Political system must evolve to continue to work well for Singapore, says PM Lee as Cabinet is sworn in

PM Lee Hsien Loong (right) and Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh speaking at the Istana, on July 27, 2020. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

SINGAPORE - Singapore's political system will have to evolve to accommodate the desire for greater diversity of views in politics while still maintaining cohesion and a sense of national purpose, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

He noted in a speech on Monday (July 27) that the new Parliament will have 12 opposition MPs - the largest number in recent history.

"The election has shown a strong desire among Singaporeans for greater diversity of views in politics," Mr Lee said. "Voters want the PAP to form the government, but they also want more robust debate of policies and plans.

"This trend is here to stay. We have to give expression to it."

Mr Lee was speaking at the swearing-in of the new Cabinet and political office-holders, which was held in two separate locations - the Istana and Parliament House.

The Prime Minister was the first to be sworn in, followed by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Senior Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

PM Lee and SM Tharman received their instruments of appointment from President Halimah Yacob in the Istana, while DPM Heng and SM Teo, who were in Parliament House, were presented theirs by Mr Eddie Teo, who chairs the Council of Presidential Advisers.

In his speech, PM Lee said he looks forward to "more vigorous but constructive debates in Parliament".

There are now 10 Workers' Party MPs from Aljunied and Sengkang GRCs, as well as the single-member constituency of Hougang.

There are also two Non-Constituency MPs from the Progress Singapore Party, which got 48.32 per cent of the vote in West Coast GRC.

The Government will also formally designate WP chief Pritam Singh as Leader of the Opposition, and provide him with staff and resources to perform his role.

"I hope our colleagues across the aisle will step up to play their role of a responsible and loyal opposition," Mr Lee said.

"Their duty is not merely to raise criticisms and ask questions of the Government, necessary as these functions are. But also, more importantly, to put forward serious policy alternatives to be scrutinised and debated."

This way, voters will be able to better understand the issues, choices and trade-offs, he added. In the process, policies and plans can be improved to deliver better outcomes for Singapore.

PM Lee also said that the Government has to fulfil the broader ambitions that Singaporeans have for the country, beyond economic prosperity.

"We aspire to be a fair and just society, with opportunities for all. We wish to fashion an inclusive community, where we look out for one another, reach out to those who need help, and show every Singaporean that they have a stake in our future," he said.

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"We want to make this a home where Singaporeans always believe that their children will have better lives than themselves, and the human spirit can flourish. This is the nation we are building together."

He added: "To achieve these hopes and dreams, our political system must continue to work well for Singapore."

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