Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Let’s stay united regardless of which party you support: PAP’s Ong Ye Kung

The PAP candidate for Sembawang GRC cautions against a repeat of the divisiveness seen in the previous General Election in 2011.
By Siau Ming En, TODAY, 8 Sep 2015

Politics can divide people, as seen by the way the 2011 General Election left the country somewhat divided, said Mr Ong Ye Kung, who called for Singaporeans to stay united regardless of which political party they support.

The People’s Action Party’s (PAP) candidate for Sembawang Group Representation Constituency has seen the divisiveness up close as he contested the previous election in the PAP’s Aljunied GRC team, which lost to the Workers’ Party.

“I lived through several General Elections, (and) in every election, it’s the same movie playing over and over … The PAP will say, ‘better future, prosperity, progress — support me’. And the Opposition will say, ‘no, you are marginalised, you’re being shortchanged, you should be unhappy’. And so in every election we draw a line in the sand and people are divided,” said Mr Ong, 45, director of group strategy at Keppel Corporation. While in the past, these lines were quickly erased once polls are over, he observed it was different after the 2011 elections.

“I do not feel that we came back together again like before,” he said.

Exploiting this situation are anti-social individuals at the fringe, he added, pointing to cases of graffiti on Housing and Development Board blocks, the 2012 strike by bus drivers, socio-political websites that tell lies for profit, handicapped children harassed by protesters during a concert, vitriol and negativity circulating non-stop.

But things started to change when Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew died in March, he said. All of a sudden, Singaporeans paused, reflected and came together again to commemorate the loss of a key founding father who built Singapore.

After spending the past six days walking the ground as a candidate asking for the people’s vote and support, Mr Ong did a role reversal in his rally speech. He stepped into the shoes of a voter and spoke about what he would like from the Government.

As a voter, he would like a Government who makes the cost of living affordable, a Government actively helping the disadvantaged, low-income, and the needy elderly to ensure they live with dignity and independence.

"Today I speak as a voter, and I have a few wishes..."Mr Ong Ye Kung delivers his speech from a refreshing angle; as a fellow voter. WATCH this 4:32min clip where he shares what he would like his future government to be. Video: Toggle.sg(Please pardon the sound quality.)Get breaking news, live updates, and exclusive content, on the go, please click: http://bit.ly/pap_link_up
Posted by People's Action Party on Monday, September 7, 2015

He wants a Government that helps every Singaporean child get a good start in life with good early childhood and school education. He hopes for a strong defence force, a vibrant economy, a flourishing and strong Singapore identity and a “genuine diversity of opinions” in deciding national policies, among other things.

He also pointed out what he did not want — “a democracy for democracy’s sake … debate for debate’s sake” — a political system that blindly follows Western liberal systems. “Even they know their own system is not quite working,” he said.

Calling for a Government that is capable and stable that can run the country well, Mr Ong added: “Unlike the past, where our paths had been open and the collective interest obvious, today, policies are made always with trade-offs and sacrifices … and that makes policies sometimes divisive.”

On the municipal front, Mr Ong cited an example of a recent mosquito outbreak at one of the precincts in Nee Soon East to drive home the point of how technology — through social media — can be used to shine a spotlight on a problem.

He cited a lady living in the infested area who had slept with her arm outside her blanket only to wake up to find numerous stings on her arm. She posted a picture of her arm on Facebook and it got wide publicity on social media.

However, while an issue can be posted on social media, he pointed out that it takes a community of volunteers, residents and agencies to solve the problem.

Turning to the national issue of employment, Mr Ong, the former deputy labour chief, said Singapore has been using a “blunt instrument” of academic qualifications to fit people into jobs, putting an older person at a disadvantage because examination scores get better all the time.

Noting how the Government has taken the lead in redefining merit in the Civil Service, he called for the human resource fraternity to do its part and not sort applicants by academic grades or age.

In his earlier Mandarin speech, he said the ruling party’s beliefs and values have not changed over the past 60 years, but it needs to continually adapt to how it handles problems.

The party cannot be arrogant and become distant from the people. It must also listen to people’s views and take action, or risk losing people’s support, added Mr Ong.

GE2015: Ong Ye Kung on evolving times
"PAP is ready to build upon our legacy and change with the times": Sembawang GRC candidate Ong Ye Kung. #GE2015FULL RECAP: http://bit.ly/paprallysep7
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Monday, September 7, 2015

How the electorate votes in this election, he added, matters to the country’s future much more than what voters think. “In this General Election, you have the power to write the last chapter of (the) PAP or the first chapter of a new PAP,” he said.

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