Tuesday 10 December 2013

PAP Convention 2013: PM Lee spells out 'new way forward'

PAP adopts new resolution, sets up group to champion cause of seniors
By Robin Chan, The Straits Times, 9 Dec 2013

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the ruling party is determined to keep Singapore an open and compassionate meritocracy, and a fair and just society, as the People's Action Party (PAP) updated its goals for the 21st century at a party convention.

Addressing 1,400 PAP members at the Kallang Theatre yesterday, PM Lee said the party's new resolution was aimed at re-interpreting its goals as the PAP forges a new way forward amid a changing Singapore. "We are at an inflection point. Our society is more diverse. Our economy is more mature. Our political landscape is more contested," he said.

The PAP was responding to this through its renewal and transformation at the mid-term of the Government formed after a watershed general election in 2011.

The changes were in line with Mr Lee's National Day Rally message, of a strategic shift in the social compact, for the state and community to play a bigger role in creating a fair and just society.

Speaking in Malay, Mandarin and English, Mr Lee announced a new PAP seniors group chaired by Parliament Speaker Halimah Yacob and with Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong as adviser, to champion the cause of the elderly. Caring for Singapore's pioneer generation is one aspect of a fair and just society, Mr Lee added.

He stressed the need to strengthen the Singaporean identity by maintaining the common space among people of different races and religions, observing that these remain powerful forces and that religious consciousness today is stronger than before.

Mr Lee, the PAP's secretary- general, said the party must be clear about its direction as it alone can provide national leadership. It last revised its founding goals to build a vibrant, multiracial, just and fair society in 1988. It is time to interpret and update them.

"We can all agree these are the right things to do... But what do these ideals mean tangibly, concretely, in this day and age? We must interpret these goals in the new phase and with a new generation," he said.

The resolution statement that party members adopted yesterday was put together after three months of engagement sessions with party activists.

On the updated goal to create an open and compassionate meritocracy, Mr Lee said that while the party has always stood for opportunities and meritocracy, the approach must change as there is now a higher level of development, a wider income gap and slowing social mobility.

So Singapore is changing how it grows the economy, away from pure expansion, to higher productivity and new industries. But it must also maximise equality of opportunity and moderate inequality of outcomes.

"We will continue to invest in every Singaporean. Make sure that your success doesn't depend on your background or family circumstances, by helping those who are born with less get to a good starting point," he said.

"We will provide diverse pathways of success, treat all with dignity and respect... Thereby, we can keep our society open, mobile and enable our people to rise."

Supporting the changes, activist Tan Siang Hui, 37, of the Jurong Central branch said: "The resolution gave me a sense of the specific road map and direction at this juncture."

New party wing to be seniors' advocate
Interest group aims to identify older folks' needs, shape related policies
By Rachel Chang, The Straits Times, 9 Dec 2013

THE People's Action Party (PAP) will set up a new wing for seniors that will champion the cause of the elderly.

Its chairman will be Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong will be senior adviser.

The PAP Seniors' Group, or PAP.SG, is the party's response to the growing ranks of older Singaporeans, with those above age 65 set to make up one in five of the population by 2030.

This growing group has much to contribute but also has new needs, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday, making it clear the PAP.SG will be an interest and advocacy group for them.

To the warmest applause of the day, Mr Lee said the PAP.SG will be on the same level as the party's Women's and Youth wings, which are both headed by ministers.

Madam Halimah, an MP for Jurong GRC, envisioned ongoing focus groups to hear from seniors on how to better meet their needs.

"They are not on social media as much, but it does not mean we should not be concerned with their views and challenges," she said last Saturday.

In his speech at the PAP convention yesterday, PM Lee also paid tribute to the pioneer generation of Singaporeans, and said the Government's package for them, focusing on medical needs, should be ready by the next Budget.

The forthcoming universal medical insurance scheme, MediShield Life, will also provide more assurance to older Singaporeans that their health-care needs will be met. It will cover everyone for life and provide better protection against large hospital bills.

"Coverage will be better. Premiums will go up, higher than the current MediShield premiums, but it will be affordable," Mr Lee said. "The Government will help and I think this is something we can afford and should."

The significance of silver Singaporeans was also underlined by Women's Wing activist Chan Hui Min, 40, who addressed the convention on a session it organised, titled The Political Clout Of The Silver Generation In An Ageing Population.

