Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 11/24/2012 21:23 | By Channel NewsAsia

National Conversation important in govt’s decision making: PM Lee

National Conversation important in govt’s decision making: PM Lee

National Conversation important in govt’s decision making: PM Lee

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday spoke of the need to make choices and trade—offs in the governing of the country.

Speaking to activists from the ruling People’s Action Party at a seminar on Saturday, Mr Lee, who is also the PAP Secretary—General, said this also means updating and revising policies, and keeping them afresh.

Developments around the world make a big difference to Singapore’s future and Mr Lee feels it is therefore important to pay attention to external trends, like the growth of India and China, and the disputes in the South China Sea.

"Nobody is going to know for sure. Is it peace, instability, prosperity, or recession? What is the technology change? Today, we are all on iPhones and iPads. In ten years’ time, this will be very old hat. We would be wearing spectacles and when I look at you, your whole CV will come up. (This is) completely possible. In such a world, can we stay still or just do whatever we feel we like to do without paying attention to these big trends? That would be unwise."

In such a world, new situations will require new solutions.

Mr Lee said: "Our policies, our measures, those we must update, you must revise and look at it afresh. (There will be) new situation, new problem and new solution. You do the right thing today, tomorrow the situation changes or you have done too much to it and you need to change policies because what worked yesterday, no longer works today.

"In a recession, we reduced the foreign workers levy because we want to reduce costs for the employer. (When the) recession is over, (it is) not so easy to raise the foreign workers levy back. When the foreign worker levy is too low, we have more influx of foreign workers that we would like to have, it becomes a problem. So what do we do? Do we do nothing? We can’t.

"For now, this is the best of our judgement, this is the right thing, let’s proceed. But be prepared to rethink and to calibrate when the situation changes. That’s the way to stay successful and stay able to serve Singaporeans for a long time."

With this in mind, Mr Lee’s call to the Party is to think hard about its role in the next 20 to 30 years.

Before the Party Seminar, activists have been meeting amongst themselves to discuss a whole range of issues, among them topics like inclusive government and politics.

Mr Lee feels it is important for the Party to play its role and contribute towards the National Conversation effort."

"We have to represent the middle ground of Singapore. It’s because we have had a middle ground in Singapore, we are able to have a dominant party and consensus politics because more or less in Singapore, whether in a three or five—room flat, you are part of a country and your interests are the same and your identity is about the same."

The PAP’s role is to lead the population, persuade people to support policies which benefit them, and win elections.

Mr Lee is already considering a possible slogan for the next election in 2016: "Heart to heart, hand in hand, together we progress."

He said there are three more years to improve on the tagline.

— CNA/fa

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