Singapore—The country’s Deputy Prime Minister, Heng Swee Keat, said that if Singapore develops a more “adversarial” political system, complete with “plenty of disagreements”, this would not be good for the country.
Mr Heng said this on Saturday, July 27, to visiting journalists from Malaysia. Eight journalists participating in this year’s Malaysian Journalists Visit Programme, had an opportunity to talk with the Deputy Prime Minister.
New Straits’ Times journalist John Teo asked Mr Heng if the current system of politics in Singapore should develop into a more adversarial one that has “more team rivalry even within the same party”.
DPM Heng told Mr Teo, “I prefer to be a constructive problem solver.
If there are problems, let us work together to see how best we can solve them, in as constructive a way as possible, that can meet the needs of as many people as possible.”
Instead of moving toward a more adversarial system, what is needed is a “certain political maturity” wherein individuals bring up various ideas that show how things can get done.
“I will say that even across the world, the systems which have operated well in delivering a better life for their people have been systems in which people are prepared to deal with differences, but not in an adversarial way.”
Mr Heng added, ”At the end of the day, the country cannot be going in 10 different directions, because then we go nowhere.
What is important is that having debated the options, we agree – let us do this, or let us do that.
I think that it is very important that our energy is not frittered with plenty of disagreements and, in fact, going into an adversarial system because that does not solve the problem.”
The Deputy Prime Minister did not discount that there could be differences of opinion.
“And if there are differences that we cannot agree on, we should set them aside and say, let these differences not impede us from cooperating closely to achieve things that we can achieve. I think that is a more practical way.”
In his talk with the journalists, Mr Heng emphasized how important it is to cooperate well with other ASEAN countries in order to maintain stability and progress.
“If we can work closely together to make sure that we do not end up with a financial crisis, and that if there is a financial crisis elsewhere in the world, we can all maintain our systems well, like what we did during the global financial crisis, I think that will enable us to continue to achieve progress.”
He was also asked regarding preparing for becoming prime minister in the future, but he said that he is concentrating on making sure the economy keeps up with the changes in the economy.
Mr Heng told Joe Chaw of Oriental Daily News, ”Our term of government is up to April 2021. We want to make the best use of the time to ensure that we deliver on the policies, and that we can help to improve the lives of our people over this period.”/ TISG