Think all PAP Members of Parliaments have the same ideas and perspectives?
Well, think again.
At an appreciation dinner to honour the PAP MPs who retired in 2020, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the view is a flawed one.
“Some think that since PAP MPs all wear white and white, they are also monochrome in their ideas and perspectives. But this view is quite mistaken,” he said.
In fact, the Party does its utmost best to field a diverse team and make sure that every MP brings something different to the table, he added.
Here are eight facts derived from eight quotes from PM Lee’s speech about the work of PAP MPs.
1. Championing different issues
“Depending on your personal backgrounds and interests, different MPs have championed different issues close to your hearts. Lily spoke passionately for the elderly and under-privileged. Zainal advocated for lower-wage workers. Hin Kee spoke up for taxi and private hire drivers. Bee Wah championed her residents at every opportunity with every Minister, and did so memorably and vividly.”
PM Lee said a significant duty of every MP is in Parliament, where they will speak up for their residents and ask ministers question on issues the MPs hold dear. He highlighted the examples of different groups of people the former MPs fought for, making sure the diverse needs of Singaporeans were, and continue to be, well represented.
2. Representing residents with different needs
“Every constituency is different. The profiles of residents vary, along with their needs and aspirations. So the MPs have set different priorities, and shaped their constituencies in different ways through various projects.”
He then spoke about the other aspect of the job: tending the ground in the constituencies and wards. Understanding the ground helps MPs shape their constituencies in different ways through various projects.
There’s no one size fits all approach.
For instance, ESM Goh Chok Tong transformed Marine Parade into a vibrant waterfront hub, former cabinet ministers Lim Hng Kiang and Yaacob Ibrahim brought nature closer to Telok Blangah residents and developed waterways in Kolam Ayer respectively.
3. Fighting for the vulnerable
“One issue which every MP pays close attention to is taking good care of the vulnerable in our society, including especially low-income families and the elderly.”
Despite the differences, PAP MPs fight for the vulnerable in our society, such as low-income families and the elderly.
PM Lee added that the vulnerable deserve all the help and support and listed the various schemes created by the former MPs implemented to support the residents in the constituencies, on top of what the Government is doing.
4. Doing things with the right objectives in mind
PM Lee referred to the political work to mobilise support and winning votes in elections as the most important part of a MP’s job.
And in a reiteration of the Party’s ethos, PM Lee reminded those in attendance that PAP MPs never do things solely for political advantage.
5. Stepping down is not easy
“And this is also perhaps why for many MPs, stepping down is not an easy adjustment to make. It is hard to let go of the close ties formed with your residents. You hanker for that adrenaline rush. The next problem to solve. The next Minister to hassle.”
Describing the job of an MP as demanding but yet so fulfilling, PM Lee noted that the close ties formed with the residents is hard to let go but thanked the retired MPs for guiding and assisting their successors.
6. Making sure the strongest team continue to lead Singapore
“I am grateful for your understanding and big-heartedness on this, for your efforts in guiding and supporting your successor. And for your appreciation that we need to do this to keep up leadership renewal in our Party, and make sure that Singapore always has the strongest team to lead it, both now and into the future.”
7. Having the wrong view of the Party
PM Lee said that the Party does its best to field a diverse team every GE with MPs that represent the aspirations and concerns of a different segment in Singapore’s diverse society.
“Each of you has a slightly different network and different people whom you reach out to. Your varied perspectives help make our policies more grounded and robust,” he added.
8. Maintaining this diversity
“We must maintain this diversity in our ranks, keep our party a broad tent, and field the best possible team in the next General Election. And that work is underway, but that speech is for another occasion.”