PAP rally

'We are not the bosses of Singapore... we are the trustees'

Supporters holding up a drawing of PM Lee Hsien Loong and a figurine of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at the PAP's lunchtime rally outside UOB Plaza yesterday.
Supporters holding up a drawing of PM Lee Hsien Loong and a figurine of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at the PAP's lunchtime rally outside UOB Plaza yesterday. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Singapore's leaders are driven by a sense of duty to improve citizens' lives, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the People's Action Party's lunchtime rally yesterday.

Noting he had been in politics for over 30 years, he harked back to his first speech in the city in 1984.

"Every election since then I've been back to Fullerton Square, now to UOB Plaza," he told the crowd.

Why did he do this? Why was Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who stepped down as prime minister more than 10 years ago, "still here with us supporting us, rooting for Singapore"?

Because they feel a sense of duty, said Mr Lee. "A duty to improve life for Singaporeans, to make this a safe, secure, successful Singapore, to help Singaporeans improve their lives year by year and enable our children to have better futures and brighter opportunities."

That is what drives the PAP leadership to tackle hard issues and work with the people to solve problems, he added. "We are not the bosses of Singapore, we are not the commanders or the owners of Singapore, we are the trustees and the stewards of Singapore, we are like the jaga."

Likening his team to a jaga, or guard, he said their job was to take care of the country that had been given to them "in trust", and carefully hand it on to a new generation.

He invoked founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's words at a rally in Fullerton Square in 1980.

In the pouring rain, the late Mr Lee had said: "Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him or give it up. This is not a game of cards, this is your life and mine.

"I spent my whole life building this, and as long as I'm in charge, nobody is knocking it down."

Though Mr Lee is gone, that spirit must live on, said the PM. "That iron must be inside our hearts, and as long as the PAP is in charge, nobody should be knocking this down. And that's why I'm in politics."

Having set out what drives him, he made a personal appeal: "If you believe in me and my team, if you believe that together we can make tomorrow better than today, please support me and my PAP team."

Janice Heng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline ''We are not the bosses of Singapore... we are the trustees''. Print Edition | Subscribe