GE 2015

No guarantee PAP will be in government after polls: Khaw Boon Wan

But Workers' Party leaders dismiss this warning, saying they don't plan to take over

PAP's Khaw Boon Wan, candidate for Sembawang GRC, holding a rally at the field opposite Blk 540 Woodlands Drive 16 on Sept 7, 2015. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - With all 89 parliamentary seats being contested in Friday's General Election, the rally talk last night turned to the possibility of a freak result and a surprise new government.

For National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, anything is possible. Speaking in Sembawang GRC, he said there is no guarantee that the People's Action Party will form the next government.

"There is no 'safe seat' where victory is assured," the PAP chairman said. "We cannot be sure of a PAP government on Sept 12."

And even if the PAP did get re-elected, Singapore could end up with a weak government unable to get things done for the people, he added.

But the Workers' Party, campaigning to persuade voters to ensure the opposition is entrenched in Parliament, accused the PAP of using scare tactics ahead of polling.

Its 28 candidates this year make up the biggest opposition slate, but the WP said it had no plans to be the government.

"Until you hear us say, 'Vote for us to form the next government', don't believe our opponents who say that we have hidden agendas and motives and plans," said Mr Gerald Giam, who is leading the WP team in East Coast GRC.

A coalition of opposition parties would also be out of the question, Mr Giam said, adding: "We could not even avoid three-cornered fights in all constituencies."

With just two days of campaigning left and Cooling-off Day on Thursday, Mr Khaw advised voters to assess the various parties' manifestos carefully and objectively and ask serious questions of candidates in their constituency.

"We all do such due diligence when we want to buy a new apartment," he said. "GE is even more important than buying an apartment."

He urged voters not to dice with the future, saying: "We all know how much damage a weak government, paralysed by constant debate, can do to the country and to the people."

He reminded everyone of a key message from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, that this year's GE is about choosing Singapore's leadership for the future.

A wrong electoral decision "may have severe, if not tragic, consequences" and it may not be possible to reverse the outcome, he said.

He also recalled what the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said in 1955: "We take the future for granted only at our own peril. We have survived because we are a practical and realistic people."

Mr Khaw said that message was as relevant today as it was then.

"Our success is because Singaporeans stay as one united people and work closely with the Government," he said, promising that the PAP would, as in the past, deliver on the promises it made.

Also speaking at the Sembawang rally, PAP candidate Ong Ye Kung said voters have the power to "write the last chapter of the PAP, or write the first chapter of a new PAP".

Contesting for the second time after being defeated at his first outing in Aljunied GRC in 2011, Mr Ong said the ruling party is prepared to "build upon our legacy and evolve with the times".

He made this point while noting that Singaporeans had remained divided after the keenly fought 2011 elections, allowing an "anti-social fringe" to exploit fissures in society, especially online. These were put aside after the passing of Singapore's founding father Mr Lee, which reminded Singaporeans of their past struggles and brought them "back together as one again", he said.

While the PAP raised the possibility of an unexpected result on Saturday morning, the WP pressed on with urging voters to ensure the next Parliament will have opposition MPs.

At the WP rally in Marine Parade GRC, party chief Low Thia Khiang and candidates Pritam Singh and He Ting Ru warned of the dangers of one-party dominance.

Mr Low said the lack of opposition representation would leave Singaporeans so frustrated it could be like "a time bomb waiting to explode".

Mr Giam said some people "may be concerned about scare tactics used by the PAP" and he tried to allay fears the ruling party may end up losing power. The WP's goal this election, he said, was to entrench a credible opposition in Parliament.

Stressing that there was actually no such thing as a freak election result, he said: "Any result in a free and fair election will be the will of the people."

Today, PM Lee is expected to elaborate on the PAP's vision for the future when he speaks at the party's lunchtime rally at the UOB Plaza promenade near Boat Quay. There will be another 11 rallies tonight, including six more PAP rallies, before campaigning wraps up tomorrow.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline No guarantee PAP will be in government after polls: Khaw Boon Wan. Subscribe