GE2015: Final thoughts (4 of 4)

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This is part 4 of 4. To read part 3, click here.

Conclusion: GE 2015

Over time, the PAP has become a party more for the rich and for the elite. Yes, it will do things for the lower- and middle-income citizens. But more because it wants our votes to stay in power. I’m not convinced it genuinely, compassionately considers every Singaporean as an equal human being. Maybe a long time ago it did; but not anymore.

Some government critics think the party is corrupt and is enriching itself at our expense. Again, I don’t buy that argument at all.

I just think the PAP has become so fixed in its ways, in its belief in a natural aristocracy, that the best way for society to progress is by nurturing the elites.

Which many of us don’t agree with. So, in 2011, I thought, OK, if the PAP loses one GRC, it’s going to reform.

Sadly, no. A few tweaks here and there, but it’s the same old party with the same archaic beliefs. Does the PAP have the ideological adaptability to lead Singapore in our next phase of growth?

I have serious doubts. The demands of the next fifty years are immeasurably different from the last. The PAP’s perennial, indefatigable, prioritisation of growth over distribution, and its aversion to welfare, are ill-suited for an ageing population, slower growth, rising income inequality and wage stagnation.

On a related note, one of the many problems governments around the world are grappling with today is striking the right balance between national priorities and the demands of transnational corporations/the global elite. The PAP has always been far too accommodating of both constituencies. (And, as mentioned, all its leaders probably belong to that global 0.1%.)

How I think about my vote

So this is how I look at politics in Singapore today: first, the quality of talent between the PAP and opposition is almost even. I know MPs in both parties; I know candidates in both parties. There’s very little difference. They are competent, and they have a good heart. Both the PAP and the opposition.

For me as a voter it becomes a human resource allocation issue. As a country, what kind of a parliament will produce the greatest diversity of ideas and keep the government honest yet also still have the kind of efficiency that Singapore is famous for?

I believe it is a parliament where the PAP has 50-65% of the seats. That is my ideal parliament. With 50%, the PAP can still continue to pass laws and govern Singapore. The opposition cannot block legislation. But with less than 65%, the PAP cannot suka suka change the constitution, which requires two-thirds.

50-65% of the seats. What does that mean in terms of numbers?

In my ideal parliament, of the total 89 seats, the PAP will have 50-odd seats, while the opposition will have more than 31 seats. Very unlikely to happen at this election, but maybe the next one. I will keep voting opposition until we get that (or something significant happens to make me change my views).

In any other country, I would be considered a hardcore fan of the ruling party. But in Singapore, because we have conflated the idea of country and party, many people say I’m an opposition supporter and, worse, anti-Singapore. We need to destroy this idea. Singapore is much, much bigger than the PAP.

Candidates matter, of course. I am lucky that in my district I have two of the best opposition figures: Chee Soon Juan and Paul Tambyah. For those who think the opposition has nothing new to contribute to the debate, please read Paul Tambyah’s suggestions for improving our healthcare system.

On a related note, the SDP first came up with its alternative healthcare proposal—for a single-payer system like in countries such as Taiwan—in 2012. However, since the SDP was not elected, the PAP refused to even discuss it. Proof, if any were needed, that the only way to get new, fresh ideas on the national agenda, is to have new, fresh candidates in parliament.

But what if???

One frequent response I get from PAP friends is “OK lah. So if you vote like that, what happens if we get a freak election. What if the opposition wins power?”

Well, so what? I would much rather have the opposition in power than to give the PAP a bigger mandate. That is the worst possible thing that could happen to Singapore now.

Can you imagine if the PAP got a bigger mandate? It would take it as reaffirmation of all its policies. Growth at all costs. More destruction like Bukit Brown. Super-high immigration once again. The continued dominance of the rich and the elites. The discrimination against minority constituencies such as single mums. That is the surest road to social instability in this country.

