SINGAPORE - The strong mandate given to the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) at the ballot box last Friday makes it all the more important for the party to continue its engagement with Singaporeans, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat on Sunday (Sept 13).
He pledged that, with the support and confidence placed on the PAP, the efforts to listen to the voices of the people will continue "even more extensively and even more deeply" going forward.
Mr Heng, who led the Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) exercise in 2013, was speaking to reporters before visiting residents in his Tampines GRC to thank them for their support in the general election.
While public engagement has always been part of how the PAP has worked through the years, he said that the OSC exercise had "significantly intensified the process".
For one, many government ministries set up units to consult the public after the OSC exercise, he noted, adding that in turn, many major policies were borne out of "very intense" consultation with the public.
"This style of getting ideas from our people, listening to the ground and formulating the best possible approach forward is very important and we will continue with this," he said, adding that he hopes such efforts will drive more active citizenry among Singaporeans.
Besides giving ideas and proposing solutions, Mr Heng - who chairs the SG50 steering committee - also acknowledged Singaporeans for initiating ground-up projects.
The PAP's five-member team he anchored won 72.06 per cent of the votes against the National Solidarity Party, an upward swing of 14.8 per cent from the 2011 result.
This outpaced the overall 9.8 per cent swing in votes the PAP received nationwide to 69.9 per cent, from the all-time low of 60.1 per cent in 2011.
Mr Heng was accompanied by teammates Masagos Zulkifli, Baey Yam Keng, Desmond Choo and Cheng Li Hui as they rode on a lorry through Tampines, greeting and thanking residents and local merchants.
He attributed the marked improvement in the PAP's performance to a sense of pride over how far Singapore has come over the last 50 years, amid a time of increasing uncertainty and anxiety in the region.
The death of founding father Lee Kuan Yew in March, too, served as a reminder of the challenges Singapore had to overcome to get to where it is today.
"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."