PAP to set out party direction on Sunday

SINGAPORE- The People's Action Party (PAP) will adopt a major resolution statement setting out its broad directions on Sunday, as it seeks to galvanise support and pinpoint areas that need strengthening at the mid-point of the electoral cycle.

The resolution statement, to be made at a biennial party convention, is in response to changes in the Singapore environment and follows a series of engagement sessions with activists from the 87 branches over the last two months.

The theme of the convention is "Our New Way Forward: A Call to Action", the PAP HQ said in a media invitation yesterday.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the party's secretary-general, and Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing, the party's organising secretary, as well as five party activists will speak, the statement added.

Taking up the resolution statement is significant, as it is believed that the last time the party adopted such a long-term plan was at its first party convention in 1988. This came after it suffered a 12.9-percentage point swing in votes in the 1984 General Election. The Workers' Party's J. B. Jeyaretnam and the Singapore Democratic Party's Chiam See Tong were both elected then.

At the 1988 convention, an eight-point "Agenda For Action" was mapped out to strengthen the PAP and its bonds with Singaporeans through the 1990s.

Similarly, this year, observers said the ruling party is likely looking at charting a strategy to strengthen its appeal to voters, following a historic general election in 2011 when it lost a group representation constituency for the first time and scored its lowest share of votes.

This convention is the last major gathering of party activists and leaders before Parliament is set to take a mid-term break in April next year.

The Straits Times understands that a special group may also be formed to look at engaging and supporting the elderly.

The PAP's focus on this segment of the population has been increasing recently, with PM Lee announcing a Pioneer Generation Package at the National Day Rally in August to fund their health-care costs under a new MediShield Life scheme.

Activists and MPs interviewed yesterday said the resolution statement was a timely one, amid discussions over a new social compact to be forged between the Government and citizens.

Said Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh: "There are many challenges ahead being faced by Singaporeans. We have to look at not only their immediate needs, but also their long-term needs."

Marine Parade GRC MP Tin Pei Ling said the resolution statement "will be reinforcing some of the goals and ideals that we have been pushing for these past few years".

Mr Victor Lye, an Aljunied GRC party activist who spoke at the convention last year, said: "We must be very sincere about making changes not to please people, but for the good of Singapore... I hope that is the kind of message the party can come up with."

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