Wednesday 19 December 2018
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todayonline - 1 month ago

4G leaders to complete visits to all constituencies within next 18 months

SINGAPORE — In a sign that the drum beat for the next General Election (GE) is getting louder, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Sunday (Nov 18) that fourth-generation (4G) leaders aim to complete visits to all constituencies, including opposition-held ones, in the next 12 to 18 months. A week ago at the biennial People’s Action Party (PAP) conference, secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong, who is also Prime Minister, had said the party has only two years left to prepare for the next GE. But the timeline of 12 to 18 months is “purely a mathematical formula”, said Mr Ong when reporters asked if it was tied to the next election. “Because if one year is 52 weeks and, given that we have walked 18 constituencies (this year), I think in one to one-and-a-half years’ time, we should finish all constituencies. So it’s just mathematics,” said Mr Ong, who is chairman of the People’s Association advisory panel for ministerial community visits. Speaking to the media on a visit to the MyNiceHome Roadshow at Canberra Crescent in Sembawang, Mr Ong declined to comment when asked about a TODAY report that he is out of the running to be the next prime minister. He would only say that announcements will be made. Mr Ong was among three candidates – alongside Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat – touted as frontrunners to succeed Mr Lee. But after he was not among the names recommended by PAP’s outgoing Central Executive Committee to be voted into the party’s highest decision-making body in the lead-up to internal elections last Sunday, cadres told TODAY he is out of the running as he is not deemed to be a core leader within the ruling party. The younger 4G leaders have been ramping up their community visits to constituencies in recent months. TODAY previously reported that about 10 ministerial community visits are conducted each year. Since July when a new format of multiple ministers making joint community visits kicked off, 11 have been conducted. Since September this year, the visits have been conducted almost weekly. The latest took place on Sunday, with National Development Minister Lawrence Wong and senior parliamentary secretaries Tan Wu Meng and Amrin Amin visiting Zhenghua and Bukit Panjang. The 29 constituencies in Singapore – 13 single-member constituencies and 16 group representation constituencies – comprise 89 wards. “As younger ministers, actually there is a need for us to step out of our constituencies and meet residents outside our constituency. Only then can we have a greater understanding of how the rest of Singapore feels. And at the same time too, residents outside of our constituencies get to see us, get (a feel of) how we are, they get to understand us,” said Mr Ong. “I think we are underexposed. I think we need to walk more, understand more, listen more and interact more with residents.” Such visits have also become “more informal” and “not so staged and planned”, said Mr Ong. This allows for ministers to have a “more authentic interaction” with residents. Asked about criticism that such visits are only for show, Mr Ong said: “Scepticism is part and parcel of politics, so I think it cannot be helped, just live with it”.

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