Govt will be ‘open-minded and listen to different voices’ amid greater opposition presence in Parliament, says Singapore PM

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that both the government and Opposition must share an overriding objective to work for Singapore and not just for their party or supporters. — TODAY pic
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that both the government and Opposition must share an overriding objective to work for Singapore and not just for their party or supporters. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Sept 2 — With a stronger opposition presence in Parliament, the government will be open-minded, listen to different voices and take a constructive approach when it comes to policy-making, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said today.

It will also make sure discussions are “supported by facts and logic, and informed by our context and experience”, he added. 

Lee, who was speaking on the third day of the parliamentary debate on the President’s Address, also commended Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh for his speech on Monday where he laid out how he intends to perform the role of Leader of the Opposition.

“I applaud his tone and approach. The government benches will do our part to work with him, to keep Parliament a constructive forum for debate.” 

While it is good to have an adequate number of opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) in Parliament, Lee said this does not mean that the more opposition MPs and “the more fiery the debate in Parliament, the better”. 

“The adversarial dynamic that is inherent in the parliamentary system can go wrong. We all hope that diversity will make a hundred flowers bloom but how do we prevent diversity from producing polarisation? How do we make sure disagreement does not result in paralysis?” 

Since Monday, MPs and political officeholders have been making their speeches in the 14th Parliament, which features the largest opposition presence since Singapore’s independence — 10 WP MPs and two Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP) from the Progress Singapore Party.

“At the most fundamental level, to make our politics work, both the government and Opposition must share an overriding objective – to work for Singapore, and not just for our party or our supporters,” Lee said.

He explained that for Singapore’s politics to work, debate must be based on principles and facts and guided by shared ideals and goals.

MPs must speak up for what they sincerely believe in, he added.

“We must be in politics in order to protect Singapore’s security, grow our economy and secure our future. If we do that, then there is a basis for us to manage the inherent tensions in our system, and for politics to work out productively.” — TODAY

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