Singapore’s PAP Seeks Vote Mandate to Push Reform, Minister Says

Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party is seeking a strong mandate in the coming election, even as the nation faces challenges including slowing growth and an aging population, according to a minister from the party.

A show of support at the ballot box will give the government the “space and the confidence” to implement decisions that may not always be popular, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Haslinda Amin Friday.

The PAP -- formed by Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March -- is gearing up for an election that must be held by January 2017 but may be called soon. The last poll in 2011 saw the PAP secure 60 percent of the popular vote, its lowest share since 1965, and it lost a by-election in 2013.

“Having a strong margin, it’s important,” said Tan, who was formerly minister for manpower. “But we’re confident in the sense that we’ve responded to some of the changes people have been looking for.”

The PAP has moved in recent years to shore up its support with greater spending on lower-income families and the elderly to offset a higher cost of living. It has also limited work permits for foreigners, who make up more than a third of the island’s population of 5.5 million people.

Domestic Workers

Some government policies in recent years have been met with resistance from sections of the public, including the introduction of mandatory days off for domestic workers and imposing higher levies for overseas labor.

The party will probably announce its candidates after National Day celebrations due to take this weekend as the city-state turns 50, Tan said.

The planned festivities include a parade that will take place in multiple locations to accommodate about 150,000 people. The government declared an extra public holiday this year to make for an extended “Jubilee Weekend” of four days.

“Rightfully there’s a lot to be proud about,” said Tan. “Whether that will necessarily translate to support for the government, I think that’s something that people have to decide.”

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