come so far in 50 years, there is a sense of excitement that we are poised to take Singapore forward in the next 50 years," he said. "What we must do is to make sure we harness the ideas and the creativity of our people, so that we can work together for a better future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2015, with the headline 'PAP will do even more to engage public: Heng'. Print Edition | Subscribe