SINGAPORE - Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang on Monday said his party supported President Tony Tan Keng Yam's call for constructive politics, but questioned how this could be achieved.
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Here is Mr Low's speech in Monday's Parliamentary Debate:
When Parliament first opened after the General Election in 2011, the President in his address noted that our politics was becoming more diverse and open and the composition of Parliament reflected this. He said this was positive for Singapore and advised that only by getting our politics right and keeping it constructive and responsible would Singapore make progress.
The President, in his address to the same Parliament in May 2014, devoted a section of his speech to "Upholding Constructive Politics". The President advises that the vigorous debate in this house should continue but we should not allow our differences to pull us apart and we should move ahead as one united people.
Mdm Speaker, Yes, this is what the Workers' Party and I believe. This is the thought behind getting every candidate of the Workers' Party to recite the National Pledge at the end of our final rally in General Election. It is to remind us that despite our differences, we are all Singaporeans. The recitation of National Pledge has now become a tradition of the Workers' Party.
Politics comes in many shapes and forms. One can describe politics by adding different adjectives in front or at the back of the word "politics". In the President's address, the phrase "constructive politics" is used, I assume to be contrasted with "destructive politics". To me, in whatever way "politics" is described and coloured, it is still politics.
To me, what is important is the outcome of the political process. Here, what the President has described as the desired outcome of Constructive Politics is moving ahead as one united people. We must all remember constructive politics does not happen by the order of the government, nor does it happen through a national conversation or public consultation.
To achieve the outcome of constructive politics in a diverse and open society like those in mature democracies and to nurture an environment conducive for it requires much effort, and everyone across society has their part to play. There are three aspects to this: political values, political culture, and impartial institutions trusted by the people.