So what if the oppositions wins? What, exactly, is the problem? Singapore is not suddenly going to collapse. If the PAP loses, do you think our Black Knights will forget how to fly? Do you think our civil servants will forget how to govern? Do you think Darryl David will learn how to speak Tamil?

Some things don’t change. Lee Kuan Yew’s greatest legacies are the institutions, structures, systems and processes that we have. These are not going to disappear overnight.

Maybe the best thing for Singapore and the PAP is for the party to lose one election, improve, reform, and then win back power at the next election. This is exactly what happened in Japan over the past ten years.

As a cautionary tale, what can Singaporean voters learn from the Malaysian crisis?

Many things have led Malaysia to where it is today, but let me touch on three.

First, cronyism and nepotism. In the awarding of government contracts, in civil service appointments, close networks of family and friends have come to dominate, shutting out others. Over time institutions are eroded; accountability and transparency suffers; governance, performance affected; trust and confidence in the government evaporates.

Second, and this is more relevant to the madness going on right now, is a crisis of leadership. There is a power vacuum in Malaysia. When the ruling party loses the confidence of the country, you need an opposition people believe in.

But the opposition in Malaysia is in tatters. Why? Because every time the opposition has tried to rise up fairly and legitimately, the ruling party has unleashed its entire arsenal on them.

Poor Anwar Ibrahim, for almost twenty years accused of sodomy, and now in jail because of it.

So how might I sum up Malaysia? First, close networks of families and friend dominating business and political life.

Second, an opposition leader hammered for almost twenty years; hence an immature opposition unable to take the reins of power when a crisis hits.

And third, in the background, government-controlled media channels that do the biding of the ruling party.

Does this remind you of any country you know?

Now, let’s be fair. The PAP is a far, far more competent and honest party than Barisan Nasional.

But the point here is: we must never allow Singapore to reach the crisis point where Malaysia finds itself today.

Think of all the shenanigans with the Brompton Bicyle saga, with the multi-million dollar public tenders at Gardens by the Bay, with the MINDEF lapses (all described in Part 2). These are all unfortunately reminiscent of Malaysia over the past few decades.

In my opinion, the best way to boost Singapore’s political resilience and hence guarantee its continued stability, is to cut the PAP down to size, to make sure Singapore has a viable opposition that can take over if need be.

——

Post-script: To read the more common critiques to my arguments in this series, please see GE2015 postmortem: the beauty of democracy.

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72 responses

  1. really enjoyed all 4 parts – really raises the level of discourse. Sadly very very few voters would even understand how to rague on ‘first principles’ or event the term ‘false dichotomy”. We must help them raise their game instead of sinking into ridiculous arguments by analogy, popularised by ex PM Goh

  2. Strictly politics. Some want musical-chair politics as life to many is like a roller-coaster in waves and nodes.

    The people suffer in ups and downs.

    Creaming off at the top is happening in various SEA countries due to endemic corrupt practices like living in darkness for many whereas red dot is like a shining star among them, or like an arc lamp in the dark.

    Many believe Singapore will not go on that path too of having abject degeneration of society values, and that when it does happen, it can be easily, comfortably and safely reversed and be fixed at the polls by the people.

    In truth, many in the region pray and hope that red dot will have lesser quality of governance and be like them too, and stay at their level and not rise above them.

    It is the politics of sharing in common misery.

    Sharing what I wrote in my Blog:

    https://tankoktim.wordpress.com/2015/04/28/will-the-civil-service-last/

  3. I disagree that PAP will take a greater mandate as a reaffirmation of all these policies – Growth at all costs. More destruction like Bukit Brown. Super-high immigration once again. The continued dominance of the rich and the elites. The discrimination against minority constituencies such as single mums.

    I believe that the PAP has genuinely realised that they cannot go back to those policies. I don’t think they will u-turn on their move to the left.

    However, I do think that a greater mandate will result in them slowing their evolution, their reversion back to its socialist heart (as Chan Chun Sing puts it). So I agree with your conclusion. We need more opposition MPs.

