Political watchers: Rally is not election tactic

Political watchers: Rally is not election tactic

SINGAPORE - It was a phrase that became a promise.

In 2011, amid the hotly contested General Election, political leaders used the phrase "we will listen" as ordinary Singaporeans explained the challenges they faced.

That promise signalled a shift in the way the people and Government engage each other.

Two years on, and after a journey that involved 50,000 people from students to professionals, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, having listened, announced a slew of changes.

During his National Day Rally speech on Sunday, Mr Lee rolled out plans on everything from an eventual end to T-scoring for PSLE - a bugbear of many parents - to medical protection for life.

The underlying message: Everyone matters and nobody will be left behind.

Mr Lee explained the shifts in the Government's approach: "One, to level up people; two, to share the risks, to make sure that whatever happens in life, you will not be alone. And three, to keep our system open, mobile so that if you have talent, you can rise."

The reaction was swift. Mr Lee's Facebook page alone garnered more than 32,000 likes and more than 2,000 comments both good and bad.

But buried amid the positive comments online were also cynical charges that Mr Lee had delivered an election speech.

Nominated Member of Parliament Eugene Tan said he did not see the Rally "as an election tactic even though it can be used to the ruling party's advantage during the hustings".

"The Government is responding to the heartfelt concerns of Singaporeans with significant policy shifts in the areas of health care, public housing, and education - the three hot-button areas," he said.

"The Government has acknowledged that it has to ring the changes to enable Singaporeans to manage the changing realities and reasonable expectations."

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