While some of the cases reflect gaps in national policies, I found many people are not aware of the programmes under which they can get help, such as assistance in medical expenses. The government can do better to make these schemes easily understood and accessible.
Singapore’s celebration in August of its 46th birthday was an opportunity to reflect on the country’s many achievements, who we are as a nation and the direction of our growth.
I was heartened by the Prime Minister’s announcements of initiatives in his rally speech, where he addressed putting Singaporeans first in housing, jobs and education.
I was also struck by his urging citizens to consider what they want in 20 years’ time, and to choose between having an “exceptional country” and an “ordinary country”.
As he pointed out, it is critical Singapore gets its politics right, because only then can it stay an exceptional nation.
The new normal in politics is about understanding this social evolution, rather than changing the core values of the PAP, such as its beliefs in honest leadership, work ethic, meritocracy and multiracialism.
It is about renewing the PAP’s relationship with fellow Singaporeans, to forge a new social compact that considers shared values and Singaporeans’ aspirations. The Party needs to listen harder, take into account people’s unease over the pace of change, and review how it can help and partner Singaporeans better.
One point that stands out is how the public view the PAP. According to the most extreme description I’ve come across, the Party is “a monolithic juggernaut that brooks no dissent, where group-think is the norm, and all members’ opinions are expected to fall in line with some central dictate”.
My personal experiences with the Party have been quite different; I’ve been encouraged to speak my mind, challenge the status quo and champion my constituents’ issues.
At Party meetings, fellow members do not hold back from giving honest and sometimes scathing feedback. I’ve heard a diversity of views expressed by them, seen how they’ve stood up and spoken out on issues.
So how could the two perspectives be so different? Perhaps it is a question of visibility and awareness.
This year, a more politically-conscious audience is likely to scrutinise Parliamentary debates. Hopefully, they’ll come away with a different view of PAP MPs. They may observe us speaking out for them, detect the sincerity in our arguments, and understand our effectiveness in “working from within” the system.
The PM has been exhorting us to reach out to all, to be true servant-leaders of the people and to engender change for the better. I cannot think of a better time to serve.
The above is Ms Foo's write-up in the PAP magazine, Petir. We thank Ms Foo for providing us a copy of the article.