Singapore – Speaking to People’s Action Party (PAP) activists and the media, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong noted they would work on appealing to young voters and provide further relief on the economic pain of the “sandwiched group.”
Mr Wong shared a preliminary assessment of the 2020 General Elections on Saturday (July 18). He cited that their popular vote share of 61.2 per cent was within expectations, although on the lower end of their anticipated 60 to 65 per cent, reported channelnewsasia.com.
“The PAP received a clear mandate in this election. The 61.2 per cent is a solid majority of those who support and want a PAP government. Naturally, we are disappointed about losing one more GRC (Group Representation Constituency),” said Mr Wong, referring to newly-formed Sengkang GRC, which was won over by The Workers’ Party (WP). “The Sengkang team gave it their all, but the desire for more opposition was too strong.”
He noted that “overall, it is quite clear that voters wanted the PAP in charge.” Mr Wong cited the opposition who explicitly reassured voters that they were not aiming to replace the PAP. “The opposition also did not seriously engage on the key issues with workable alternative solutions. Instead, they chipped away at unhappiness over different aspects of policies which have impacted voters.” The major trend occurring for many years, which is a desire for more opposition in Parliament to check the PAP, to have more diversity and to debate on policy alternatives, is permanent and here to stay, said Mr Wong.
PAP: Roughly 100,000 voted lost
After assessing the decline in vote share, which was roughly 100,000 votes, Mr Wong gave credit where it was due. “First, the WP ran a good campaign that spoke to the desire amongst many for checks and balances. Their call to give the PAP government no blank cheque, I think, resonated with many people who wanted more opposition voices in Parliament,” he said.
“Second, we saw the emergence of a new party, PSP (Progress Singapore Party), with strong appeal in some part in Singapore, cutting into our strongholds in the west, in particular.”
Mr Wong also admitted they did not do so well in the arena of holding a digital campaign. “We tried our best; we produced a lot of good content online. But not all of this connected with netizens, especially on newer platforms like Instagram and Telegram.”
Appeal to the young to join their ranks
Mr Wong noted that the party would do a thorough review of GE2020; however, he highlighted two areas that they will need to focus on “to get back another four per cent in the next GE. One was to “do a better job appealing to the young.” Mr Wong said they must work hard to understand and connect with young voters who have different aspirations, hopes and expectations. “The issues they care about are different from the older generation, older Singaporeans, and they also look at existing issues differently.” To do so, Mr Wong mentioned they need to build “trust and a new social compact with younger Singaporeans and to mobilise them to do something for the community.”
He added that quite a few of their Members of Parliament were young Singaporeans themselves who have “come up the hard way and feel passionate about helping others to succeed.” More like-minded individuals who identify with the PAP as a party “that provides hope and a path to the future and builds our bonds with a new generation of voters” must be acquired to join their ranks, said Mr Wong.
Address the economic pain of the “sandwiched group”
On his second point, Mr Wong focused on the “sandwiched group” or those tending to elderly parents and providing for their young children at the same time. He recognised that this segment faces economic difficulties, even before the Covid-19 pandemic yet further aggravated their situation. “Many of the schemes and programmes in the four Budgets this year were aimed at this group. Unfortunately, no amount of help will be enough in a crisis of this magnitude,” he admitted. Therefore, the PAP plans to review and update policies and would do whatever they can to address their anxieties and pain during this difficult period, Mr Wong confirmed.
Watch the full conference here.