    In addition to the above, I have written about three reasons why we need more opposition MPs. Would love your comments!

    https://crazyrandomchatter.wordpress.com

  4. as you’ve pointed out in part 2, the nexus of power spans across not only the legislative, but also the executive, the judiciary and that all important fourth estate – the media.

    leaving the party in power to further consolidate that “hub” of influence is a poor option. but in the “freak election” outcome, do you honestly believe our institutions – so rife with familial ties – will cooperate with the newly empowered? will we see the obstructionism of AHPETC revisited at a national level? it is no coincidence that the party has so many generals in its ranks. i do not see those in power, who have ruled so callously, concern themselves with the moral hows of staying in power.

    one accumulates many skeletons in one’s closet over five decades.

    • I watched what happened in Egypt after the revolution toppling Hosni Mubarak, through the election of Morsi, then the coup against Morsi, mostly with a view to trying to understand how transitions from authoritarianism to a different regime might work. It was interesting to see the media, widely reviled as pro-Mubarak, pivot virtually on a pinhead as soon as Mubarak was overthrown. The military however didn’t. As we all know now, they eventually mounted a coup against Morsi, but it didn’t need to be like that. It was partly Morsi’s own political arrogance and inflexibility. A more accommodating successor elected after Mubarak might have reached a modus vivendi with the military. Here the more uplifting example would be Indonesia post-Suharto.

  5. Mostly agree with u. I would not even worry if the opposition wins the majority. No one is indispensable. Whether it is cronyism, nepotism, or whatever no country should be under the influence of a group of people who will justify all wrongs to be rights where their crying call will be ‘all for one and each other’ .

  6. Sudir, A first-class exposition. Watching you, one of the more gifted sons of Singapore, try to make a solid case for political change whilst tying yourself in knots lest the establishment decide to construe your eminently fair views as libellous is especially sad. Here’s to better, fairer times!

  7. Pingback: What happens if we get a freak election - www.hardwarezone.com.sg

  8. Wow! your part 4 might have changed my mind dear! I come from the same area as you….and now I have to re-think my option. Glad I read your article. Definitely going to sleep on it…. Being a hard-core PAP follower all these years, it’s really going to be a tough decision. If I really did vote for the opposition, I have to ask my father’s (GOD rest his soul) forgiveness who was a hard core PAP follower for 32 years since the independence days! Thank you again for a wonderfully written article.

    • My vote shall go to the persons who seek it in earnest;

      The better or best person who is beyond reproach;

      The person whose sandals I am not fit to carry.

  9. My favorite part, especially the last sentence. haha.

    “So what if the oppositions wins? What, exactly, is the problem? Singapore is not suddenly going to collapse. If the PAP loses, do you think our Black Knights will forget how to fly? Do you think our civil servants will forget how to govern? Do you think Daryl David will learn how to speak Tamil?”

    • You are quite naive to think there is no problem if opposition wins. Your really have no idea about running a country. It needs more than civil servants to run the country. Young man, you probably have too much anger and hatred in you.

  10. Thank you for putting so succinctly what I was mulling in my head the past 2 weeks. I believe that the opposition needs to be better and the only way to learn, is unfortunately on the job. I would rather them learn whilst we have the ‘luxury’ of a strong government, than when we are faced with a crisis. Same thoughts about distinguishing between political party and the civil service. Nothing is going to fall apart just because of a ‘freak’ election – I think Singaporeans would be too pragmatic to let things slide. In any case, my own analysis says that PAP will easily form the government, just how much of the vote they will get.

  11. Well written..
    Hope the Pappies can view your analysis…
    SGP badly need thinkers like you…
    They have really lost touch with the masses..

  12. I am from a low income household and I am not particularly a PAP supporter but I do not agree with your views.
    One just had to look at our neighboring countries and know what a ineffective and inexperienced government will do to our country and our lives.
    There are good opposition candidates but his I wish they were independents. I will be the first to vote for them. Just look at the integrity and honesty of the parties. Nothing to shout about really. So in a nutshell unless the good opposition forms a credible team instead of being in one of the current teams, they will not get my vote. A freak election will send you fleeing. Come on be honest. You are not prepared to stay in our neighbor countries right ? So don’t say so what ? Be honest to yourself please.

