At the risk of appearing to be ‘bo tua bo soa’ (disrespectful), I’d like to give Goh Meng Seng a run for his imaginary if-I-am-PM-of-Singapore…eh…somniloquy.
Please pardon my presumptuousness for doing so. Though a GE veteran, the man himself admits that ‘most probably (he) will not be PM of Singapore in (his) lifetime’. He also appears to have more detractors than devotees judging by the comments on his thoughts.
Let’s look first at both the form and substance of his ramblings.
Form-wise, he starts well with ‘the top priority is to CHANGE the system of governance before we can talk about individual policy changes’. It’s clear, simple and focused on just one top priority.
Unfortunately, he goes on to do exactly the opposite – with ‘5 things’ instead of just one, finally ending up with, per my last count, 8 or 9 different actions which are piecemeal changes and mostly unrelated to ‘the system of governance’. Does anyone recall what’s included in his 5-thing do list?
Substance-wise, stripped to their bare bones, his ideas are similar to many hundreds or thousands of ideas in the bucket wish-list of those clamouring for changes. Speaking as an Everyman, I say this with due respect to Mr Goh, his thoughts and ideas are not quite macro, PM-material.
Still, as Everyman, I too have the privilege to ask myself what I’d do if I were PM of my country. So, please indulge me in my soliloquy.
About the only certainty the next GE will uncover will be a highly, highly polarized electorate (thanks to current PAP’s self-serving, hubristic quest to hold on to power under the guise of serving the people). Hence, it is imperative for the next PM to first secure some form of national stability early in his tenure. This will allow all citizens to further discuss how to reach some consensus on key issues before moving on therefrom instead of wandering in a state of uncertainty or chaos, even.
It’d be a grave leadership mistake to replicate PAP’s tendency to ride roughshod over the concerns of voters who voted their candidates into parliament, even if these remain in the minority. Decisiveness absent consensus impresses no one, in and out of Singapore. Outsiders will know that Singapore cannot go far without finding some common grounds before proceeding.
Therefore, any PM wishing to wrought real change in Singapore must appraise the fractured and fractious state of the people he will be leading for the next 5 years – or he’d likely find himself the subject of many a night of long knives. And no investor would want to sink new or more funds.
Other than the basic need for stability, what else must inform and form PM 2cents’ Must-do list?
Honestly recognizing the good from the bad that PAP has done. Hence, no throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Further, observe the word choice, ‘real change’, not ‘changes’. Any word or action from the PM office carries both substantial and symbolic significance. Therefore, the PM will do well to harness the power of his office with actions and acts that set the stage for a sea-change in our mindset. To aim for that real change that foments and ferments not just the large but also the million tiny changes down the line in the government, the civil service, business and society at large.
3 Things on Must-Do List to Real Change
Recognizing the importance of form, here are my 3 specific, simple and single-minded actions.
First on the list: To achieve initial stability via continuity. Gather all the heads and managers of the Civil Service for a heart-to-heart talk. I’ll tell them in no uncertain terms, the country is now at an historic turning point in the next stage of Singapore’s progress. But we have history to guide us. The PAP, clinching power in 1959, had the good fortune of a British-bequeathed competent civil service to hold the fort while greenhorn politician-leaders find their footing. So, come 2016/7, civil servants must replicate the pivotal role that enabled the then government and people to successfully negotiate and transit to a new era.
Listen up. You have 2 immediate critical tasks. One, to ensure stability through continuity; you banish politics from all your daily work either for or against my government. You work without fear or favour. Two, you speak up to the ministers your true view of all policies past, present or future, make your objective recommendations and once decided by your minister, execute each and every policy, again, without fear or favour.
I’ll meet you again in 3, 6 months to discuss if you continue or you are replaced.
Second, I will call up the head honchos of a handful of PAP-government appointees.
Your positions are no longer tenable.
There shall be no witch-hunt, only full audits of the organizations from inception to 2015/6 will be done. Not just for their current tenures. Citizens want to, must know where all our money is exactly. It is my sacred duty that Singaporeans be not robbed or denied our rightful possessions by those, in and out of Singapore, taking advantage of our transition.
Henceforth, Singapore Inc must work on the basis of competence and meritocracy at all levels, not “meritoguanxi”. Accountability with transparency is what citizens demand.
Third and last, I’ll be ready to speak to the nation. I only have a simple message for our never-before so polarized citizenry.
We, the citizens of Singapore,
pledge ourselves as one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,
to build a democratic society
based on justice and equality
so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and
progress for our nation.
Citizens whose support will be hugely critical to Singapore’s successful transition will easily recall the 3 simple-to-recall, single-minded items. Each has a role to play each day, in what’s said and done in each encounter with those they meet. Collectively, we’ll forge a way ahead.
I think I should get a better shot at premiership than Goh Meng Seng whose credibility appears in tatters despite his more seasoned political participation. 2cents’ credibility is still at neutral. As long as that credibility does not stray into negative territory while building up the positive, I’ll be in the running. And, isn’t my PM do-list much more bang for the buck than his?
And, hey, without any political base or baggage, I am no threat to any of the Indian Chiefs helming all the other political parties, PAP included.
So, how about ‘2cents-4-PM?
PS: Oh, an afterthought. I think I really have to do this somewhat ‘beneath-PM-status itsy-bitsy thing. But, nonetheless, for its symbolic significance (and my greatest pleasure): Fire Warren Fernandez from the Straits Times. He’ll find a nice opening as the cover face of Mad Magazine
Richard Wan, you reading this? I have a new job for you.