At the People’s Action Party (PAP) awards and convention in 2023, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced his plan to hand over the reins of leadership to Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong. Concurrently, he tasked the PAP with robustly countering the opposition’s attempts to “undermine the government” in the lead-up to the next General Election (GE).
PM Lee indicated that the forthcoming GE is slated to align with the party’s transition to its ‘4G’ leadership team, tentatively set around the PAP’s 70th anniversary on November 21, 2024.
In his speech, PM Lee brought to light the PAP’s challenges in retaining its dominance given the shifting public sentiment towards greater political diversity. He stated, “We also need to counter opposition moves to undermine the government, show them up when they are less than upfront, and defeat their tactics to create doubt and sow confusion,” signaling a mandate to bolster the party’s rapport with the electorate.
PM Lee acknowledged the changing expectations of Singaporeans, many of whom are keen to hear more alternative voices in parliament, despite “the majority overwhelmingly agree[ing]” that the PAP should remain in power. “In fact, even the opposition parties think so,” he added.
PM Lee noted a peculiar political dilemma: “I think it is fair to say that the PAP faces a political quandary which is unique in the world – an overwhelming majority of voters want us to form the government. In fact, they expect the PAP to form the government. But among those who want us to form the government, quite a significant number also want our opponents to do better.”
He reflected on the PAP’s electoral track record over 14 elections, cautioning that “Over the years we have lost some seats, but even till now the PAP has maintained a dominant position. But with each successive election, the PAP’s task has become tougher.”
Despite setbacks, such as the loss of Aljunied GRC to the Workers’ Party in 2011 and Sengkang GRC in 2020, where former Ministers were unseated, the PAP continues to hold a supermajority in Parliament, enabling smooth constitutional amendments.
PM Lee reproached the opposition for instigating political scuffles that derail productive debate. He also warned against the perils of political polarization, reminiscent of the strife in countries with seasoned democracies.
With the entry of more opposition MPs, parliamentary debates have become more frequent. PM Lee remarked, “While constructive and responsible political debate is good and necessary, not infrequently it becomes a political brawl,” where opposition parties vie for political points.
He cautioned that if parliamentary skirmishes overshadow national issues, it could lead to unresolved problems and societal division.
PM Lee stated, “Society may well become divided, Singapore and Singaporeans will suffer. And therefore I say, having more opposition MPs doesn’t necessarily make for better government.”
PM Lee’s comments mirror his 2006 GE speech, where he expressed concerns about the distraction caused by a sizable opposition presence. PM Lee then said in his campaign rally at Raffles Place, “Right now we have Low Thia Khiang, Chiam See Tong and Steve Chia. We can deal with them. Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 Opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I’m going to spend all my time thinking what’s the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters votes, how can I solve this week’s problem and forget about next year’s challenges?”
Throughout his address, PM Lee stressed the imperative of strong, consistent leadership for Singapore’s continued progress, declaring, “Today’s Singapore could not have been built by a weak government hanging on to power by a slim majority, or with the governing party and policies chopping and changing after each election.”
PM Lee’s announcement of a leadership transition before November 2024 suggests that the upcoming General Election will likely be scheduled for next year, ahead of the November 2025 deadline.
WP Pritam Singh refutes DPM Wong’s “raiding reserves” accusation
S’porean streamer Kiaraakitty banned from re-entering Taiwan after staging egg attack
Affordability of HDB flats have improved, says DPM Wong in Budget 2024
Singapore’s total fertility rate drops below 1, reaching historic low
Lawrence Wong: GST impact on inflation is not permanent
An urgent plea for review: Challenging police practices in child custody disputes
Tetra Pak to cut 300 jobs, close Jurong factory in consolidation move
Sylvia Lim refutes PAP MP’s claims over her speech on supporting young senior
Asia Centre hosts regional meeting on digital rights
Airbus issues apology after Chinese & Russian visitors allegedly denied entry from military plane at Singapore Airshow
Hamas extends condolences for tragic self-immolation of US Airman Aaron Bushnell
Dennis Tan: Advocating senior support, disabilities, and green transition in Budget 2024
Politics5 days ago
Leong Mun Wai steps down as PSP Secretary-General over POFMA directive received
Singapore5 days ago
Gilbert Goh challenges MOE on Israel-Hamas classroom narrative
Featured2 weeks ago
PA surveys community & govt confidence amid pending general election
Singapore1 week ago
Kenneth Jeyaretnam issued 6th POFMA direction over Ridout Road saga
Civil Society2 weeks ago
At least 9 individuals summoned by police over Palestine solidarity activities on 2 Feb
Politics1 week ago
Lim Tean mocks DPM Wong’s 2024 Budget as “band-aid”, hints election coming
Singapore5 days ago
MOE responds to critiques on Israel-Hamas conflict education
Featured2 weeks ago
Impact of CPF’s major reform on Singaporeans’ savings strategy