And so the saying goes, ‘beauty is truth, truth beauty’. Against the beauty of the conventional and PAP view that the 69.9% is ‘a good result for the PAP…an excellent result for Singapore‘, the truth may be less attractive. PM Lee believes that he now has ‘clear mandate to take Singapore forward, and we will do so‘. President Xi and all before him, Mao included, too believed they possessed heaven’s mandate. What does it mean, that belief?
It’s worrisome indeed when, even absent a ‘clear mandate’ (60.1%) ex-GE2011, within 21 months, the PAP MPs ‘believed’ and passed the 6.9mil Population White Paper – despite citizens’ disquiet, clear evidence of overcrowding and incompetence in matching infrastructural supply to demand.
President Bush similarly believed and acted to take USA forward in the war against terror when invading Afghanistan, then Iraq (the latter based on faulty and false intelligence reports)…but his grand, some think grandiose, forward act has now exposed woeful lack in foresight with the ISIS morphing and Europe bearing the Syria refugee burden. With Russia now throwing in a strategic spanner in the works, we can only say that changes have no end…
One Fat Chance
So, what then post-GE2015? Can a blessing materialize for all Singaporeans and Singapore?
Why not? When we see the PAP make the critical changes that ex-NMP, Dr Kanwaljit Soin wrote so articulately about (link), namely;
a) Freedom of information, b) Freedom of the press, c) Formation of an independent election commission to promote and safeguard representative democracy, d) Loosening the nexus between the PAP and the People’s Association, e) Role of Members of Parliament.
To Dr Soin’s wishes, I would add another two.
One, a change that affects the very soul of Singapore as ‘one united people’. Policies that move leftwards towards the centre of the political spectrum to balance the overly business-friendly policies with social ones to mitigate the evidently unequal outcomes of the former. It is not just ‘the poor we will always have’ – the observation is not a prediction or an excuse for inaction but a statistical, omnipresent truth however rich a society is, can or will be. Those on whom ‘the fortune never smiled’ plus those whose meagre fortune, not from lack of trying but being less talent-endowed (we can’t all be born generals, scientists or children of bankers/banksters, rich politicians). Our fellow citizens who just cannot keep up with the daily costs of basic rations, raiment and residence – and then nothing for retirement.
Two, another change that affects our future – our youths. I could never understand how the PAP founders, who themselves were fired by their own youthful idealism during their UK student days, went on to craft “the policy of forbidding our students from participating actively in politics and socio-economic matters”. (Read link for more.) How can we be circumscribing our young’s idealism (not naivety) and energies? Does not the future belong to them, not to us?
I have no qualms voting for a government, PAP included, that can fashion such changes to take our nation forward.
However, the record shows a fresh-face PM boldly declaring at his first National Rally (2004) to ‘let the 100 flowers bloom. Well, I think go ahead” only to mutate as the first PM ever to sue a citizen for defamation.
Changes there will be, absolutely! But will PAP make Singapore our home, truly, – not merely a Singapore with the casino and skyscraper skyline – and one for citizens, instead of ‘for everyone’?
Two Lean Opportunities
Perhaps, we are better off looking elsewhere for the Change we Must, away from the PAP to non-PAP entities, better poised to instigate changes.
The primary change agency is the same electorate that produced the 69.9%-30.1% GE results. Two opportunities are doable and will serve to counter the momentum granted to the PAP.
The Workers Party has performed very well indeed. Against the odds, WP still won 6 seats and pulled up the Opposition’s result from 17.7% to 30.1% – an impressive 12.4 percentage points.
Given the performance, how can it not be that Opposition supporters are now biased towards a stronger, united side to battle the dominant PAP? How can Sec-Gen Low Thia Kiang continue with his pre-GE2015 frozen attitude that discussing Opposition unity is useless?
The country is demanding that Workers Party seize the day, the initiative, nay the right to call for a roundtable to craft a middle way to unite the Opposition. No other party, not SDP, not any of the other smaller indian chiefs’ call carries any weight whatsoever in this matter – at this moment.
Workers Party is our Big Brother, the Abang, the அண்ணன், the 大哥. Mr Low, a南大-ed, should know better that unless 大哥 initiates a move, the SG Family will go nowhere anytime soon – except, even then maybe not, WP in its own parochial ways. We cry out for WP to, as it were, “Empower Our Future”, unite the Opposition as a substantive, maybe singular counter-force to the bullying PAP.
Let me say it and be damned. If Mr Low is not the man to the task, let him graciously step aside (how’s that for a legacy, Mr Low?) – or (I say so respectfully) remove him as Sec-Gen. Is he past his use-by date for this current task? The times and this opportunity are, perhaps, not made for him. Singapore needs another Opposition leader with the courage and a clearer vision of the larger, not just WP’s parochial interests.
Doesn’t WP see the unprecedented, bold, historic move to reshape SG political landscape in one fell swoop?
But, what’s there for Low to lose? There is more upside than downside, if any. With WP taking the lead, any other Opposition Parties not willing to subsume narrower, party’s interests for the broader good of Singapore politics will be looked on unkindly by supporters. The Punggol East By-Election proved that voters are savvy enough to punish such behaviour when the nation’s greater good (need for more Opposition in a PAP parliament) is under threat. Regardless the outcome, WP can thereafter rightly brush aside any accusation of not having tried to unite.
Work now to catalyze for a non-PAP-endorsed President.
I repeat my confidence that Singaporeans are not daft. Having put the PAP in government, they are savvy, sophisticated – or scheming even – to want to put a, even if symbolic, check on the PAP. We have made our collective voice heard before during GE2011. That brought on many critical changes since.
Will Dr Tan Cheng Bock be The One to keep the PAP in check – and transparent, and accountable at critical points allowed for under the Constitution? Will Dr Tan step up to the plate?
Or will it be someone else, waiting at the wings to do so? Either way, we The Citizens must actively show we’ll only support such a President. The work starts NOW. Why doesn’t the WP take up this initiative to openly call for a non-WP, no-political-party-affiliation candidate to step forward who they will actively support in the PE2017 hustings? Where is the leadership? Where is the sense of the bigger picture, all you Opposition leaders out there?
Both the above 2 opportunities put the electorate firmly in the seat of change. It is clear that the Workers Party and the non-PAP candidate for Presidential Election 2017 will have the wind of the electorate in their sails in the respective moves that both need to make.
See, the 69.9% – what makes you think it’s a disaster and not a blessing, a blessing and not a disaster? Changes have no end and the mystery cannot be fathomed. Will Singaporeans seize the two lean opportunities so created by the 69.9% mandate?