The demographic of senior citizens has become more diverse, she said. Some have family support, some are single and some still have dependants even after retirement.

But they all share a desire to remain financially independent, she noted.

Many of them were concerned with age discrimination at the workplace, she said, and so would rather stay at home than take on "low-paying, unfulfilling jobs".

Suggestions from the Women's Wing included rental flats in retirement communities and help for asset-rich, cash-poor seniors to monetise their properties.

Madam Halimah's PAP.SG will have 14 members on its executive committee: nine MPs, three former MPs - Professor Koo Tsai Kee, Dr Chiang Hai Ding and Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon - as well as two party activists.

The group has had one meeting thus far, said Madam Halimah, but indicated that it will tap the PAP Community Foundation, the ruling party's charity arm, to support the needs of the elderly in a similar way to how it currently provides subsidised child care and kindergarten education.

PM Lee: Party won't falter on guarding common space
By Rachel Chang, The Straits Times, 9 Dec 2013

THE People's Action Party will not falter on guarding the race- and religion-free common space that allows Singapore's different ethnic groups to live together harmoniously, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

Making his first public comments on a campaign to allow Muslim women to don the hijab in uniform, which is disallowed for some professions, Mr Lee broadened the issue into one of maintaining a "Singaporean Singapore".

In Singapore, people have not been forced to conform to one culture and every group has extensive freedom to practise their own religion, he said.

But the other side of this arrangement is the groups' commitment to accommodating the common space - "to compromise, to give and take, be pragmatic" - without which Singapore will be weakened, he said.

Without this, different groups will cross paths once in a while but exist in separate social circles, which is "not what we mean by social cohesion", he said.

Mr Lee emphasised that every group in Singapore wants "things to be more their way".

The Chinese community wants more Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools where Mandarin is the first language and more public signs and train announcements in Mandarin.

The Malay community wants women to be allowed to wear the hijab with uniforms, and more government help for madrasahs.

The Indian community wants the wider use of Tamil in public signs like at the airport, and support and status for other Indian languages besides Tamil.

"When possible, we want to allow people to live their own lives and accommodate their desires," said Mr Lee. "But as we adjust, we must always keep Singapore a home where all races can live in peace and harmony."

Allowing the common space to be eaten away by giving in to one demand or the other will snowball, he said. "We will end up weakened, fractious, with the problems other countries have like ethnic strife, racial tensions, communal politics."

Contrary to what some believe, race and religion remain powerful and growing markers of identity in Singapore, he said. Religious consciousness is stronger now in all groups than 10 or 20 years ago, he noted.

"I will never reach a point where I don't have to mention a 'Singaporean Singapore' in a party resolution like this," Mr Lee said, referring to an updated mission statement adopted by the PAP yesterday.

Activists in the audience appeared to share his view.

"I agree that we have space to practise our religion without imposing our way of life on others," said Punggol West activist Muhammad Hazri Abdul Halil, 40.

"I hope the community accepts the statement he has given on this hijab issue, because there are constraints that we don't know about, like the (possible reaction) from other groups."

PAP must fight to get message across: Chan Chun Sing
By Robin Chan, The Straits Times, 9 Dec 2013

THE ruling People's Action Party (PAP) must fight to get its message across in every street and corner of cyberspace, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said yesterday.

It must "continuously and strenuously" defend the common space for people to speak up in, because if it does not, then others will occupy that space and make the party irrelevant, he warned PAP members at their convention.

"We must not concede the space - physical or cyber. We will have to learn from the 1960 generation of PAP pioneers - to fight to get our message across at every corner - every street corner, every cyberspace corner, be it in the mass media or in the social media," said Mr Chan, who is the party's organising secretary and chairman of its youth wing.

"We will have to do battle everywhere as necessary," he added.

His rallying cry echoed a similar call by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who urged PAP activists to fight for what they believe in, amid a more contested political environment, and convince Singaporeans that their cause is right. "We must rebut untruths and correct half-truths, especially online," he said.

The PAP must also engage other groups, not just to get their votes but so that they are part of a broader coalition of supporters and advocates, said Mr Lee, who is the PAP's secretary-general.

And it must also counter the moves of the opposition and stand firm, he said.

