Singapore – Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said on Sunday (July 19) that Singapore politics has changed permanently after the General Elections.
Mr Tharman took to Facebook to share his “basic take on GE2020,” noting that the outcome was good for Singapore. “The results were good for the People’s Action Party (PAP),” he said and provided two reasons. One was the solid mandate secured, meaning the trust in the PAP team to run the government and to do what is best for the country is intact, said Mr Tharman. “Second, the swing in votes (though from an unrepeatable high in 2015) is leading the party to review its own game so as to win the hearts, and not just the minds, of a changing electorate,” he added.
Results good for opposition politics
Mr Tharman noted that the election results were also beneficial for opposition parties, not merely for the higher vote share, but because it “reflected a discerning public and a political culture that bodes well for Singapore.” He mentioned The Workers’ Party, specifically, with their “reasonable brand and eschewing of campaigning around a single political figure.”
Furthermore, the opposition fielded more candidates who were credible in the public’s eyes, explained Mr Tharman. “The PAP too had a strong cast, with several candidates bringing fresh perspectives,” he said. However, people hold the PAP and the opposition to different standards which shows a growing desire among Singaporeans for a new balance in politics, Mr Tharman added.
Moving forward, Mr Tharman urged those in leadership roles “to make this new balance work well for Singapore” through vigorous and informed debates in Parliament, “with both sides treating the other with equanimity.” It should be the aim of the current government and the opposition to serve the interests of Singaporeans through policies that can stand the test of time – “rather than gain popularity today by telling people what they would like to hear, or promising benefits without revealing the costs and making clear who will bear them,” said Mr Tharman.
Push for democracy that reflects a changing Singapore
“We can never claim to be a model for anyone else in politics – each society moves forward out of its own history and social circumstances,” said Mr Tharman. “But there are challenges that all democracies face that we too must address, and we must do so in a way that reflects the changing aspirations of Singaporeans.” He provided three points on what kind of a democracy Singapore should be:
– A democracy with a strong centre, even as politics gets more contested and avoid “polarized politics” that many other democracies have become.
– A democracy that keeps working to promote multiracialism in society. “That’s already our strength,” said Mr Tharman. He also pushed for this trait to be strengthened and include efforts to “breed closer interactions” for the young generation and to reduce “the soft or implicit disadvantages that minorities still face in many workplaces.
– A more tolerant democracy with greater space for divergent views, and a more active civil society, without the public discourse becoming divisive or unsettling the majority.
“It will be good for Singapore if we evolve in these three ways. They will each help ensure stability in our democracy in the years to come. And they will tap on the energies and ideas of a younger generation of Singaporeans and their desire to be involved in public affairs,” said Mr Tharman.
My basic take on GE2020: The outcome was good for Singapore. Our politics has also changed permanently.The results…