“Let’s put it this way, it’s a democracy … you decide what you want to choose, for better or worse. I will tell you that we will endeavour to do our best, whatever the outcome.
All of you remain Singaporeans. You don’t vote for us but we are here to still continue to provide policies that cut across every division.” Tan Chuan-Jin, 20 Apr 2015
Let me state upfront that I am not convinced of the sincerity of the apparent volteface in PAP’s policy. Leopards do not change their spots. And if they now appear to due to modern science, or as in the case of PAP politicians due to modern technology (chiefly, social media and a more vocal electorate), the change will have to be carefully observed and confirmed from actual practice and performance and not mere pronouncements – by a junior minister barely 4 years as a PAP member.
Whilst many of us can quickly juxtapose Tan’s words with that of Mah Bow Tan’s utterance as Minister of Nat Devt, ‘‘Upgrading for all wards, but PAP ones first’ (Straits Times, 11 Jun 06), let us be reminded that the ‘PAP ward first’ policy has been in place for nearly 20 years and that it was articulated by the very highest PAP officials – and as ministers.
It was first publicly told to Singaporeans by PAP Sec-Gen & PM Goh Chok Tong himself. “You vote for the other side, that means you reject the programmes of the PAP candidate… If you reject it, we respect your choice. Then you’ll be left behind,then in 20, 30 years’ time, the whole of Singapore will be bustling away, and your estate through your own choice will be left behind. They become slums. That’s my message.” (‘We will fight GE as local election’, The Straits Times, 23 Dec 96.)
Then, as recent as a month short of GE 2011, from the current PM Lee Hsien Loong at 2011 NUS Ministerial Forum, “Between the people who voted and supported the programme and the government, and the people who didn’t, I think if we went and put yours before the PAP constituencies, it would be an injustice.” There was a huge adverse reaction by citizens to Lee’s reported remarks.
And who can forget the Grandmaster LKY himself in the heat of the 2011 hustlings, “Aljunied has five years to live and repent.” I couldn’t figure if the Old Man sounded ‘more desperate then reckless or bold’. Yeah, but he sure ‘left it out there cold, too far gone to care…..’
We are seeing the volteface of a terribly flawed and arrogant way of governing. It showed no less the defective mindset, the DNA of PAP leaders whose persuasion weapon of choice is through threats and intimidation. Should Singaporeans continue to vote for such leaders and leadership?
I’m fully persuaded that there will be no apologies for the ‘injustice’ done to the longsuffering residents (both PAP & Opposition voters) in Potong Pasir, Hougang & Aljunied/Punggol East.
As such, what Tan Chuan-Jin has uttered is no more done for the sake of winning FMM (fence-sitters, marginal supporters, mal/mis-informed) voters. And NOT a true change of heart of the hubristic PAP who continue to believe in their heart of hearts – wrongly and, hopefully, fatally – that only they are talented and deserve to rule Singapore.
So, how will we know when there is a true change of heart? Let me suggest that to be when the day we see these 2 changes made – but only as a visible start and evidence:
One, the depoliticization of Town Councils (and related organizations such as RCs, CCCs etc) preferably back to HDB to manage as it was prior to the Town Council Act 1988 and the managers of the related organizations to be elected by each constituency voters not appointed by MPs.
Two, the depoliticization of The People’s Association. We are talking about an organization with a yearly budget of more than S$1bil (51.3% increase over FY2014). The money is ostentatiously disbursed for activities and facilities to serve residents but as always via PAP’s own money-sucking network of supporters and not necessary through meritorious considerations.
BOTH sets of organizations would have been rightly politically-neutral in their constitutions were they not adulterated and hijacked by PAP to serve their party’s interests more than residents and voters.
BOTH the above 2 actions will begin to demonstrate that Tan’s pronouncement is not merely words to win over voters.
Or more succinctly, PAP ‘walk the walk…do not just talk the talk’. Ex Brigadier-Gen Tan will understand if and when we ex-NSF believe that he’s just talking cock.