"They may throw stones at you, they may attack you, they may work against you but we stand firm. We are the PAP. We are proud of what we are doing. We are doing right," he said.

Turning to his team of MPs and ministers, PM Lee said the new ministers have gained confidence in presenting and defending their policies and are learning to make tough decisions and handle crises.

The 22 new MPs have also been doing well and are learning how to defend themselves and score points.

"By the next general election, they should be ready to defend their seats," he said.

In his speech, Mr Chan set out three priorities at the national level for the PAP. The first is to deliver a better life for Singaporeans by integrating policies across different areas to achieve the desired impact. The second is to enable Singaporeans to search for and develop solutions for themselves and their communities. The third is to improve its communications.

At the local level, Mr Chan said the PAP must connect its national policies to the needs on the ground, and its MPs must show there is a difference between themselves and others.

"Unlike others, we do not wait for the Government to solve the difficult issues. We are the Government... We close the last mile, and we go the extra mile," he said.

Khaw: Key role for PAP in managing changes
Party chairman also lauds activists who went the extra mile to help residents
By Goh Chin Lian, The Sunday Times, 8 Dec 2013

As Singapore embarks on a strategic shift in its approach to nation building and charts a new way forward, the ruling People's Action Party's leadership has to play the important role of managing policy changes, party chairman Khaw Boon Wan said last night.

Referring to the theme of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally in August, in which he set out a new way forward in social policy, Mr Khaw said at the PAP awards ceremony last night: "Singaporeans look to us, the PAP, to ensure that their welfare is protected."

The National Development Minister was speaking to 1,400 activists at Kallang Theatre.

He also stressed that amid policy changes, the party's purpose and values have remained constant. The PAP continues to act for Singaporeans, build a fair and just society and maintain high standards of integrity, he said.

His speech comes ahead of today's party convention, when PM Lee, the PAP's secretary-general, will address party leaders and activists on the theme of this year's convention, "Our New Way Forward: A Call to Action".

The PAP will also adopt a major resolution statement setting out its broad directions.

Giving a report card of the party's progress in the past year, Mr Khaw said it has strengthened party machinery, stepped up training of activists and recruited more members.

Party activists also played an active role in the Our Singapore Conversation, while the policy changes that Mr Lee announced in his Rally speech are being put in place.

Citing efforts to stabilise the housing market as an example of a policy change that needs to be managed, Mr Khaw said his ministry will start tapering off its massive home construction programme when supply and demand return to balance.

"We will however do so in a measured way, allowing the market to adjust," he assured.

The highlight last night was the presentation of medals to 353 party activists. Topping this year's honours list were Mr Kuek Chiew Peng, 58, Mr Samuel Ling, 54, and Mr Lim How Kim, 61, who received commendation medals.

They are known to go the extra mile to solve residents' problems and "hold their hands through the toughest journeys", Mr Khaw said.

Also honoured with a dedicated service star was Madam Tay Kwee Huay, 81, an activist at Geylang Serai for 50 years.

Turning points through the decades
The Sunday Times, 9 Dec 2013

1954: The PAP's founding members draft the party's Constitution. Its priorities then were to achieve and later to preserve Singapore's independence, and to build a nation out of different races.

1988: After the 1984 General Election saw a 12.9 percentage point vote swing against the PAP and the loss of two Parliament seats, the party engaged the nation in a discussion to set out a vision for the next decade.

Distilled in an 18-page Agenda for Action, it spelled out the goals and challenges for Singapore.

Topping the list was nation-building, to make citizens of all races and religions feel first and foremost Singaporean. It also underscored a commitment to a multi-religious and multi-racial society.

The document was formally adopted at the 1988 party convention, and led to changes to Article 2 of the party's Constitution - which states its objectives.

December 2013: Amid a changing Singapore, and following the PAP's first loss of a group representation constituency (GRC) and its lowest vote share since 1965, the party engaged its activists over three months to set out its broad and long-term directions.

With this resolution, the PAP re-commits itself to strengthen the Singaporean identity, create opportunities for all Singaporeans, uphold an open and compassionate meritocracy, build a fair and just society and develop a democracy of deeds.

The party also resolved that its government would be both responsive and responsible.

