The PAP - Reaching out to youth

Young voters seek human connection and understanding

(from left) Ms Josephine Teo, Mr Heng Swee Keat, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, and Ms Indranee Rajah holding a press conference at PAP HQ on Sept 1, 2015.
(from left) Ms Josephine Teo, Mr Heng Swee Keat, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, and Ms Indranee Rajah holding a press conference at PAP HQ on Sept 1, 2015. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Young voters want a human connection, not just abstract policies, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong when asked what issues the People's Action Party (PAP) might face in reaching out to this group.

Noting that young people form the majority of his nearly 844,000 Facebook fans, Mr Lee said that besides following political news, they enjoy "soft" topics such as nature or cultural events.

"They want to know that there's a person there... whom they can connect with, whom they can understand and who understands what they want," said Mr Lee, secretary-general of the PAP, at a party press conference yesterday.

As for what exactly young people want, he said: "They have that ability and that potential to go far, and they are anxious that they should be able actually to make it."

The PAP's approach has always been to invest in the young, he said. "That's what motivates our whole venture."

Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo said most young Singaporeans want the same thing as their parents' generation - a better life - but also want to take part in creating this. "We have heard young Singaporeans say that they don't just want to be served, on a platter, policies ready-made. They want to be participants in the creation of those policies."

To fulfil their aspirations, the Government has broadened the suite of educational and skills training programmes available, she said. It has also updated its outreach policies and put up more policies for public consultation.

But one challenge the PAP faces is that young people "consume content" largely through social media rather than newspapers or television news, noted Mrs Teo. The PAP has put in more effort to reach out on such platforms, though it is a work-in-progress, she said.

Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah wanted young voters to think seriously about the future.

She repeated Mr Lee's point that Singapore's future will be determined by its Government, its leaders and its direction.

And those three things, in turn, will be determined by the votes of Singaporeans - including young voters - in this general election.

"Especially first-time voters who have not voted before, I would ask you to think about this issue, because what is really being put before you is: How are you going to determine the future of the country?" said Ms Indranee. "And that choice, that direction, lies in your hands."

Janice Heng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2015, with the headline 'Young voters seek human connection and understanding'. Print Edition | Subscribe