Updated: 05/29/2014 02:45

Politics cannot be just about politics alone: PM Lee



Politics cannot be just about politics alone: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says "constructive politics" cannot just be about politics alone. 

That's because Singaporean lives and the nation's future are at stake. 

Mr Lee made this point while weighing in on the issue which had dominated the debate in Parliament the last three days. 

Mr Lee says constructive politics depends on what political leaders do, how they act, the decisions they make, and the standards they hold ourselves to.

While values, culture, institutions are all important, Mr Lee says we should not blame them for our own decisions and choices.

And we should have the courage and honesty to take responsibility for what we say and do. 

Mr Lee says the People's Action Party has been doing its best to practise this brand of politics. 

Examples include debates on the trade-offs involved in sensitive policies, such as the Population White Paper, which he has described as "vigorous and emotional."

The Prime Minister singled out how the opposition chief, Mr Low Thia Khiang, had "abolutely nothing" to say about the substance of the government's programme when Mr Low joined the debate on Monday. 

"No critiques, no suggestions, no alternatives - nothing. There are many sorts of politics, and we need to get ours right. Not money politics, power politics, racial politics, the politics of envy. Constructive politics can help us scale new heights, Wrong politics will doom us. So when Low Thia Khiang said that "To me, in whatever way 'politics' is described and coloured, it is still politics", that was a breathtakingly cynical view of politics." 

Mr Lee says on its part, the PAP has been upholdinging the "highest standards" of integrity, admitting wrongdoings even when it is politically inconvenient or embarrassing. 

He says the opposition is expected to uphold the same standards. 

"Indranee Rajah on Monday pointed out the WP has flip-flopped on foreign workers. Low Thia Khiang denied this. He said "whether we flip-flop… No. We are not. If she wishes to have a full debate on that please file a motion, we are prepared to debate that." Mr Low's denial is simply false. WP did flip-flop. The record is there in the Hansard, for everyone to see." 

Following the Prime Minister's speech, Mr Low rose to deny his party has been flip-flopping on policy issues. 

And that led to this comment by the Prime Minister: 

"We have to call a spade a spade, if you've changed position, and your previous position was wrong, say so. If you hold by your position, have your guts to reaffirm it, and take consequences, but to weasel away, play with words, avoid the issue, and then claim to be responsible, that is what we fear can drive Singapore's politics into the same place where many other countries have gone." 

-By Lee Gim Siong

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