GE2020: What fundamental socio-economic tension is at the heart of this election?

If we take a moment to try and cut through the blur of COVID-19, the uncertainty of bubble tea, and the endless stream of police reports, I believe this is it: what level of social protection is adequate for Singaporeans in the future?

All the opposition parties essentially offer a vision of a society with greater social protections than what the People’s Action Party believes is best. This is true from the well-oiled machinery of The Workers’ Party—yes, Jamus has done his math—to fledgling outfits like Red Dot United.

(I like Michelle Lee, one of the best speakers I’ve heard in the past year. But every time I hear her new party’s name, I can’t decide if she’s angling for parliament or Jalan Besar Stadium.) Continue reading “GE2020: What fundamental socio-economic tension is at the heart of this election?”

GE2020 Video 4: If I vote for the opposition, will I lose my job? Will Singapore collapse?

Many people worry about voting for the opposition because they think: a) They will lose their job because the government will blacklist them b) Singapore will collapse because Singapore functions because of the PAP. In this video I debunk both those notions. This is the last in a series of four GE2020 videos: 1. “To help the PAP and Singapore improve, I’m voting opposition.” 2. … Continue reading GE2020 Video 4: If I vote for the opposition, will I lose my job? Will Singapore collapse?

GE2020 Video 3: Singapore is small and vulnerable so we need a one-party state. True?

  “Singapore is small and vulnerable. We have no natural resources” Because we have been sold this narrative of small and vulnerable our whole lives, we are all individually and collectively constantly in panic mode. In this video, I focus on one aspect: that because of our vulnerability, we must accept a trade-off between economic growth and democratic rights and freedoms. The idea that Singapore … Continue reading GE2020 Video 3: Singapore is small and vulnerable so we need a one-party state. True?

GE2020: Why the PAP needs a strong mandate in parliament

The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has told us it needs a strong mandate. Yet it is intentionally unclear about what “a strong mandate” means and why it needs it. So, let’s assume that “strong mandate” refers to a supermajority in parliament, i.e. at least two-thirds of seats. I’m sure most of the PAP means something much stronger, like 100% of the seats, which is … Continue reading GE2020: Why the PAP needs a strong mandate in parliament

GE2020 Video 2. The natural aristocrats: We know everything. Just listen to us

  Many have long admired Singapore’s brand of elite governance. However, its persistence today in its current form, I believe, is harmful for this stage of our socio-political evolution. “The starting point of this reappraisal of elite governance must be that Singapore’s educated elite has become more fragmented, more diverse and heterogeneous, and less cohesive ideologically and politically.” (From Governing in the New Normal, an … Continue reading GE2020 Video 2. The natural aristocrats: We know everything. Just listen to us

GE2020SG: Why I’m glad to see Paul Tambyah and Tan Jee Say. And other thoughts from the past week.

A short note on Paul Tambyah, Mariam Jaafar, Ivan Lim, Lee Hsien Yang, The Workers’ Party overcoming perceptions of racism and xenophobia, and Tan Jee Say.

1. Paul Tambyah.

Tharman and his should be the first two names on our parliamentary team-sheet. Continue reading “GE2020SG: Why I’m glad to see Paul Tambyah and Tan Jee Say. And other thoughts from the past week.”

Coronavirus and inequality threaten to unsettle Singapore election

“Elections lai liao,” the elections are coming, buzzed Singapore’s chat groups last week, hours before Lee Hsien Loong, prime minister and leader of the ruling People’s Action Party, announced the July 10 polling date. At first glance, the PAP, which has won every election since independence in 1965, the last in 2015 with a thumping 70% vote share, looks like a shoo-in. Singaporean voters are … Continue reading Coronavirus and inequality threaten to unsettle Singapore election

What immigration rate is Heng Swee Keat targeting for Singapore? Voters deserve to know.

Last year Heng Swee Keat’s office got in touch because it objected to a published line of mine: “With Singapore’s prime-minister-in-waiting eager to again double the city’s population to ten million…”

I had based this comment off a Straits Times article that reported:

“Singapore’s population density is not excessive, he [HSK] said, noting that other cities are a lot more crowded in terms of liveable space. He cited former chief planner Liu Thai Ker, who said in 2014 that Singapore should plan for 10 million people for it to remain sustainable in the long term.”

This was my thinking. If you ask somebody a question, and they cite somebody else as an answer, a reasonable person would conclude that HSK concurs with Liu.

It’s like if you ask me what my favourite TV series this year is and instead of giving you a direct answer, I say: “Well critics consider Crash Landing on You to be the best.” Continue reading “What immigration rate is Heng Swee Keat targeting for Singapore? Voters deserve to know.”

Truth or Dare: A video about online falsehoods and Singapore’s POFMA law

CORRECTION: In the video I say that K Shanmugam was in parliament in 1987. This is wrong. He entered parliament in 1988. So Shanmugam was only part of parliamentary proceedings related to the alleged “Marxist conspiracy” in those subsequent two years. The last prisoner was released in mid 1990. Apologies.

Additional reading and video notes

At a high level, I want to note that there are many critiques of POFMA out there. Some critics have always believed that no new law is needed, since Singapore’s government already has a panoply of instruments to control speech, like libel and sedition laws, and licensing laws for media outlets and online sites.

While I sympathise with their views, my sense has always been that some new law may be needed to tame a new beast. For sure, as a writer, I consider the proliferation of falsehoods online to be one of the biggest threats to my profession, to democracy, and to our common humanity.

This is why I began the video with The Financial Times and Sarah Palin. Online falsehoods are everywhere. Read critically. There is no better answer to our crisis than those two words.

Continue reading “Truth or Dare: A video about online falsehoods and Singapore’s POFMA law”

Are Singapore’s politicians moderating or inflaming ethnic tensions?

Recent support by K Shanmugam, law minister, for a commentary by Tan Wu Meng, a fellow politician with the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), begs the question of whether Singapore’s leaders possess the requisite broad-mindedness and maturity to moderate racial harmony in today’s prickly, post-George Floyd, “Black Lives Matter” world. Tan, an ethnic Chinese, used the party’s online platform to attack Pritam Singh, the ethnic … Continue reading Are Singapore’s politicians moderating or inflaming ethnic tensions?