PAP resolution lays out its goals at 'a crucial moment'
MPs, activists cheer move to update objectives and set up seniors' group
By Goh Chin Lian, The Straits Times, 10 Dec 2013

THE People's Action Party's (PAP's) new resolution updates its founding goals at a critical time in its history, as it faces questions internally and externally about what it stands for, several of its Members of Parliament and activists said yesterday.

Ms Ellen Lee, an MP for Sembawang GRC, said some PAP members had feared that the ruling party had turned populist after a watershed general election in 2011, even as outsiders had continued to accuse it of being elitist.

But the new resolution, which the party adopted at its convention on Sunday, answers both groups of critics, she said, by affirming its goals to build a fair and just society, and to create opportunities for all Singaporeans.

The other four goals set out in the resolution are to strengthen the Singaporean identity, uphold an open and compassionate meritocracy, develop a democracy of deeds, and ensure a responsive and responsible Government.

Ms Lee said: "We're prepared to listen and make changes, but fundamentals have to be upheld."

Last revised 24 years ago, the goals are being updated as the PAP forges a new way forward in a society more diverse than before, with a mature economy and greater political contestation.

The resolution is also a response to the challenges of a growing income gap and slowing social mobility.

Mr Seah Kian Peng, an MP for Marine Parade GRC, said the resolution "tells all Singaporeans what the PAP is about, what it intends to do and create for the country".

Eunos branch activist Fong Yoong Kheong, 27, felt the resolution struck a chord with "an emotional element... not going for just pure meritocracy, but a compassionate one".

But Mr Victor Lye, an Aljunied GRC party activist, said the resolution has to go beyond words, to activists going out to the ground to "get people to appreciate us for what we do".

For him, it means being with residents, by attending funerals and addressing concerns that can range from weeds growing out of a ceiling to a brick falling from a housing block.

MPs and activists were also not short on ideas for how a newly formed PAP seniors' group could champion causes for the elderly, and contribute to the party.

Ms Tin Pei Ling, an MP for Marine Parade GRC, suggested that it drill down into specific concerns regarding health care and costs of living, to see if they were the result of older folk not being aware of help schemes or that the schemes were inadequate.

The group's chairman is Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob. and it will also tap the party's charity arm, the PAP Community Foundation, to pilot new solutions for eldercare needs.

Mr Lye suggested working with private firms to tap cloud technology to monitor the elderly who live alone, or raise the productivity of medical concierges at call centres to attend to them.

Dr Teo Ho Pin, MP for Bukit Panjang, said the senior activists, who have served 30 to 40 years, could share with younger activists their understanding of issues on the ground and experience in preparing for general elections.

They had told MPs, like Mr Liang Eng Hwa of Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, that they want a group of their own. Marsiling branch activist Tan Peck Hoon, 55, said: "The focus has been very much on the youth. But it's also important for us to know that older members like us matter."

Many, like Punggol East branch activist Benjamin Joshua, 60, are keen to do more. One of five activists who addressed Sunday's party convention, he said in his speech: "Even though we may be physically older and our bodies may lack that ability to fight for the party in the ways that we used to, do not write us off!"

In response, PM Lee gave this assurance: "We won't write you off. We'll sign you up."

Rallying the base and drawing in others
By Rachel Chang, The Straits Times, 9 Dec 2013

TO WIN an election, a political party needs to succeed at two crucial things. The first, to fire up its base; the second, to capture swing voters.

The People's Action Party (PAP) is in no danger of losing government, but yesterday, mid-way through its most electorally challenging term in 50 years, it threw precisely such a one-two punch.

First, it rewarded a pillar of its party base. Yesterday's party convention was titled "Our New Way Forward" and could have been subtitled "The Silver Chapter".

Besides announcing the formation of a Seniors' Group on a par with its Youth and Women's wings, headed by Speaker Halimah Yacob and former prime minister Goh Chok Tong, party leaders emphasised repeatedly the debt the PAP owes to its older members.

The Seniors' Group will be a lobby group and a voice for them.

It is timely and strategic, given Singapore's rapidly ageing demographic and the policy conundrums that throws up.

But from a leadership that has always been gripped by renewal and its standing among the young, this was also a surprise and reward for older members who have stayed staunch through decades of benign neglect.

Little wonder that yesterday's largely silver audience greeted the news with the loudest cheers of the day.

