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GE 69.9%: Change – One Fat Chance & Two Lean Opportunities

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’?

Fat chance.

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.

Opportunity #1
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.

Opportunity #2
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?



GE 69.9%: Decisive Mandate or Definite Maybe?

Many analyses have already been made of the 69.9% decisive mandate; how it came to be and what it may mean till the next GE.

About the only unreality that I observe is how many MSM published pundits and, in particular, the Straits Times and Tommy Koh (representing the civic/civil service elite) would dissect the factors influencing the vote swing but downplay or totally exclude the effect of pork barrel actions. ST with its ‘8 reasons’ and Tommy Koh with his ’10 reflections’ failed to mention the SG50 bonus pay-out for 82k civil servants ($41mil), the Special Edu Officer (EO) bonus for 30k EOs ($18mil) and the 4%-9% salary increase for teachers (est. $10mil/yr recurring based on average $5000 x 30k EOs x 6.5%)                                                                  .

82,000 civil servants and 30,000 teachers, assuming all are Singapore citizens, would make up nearly 4.5% of the electorate.

How credible is the MSM (and the complicit civic/civil service elites) when they omit such blatant, GE-timed pork barrel actions of the incumbent PAP government? Watch out for the next Reporter Sans Borders ranking…how far further will SG MSM go? And, sadly, sadly so, for those of us looking for leadership to instigate the Change we Must for SG, we can forget the civic/civil elites…they appear to have sold their souls for a seat at the PAP’s table.

A Decisive Mandate?

On the side of the victors, PAP leaders have been gushing about the clear mandate and strong support that voters appeared to have given to them. The only voice, audible one, that came with a hint of humility is Mr Tharman’s. How will it all pan out over the next 4-5 years before the next GE? Who knows?

On the Opposition side, an air of despondence was almost palpable. What a diff’rence a (GE) day made…from a GE2011 high, a whole lotta of confidence going into 11 Sep, only to be given a rude shock by fellow Singaporeans.

Well, to both on different sides of the political divide and to all Singaporeans out there, likewise on different sides of the divide – or that critical mass in the middle ground that voted for the Opposition (too few) or the PAP (too many) this GE2015, I’ve got news for you.

No need to be too delirious in victory nor despondent in loss. It is far too early to tell whither Singapore.

A Definite Maybe
Consider this story:

A man who lived on the northern frontier of China was skilled in interpreting events. One day, for no reason, his horse ran away to the nomads across the border. Everyone tried to console him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?”

Some months later his horse returned, bringing a splendid nomad stallion. Everyone congratulated him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a disaster?”

Their household was richer by a fine horse, which his son loved to ride. One day he fell and broke his hip. Everyone tried to console him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?”

A year later the nomads came in force across the border, and every able-bodied man took his bow and went into battle. The Chinese frontiersmen lost nine of every ten men. Only because the son was lame did the father and son survive to take care of each other.

Truly, blessing turns to disaster, and disaster to blessing: the changes have no end, nor can the mystery be fathomed.

The 2011 and 2015 results themselves are illustrative of how changes have no end nor can the mystery be fathomed. I disagree that Singaporeans are daft. “Kiasu”, definitely. Daft, perhaps not. If voters can swing the way they did from 2006 to 2011 and then from 2011 to 2015, it can only mean that the next GE is anything but certain to follow a trend of any kind.

Last Word (From PM Zhou En Lai)
When queried on the 1968 students’ riots in Paris (apparently, not the 1789 storming of the Bastille) in a discussion during Nixon’s 1972 China visit, PM Zhou replied, “it is too early to say”.

So, what of the 69.9% decisive mandate and its ramifications or results?

Too early to say.