Defeated People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate in Aljunied GRC Victor Lye Thiam Fatt said in a recent social media post it is “not easy to keep trying to win the hearts and minds” of people.
Aljunied GRC is held by the Workers’ Party (WP). Even though the opposition party won the ward in the 2011 and 2015 General Elections, some PAP candidates who faced off with the WP but lost are now grassroots advisers in the ward. One of them is Mr Lye.
In a Facebook post published after the PAP Convention that took place earlier this month, Mr Lye asserted that Singapore is special because of “the unusual confluence of honest and capable founding leaders” and that there is a “need to ensure that this continues.”
He opined that Singapore can continue to be successful if the people choose the right leaders, he expressed his hope that “every generation of Singaporeans can see and choose leaders who are honest and capable.”
Expressing gratitude for the PAP activists who walk the ground with him at Aljunied GRC, Mr Lye added: “I am humbled to be with a group of Singaporeans who walk alongside on the ground each time I call. These party activists are only a few of many who sacrifice time and effort to keep the PAP connected with our people.
“It’s not easy to keep trying to win the hearts and minds of our people, but we earnestly want to. This, we have done, and we are doing still, through action and sincerity to serve in Aljunied and Hougang.”
Echoing his ruling party colleagues’ warnings about fake news, he concluded: “In this age, we have to deal with new challenges, rising expectations and often, misguided or false information. Ultimately, we need to earn our place among our people by winning their trust. We accept our imperfections and must be able and willing to Advance Singapore Together.”
Mr Lye’s views about advancing Singapore together and winning the people’s trust mirror his party leader, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s recent remarks.
Promising to uphold the trust supporters have in the PAP Government, on the occasion of the PAP’s 65th anniversary, PM Lee said that the PAP needs to maintain a capable and effective government with responsive and firm leaders to overcome today’s challenges and that his party is working to “maintain the trust of Singaporeans”.
Mr Lye’s recent remarks on Facebook also come weeks after he warned the people about “those who are truly politicians” while asserting that PAP activists should first and foremost be “political leaders”.
Noting that PAP activists “walk among our people, even when we are not in Parliament” and “care for our seniors, our young and those with needs,” Mr Lye painted his job as a non-elected PAP representative as one that is unenviable. He said:
“To highlight issues and alternative ideas knowing in our hearts that many would NOT want to walk in our shoes. Therefore and thereby, we are sure where our hearts are.
We don’t fight when the next GE comes. We have been volunteering for our people every day since our last. We do it for our people, even if they did not vote for us. They’re our people, our Singaporeans.”
Mr Lye then advised: “Let us not be divided by those who are truly politicians. We need to be community and political leaders first and foremost.”
Alluding to tensions in other nations, Mr Lye added: “Therefore and thereby, Singapore has remained special and unique in the world. What say you to those who want us to be like other countries. Just look around and see. We have stayed faithful to our people, and in Aljunied. Does it count?”
While Mr Lye painted his work as a non-elected PAP branch chairman as something that is perhaps looked down upon, he did not mention the benefits he and his colleagues receive by being appointed grassroots advisers in the opposition-held ward.
WP secretary-general and Aljunied GRC MP, Pritam Singh, recently said that these grassroots advisers have the power to disburse the S$40 million that is made available to all town councils for community upgrading projects and have the authority to approve or reject community improvement projects the WP proposes.
Decrying how unfair the practice of installing defeated PAP candidates as grassroots advisers in opposition wards is, Mr Singh said this practice makes them “relevant for residents” and allows them to “campaign for votes well before the General Elections.”He added their appointments as grassroots leaders give them the authority to dispense “large sums of taxpayer dollars.”
Interestingly, none of the opposition parties had the opportunity to place their representatives and branch chairmen defeated in the polls in the wards they hope to contest in between elections.