    • Your vote is at your own discretion. From your post I could easily tell you have not read all 4 points and digress. Save yourself the assumptions at the end, you pretty much do not have the right to judge how the writer think he would do should a freak election ever occur.

  13. If you claimed a freak election with the opposition being the government does not effect the economy I suspect you are not a Singaporean but a western crony out to disrupt and deceive.
    My dear fellow Singaporeans, please be alert. I am not asking you to vote for any particular party but do not be swayed by comments by him. It is not factual and I suspect he is already residing somewhere and not here. So it does not effect him for sure. Cheers !

    • Thank you for your insight. Where should I read up on facts? the ST? How did you know he’s a foreigner and know the intricate details of our beloved MPs? Actually, I do not need to ask you; I have hordes of other mediums that drew level with his comments. Ah well, even if he were to be a foreigner I couldn’t care about your comment either. Try appealing your cause to Singaporean teens, if they have an education et al.

    • Dear Anonymous, references, Old Bean, references! Your post is pointless without references. “It is not factual”? What do you you base your assertions on? I suspect it’s all in your head; you probably just need to lie down and rest.

    • Hi Anonymous, the author has an extensive account of his background on the About page of this blog. The link is https://sudhirtv.com/about

      Please read his other articles on this blog. They should allow you to better decide whether he is a Western crony or is truly concerned about Singapore.

  14. Pingback: [VIRUS] : Ensuring that this gets as wide a read as possible before September 11, Polling Day - www.hardwarezone.com.sg

  15. Disagree with a large part of your article.

    One monumental mistake you made is in assuming that giving them a mandate would encourage them to pursue “growth at all costs. More destruction like Bukit Brown. Super-high immigration once again. The continued dominance of the rich and the elites. The discrimination against minority constituencies such as single mums.”

    First, they PAPs have made massive changes over the past 4 years. If you can’t even acknowledge these, then the debate ends.

    They have tightened immigration, increased housing supply, and making concrete changes in healthcare and education.

    As for those changes that you would like to see but has not happened (eg. single mums) why do you assume that these issues will not evolve as the others had?

    Voting the PAP, instead of encouraging their old problematic policies, will be a firm endorsement of their positive and constructive response to the 2011 results. It will encourage them to further pursue more positive changes because what they had done over the past 4 years have yielded results.

    On the other hand, voting against them only tells them that no matter what they do, the electorate will never be pleased. They made so many changes after 2011, and yet they still do not get a big mandate. What’s the point then?

    • If PAP thinks, what’s the point then…. Then they can get out! Or stay, come off from their ivory tower, listen to the ground. The current PAP thinks they know best, they have all the solutions. All the so called “concrete changes” you listed out are superficial and minor compared to the issues facing the people daily.

      And all these are caused by PAP approach to every single issue. Only they have the solution, the best solution. People should not complain, talk back and just swallow it.

    • Yes, fully support this. Ain’t we having a good and peaceful life for the past 50 years comparing to our neighbouring countries. It’s easy to talk but can they deliver. Imagine the opposition promising to give us a few hundreds every month. Where does the money come from? Let’s vote for a good and experience government.

  16. “…the quality of talent between the PAP and opposition is almost even.” I seriously doubt about your judgment. I live in South Asia and have witnessed the disastrous when incompetent opposition leaders took power! I follow Singapore news very closely and I hope people will vote with good judgment.

  17. I have always supported PAP but am shock with your article. I hope our PAP friends will also read this article and take note about it. Thank you for your enlightenment.

