PAP reaffirms commitment to core values as it paves new way forward at dinner and awards ceremony

SINGAPORE - The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) on Saturday reaffirmed its commitment to its core values, even as it paves a new way forward with amendments to the party constitution expected at a rally next month.

The principles of a clean and effective government, meritocracy and fairness, have been the vital building blocks of success for both the party and country, said PAP chairman Khaw Boon Wan at a dinner and awards ceremony at the Singapore Expo to mark PAP's 60th anniversary.

While these remain relevant today, there are areas which require emphasis to suit today's environment, said Mr Khaw, who is Minister for National Development.

Hence the need to sharpen the party's objectives and vision, he added in his speech to about 3,000 party activists including former Members of Parliament and founding members of party branches.

One of these areas is a shift from "extreme meritocracy" - which could favour those with means - to an "open and compassionate meritocracy", said Mr Khaw. The latter will provide Singaporeans with opportunities to develop skills in diverse fields and active support for those who are less well-off, as opposed to a focus on grades.

The party will also ensure community and government support for the vulnerable and less fortunate, as it builds a fair and just society that encourages individual effort and family responsibility.

It also wants to develop a democracy of deeds, which is built on collective responsibility and community action.

"Our values serve as important guide posts for the Party as we embark on the next stage of our journey," Mr Khaw said. "But ultimately, it's the people in the party who make these values come alive, and who make our objectives achievable."

He paid tribute to the contributions of party members in his address, ahead of an awards ceremony that marked the contributions of 390 activists, saying that they "do not flinch from the unglamorous work of tilling the ground" and "make significant and selfless personal sacrifices to serve the people".

To recognise the hard work and sacrifices of the pioneers, Mr Khaw said that the party's Central Executive Council has accepted a proposal from the PAP Seniors Group, led by Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, to accord long-serving members a lifetime party membership.

To qualify, a member must be at least 65 years old and have served the Party for at least 25 years.

"The PAP way of building a country and giving our people a better life has worked for the last 60 years," said Mr Khaw. "Let us dedicate ourselves to make it work for another 60 years."

waltsim@sph.com.sg