Beyond the rank-and-file, that the older generation of Singaporeans in general are the PAP's most loyal supporters is not lost on the party leadership. This segment of the voting base has been told they are not being taken for granted.

The second task, of capturing swing voters, is invariably the harder one.

After the 2011 General Election, an Institute of Policy Studies survey of 2,000 voters saw 45.4 per cent identifying themselves as swing voters, up from 40 per cent in 2006.

Yesterday, the PAP adopted a major resolution, its first in 25 years, that laid out a mission statement for a new generation.

The resolution said that it wanted to build an "open and compassionate meritocracy" that preserved social mobility. It enshrined "a system of progressive benefits and taxes" and pledged to moderate the excesses of the free market.

It was a party-wide riposte to those who charge that the PAP is too elitist and focused on economic growth over social development.

Coming after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech charting a shift towards more state and community support for those in need, it sent the message that the progressive policies over the last few years were not populist handouts.

They were, and continue to be, ideologically and spiritually at one with what the PAP stands for.

In crafting the resolution, the PAP returned to its "democratic socialist" roots and interpreted them anew. It has a history of remaking itself in this way in response to electoral setbacks.

After seeing a 12.9 percentage point drop in its vote share in the 1984 General Election, it embarked on a series of consultations that culminated in an "Agenda for Action" that was adopted as a resolution in 1988.

What that agenda contained is perhaps less important than what happened next. The party agenda was brought to Parliament, where it was endorsed and adopted as the National Agenda.

It is unlikely that this year's resolution will be tabled in Parliament. Besides giving the 10 opposition MPs the chance to lob potshots, such a move risks sparking irritation among Singaporeans who no longer see the PAP's Agenda as synonymous and identical with the country's.

Herein lies the problem which no resolution can solve. For the first time in its history, the PAP no longer has free rein to set the agenda for the country, and then to bring the people along.

While it has shown itself to be impressively responsive once again, this comes years after large swathes of Singaporeans first showed fatigue with the excesses of the free market, immigration and meritocracy. It is a reaction - some would say a delayed one.

Where once the PAP would decide, now it affirms.

This will be welcomed by many Singaporeans, the majority for whom a PAP-less Singapore is still unthinkable.

But whether the one-two punch can deliver a knock-out depends on those unpredictable swing voters, some of whom will take this as reward for their departure.

Renewed PAP can meet goals without political tightening
Don't detract from policy message with manoeuvring like in late 1980s
By Rachel Chang, The Straits Times, 14 Dec 2013

LONG-TIME watchers of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) might have felt a sense of deja vu over the past week.

Following a shocking setback at the polls where its vote share fell to a historic low and the opposition breached a parliamentary glass ceiling, the PAP embarked on a soul-searching exercise.

This culminated in a document that updates its founding mission for a new generation, which is adopted en masse at a party convention. The resolution is then adapted into the PAP's manifesto for the next general election.

The year? 1988.

The electoral setback then came in the 1984 General Election. The ruling party's vote share dropped by 12.9 percentage points and opposition MPs J.B. Jeyaretnam and Chiam See Tong were voted into the House.

The party leadership commenced rounds of consultation and engagement with the PAP rank and file and members of the public. This went into an Agenda for Action that outlined goals like nation building and social and cultural development.

In the 2013 iteration of this process, the PAP adopted a new resolution at its convention on Sunday, also after rounds of consultation with its rank and file. At seven paragraphs, it is more succinct than 1988's 18-pager, but similar in spirit and purpose.

It pledges to uphold the party's democratic socialist ideals, and build an open and compassionate meritocracy that moderates the excesses of the free market.

The resolution will answer the question of "what the PAP stands for" in this new phase of Singapore's development, said Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who was its key drafter.

It also aligned the ruling party's mission statement with the major national shift towards social support announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in this year's National Day Rally.

This is the ruling party's playbook when met with crisis.

"Crisis" may be overstating matters. Even at its lowest, it remains nationally dominant, so some may argue that it need not over-correct in reaction to the vagaries of voters.

But it is the very fact of its overwhelming dominance which necessitates that its soul-searching and repositioning be conducted so publicly. If nothing else, this allows the electorate to feel like it can bring about a change within the party without a change in government.

The parallels between that period in the late 1980s and today's moment abound.

