ESM Goh: Give PAP a strong mandate

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has asked voters to give the People's Action Party (PAP) a strong mandate to endorse what the current Government has been trying to do.

The 74-year-old, who is fighting his 10th election in Marine Parade GRC, noted that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Government had listened to the people since the last election and accelerated many plans and programmes.

So if Singaporeans are happy with what has been done, they should give the ruling party "a strong mandate to continue with what they are trying to do", said Mr Goh, who handed over the baton to PM Lee in 2004. Otherwise, the electorate will be "repudiating" what the Government has been doing.

The elder statesman is part of the five-member slate in Marine Parade, which was unveiled by anchor minister Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday.

Also in the line-up are incumbent MPs Seah Kian Peng and Fatimah Lateef. Edwin Tong - who was part of Moulmein-Kallang GRC, which no longer exists on the electoral map - rounds off the team.

Yesterday, ESM Goh also countered a view held by opposition parties and a section of Singaporeans.

They believe that having more opposition voices in Parliament since the last general election has led to more redistributive policy measures. But ESM Goh likened this view to the fable of the rooster which crows when the sun rises.

"The rooster goes around boasting that its crowing causes the sun to rise," he said. "That's what they are doing."

He said that policies and programmes change over time to adapt to new situations and meet the changing needs of the people.

He noted that former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew was focused on building Singapore's reserves for a rainy day.

But when ESM Goh took over as prime minister in 1990, he assessed that there were sufficient reserves and the dividends could be shared through schemes like Edusave, Medifund and estate upgrading. By the time PM Lee took over, the reserves had grown.

"So it is quite right that the PM started, not after 2011, but from the day he took over, to have more schemes to benefit the people," he said.

"After 2011, he did more. But is it because of more people from the opposition in Parliament? Or because the needs of the people have changed? The PM understood, you see, that there are many problems: ageing society, aged population, family size being kept small and so on."

As for the view that more opposition members will mean more checks and balances on the Government, ESM Goh said the PAP Government was its "own check". "For many years, the PAP was the only party in Parliament. Has the PAP gone corrupt in those years?"

Citing the lapses in the Workers' Party's (WP's) handling of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council finances, he added: "You just look at the town council in Aljunied. One term, no check, what happened?

"The integrity of our leaders, of our MPs, that's where the check comes from. Not this seductive line of check and balance.

"They are seducing the people and if the people are not careful, they get seduced and you know what happens when you are seduced. You will pay a price."

In the 2011 General Election, the PAP team in Marine Parade GRC got 56.6 per cent of the votes against a relatively unknown National Solidarity Party (NSP) team.

This time, WP is set to challenge the incumbents.

As for the prospect of a contest from a stronger WP team, ESM Goh said: "Strength is relative. They are stronger than NSP, there's no doubt about that. But there's a certain arrogance in them. They came, NSP, out you go."

WP's declaration of its intention to contest the Group Representation Constituency saw NSP back down earlier this month.

"Would that same arrogance be able to replace me and my team in Marine Parade? Let them try," he added.



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