GE2020: No policy set in stone, but need to bear in mind costs of change, says Lawrence Wong

Mr Lawrence Wong said that while the results from GE2020 have given the PAP a clear mandate to allow the party to pursue its agenda and policies, these can be debated in Parliament. PHOTO: GOV.SG

No policy is set in stone, and the PAP is always prepared to review, update and improve its policies, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday.

Rigorous debates in Parliament between MPs, be they from the People's Action Party (PAP) or the opposition, will enable better policies to be made for all Singaporeans, he added.

"No policy is sacrosanct. There is never a policy that we say (is) cast in stone and can never change. We are prepared to always review, update and improve policies," said Mr Wong.

"But let's also be clear, every change or every adjustment you make to a policy carries with it costs and benefits - there is upside, there is downside."

He was speaking in a live-streamed session on the results of the July 10 general election to party activists, and took questions from reporters at the PAP's headquarters in Bedok.

The PAP was returned to power at the election, winning 83 of 93 seats, but saw a slide of 8.7 percentage points in its share of the popular vote to 61.23 per cent.

Mr Wong was asked how the party's vote share - which has been described as a clear mandate rather than a strong mandate - will affect the way the Government formulates its policies.

He replied that while the results from GE2020 have given the PAP a clear mandate to allow the party to pursue its agenda and policies, these can be debated in Parliament.

"And the debate should be a two-way debate. Not just looking at government proposals, asking for government policies to change, but also looking at alternatives and scrutinising these alternatives - what their costs are and what the downsides are," he said.

"It's very hard for anyone who has been involved (in) doing policy work to find a policy that can be done to satisfy everyone, it's almost impossible," he added.

"You can say 'Let's do it', but at the end of the day, someone has to bear the cost. It could be another segment today, it could be a future generation later on, but somehow, some time, someone will have to bear some of the cost."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 19, 2020, with the headline GE2020: No policy set in stone, but need to bear in mind costs of change, says Lawrence Wong. Subscribe