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Decisive PAP victory in GE2015 a huge plus for Singapore: PM Lee
THE decisive victory at the last general election (GE) in September was both a "good result" for the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and a "tremendous plus" for Singapore, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday.
"(It) assures Singaporeans of at least another decade of predictability, political stability and good governance," he told some 1,500 party members at the Singapore Expo, where the PAP Convention was held.
The PAP secured 69.9 per cent of the popular vote and won 83 of the 89 available seats for Singapore's 13th Parliament. It also wrested the Punggol East single-member constituency (SMP) from the Workers' Party (WP).
The strong performance at the polls also paves the way for the nation to complete the "crucial transition" from the Singaporeans and leaders who participated or experienced 1965 to a completely post-Independence generation, said Mr Lee.
Singapore "must succeed" in this transition, for it will send the signal that the country can stay exceptional, with a system of governance and a society with values firmly in place.
Mr Lee, who is also the PAP's secretary-general, said the GE2015 outcome had many positives.
First, it allowed the party to carry out a smooth leadership transition. The last two general elections - in May 2011 and September 2015 - gave Mr Lee the opportunity to assemble a new team of leaders with enough time for them to gel and take over the reins "well before" the election after next.
Second, Singapore will be able to transform both its economy and society, and then take that transition to a new phase of development.
Third, Singapore can deal with external challenges as one united people, given that the country is likely to face some external difficulties in the next decade.
"We need to be able to deal with this external rough weather without being weakened or distracted by internal divisions," said the prime minister.
Even as Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat is still busy doing the formal post-mortem of GE2015, Mr Lee pinned the PAP's "solid victory" down to three key factors.
One was how the party's Members of Parliament (MPs) and activists worked tirelessly on the ground and served the residents well, not just during the nine-day election campaign but over the last four years.
Mr Lee singled out several MPs in his speech, including Sitoh Yih Pin of Potong Pasir, who finally won the single seat on his third try in 2011 by just 114 votes and then scored a "resounding" win at the GE three months ago with 66.4 per cent of the vote.
Mr Lee also praised the PAP candidates who stood in Aljunied group representation constituency (GRC) and the single wards of Hougang and Punggol East, all of which were held by the WP going into the last GE.
"They had the toughest mission but they kept at it with the right attitude. They showed that the PAP has fight, that no opposition constituency can consider itself safe," he added.
The WP managed to retain Hougang with a reduced percentage and hung on to Aljunied by a margin of only 1.8 per cent after a recount of the votes. Veteran PAP MP Charles Chong, meanwhile, was successful in reclaiming Punggol East from the WP's Lee Li Lian.
Another reason for the PAP's stronger mandate were the government's measures to address important policies such as housing, transport, immigration and healthcare.
The new term of government (Parliament will open on Jan 15 next year) will build on last term's work and take it further.
Some elements of the PAP's agenda from the previous term are still a work-in-progress, such as improvements to the public transport system, the rollout of MediShield Life, and finding ways to boost Singapore's low total fertility rate.
Finally, Mr Lee attributed the GE result to the fact that Singaporeans had a much stronger sense of national identity during this "special" year because of the Golden Jubilee celebrations and the passing of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Towards the end of his 45-minute address, PM Lee stressed that while the GE2015 result was a "good base" for the PAP to build on, the next election would be a brand new battle.
"Voters will judge PAP afresh the next time, not only by what we've done before but what we will be doing this term and what we can continue to do for them," said the prime minister.
"They will ask whether our promises merit their trust, whether our actions strengthen their convictions, and whether our policies and plans will continue to take Singapore forward."
He reminded all the party's MPs and candidates once again to always remember to be sincere and to serve humbly, which is even more important following such a clear victory at the last GE.
Voters will not tolerate arrogant and complacent behaviour, whether in the PAP or the opposition, said Mr Lee, adding that Singaporeans expect their MPs to serve and carry out their duties in order to earn their respect.
"The older MPs will know this well. The new MPs have to learn this quickly if they have not learned it already," he said. "The judgment of the people is an awesome thing. Do not be found wanting."
The convention on Sunday rounded off an eventful weekend for the PAP. On Saturday, the party honoured a total of 576 members at its annual awards ceremony, including 183 outstanding activists and supporters who received special letters of appreciation for their efforts at the last GE.