  18. Dear Sudir, I enjoyed reading your article immensely. Thank you for taking the time to write this! Coherent analysis which opened my eyes to a fresh perspective. However, I would encourage you to read the SDP manifesto and judge it for its merits objectively. Being a student and looking at their suggestions for education, one wonders if it has been thoroughly thought out at all. Many of their “suggestions” have already been implemented, and are at best well meaning but totally naive and out of touch with the current system. Also, I am hardly well versed in healthcare literacy but a quick scan of their 90 page National Healthcare Plan has prompted some questions- they plan to fund this populist measure through defence cuts (complacent??)? How feasible is the rise in corporate tax rates feasible in Singapore, given our dependence on FDI and export- oriented industries? And lastly, there seems to be many similarities with the newly rolled out CHAS scheme? Perhaps I am nit picking haha. At the end of the day, like you, I hope Singaporeans will vote wisely and not vote for the Opposition for the sake of voting against the ruling majority. Also, as you have astutely observed, it is imperative that one votes leaders of solid character and integrity into the Parliament and it is even more important for us Singaporeans to be aware of this and stay guarded at all times. Chee Soon Juan, for example, has an incredibly appalling past track record so I’m not sure what to make of his current mellowed yet assured persona. I’d love to hear your perspective on him and the SDP and why you support them! Thanks once again for writing this, Sudir.

  19. All SINGAPOREANS,

    Very good article that echo my thoughts below.

    Mr. Lee Kuan Yew will remain in our hearts and minds forever. I am sure most of us agreed that he is an extraordinary man who has contributed his life to Spore. But he was a HUMAN.

    Thanks to the early generations of political leadership who brought us here. I can agree up to 1996 but do not believed in single political party governance moving forward because today is different from the past. Moreover LKY is no more there.

    As a Truly Singaporean, I am writing this political letter for the interests of all Singaporeans. I am political party neutral though I must say I do not support the incumbent party since 1996, and I have my own beliefs.

    Putting our political views and differences aside in any matters concern facing us for the time being. Doesn’t matter who are the political office holders and party for now. All politicians are HUMAN, because they are HUMAN, it makes no difference who they are by HUMAN nature. They are just HUMAN. The HUMAN nature with emotion, intelligence, self-interest, six-sense, feeling, ego, greed, make mistakes, change over-time and so on. Under capitalist environment, means monies, power and opposite sex partner, of course you may name more.

    After five decades of national development, and because they are HUMAN, the current political structure and system is increasingly risky from now on after LKY. The risk is increasing! At today’s stage of Spore development, if we continue the incumbent’s way of governing Singapore, I can safely say that Singaporeans will be worst off in the next decade from now, with already partial worsening over the last one decade as evident shown, and likely the incumbent will loss its political governance even before it get worst when no alternate party ready to govern. Another word, the incumbent will loss power within 2 GEs if same HUMAN and mentality are applied. This may not be the best outcome either. Going down along this path will be a lose-lose-lose for all.

    Any one dare to take up the challenge in Singapore? If any of the ministries open up their book freely for independent third-party auditing, we are sure to find something of non compliance big or small. The number of new citizens who have excused from national services is more than anyone of you can imagine since 1991. If all politicians declare their family tree from their parents down from 1965 and their assets, declare their public interests and public appointments holding, you will be extremely surprised to discover a lot of things that you should and want to know but never. I am sure that there are many people have also been sacrificed over last five decades. Let us just all admit if not debate these.

    People, in Spore, the top 0.1% controls the 0.9% then wants to control the 99%! Everything are not the issues! It is the current government policies that became the issues! Foreigners are not an issue! National Services have never an issue! Wages and employment were not an issue! CPF savings is ok! And many things else, just to quote a few examples here. The issues are Politics! Policies! Who! All these issues are created because of the HUMAN governing Policies! The HUMAN! Those so called most capable HUMAN were based on their personal trust for real reason behind! Then The Politics!

    Our “1/3” Elected President claimed to be the best candidate to bring the Singaporeans together. Till now, we don’t see much actions nor results.