Then, a post-recession process of economic restructuring into high value-added industries was under way; today, there is a mammoth effort to reduce Singapore's reliance on cheap foreign labour and boost its productivity.

GE 1984 was also when PM Lee entered politics; GE 2011 will likely be when the next prime minister, whoever he may be, did the same.

But the decade after the 1984 General Election unfolded in a way that made that electoral opening a false spring.

Between that general election and the next, Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) were created.

The preservation of multiracialism in Parliament, the original reason for their creation, was a noble intention. But as GRCs grew and grew in size, more people became convinced of Mr Chiam's 1988 view that their real purpose was to "edge out the opposition".

To many, a six-man GRC had little to do with multiracial representation and was more a repudiation of the one-man, one-vote democratic premise.

Then there were frightening instances of government clampdowns that reverberated through the population.

In 1987, 22 people, including several Catholic Church workers, were detained for alleged Marxist activities; in 1993, two Singapore Press Holdings journalists, together with then director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore's economics department Tharman Shanmugaratnam, were charged under the Official Secrets Act.

Then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong also introduced the practice of putting opposition-voting wards to the back of the upgrading queue in the early 1990s. Upgrading was a government programme and these voters had not voted for the Government, he said.

The price that pluralism paid was a big one. There were 55 walkovers in the 2001 General Election, and only a third of Singaporeans exercised their constitutional right to vote.

Today, the Government has moved decisively in the direction the PAP's new resolution spells out: of supporting social mobility, giving more help to the needy and vulnerable, and blunting the education system's grades fixation.

Universal medical insurance is on the way, as are majorly subsidised Housing Board flats for this generation of young families.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman has elucidated a new doctrine of active government support for self-reliance in its social programmes.

But against this backdrop, some glimpse a 2013 corollary of the political tightening of the late 1980s.

This has been especially evident in the online sphere, which is a perennial thorn in the PAP's side and an area that still frustrates a usually confident government.

After a year or two of seeming openness, with all major PAP politicians joining social media and a "light touch" regulatory framework, a sort of wintry frost has descended.

Besides its new licensing framework for news sites that requires a $50,000 bond and for offensive material to be removed within 24 hours, legal action has been initiated against several prominent bloggers and online commentators.

The Attorney-General's Office is prosecuting its second contempt of court charge in as many years against blogger Alex Au, who runs the Yawning Bread site.

This week, the regulatory framework claimed its first casualty in the form of socio-political website Breakfast Network, which decided it could not sign off on the "onerous" registration forms that the Media Development Authority wanted it to. Founder Bertha Henson has returned to blogging on a personal basis.

The PAP's political leadership will and has justified and downplayed these moves.

Holding those who spread misinformation online to account is only reasonable, it says. Plus, the regulatory framework is not onerous at all, it argues - another new site, The Independent, has signed its forms with no issue.

But it should not disavow the intentional message that this is sending. That message is that the Internet, ground zero of Singapore's political awakening, is not beyond its control.

The Government's goals - fewer trolls, less indiscriminate spreading of falsehoods, a higher quality of discussion and debate - are legitimate.

No public realm in a civilised society should not be subject to some rules governing interaction.

There have also been no "victims" in the Government's latest moves: No prominent blogger has been thrown in jail nor silenced completely, for example.

Yet, many see what has happened as akin to a hippopotamus showing an approaching fisherman its teeth. I can snap you in two, is the message, so don't come any closer.

I hope that this is not the start of the kind of wilting that occurred two decades ago.

For one thing, the Internet will be controlled - and even then, not completely - only by sweeping and costly firewalls like in China. The PAP Government neither desires to be, nor is, so authoritarian.

Secondly, the party's leadership today seems to be resigned to, if not actively encouraging of, the fact that pluralism and political contestation are here to stay and probably grow.

In 2010, PM Lee publicly committed to shrinking the sizes of GRCs and increasing the number of single seats. This direction will likely be upheld when the electoral boundaries for the next general election are announced.

The party may well reverse its 2011 General Election losses in the way it did in the late 1980s, but if it does, it should be through its policies and not political manoeuvres.

This is not beyond a renewed PAP with a galvanising mission statement. It would be a mistake to sully the impact of this earnest new movement with any political tightening that bespeaks only insecurity.

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