Singapore PM Lee 'deeply humbled'; thanks people for election win

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday thanked Singaporeans for their support which led to his People's Action Party register a landslide victory in general election, saying he is "deeply humbled."

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 12, 2015, 07:59 AM IST

Singapore: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday thanked Singaporeans for their support which led to his People's Action Party register a landslide victory in general election, saying he is "deeply humbled."

The People's Action Party (PAP) won an absolute majority of 83 seats in the 89-member Parliament. The opposition Workers' Party won six seats.

"I am deeply humbled by the confidence Singaporeans showed in me and my team and the heavy responsibility voters have entrusted to us," Lee was quoted as saying by Channel News Asia.

The PAP, which has been ruling the city-state for the past 50 years, got 69.86 per cent of the popular vote, an increase of almost 10 percentage points from its share in 2011.

The gain in percentage points was rated as a landslide win with an island-wide swing towards the PAP, often seen as losing its popularity on policies.

This was also the first general election without founder prime minister Lee Kuan Yew who died in March. He was the father of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

"I am happy with the outcome of the election. We won 83 seats and what was particularly satisfying was that we won back Punggol East," Lee said at an early-morning press conference after the final results were announced. Punggol was previously held by Workers' Party.

"It's a good result for the PAP, but it is an excellent result for Singapore," the channel quoted Lee as saying.

Lee, the secretary general of the PAP, reiterated that he had called the election because Singapore was at a "turning point" and he needed a "fresh and clear mandate" to take the country forward.

The PAP was challenged at the hustings on issues including new migrants, foreign workers competing for jobs with Singaporeans, high costs of living and housing, stressed transportation system and the central provident fund, the old age based withdrawal of which was questioned.

Lee said the high figures the party received would not have been possible without support across all race and age groups, in particular from the young who showed that they understood what was at stake and how the Government was trying to secure their future.

"I would like to remind the duly-elected MPs that you are elected to serve the people. This mandate means you have to strive extra hard to serve. As trustees and stewards elected to take care of Singapore "to the best of our ability", we will have to account for our performance at the next General Election," Lee said. The Prime Minister said it was time to "pull together to resume nation-building."

The PAP would work with all Singaporeans, "including those who voted against us" to take Singapore forward. One immediate agenda would be to ensure that newly elected MPs who are potential office-holders are put into positions of responsibility quickly, he said.

Lee said he wanted the fourth generation of leaders to be prepared to take over "in this term" as Prime Minister. He hoped cabinet reshuffle could be done perhaps in two weeks.

The election results showed Singaporeans understood what was at stake and "that we need to get the best team assembled in order to serve Singapore." It was also an endorsement of the PAP Government and its policies, he said.

"These elections have been closely watched. You read the international newspapers, the BBC, International Herald Tribune, Financial Times, they all write about it. So the results tonight will be noted by the outside world... By investors, by other powers, by our neighbours and I believe these results will greatly bolster confidence in Singapore and in Singapore's future," he said.

"These results are also a strong signal of confidence to ourselves, that we Singaporeans in the post-Lee Kuan Yew era are able to find the winning formula which can keep us progressing and succeeding," Lee said.

He said the PAP Government has already been engaging Singaporeans directly and enabling them to make constructive contributions which include the ability to maintain a national consensus, to keep politics clean, to "contain populist pressures while being responsive to popular needs", and to solve short-term issues while focusing on the long-term.

Lee said that in Parliament, the PAP looked forward to open debate on "vital national issues". This would depend not just on Ministers and MPs, but also the Opposition and other stakeholders, "making the effort to master the issues, having the courage and commitment to take clear positions, upholding the same standards of integrity an acting to advance the national interest and not for partisan advantage."

He added that he looked forward to the contributions of the nine opposition MPs, six elected, three appointed non-constituency MPs (NCMPs) in the next Parliament. The NCMPs are appointed from those who lost their seat by narrow margin.

"I look forward to the opposition candidates coming fully prepared to have a robust exchange" about issues such as the minimum wage, said Lee.