GE2020 Manifesto: Amidst the chaos and novelty, PAP is the steady pair of hands?

By June 28, 2020Current

TL;DR – Now more than ever, our lives, our jobs, our future are all at stake.

I loved the Workers’ Party GE2020 video.

Like really really loved it. Loved everything about it. From the way the storytelling’s done to how naturally they spoke to even the Harry-Potter-like music!


I even sent the link to friends and gushed about how much I loved it.

One friend said after watching, “Very well done. At the end got 一股冲动 (an impulse) to support them!”

And then you have the incumbent, the People’s Action Party (PAP).

Here they are, introducing their slate of new candidates for GE2020. In their boring white-on-white outfits, with the boring PAP backdrop, and hair all neat, speeches all scripted.




Then I wondered.

Surely the PAP camp is not so stupid/ backward/ clueless/ poor that they don’t know how to produce slick videos, design sharper backdrops, and do better comms to connect with the young people, right??

I mean, these are supposedly some of the brightest brains in Singapore and they chose to do this?

Then it occurred to me that maybe it’s a deliberate decision to keep it simple and like always. Perhaps it’s their way of showing consistency, of how the PAP core values don’t change, even if they adapt the strategies and tools to make people’s lives better.

So what exactly does PAP stand for?

In most countries, political parties have certain ideologies. But no, not the PAP.

If anything, they probably believe in Pragmatism, which technically means thinking of or dealing with problems in a practical way, rather than by using theory or abstract principles.

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Or as I like to describe it, pragmatism is whatever works, to hell with theory or ideology.

This, extracted from the book Lee Kuan Yew, The Man and His Ideas (1997), summed it best of the underlying principle that guides the party.

“You’re talking about Rwanda or Bangladesh, or Cambodia, or the Philippines. They’ve got democracy … But have you got a civilized life to lead? People want economic development first and foremost. The leaders may talk something else. You take a poll of any people. What is it they want? The right to write an editorial as you like? They want homes, medicine, jobs, schools.”

Since LKY’s time, we have always adopted the best of breed strategy. We just adopt the most suitable solutions for Singapore, regardless of ideology, yes, even from supposedly opposing ideologies.

Right from the start, pursuing democracy was never a thing for us. We had the more pressing issue of survival since we were kicked out of Malaya, with no resources, no water, no money and no friends. We had bread and butter issues to deal with urgently, rather than to become freedom fighters.

If we really wanted to put a finger to it, then I suppose we can say the idea of survival has been a central theme of Singapore politics. Rather than pursing the western ideals of democracy, we believe it’s more important to keep alive and let us thrive.

So a few “ideologies” that the PAP practices would include pragmatism, meritocracy and multi-racialism. 

All these factors have led us to where we are today, from third world to first world in just one generation. And we’re now amongst the top GDP per capita.

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The GE2020 Manifesto

With this understanding, then the GE2020 Manifesto launched on Saturday by Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Secretary-General of the PAP made complete sense. The slogan is

Our Lives, Our Jobs, Our Future


During the launch, Mr Lee reminded us that this is not a normal election because we are not living in normal times.

“The central focus of this Manifesto is how we will work together to overcome the crisis of a generation.”

The manifesto spells out the areas where the PAP wants to focus attention for the next five years of government.

This manifesto is different from the usual ones as it includes a component on protecting our lives in view of the COVID-19 threat. It also has a portion laying out the strategies to help businesses and jobs, so that Singaporeans can protect our livelihoods. And of course, we expect to emerge safe and stronger from the pandemic, so there’s also a component dedicated to strategies to build a better, greener and more sustainable future over a 10-20 years’ horizon.

So the Lives – Jobs – Future theme covers:

  1. How to keep Singaporeans and our migrant workers safe and prevent COVID-19 from overwhelming our healthcare system
  2. How to restart and transform the economy, save jobs and businesses, and reskill workers
  3. How to provide one another care and support, so that together we can keep ourselves safe amidst the uncertainties ahead

Mr Lee also reminded Singaporeans that we can rely on the PAP government. Because,

What the PAP promises, it delivers.

Perhaps amidst all the chaos and novelty, the PAP offers us a steady pair of hands. Boring and predictable, yes, but they’re also consistent and dependable.

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Now I can’t wait for Workers’ Party to unveil their GE2020 manifesto.


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Gabrielle Teo

Author Gabrielle Teo

I read lots, and I also spend an indecent amount of time trying to get my mostly unpopular opinions published. Oh, I argue a lot with fellow Singaporeans who complain incessantly about Singapore too.

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