PM Lee bids farewell to Charles Chong, Khaw Boon Wan, Goh Chok Tong, highlights diversity of new candidates

PM Lee emphasised that this is "not a normal election".

Jason Fan | Sulaiman Daud | June 27, 2020, 10:38 AM

The People's Action Party (PAP) released its manifesto on Saturday (June 27).

In his speech, broadcast on Facebook live, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stated that this is "not a normal election", and emphasised that Singapore is in the middle of the most severe crisis the world has faced for many decades.

He also briefly introduced the 27 new PAP candidates, and also bid farewell to several retiring MPs, including Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and PAP stalwart Charles Chong.

Not a normal election

According to PM Lee, during normal elections, the PAP manifesto would focus on long term projects to improve and transform Singapore, such as the Tuas Megaport and Changi Terminal 5.

Voters would also be focused on longer term plans, such as healthcare for the elderly, and preparing for climate change.

As such, the "routine business of keeping Singapore going" is often of much less interest to voters during normal elections.

However, PM Lee emphasised that this is "not a normal election", and that Singapore is not in a "normal situation".

He said that Singapore is in the middle of the most severe crisis the world has faced for many decades, and that the immediate business of running Singapore is "anything but routine".

"Singaporeans understand this is not business as usual, or politics as usual", said PM Lee, referring to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"What the PAP promises, the PAP will deliver"

PM Lee said that the central focus of the manifesto - Our Lives, Our Jobs, Our Future - is how the PAP can work together to overcome this crisis of a generation.

This includes how the government can keep Singaporeans and migrant workers safe from Covid-19, as well as how the government will restart and transform the economy, in order to save jobs and businesses.

In addition, PM Lee also said that the manifesto sets out PAP's longer-term plans to build a better Singapore, because the PAP's aim is "not just to survive the storm", but also to maintain a long-term direction for Singapore.

According to PM Lee, this is the manifesto of a responsible party and government.

"Singaporeans can rely on the PAP government, both to address your immediate needs, and also to work with you to secure your long-term future. What the PAP promises, the PAP will deliver," said PM Lee.

New candidates hail from different backgrounds

PM Lee pointed out that the new slate of candidates, numbering 27, represented more than a quarter of the total. This is more than any in the previous election.

While they have recently been officially introduced, PM Lee said they have been walking the ground for some time, with some serving as grassroots leaders and party activists.

PM Lee highlighted their diversity, including the fact that they introduced double the number of women candidates than the last round, including the first female SAF general.

They also hail from different backgrounds, including public servants, businessmen, and social workers.

PM Lee also specifically mentioned that two candidates grew up in rental flats, with five polytechnic graduates in total. Two came up through the Normal (Academic) stream and went on to polytechnic. These two became a polytechnic teacher and a lawyer, giving back to the community. PM Lee said:

"Having succeeded, they are now helping others to succeed too. The PAP has made it a fundamental goal to open up many paths to success in Singapore. Regardless of your family background, if you work hard, you can progress and make a good life for yourselves."

He said that as the candidates come from "all walks of life", they are representative of the make-up of society, and showed that PAP is a "broad-tent" party that represents the "vast majority of Singaporeans."

Challenging task for candidates in opposition wards

PM Lee then specifically mentioned the candidates who will be standing in the opposition-held constituencies of Hougang and Aljunied.

He mentioned that in 2015, both PAP teams did well, with the Aljunied team able to demand a recount of the votes in a close fight.

PM Lee said that since then, the PAP teams had been "hard at work" on the ground at Hougang and Aljunied, and said, "I hope Hougang and Aljunied voters will give them a chance to show what they can do."

Retiring MPs

PM Lee revealed that around 20 Members of Parliament (MPs) will be retiring "this year."

He mentioned three MPs by name.

The first was Deputy Speaker Charles Chong of Punggol East SMC.

He said that Chong had won seats in Joo Chiat and Punggol East by the "skin of his teeth", not because he's a weak MP, but because when there is a "tough fight", Chong delivers.

The second is Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, of Sembawang GRC.

PM Lee said that Khaw had been in all his Cabinets since "Day 1", and they have fought and won many battles together. He added:

"Ours is an exceptional comradeship that one is sometimes privileged to experience when we commit ourselves to public service."

The third was Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, MP for Marine Parade GRC. PM Lee said that Goh's retirement marked a "major transition point" for Singapore politics.

PM Lee said he owed Goh a "huge debt of gratitude", as he brought him into politics, and added that Goh has served Singapore with "great distinction."

Win the people's mandate

PM Lee said that the PAP was "going into battle" to win the mandate of the people.

He said it will be a tough election, with Singaporeans hurting, some having lost jobs and suffering from the effects of the pandemic. He added that the Singaporean voter was a "tough judge".

PM Lee said the PAP will fight hard for every vote, whether in a GRC or SMC, whether PAP-held or not. He added:

"Let us give it our all. Convince Singaporeans to give the PAP their strong support, and to work with us to secure our lives, our jobs, and our future."

Top image from PAP.