Commentary: Back to basics as the PAP confronts a changing world


Singapore’s political transition between the third and fourth prime ministers is set within this context. Along with the Forward Singapore exercise he launched in June this year, Mr Wong seems keenly aware that the task of strengthening the internal capacity of the PAP to engage the public effectively matters as much as getting the national policies right.

Putting partisan interests aside, the country is well-served by an open-minded, critical, and yes, savvy citizenry. This ability to be savvy has to be directed towards achieving a unity of purpose, a rolling average of political consensus around what should be the best policies that help the country navigate this era of uncertainty.

This means that in its next lap, the PAP needs to tip the pyramid to put its best resources into grassroots development and even in opposition territory – retain the old grassroots war horses while recruiting new people who can truly make emotional connections with the ground.

New faces will need to be the old faces in the community. They will need the time to sit and figure out with citizens how the Government’s policies and responses to consequential global trends link up to their personal struggles or the puzzles about public policy they have.

Meanwhile, the opposition has not stood still. With the inroads the Workers’ Party and Progress Singapore Party made in 2020, more would have been attracted to be party activists. Moving towards the PAP model, these parties have featured more people with mainstream professional backgrounds on their slates to suggest that they too are building up their technocratic base.

Building this internal cohesion of ideas, ideals and trust across the country and nurturing a savvy citizenry is a role for all of Singapore’s political parties, but it cannot be done in short order.

Yet it is urgently needed as our own antidote to a world that is already tilted towards the politics of discontent, envy, anger and tribalism, never mind what is needed for any of these political parties’ interests when the next general election is called.

Dr Gillian Koh is Deputy Director (Research) and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, National University of Singapore.

Source By https://www.channelnewsasia.com/commentary/pap-opposition-grassroots-ground-campaign-politics-3053346