Time to unite and move on: Chuan-Jin

The differences that people have had in the General Election will not go away, but Singaporeans must come together and move on, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said yesterday.

And as the dust settles on the elections, he called on Singaporeans to "figure out how to rally around, how to continue to converse as best as we can".

"Differences won't go away. Some things, we will be able to find common ground. Some things, we will just have to agree to disagree.

"But the main thing is: Let's all move forward together as one nation," said Mr Tan, who led the five-member PAP team contesting Marine Parade GRC to a decisive victory against a Workers' Party team.

The PAP won 64.07 per cent of votes, well above the 56.6 per cent it got in 2011 against a team from the National Solidarity Party.

Speaking to reporters yesterday while visiting residents in Marine Parade GRC to thank them for their support with his teammates, Mr Tan acknowledged that the heat of the hustings cast a spotlight on differences, which created tensions.

But such tensions can be useful, the minister said.

"It pushes us along and as we jostle, I think we continue to improve.

"It's the tone and the texture of how that kind of tension takes place," he added.

The PAP won the Sept 11 election by a landslide, raising its vote share by 9.8 percentage points to 69.9 per cent. Asked about the huge swing of votes towards the PAP, Mr Tan said the sentiment online did not tally with what they saw when walking the ground.

"And then you see the bookies' odds, we were a bit perplexed, because our ground sense was that it was very warm and supportive. Whether that translates to votes, (it is) difficult to say... but I kept focusing on our people and reaching out," he added.

Mr Tan said the PAP will not take the strong support and backing it received for granted. "It will be disastrous if we do that. There are obviously calls for areas to improve as well, things we can do better," he said.

For a start, the Government has adjusted the way it reaches out to Singaporeans and communicates with them, he noted.

It will carry on with this engagement because it cannot get everything "exactly right" when formulating policies, and "input from people makes a lot of difference".

"We have begun to do that in very significant ways in our respective ministries. We need to learn to embrace that," he said. "It will be messier, it will take a bit longer. But on many fronts, we really should begin to engage our people and get their input onboard."

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Mr Tan's teammate who has fought 10 general elections since joining politics in 1976, said he has seen many ups and downs and has taken a step back as the next generation of leaders takes over.

Asked what role he would play in the new Government Prime Minister Lee is putting together, the 74-year-old elder statesman said: "I take a step back and give them my views behind the scenes.

"Whilst (we) look at the rear mirror to learn lessons, always look towards the future. And the future belongs to Tan Chuan-Jin and the generation of leaders and younger MPs," he added.


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