Wednesday, 9 September 2015

GE2015: Let's tackle problems together: Ng Eng Hen

By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 9 Sep 2015

Singaporeans should put aside their political differences after Polling Day and come together to address problems facing the country, People's Action Party (PAP) organising secretary Ng Eng Hen said last night.

"After #GE2015, time to put aside our differences, bring in as many ideas as we can, so that we can lessen, if not solve, the problems": People's Action Party's Ng Eng Hen. #GE2015RECAP:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Many issues - about the population, economy, education, social support, foreign workers - have been raised during the campaign, and some ideas put forward were more viable than others, he said.

He wants to see as many workable ideas as possible adopted, even if from the opposition, and younger people must also be engaged, he told a rally in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. "After this election, I intend to continue speaking to them, even some in the opposition parties," he said.

"We solve problems, not by shouting at you and you shouting back, and not by jeering ... We solve problems by dealing with the reality squarely": People's Action Party's Ng Eng Hen. #GE2015RECAP:
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dr Ng, who leads the PAP team in the GRC, said problems could be dealt with "not by shouting matches, jeering... but by dealing with realities squarely and listening to and engaging Singaporeans". This is necessary in the light of Singapore's major challenges, not least the shortage of workers and the rapidly ageing society. Social safety nets have to be strengthened and the needs of specific groups, such as older workers and young families, met.

He said Singapore needed more good minds, capable ministers and good MPs to help tackle these challenges and his teammates - Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo and newcomers Chee Hong Tat, Chong Kee Hiong and Saktiandi Supaat - were such capable and hardworking people.

Fourth-generation leaders like them would be the ones to complete programmes started by his generation of leaders, said Dr Ng.

In her speech, Mrs Teo said that although the PAP would not always be right about everything, if it worked together with Singaporeans on difficult decisions, it could be "mostly right about most things".

Consider three factors before heading to the polls: Ng Eng Hen
Among them: After heat of hustings, Singapore must confront challenges, and making lives better requires capable leaders
By Laura Elizabeth Philomin, TODAY, 9 Sep 2015

As campaigning for the General Election draws to a close, Dr Ng Eng Hen, the organising secretary of the People’s Action Party, last night noted how much good had emerged from the heat of the hustings, and offered some pointers to those still undecided about who to vote for on Sept 11.

Labelling the decision a big one “that will set the direction for the future”, he asked voters to consider several factors, the first being that Singapore’s challenges will not go away in a few days.

Dr Ng noted how the plethora of views aired on topics affecting Singaporeans, such as population, economy and cost of living, over the last few days of campaigning shows how the country is maturing as a democracy.

“During any General Election, we all expect that political opponents will try to score points ...whatever the views, I did not sense any fear in any of the candidates. In fact, all candidates of all parties are speaking freely. Nobody said ‘I dare not speak freely’,” he said, adding jokingly that, in fact, most had to be cut short because of the 10pm cut-off time for rallies.

But, when the excitement of elections fades and the dust settles, Singapore still needs to be governed, he cautioned during a 30-minute speech at Toa Payoh Stadium last night.

“After the general election, our challenges will still remain the same as before the election. Not only will the challenges remain, but even bigger problems are on our horizon,” he said.

Dr Ng cited challenges both external — such as terrorism, ISIS, rising nationalism of surrounding countries — as well as internal, with zero local workforce growth from 2020 and nearly one million elderly above 65 after 2030. “So I say, after the general election, (it is) time to put aside our differences, bring in as many ideas as we can, wherever they come from. So that we can lessen, if not solve, the problems that have been brought up.”

Next, he said, was that the problems Singapore is facing will have to be dealt with, as previous governments have done. “Whatever the issue — cost of living, foreign labour, PMETs — we deal with them as we have before. We spell out the issue, we state the goal we want to achieve … And then we look at what we want do to, weigh the trade-offs. We get the support of the majority of Singaporeans … and then make sure that the country can afford it, make sure that our children don’t get indebted,” he said.

But just as the founding generation did, the current generation has to give more than what it receives, said Dr Ng, “That’s the right way to run the country and run the Government, not put debt on our children,” he said, adding that this was how the Government had solved problems of resettling the population in flats and shifting away from vernacular to bilingual education in English schools during Singapore’s early years.

“We solve our problems … not by shouting (matches), jeering, not even by rallies … You solve problems by dealing with the realities squarely, you work with Singaporeans, listen and engage with them,” he added.

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