ESM: Voters savvy about what they want

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (R), from the ruling People's Action Party, greets the crowd with former prime minister Goh Chok Tong (C) during a lunch time rally in the financial district of Raffles Place ahead of Singapore's September 11 election, on September 8, 2015.

While voters wanted a Group Representation Constituency to go to the opposition in 2011, they are concerned about the future this time round and weighing their options very carefully, said Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, ESM Goh gave his observations on the 2015 General Election. "People are very savvy as to what they want for the country," he said.

He urged voters to listen to both Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the opposition, before thinking through carefully and deciding what is in their best interests.

ESM Goh is part of a five-member team from the People's Action Party (PAP) contesting Marine Parade GRC against the Workers' Party (WP). The PAP slate also includes anchor minister Tan Chuan-Jin as well as backbenchers Fatimah Lateef, Seah Kian Peng and Edwin Tong.

ESM Goh said that his priority during his time as prime minister was to build consensus.

He gave the analogy of voters as a piece of fabric, tugged in different directions. The sooner people can be brought together after the general election, the sooner the country can be taken forward, he said.

There can be a diversity of views but it is not good if the country does not unite, he said, citing Sri Lanka, which was split by a long-running and bloody civil war.

The next task for PM Lee after the elections is to form a new government, ESM Goh said.

A "very strong team" is needed, as every minister has strengths and weaknesses, he added. The exception, he said, was founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who "was all strength and no weakness".

Mr Tan, Minister for Social and Family Development, offered four considerations to voters during the press conference.

"One, how do we keep Singapore relevant? Two, is it important to have strong leadership? Three, what kind of system do we want? Four, what kind of nation do we want to be?" he said.

Asked for their response to the WP saying they can manage Marine Parade Town Council, Mr Tan said he would leave it to residents to decide for themselves.

Mr Seah, the vice-chairman of Marine Parade Town Council, said voters should look at the parties' track record.

As to why the PAP did not have an election rally in Marine Parade, Mr Tan said they decided against it as it was not effective in engaging residents directly. He noted that several PAP GRC teams did not stage rallies as well, such as Jurong GRC and West Coast GRC.

ESM Goh said he supported Mr Tan's reasons for not having a rally.

He cited how his team picked up the sense that private estate residents wanted more upgrading programmes, and would look into this. These are things that are not picked up at rallies, he added.

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