DPP elects new CEC, reveals election strategy

On 26 Feb 2015, the Democratic Progressive Party held its Ordinary Party Conference (OPC) in preparation for the next general elections. Secretary-General Benjamin Pwee outlined the party’s platform of being a middle-ground, centrist party, and the party brought in a bevy of fresh faces on the Central Executive Committee (CEC) and other positions.

During the OPC, Mr Pwee discussed his vision for the DPP: to build a “credible middle ground” based on a centrist platform, with the overall strategy to bring balance to local politics. He called for “collaborative politics” instead of “combative politics”, with a view towards working with the government and other political parties to find common ground on matters of national interest.

Mr Pwee pointed out that many of Singapore’s policies and institutions, such as the tripartite labour alliance, foreign policy on ASEAN, and racial and religious harmony, were also based on strong spirit of collaboration.

“The same skillset the government and the PAP has used to build collaboration and a middle ground in many other areas, should also be applied to parliamentary politics,” he said.

Mr Pwee discussed his efforts to collaborate with other political parties. Bringing up last year’s Deepa-Raya celebration dinner hosted by DPP at Zam-Zam, he pointed out that six political parties sent high-level representatives to attend, calling this a success.

Commenting on the recently-revealed Budget 2015, Mr Pwee contrasted the DPP’s approach to politics with other parties. Where other parties sought to present alternative sets of policies or criticize the government’s approach, the DPP instead focused on calling the government to actively seek feedback from various interest groups, including political parties, to feed into parliamentary debates. He called on the government to review the budget based on public feedback, and tweak it to better address key challenges.

In particular, the DPP pushed for a Budget that would create higher-value jobs for the middle- and lower-income groups; increase productivity, competitiveness and sustainability for small and medium enterprises (SMEs); enable greater investment in public goods; and implement wealth redistribution policies such as job creation, minimum wages and affordable public services. Mr Pwee hinted that the DPP’s positions on the budget would also inform its policy positions in the next elections.

Mr Pwee confirmed a shortlist of constituencies the DPP would be campaigning in. At the top of the party’s list is Bishan-Toa Payoh. Another potential target is Potong Pasir, previously the stronghold of the Singapore People’s Party but now represented by the People’s Action Party.  Should the party find more candidates, it would field more candidates and teams to contest elsewhere, including Tanjung Pagar GRC.

Over the previous months, the DPP have been walking the ground and conducting house-to-house visits in these constituencies. They learned the residents’ concerns, which were mainly municipal issues or personal concerns like employment and cost-of-living. Based on this, Mr Pwee urged the rest of his party to understand affairs at the local level, yet be able to connect them to wider national matters. He also stressed the importance of positive word-of-mouth, noting that in the last elections many younger voters managed to convince their parents and grandparents to vote for the opposition this way.

DPP member Ms Noraini Yunus assisted with these walkabouts. A former candidate for the National Solidarity Party in the 2011 General Elections, Ms Noraini hoped to be able to contribute. “I feel energized by politics,” she said, while still seeing herself as a “regular person”.

To further develop the party’s capabilities, the DPP brought in a number of new members and expanded the CEC. Acting Treasurer Mdm Juliana Juwahir was promoted to full Treasurer, while Mr Malik was brought in as a new CEC member. Mr Frankie Low, Ms Noraini and Mr Firdaus were also invited to the CEC as observers.

Four new faces were also brought into different roles. Theatre veteran Mr Gene Sha Rudyn, Artistic Director of Keelat Theatre Ensemble, will be part of the Malay-Muslim taskforce and Education taskforce. Former teacher Ms Adillah Mohckenem joins the Women’s Wing and the Youth taskforce. Regional logistics executive Mr Edwin Fernandez joins the SME taskforce, while former Yahoo/Amazon senior executive Ms Nadine Yap joins the CEC as policy consultant.

Ms Yap declared: “I’m here to find out what’s going on, how everything works.” At the same time, she is keen on contributing to Singapore, noting that more and more people were now holding non-conformist views similar to hers when she was younger. She also noted that due to Singapore’s small size, “people can actually make a difference here.”

The OPC lasted for one-and-a-half hours at Chairman Hamim’s residence, and included a home-cooked dinner. Everyone stayed on till almost midnite in a positive spirit of camaraderie.

 

DPP Party Conference Speech by Chairman, Mohamad Hamim

Good afternoon, honourable Secretary General, Advisors, fellow Central Executive Council, members and distinguished guests. We are here today to witness the New Leadership of DPP take a new political step forward under the Leadership of Myself as Chairman & Mr Benjamin Pwee as Secretary General.

First and foremost, I would like to thank the other Parties, observers and supporters present at our Ordinary Party Conference. Your presence and support means a lot to me and the other members. DPP has long history and I hope the new office holders and members will be able to continue its legacy.

I assure you that in moving forward, both Ben and I will work towards a future of collaboration together with other parties, to further our shared political cause. Our short‐term target is to work hard to win seats in parliament in 2016, and more importantly to win the hearts of Singaporeans through collaborative engagement with them; in proposing policies and community work.

I learned through my 20 years in politics, it is important to work the ground and listen to the voters. I hope in my new role as Chairman to increase DPP participation in engaging our people on the ground, listen to what they are saying and talking to them. We must not lose touch with the very people that we want to represent, the young, the old, the poor, the middle income and the rich. First steps for me would be to do walk‐abouts get to know the people in our target constituents, and set‐up what we light‐heartedly call the “DPP makan‐wing”. We will find food places where Singaporeans in our constituents like to hang out to eat, and engage them over a good meal or drink.

Last but not least, we pledge to Serve the voters to the fullest extent of excellence, to make them feel we are part of them, and can represent them.

Once again, my heartfelt thanks to all present. Have a wonderful weekend ahead.

Mohamad Hamim Bin Aliyas Chairman

DPP Party Conference Speech By Secretary-General, Benjamin Pwee

Good afternoon.
Thank you for your vote of confidence in me as your new Secretary‐General.

I believe in collaborative politics at all levels: collaborative leadership within a party, collaborative engagement with the community, and collaborative governance with the PAP government and other political parties.

I call on all political parties, and all Singaporeans, to put aside adversarial, zero‐sum, win‐ lose politics. We all need to work collaboratively as a community of citizens, for win‐win shared outcomes and common interests solutions for all.

We at DPP represent the following:

D for DEMOCRATIC

P for PROGRESSIVE

P for PARTY

‐ The true political masters are the people, not the Party
‐ Every citizen deserves to be heard, engaged & protected ‐ Political agenda needs to be agreed by the people
‐ We need progressive politics of people engagement
‐ We need to progress from consultation to collaboration
‐ We need progressive policies for a new future
‐ We call for greater partnerships amongst Parties
‐ We encourage all citizens to get involved in a Party
‐ We aim to be a credible, respected, centrist Party

There is now more talent and knowledge in society than there is in the PAP government. We call on the PAP government to work more collaboratively in deeper partnership with the “3 Ps” : the people, the private sector, and other political parties.

Politics is a serious and worthwhile call. It is to represent and speak up for your friends and family, not just for yourself. It is to win the trust of those who want you to represent them and their concerns. It is service above self, it is people above party, it is trust above talent.

Lets stop fighting, lets stop throwing stones. Lets get serious. Our country needs new solutions, our nation needs new answers. And solutions and answers no more sit within the PAP Government – it sits within us all, every Singaporean.

So “Dun Play Punk”, “Dun Play Politics”, step up and lets play “DPP” !!!
Benjamin Pwee, Secretary‐General