Singapore Election: Aljunied voters have decided

 

By George Yeo

10 May 2010

Aljunied voters have decided and I respect their decision. Having committed
23 years of service to the residents, it is only natural for me to feel
disappointed but this is politics.

It has been my privilege to have served them all these years and they have
enriched my life.  They have also enabled me to serve in various capacities
as a Cabinet Minister in MITA, Health, MTI and MFA for which I am grateful.

Why did we lose Aljunied?

Mr Low Thia Kiang himself said that they won Aljunied not because the
Aljunied team did not do a good job, but because the voters wanted WP to be
their voice in Parliament.

Mr Low’s analysis is fair and I agree with him. This desire for a strong WP
voice in Parliament was a political tide which came in through Aljunied
which we were unable to withstand despite our very best efforts.  Right from
the start, the Workers Party made Aljunied a national battleground.

The fight became one between a Workers Party voice in Parliament and an
Aljunied team with two ministers, a potential Speaker of Parliament, a
potential minister and a most effective Town Council chairman.

Though I wish the outcome had been different, Aljunied voters have made
their choice.

Many of my supporters asked me to stay on to win back Aljunied in five years
time.  I wanted to level with them and told them last night that it is
better for a younger person to take on this important task. I’m already 57
years old and would be 62 by then.  Naturally I would help to ensure a
smooth handover.

As we ended our campaign on 5 May, I talked about the importance of
transforming the PAP.  This is a belief I’ve held for some time.  It was not
something I felt I could say when the campaign started.  But, as the
campaign went on, as we heard the growing cry from the heart, I decided to
make it plain.  Like it or not, we are entering a new phase in Singapore’s
political development.  How we respond to it will decide Singapore’s destiny
in the 21st century.

I would help in whatever way I can to bring about this transformation of the
PAP.  I wish I had a mandate from the people of Aljunied to be a strong
advocate of such transformation.  But I don’t.

As for remaining in public life, I will contribute in whatever modest way
possible.

Many young people have stepped forward to help me in this campaign. Even
more have cheered me on.  It is not good that so many of them feel alienated
from the Singapore they love.  I look forward to continue working with them
so that the Singapore we struggle for is the Singapore they feel is their
own. As to the actual role I can play, I’ll be happy to respond to them.  In
the last few years, I have learnt much from my young friends.   Often they
led me rather than I led them.

A younger generation has been politicized in this GE.

Since the GE results came out, there has been a flood of support for
me expressed personally, through friends and relatives, on email and, in
an astonishing way, on Internet and FB. The words expressed are heartfelt.
Many wrote me long passages, some in tears.  I’m grateful for the kind and
comforting words and the many good wishes.  It will be an honour for me to
be an advocate of their cause.

As for what I’ll do professionally after stepping down as Minister when
the new Cabinet is sworn in, I’m not rushing to make a decision.  My wife
and I thought we should take our time to think this over.  We also need
a break to spend more time with the family.

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank the people of Singapore
for the honour of serving them in the last 23 years.