    All these reasons bring myself to the point that the current political system and structure are getting less relevant ever before today and needs to change! We cannot have a system that only depend on handful of HUMANs in turn control the 99.9%. Examples, they control of “almost everything”, policies decision making, “no trust” to Sporeans but only their trusted alliances, etc. Soon the GPS ERP will control all motorists life and more are coming! While I agree that we cannot change over-night, we need the incumbent to agree to lay out the roadmap to make it happens within the next decade by milestones. We know people like to hold on power, we know there are a lot of ego play, self interests, and many other factors. We must change the rules and practices of politics to create an inclusive society since LKY had created the base system foundation.

    We just cannot put our ‘everything’ in the hands of one, and few people moving forward, because they are HUMAN! What if the Titanic ship sunk?

    We do not want to be told what to and what not to and get blame for everything after all you are controlling almost everything. I do not see the current team is capable enough and do not see any PM calibre. What have our PM achieved over the last decade? Stability, Education and only? Think!

    Thus what we need to focus here moving forward should be the fine tuning to achieve the right political systems and structure formation. LKY once said, do not change the system which I agree in principle but this does not mean no change. Though he has said that his job is done. We agreed and in fact he has done more then that. But only one job that he could have been done is to put in place a political system and structure not overly depending on selected HUMANs. Yes, it is selected HUMAN. He attempted by introducing the use of the role of Elected President and NMP but fell short. A system only work well under the supervision of LKY and first generation political leaders. Because LKY is not going to be there! Because the current system needs these selected HUMAN in order to work in ‘harmony’, and not just talented Singaporean people that we have, and this is real risk! e.g. EP, MPs, Ministers, GLC executives, etc.. No talents is just not a reason but it is that no political will instead. Moreover, the new and current political members do not seem to standout in the lining up and no one has demonstrated to have the cut to bring Singapore to new heights but just increasing risks and suppression control. Knowing that to get the incumbent to change itself is practically, politically and egoistically not possible. Yes, not possible. The outcomes of what are happening in Spore over last two decades speaks by itself.

    Therefore, moving forward we should consider Singapore political reform for the good of every Singaporean is to have minimum >33.33% of the parliament seats go to alternate parties’ members to set the stage. We must acknowledge that the incumbent had done a great job for the first 30 years but not after. We need to keep and preserve all the good policies and system already in place, improve and change some of those under the political roadmap, remove and improve those supposed not to be there. To put this bluntly, we need to vote out the incumbent by more than one-third to start this process, in short, VoP.33. I call this the new democratic parliament and not a political theater. Only this way then Singapore will learn as a nation, the incumbent, the alternate parties, and the people will learn as a nation, and we can then get rid of the money politics, relationship politics, media politics, immigrant politics, legality politics, ‘wayang’ politics and petty politics. Only this way, then we can have a sustainable future. Singapore needs to develop into a real advanced country and not artificially. We need to reach the stage that any Singaporean is prepared to sacrifice their life like LKY for the interests of Singapore. We need to move away from CommuniCratic to Democratic country to maximum the interests of Singaporeans. Most critically, the people, Singaporeans, can decide on it without the need for approval from anyone, on 911, this Friday. VoP.33! It is time to critically think about this question.

    LKY has built the solid foundation. By saying these, the politics, the laws, the rules, the policies, the constitution, and everything that are relevant to Singaporeans should put up for debate under this new Singapore norm govern by this new democratic parliament. The politics power needs to be split structurally, systematically and not individually. Yes it is not going to be easy, and I am not suggesting to rock the boat here nor making overnight changes in case someone is trying to label it that way. But over a decade. I am talking about political will that the incumbent will never deliver. It may sound drastic to some of you, but because we are way overdue for change, we need to start with VoP.33 and follow the agreed roadmap, actions, decisions and milestones within the next decade. We need to gradually liberalizing the politics without jeopardizing our national interests, control, security, society, and sovereignty. I am not suggesting to forget our past. Petty And Protective politics will get all of us worst off before it becomes better. It has worked for the first three decades, but losing its effectiveness since then especially most recent years. Political divide is fine but not National divide which is in the risk of building up.

