It is very important for Singapore to get its politics right because constructive politics will help it scale new heights, but wrong politics will doom it, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday.
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Here is an excerpt from PM Lee's speech in Parliament on constructive politics, in point form:
Getting politics right
- We have policies to create a better Singapore for the future
a. Key to realising these policies is to get our politics right
b. As President said, we must "maintain constructive politics that puts our nation and our people first"
- Politics cannot just be about politics alone
a. Singaporeans' lives and Singapore's future are at stake
b. What do you stand for? What do you believe in? What do you want to achieve in politics?
c. Hence striking that Mr Low Thia Khiang's speech, on behalf of the opposition, responding to the President's Address setting out the government's programme for the second half of the term, had nothing to say about the substance of the government's programme. No critiques, no suggestions, no alternatives - nothing
- There are many sorts of politics, and we need to get ours right
a. Not money politics, power politics, racial politics, the politics of envy
b. Constructive politics can help us scale new heights
c. Wrong politics will doom us
d. So when Low Thia Khiang said that "To me, in whatever way 'politics' is described and coloured, it is still politics", that was a breathtakingly cynical view of politics
- What is constructive politics?
- First, developing effective policies for Singaporeans
a. Solving problems, creating opportunities, improving lives of people (Indranee Rajah, Lee Bee Wah, Jessica Tan)
b. Means having good policies, making difficult trade-offs, leading people to get things done
- Second, putting forward good people to lead
a. Must have capable people of integrity and character
b. Institutions are important, but equally critical is the quality of the Ministers and MPs, and those who aspire to be Ministers and MPs
- Third, having a robust and open debate, and not just engaging in "soundbite politics" (Janil Puthucheary)
a. Ensuring proposals are scrutinised, debated and argued
b. So that we have the best ideas for Singapore
c. Disappointed that opposition has offered very little of this in Parliament
d. But scrutiny must extend beyond policies, to personalities too
i. To demand high standards of them
ii. Not through anonymous innuendos and insinuation, especially online, that deter good people from entering politics
iii. But responsibly, through open, direct raising of pertinent questions, and establishing the truth, to prevent incompetent, dishonest or self-serving people from getting into positions of responsibility
iv. Certainly if ever a PAP MP were accused of making false and untruthful statements, I would get to the bottom of the matter