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Opposition must reflect on how it can play a constructive role, says Tharman

Opposition must reflect on how it can play a constructive role, says Tharman
Mr Tharman greeting the crowd at the Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival lighting-up ceremony last night. He said that, as a plural society, Singapore needs to allow for diverse voices to be heard, and not just during elections. Photo: Ernest Chua
Published: 4:16 AM, September 14, 2015
Updated: 12:01 PM, September 14, 2015

SINGAPORE — Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday urged the Opposition to reflect on the election results and consider how it can continue to play a constructive role in Singaporean politics going forward.

Mr Tharman said that as it has only been two days after the General Election, it will take time for the dust to settle and for all parties to fully comprehend the significant swing in favour of the People’s Action Party (PAP).

I hope they continue to contribute to Singapore even though they didn’t win. Contribute, whether in politics or outside.

DPM Tharman

“It is important for all of us to be reflective, to take lessons and to move forward, to move forward together as Singaporeans. And this means everyone. It means the Opposition, it means the Government in its unique role and responsibility, and it means civil society and Singaporeans at large,” he said.

Reflecting on the slate of candidates fielded by the Opposition, the Deputy Prime Minister said there were some new and interesting faces.

“I hope they continue to contribute to Singapore even though they didn’t win. Contribute, whether in politics or outside. I think it’s also important for the Opposition to reflect on what happened, not in terms of whether the electorate didn’t know better, or the electorate made a mistake, but how they could have done better in their strategies.”

When responding to a query on whether the General Election was a wake-up call for the Opposition, Workers’ Party (WP) Secretary General and newly elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Aljunied Group Representative Constituency (GRC) Low Thia Khiang said yesterday that each Opposition party would have its own interpretation of the results and own way to “look at how they should restrategise” going forward.

Ms Sylvia Lim, the WP Chairman and newly re-elected MP for Aljunied GRC, posited on Saturday that the swing in the PAP’s favour was due to a pushback from voters sensing a growing Opposition movement and less public dissatisfaction towards the ruling party. She also suggested that the uncertain external economic environment might also have played a part as voters sought a flight to safety.

Mr Tharman said yesterday that, as a plural society, Singapore needs to allow for diverse voices and views to be heard, not just during elections. He added that the Opposition plays a role in advancing the development of Singapore.

“As the Prime Minister has emphasised, not just in his press conference immediately after the election (results were announced) and also in his letter to Singaporeans yesterday, we will be open to views from all quarters. We do want diverse views, we will take views from the Opposition, we will take views from civil society and we will take views from everyone, people from different walks of life.”