SINGAPORE: Much is at stake in the coming General Election, with the nation going to the polls shortly after celebrating its Golden Jubilee, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.
“Will we remain special, or become ordinary just like everyone else? It is not at all inconceivable that we can become quite ordinary like any other country,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday (Sep 1), hours after the submission of nomination papers for the 2015 General Election.
ON WHAT’S AT STAKE THIS GENERAL ELECTION
Said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong: “This is a General Election and the future of the country is at stake. There’s a lot at stake because this is an SG50 election. The country is at a turning point. The question is, what direction will we go on now? Where do we now go? Continue up, level off or go down?
“I have called this election to get the mandate, to get to decide with the Singaporeans how we get to take the country forward.
“Therefore it’s an election where there’s a lot at stake.
“I said you’re choosing a Government which will run Singapore for the next 5 years. But it’s more than that. You’re choosing the team of leaders who’re going to be around for many more terms if they’re successful, and can ensure Singapore a good Government beyond me and my senior colleagues. This gets more urgent every day.
“We must make sure we have a team in place to take Singapore forward. The PAP team of candidates includes talent from private and public sector, young and old.
“You’re looking at the direction for Singapore for the next 50 years. It’s not an exaggeration to say this, because this is a turning point. We’re not only celebrating but also soul-searching.”
ON WHY THIS ELECTION IS “SPECIAL”
“This election in Singapore is special, happening after the 50th anniversary, after Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away,” said Mr Lee, who quoted a recent report which likened Singapore to a unicorn.
“Singapore is like a unicorn. One of a kind, a special animal, no other in the world. It works well, has unique solutions.
“Will we remain a unicorn, special, or become just like everyone else? It is not at all inconceivable that we can become quite ordinary like any other country.
“This election will show which way we’re going. There’s a lot at stake. This is about the future.”
ON ALJUNIED-HOUGANG-PUNGGOL EAST TOWN COUNCIL
“The way we’ve designed the system to make town councils the responsibility of elected MPs, so that people who want think they can form the next government can prove they’re capable of administering a town council,” said Mr Lee.
“That’s what some other countries do, too. For example in France, where those elected are simultaneously local and national politicians.
“I think AHPETC has got serious issues. Questions of governance, viability, proprietry. More facts have come out over last few days that the Workers’ Party will have to address and explain. It’s regrettable that they haven’t been addressed satisfactorily up to now. I think it’s something voters will notice.”
Asked if there was a concern that pressing in on the issue of town council governance could backfire among voters, Mr Lee said: “I think the town council is an issue. These are operational and tactical considerations. We’ll find the best way to convey the gravity and importance of the subject to voters in a way they can understand.”
ON THE OPPOSITION MPs IN PARLIAMENT
“The opposition frankly has been disappointing, because when you go for election rallies, it’s very easy to make fierce rousing speeches. But when they come to Parliament, none of these issues are raised. Because they know that if in Parliament they raise those issues, face to face, in debate, they’ll be pinned down and the fallacies and insincerities will be exposed,” said Mr Lee.
“So you voted for a tiger in the chamber and you got a mouse in the house. It’s one of these Frankenstein monsters. Every day it turns into a tiger, every night it turns into a mouse.”
ON DECIDING WHAT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE FUTURE
“We are fighting this election on the assumption that all 89 seats will have to be fought seriously. I told the candidates: If you’re in a PAP ward, fight as if you could lose, if you’re in an Opposition ward, fight with the conviction that you can win,” said the Prime Minister.
“We’re fighting for the best outcome and we’re going for every vote. I won’t put a number on it.
“I wouldn’t say this is an easy election. There’s a lot at stake and we have to take very seriously people’s aspirations, concerns, their outlook in a new world, and also the way in which the election is going to be fought. We take this as very likely a very hard-fought election.
“Every election is a contest of personalities and ideas. In a campaign, different people will try to persuade you with logic and sway you with emotions and mass psychology. We hope voters will be engaged and at the same time calm, maintain a certain objectivity, attend all the rallies they can, then sit back and think: What is the best choice for your future and your child’s future.”