PAP addresses 'pain points', then goes on the offensive

PAP addresses 'pain points', then goes on the offensive

SINGAPORE - The somewhat-defensive tone that has occasionally surfaced during this rough year for the ruling party was firmly shelved. Instead, with sights set clearly on the next GE, its leaders came out fighting at the party convention yesterday.

Resolution reflects current complexities

The new resolution adopted by the People's Action Party (PAP) appears to acknowledge the complexities of a mature and developed Singapore in 2013.

First on its six-point list: Strengthening the Singaporean identity, followed by creating opportunities for all to build a better life.

The PAP also wants to develop a sense of collective responsibility, and resolves to be a responsive and responsible government.

This stands in contrast to the party's Agenda for Action adopted in 1988, which addressed the needs of a then still-developing Singapore in four areas: Nation-building, economic growth and progress, human resources and education, and social and cultural development.

In nation-building, the party pledged to strengthen racial and religious harmony, build consensus, strengthen community ties and welfare, upgrade homes and maintain vigilance against external threats.

The other areas focused on developing the economy and upgrading workers' skills; excellence in education, including learning "Asian values" and the study of Mother Tongue languages; and making Singapore a more cultured society.

But one striking difference is perhaps the shift in emphasis when it comes to state welfare.

"Self-reliance and concern for others are two sides of the same coin," declared the 1988 Agenda for Action, which went on to say exactly which side of that coin should come first: "The best form of welfare is to enable people to earn their own living. The PAP wants all Singaporeans to be able to look after ourselves.

"But, in every society, some will lag behind, and be poorer than the others. Let us be a compassionate society... Let us help them to help themselves."

Fast forward to 2013, and the coin has flipped somewhat.

The party now stresses an "open and compassionate" meritocracy and a "fair and just society that shares the benefits of progress with all Singaporeans", with a progressive tax and benefits system.

In its resolution addendum, the party speaks of the need for a social-welfare system that addresses immediate concerns, given the ageing population, but one that is also sustainable and avoids the "mistakes and problems" of other systems.

"(A fair and just society) was the founding mission of the party in 1954, and it is even more relevant today, as we confront the forces of globalisation and rapid technological change," it says.

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