    People, for the interests of Singaporeans and Singapore, the Petty And Protective politics will hurt more Singaporeans before it helps all of us. Most of us will be worst off except those selected some and the Top 5%.

    People, let’s look at bigger picture, the key is Singaporeans and Singapore, not political parties, family name, individuals, etc. I am sure LKY would agree.

    People, let’s admit that we are all HUMANs, Singaporeans, and not god. We need to work together to maximum our interests as a nation, as the people of Singapore.

    People, incumbent can and will continue governing after next GE. let them continue the good works, keep all the good systems and policies. But VoP.33 must happen to start the reform to get ride of the bad systems and polices. E.g. ‘Monies policies’, level playing field in politics, immigration policies and national services, and many others.

    People, only this way, a lot of things then can be resolved as a nation, peacefully and politically sustainable. Now is the right time!

    People, only this way we can then learn together as a team and bring Singaporeans together to new heights as one united nation, for all Singaporeans, and,

    People, we are all Sporeans and we need to come to a point that we will die for Spore!!! Anytime!!! I hope this will not take too long and I hope to see in my next generation.

    Sincerely & Thank You.

    Truly Singaporean 🙂

  20. Thanks for sharing such a long article and taking the time to pen it. Interesting article though there are many points that I take a different position on especially on the threats of racisim and strength of our oppositions. One just needs to try to verify what they said on their smooth speeches to know that their well quoted results or sources are completely baseless.

    More interesting are comments made by those who left their opinions.

    Our country is only as good as those who lead us. Without hardwork, tenacity and sacrifice and of course Divine grace, we would not have become who we are today.

    Only problem is that many Singaporeans assume that to continue with the same level of success that we had enjoyed is bound to be maintain. There is a Chinese saying 创业难,守业更难 – it is more difficult to maintain success than to find success.

    Hopefully we can find many among our young who are willing to sacrifice and work hard just like our forefathers had done because no one owes a living

    • I love the word sacrifices been using this word very often lately…how many are able to sacrifices for their country…frankly speaking no politic is clean… To the writer.. Please give an example of a country with clean politic… I bet you can’t name one…

  21. Just like many in the world do not think having USA as the only super power is a good thing ( look at what they have done all over the world in the name of freeing the people from tyrants ) , many here in Singapore felt the same about having PAP as the only voice in parliament is a good thing too ( and what they have done to many aspect of our lives is very much similar what USA done to the world’s communities).
    And why is that so? Because they can!, Because they are strong, because they had most things in their control….and because they have no one to stop them. Many of us may grew up seeing USA as the good guys, perhaps there might just be some truth in there 30 years ago. Today, a little older , a little bit more informed, a little more awaken and a little wiser, I welcome the emergence of China, India and even the return of Russia.
    In the same way, with PAP having no one to answers to for the last 50 years cannot be good for us in the long run. The early Singapore is created and built by a group of very sincere and honorable men, LKY included. Can we find the same amongst our present leaderships??
    Its like comparing USA under G. Washington and the USA under G. Bush. Would you want the CEO of a public listed company to be holding on to his position for 50 years?? Do we still remember NKF saga?? Anyone in any organization for too long, had no one to check him will create his own law, appoints his own cronies and rule his kingdom like a god. After a while, he will believe he is god, and he forgets he is there to serve, and that his duty it to make the life of his flock better.
    If you are discerning enough, you will realized this is already a reality in Singapore. If Singapore collapsed without the PAP, then we know they have not done a good job, if they have, then the entire system of government should run without hiccups no matter who runs the government.
    Opposition are Singaporean too. They above all others wants Singapore to be better …and that is why they are there ( against all odds). We do not need to fear that the opposition will destroys the country. It is because they see what is happening that they are stepping forward to right those wrong…for us as a nation. Besides, by and large many Singaporean are wise and matured and will never allow that to happen.
    We also need not fear that the few good PAP candidates may get knocked out. Everyone knows ( may be some dont, so let me explain), if you’re the PAP’s chosen ones, your life is set for life ( as long as you sing their songs). You never ever again have to look for another job, all your future will be planned for you. So no need to worry for any one them. The only concern will be wishing for longer life to enjoy all the money.
    I do not blame any one of them. If offered the same deal, how many of us can think of a strong enough reason to turn it down to join the oppositions instead?? That is one of the reason why the opposition candidates get my respect….swimming against the tide is very tiring ( just ask the salmons ). Given the same opportunities, the support, training and grooming, opposition candidates will perform as well as if not better than those in whites, toughened by the struggle to get to this stage.
    Lets level the political playing field …… I doubt PAP can produced another LKY. More responsible voices and more good brain in parliament will make Singapore a better place for all of us.
    BTW, we are not voting PAP out, we just want good responsible oppositions to help run this country. This cannot be a bad thing is it not?? Change is the constance in this universe, everything must change over time….no exceptions!

