Opposition goes AWOL when it comes to spiky issues: PM Lee

The opposition goes missing when difficult issues come up, such as the repeal of Section 377A, while the PAP Government does its best to bring everyone along and keep society together, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

For instance on Section 377A, the Party’s leaders — Comrades Masagos Zulkifli, K Shanmugam, Edwin Tong and Desmond Lee — spent months meeting, listening and explaining to contending groups, and got all sides to accept that on Section 377A, everyone has to give and take.

“Where is the opposition on 377A? Are they critiquing the government’s approach? Do they support or oppose what the government is doing? Are they offering alternative proposals? None of the above. The Opposition is missing in action. They have said nothing so far. They declined all comment. They refuse even to say whether they have a party position, or if they will lift the whip on their MPs when Parliament votes on the amendments, which is going to do at the end of this month. Because why? Because they do not want to displease anyone therefore they have gone AWOL.”

PM Lee was speaking in front of some 3,500 party members at the Party conference at Resorts World Sentosa today (Nov 6).

He added that governing Singapore is serious business and so is being the Opposition, especially if it aims to win more and more seats, which must eventually mean taking over.

“You cannot lie low and disappear when it suits you. And when the Opposition does that, it calls into question their fitness for Parliament, let alone to govern.”

While the Opposition’s job is to scrutinise the Government, he reminded all Party members that we must show voters where the Opposition falls short, as part of his three strategies so that our Party can win the political battle.

“But equally in a parliamentary democracy when the opposition doesn’t quite reach the mark. It’s our job to turn on the light and show people: ‘Here, better take a look. This part is going to be a problem.'”

Claiming credit

Despite not having an opinion on difficult issues, it doesn’t stop the Opposition to claim credit for the good work of the PAP Government.

“They claim credit for the good things that the government does, in fact that the government is already doing. For example, the support packages to help people cope with inflation. They say: ‘Brilliant! Well done. Actually we asked for it first by the way. How about giving more?’ But then they avoid talking about how all this can be painful.”

“When it comes to tougher moves, like revising the GST rate, they ask: ‘Must we do it? Can we postpone it? Surely you’re very clever. You can think of some other painless solution. How about taxing the rich or raiding the reserves?'” he added.

Unfortunately, governing is never only about doing the easy things, PM Lee stated.

“If governing was so easy there would be many spectacularly successful governments in the world. But there aren’t.”

Rabble rousers and charlatans

There are also opposition politicians who continue to stir up resentment in order to gain political advantage.

And while Singaporeans are not naive, no one is immune to rhetoric that manipulates our emotions, especially when times are tough, and people are anxious and under pressure, said PM Lee.

That said, our Party will never give way to such divisive politics.

“We will never compromise on the values embedded in The Pledge. We will never hesitate to fight rabble rousers and charlatans,” he promised.

With this, PM Lee was also particularly hoping to inspire the next generation of Party members for the fight ahead.

“This is the reality of politics. This is what it means to enter politics to wear white, to go into the ring and fight for Singapore. Politics is not just about taking wefies, carrying babies or distributing vouchers. Yes, you do those too but that’s not all. We’ve got to fight. Not everything is sweetness and light.”