PM Lee: PAP must guard against split between elite & masses

PM Lee cited the election of Trump as an example.

Matthias Ang | November 10, 2019, 06:29 PM

The People's Action party (PAP) must guard against the split between the elite and the masses, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the People's Action Party (PAP) convention on Nov.10.

Lee highlighted that it was one of the many dangerous faultlines Singapore was vulnerable to, which included race and religion, and the divisions between rich and poor, conservative and liberal, old citizens and new.

On how such a split had played out in other countries, Lee said:

"In other countries, the masses no longer trust the elite of their society. People feel that their interests are no longer looked after. The entire political class has lost their respect, and support. Traditional societies have become feeble. Even socialist parties, which are supposed to care for the common man, have lost their base."

When a split occurs, populist movements arise

The prime minister then added that when such a split occurs, it results in the rise of populist movements that explicitly seek to overturn the system, but are not necessarily able to offer anything better.

Lee highlighted the United States as an example, by noting how the white working class once used to be the core supporters of the Democratic Party.

However, the party drifted away from this group, resulting in Trump sensing an opportunity to champion their cause, which in turn led to his eventual election as president.

Lee further noted that Trump's political base were not of a moderate stance:

"As president, his base is not the moderate voters who are conservative enough, but these hardcore supporters in the white working class who are very unhappy with the way things are going."

Trump's election is an example of why the PAP must remain connected to people

This made Trump's election as president an example of why the PAP must not let a disconnect emerge between the elites and the masses, Lee added.

He stressed: "The PAP must always remain a party of the people... must identify with the people, and serve the people."

Highlighting that the PAP was "born from unions", he said that it was important to make sure that the system always works for ordinary Singaporeans, so that they will come to embrace it.

Lee also pointed to efforts taken to strengthen social nets for the vulnerable, and the Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation packages.

He added, "We have never forgotten that the whole purpose of economic and social development is to improve the lives of our workers and the workers' families."

Top image collage from President Donald J. Trump Facebook and PM Lee Facebook