PAP 'needs to change way it talks'

PAP 'needs to change way it talks'
Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin
PHOTO: The New Paper

The People's Action Party (PAP) needs to change the way it communicates with people, said Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday.

Replying to a question at a Marine Parade GRC press conference on the kind of leadership style the PAP should adopt in the years to come, Mr Tan said that society today is very different from that in the past and that the party's leadership style has to evolve.

"All of us will have our own individual personalities and approaches, but... the level of engagement must continue," said Mr Tan, who was identified by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at his Tuesday lunchtime rally as part of the nucleus of next-generation leaders.

"You can't lead from a top-down perspective. As leaders, you must have the courage to make the decisions because, ultimately, you can't be just going back and forth perpetually, but you do need to engage."

Mr Tan said the process of engagement is vital because it is about "respecting other people's views because we all want to be part of something".

"Nobody wants to be a digit, I don't want to be just a cog in the machinery, we all want to feel that we can make (a) difference to our own lives and that we actually matter," he added.

"And so, we also do need to change the way we converse and the way we talk. As you know, we have a lot of statistics and a lot of data and a lot of ideas... But sometimes, yes, it's logical, but where am I in the whole process as you're talking?"

Giving an example, Mr Tan said that while Singapore's unemployment rate is low at 2.9 per cent, he was "always very mindful" that there was no point telling an unemployed person the rate is 2.9 per cent, because unemployment to him is 100 per cent until he gets a job.

"So it's important for us, in a way, to communicate... to really look hard at the way we put things across," said Mr Tan.

The process of engagement is really about "connecting better with our people because you need to walk the journey side by side", the minister added. "It's not a top-down approach. And, in many ways, we need to build on that."

Even so, Mr Tan said the reason for which the PAP is pushing across policies and making adjustments is "always for the people".

"I think that should be the focus," he said.

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