Shanmugam: Not surprised by Sengkang GRC loss but 'soul searching & reflection' required

He also said the younger generation has a different approach to race and religion issues.

Zhangxin Zheng | July 13, 2020, 03:44 PM

Speaking outside People's Action Party's (PAP) branch office on Saturday, July 11, Minister for Law and Home Affairs, K Shanmugam, addressed questions from the media on the General Election results before the team's thank you walkabout in Chong Pang.

Soul searching required but not surprised by the loss of Sengkang GRC

Shanmugam said that the vote swing towards the opposition this GE2020 sends "clear messages" and that requires "a lot of soul searching and reflection" to study the results, which is what the party would usually do regardless of vote share.

He said:

"All these things... they are clear messages that the voters are sending us and it will be wrong if we don't understand the messages and I think it requires a lot of soul searching and reflection."

However, Shanmugam added in response to a follow-up question that the outcome in Sengkang GRC is, however, not surprising.

He said that there has always been "a substantive desire" among Singaporeans "for a long time" to have a PAP government in power and an opposition presence in Parliament.

He had expected the fight in Sengkang GRC to be a difficult one and the loss was not entirely a surprise.

On the loss of labour chief Ng Chee Meng

However, three office-holders were ousted as a result, which includes secretary-general of the National Trade Union Congress, Ng Chee Meng.

Amid the uncertainties that Covid-19 has brought about, Shanmugam said that the loss of Ng will have a "big impact" as he was dealing with job creation and helping employees in need to find new jobs as the labour chief.

On Raeesah Khan

Shanmugam was also asked if the PAP response to the police reports made against Workers' Party's Raeesah Khan's alleged comments on race has backfired.

He declined to comment but gave a reply to a broader question on race and religion.

Shanmugam highlighted a difference in how older and younger generation approach issues on race and religion and the government has to find a way to engage these issues differently with younger Singaporeans as they are the future of Singapore.

He said:

"The older generation of Singaporeans take one approach to how issues of race and religion are discussed, and we have a framework within the law. But it's also clear that the younger generation takes a different approach.


If people feel that there's a different way of discussing these things beyond the traditional, then we need to work out what the trade-offs are and then see what's the approach... the people have the ultimate say to these things."

In response to a reporter's question on whether the Law and Home Affairs ministries are doing anything to police reports emerging as a political tool, Shanmugam said that he has not seen the police reports.

"I haven't seen the police reports, for obvious reasons.

If there was anything to be done about it from a policy perspective, it will be brought up to my attention. So far it hasn’t come to my attention."

Top photo by Zheng Zhangxin