Governing not ‘about doing the easy things’, responsible opposition can’t disappear when it suits them: PM Lee


Mr Lee also said that increasingly, a “good report card or manifesto is not enough” especially for the PAP government.

This is due to a “unique challenge” in Singapore, where there is a growing psychology among many Singaporeans who want the PAP to continue governing Singapore but also want more opposition MPs elected to keep the ruling party on its toes.

“And so they vote for the opposition, fully expecting that enough other voters will vote PAP and return it to power, and that the PAP government will still be able to function as effectively and deliver on all our plans and programs regardless whether it receives strong support or weak support,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we cannot have it both ways. Whether voters give the new government a strong or weak mandate makes a very big difference.”

A strong mandate shows that the Government is “acting with the people’s support”.

“In stable times, this enables the Government to implement measures that may require sacrifice, but will improve people’s lives in the longer term.

“And during turbulent periods, the Government will have the confidence and the backing to make the tough calls and steer Singapore safely through the ups and downs,” he said, citing the measures imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We could only implement all these tough measures successfully because there was no doubt that people had full confidence in the PAP government, and because the people trusted the PAP government,” he added.

“So whichever party the voters may choose to form their Government, the voters have to give that party a clear mandate to do its job,” said the Prime Minister. “Only then can the Government function properly and do what they wanted to do for them.”

Mr Lee said that “this becomes a little bit harder and the stakes get somewhat higher” with each successive election.

“Because each time the PAP comes back to power (and it) keeps Singapore running smoothly, that sense of danger diminishes a little bit.

“At the same time, the more constituencies are hotly contested, the more seats the opposition wins, the more the general election becomes a decision on which party will form Singapore’s next Government,” he said.

Mr Lee said the PAP has delivered on its policies and promises through the decades. While this puts the ruling party on a strong ground in the next election, it is “not enough”.

“We need to convert the people’s approval of our performance and support for our policies into strong votes for the PAP, in order to continue standing out as the clear choice for voters,” he said.

“That means we need to do the political work. We must win the political battle.”