  22. I don’t agree with some of you points
    1. Do we really lack of space?, Please elebrote. 2. Do we really lack water?
    Do you know we are going to be 100% self sufficient soon given our newater technology? 3. Do we really lack of lack electricity? Sembcorp electric plant overproduction and No one buys.
    4. Uncontrolled price really caused by foreigners?
    But why taiwan and japan with no foreigners import yet their housing are rising uncontrollably?Or is it caused by uncontrolled QE? Or caused by 1 sg pple or 1 sg family has many home?
    5. No conversation with people?
    Nation conversation. The dialogue with citizen. WP invited to help out. But boycotted by WP. Just like our national day rally. Just wan to take money but not working. Sg polices always have public consultation. Did people participate?
    6. Vision
    Doing unpopular things to prevent currency collapse and bankruptcy is not a vision? And PAP is so stupid to the extent that they wanna lose votes by doing unpopular things again and again.. They can easily make themselves popular by using money from reserves that they save.
    To me, it is ok to find fault with PAP. But it is equally important to find fault with Opposition. And the only opposition that i truely respect is mr chiam see tong and not the pple from wp.

  23. What an exaggeration from the start. Despite repeated attempts by the author to deny that he is discrediting the current SG government for all its achievements and credit, the writer has drawn up too many leading scenarios (with no facts but opinions and layman observations) and comparisons to manipulate the “easily hood-winked readers” into buying into his version of inequality and the need for change. I would not recommend anyone take this writing at face value but to question the factual accuracy of each claim and the emotions it is trying to elicit from the manner it is written.

    For the record, i am not an advocate of any particular party. The fact is no party can run the government perfectly and there are bound to be good policies and flops.

    If credible and able opposition candidates do come forward, they have an even chance at winning my vote.

    • So the way Singapore was governed up till now was all wrong?? Remember, words can be deceptive and cheap. What you see in the real world is what it is. Did opposition helped Singapore to be what it is today? Then why change the way we do things. Do you think Opposition are in politics because they love Singapore? Look at each and every of their backgrounds, you will find they all have a “chip on their shoulders”. If you do not already know Singaporeans are getting divided. This blog site is an example. The more opposition there is the more the country will be divided. Don’t have to believe what I say. Take your time and say what happens if Opposition gets a bigger share. Does not mean the better you write the more correct you are. And, more persistent means your argument is right. Truth is in what you see. Maybe you will argue what you see are “illusions”.

  24. I agree with your conclusion that it would be perfect to have 50-65% of seats won by PAP. However, it would have been fairer to give more justification to your points. Too much generalisation and assumptions here. One glaring point to note though, is that opposition are as capable of committing the faults that you mentioned PAP has committed, if not more. Look at what they’ve been raising in Parliament for a clearer insight on their quality instead of what they speak about at rallies, and the AHPETC saga.

    • The AHPETC saga has been embedded with so many half-truths and untruths that have been repeated so frequently that some people have come to accept them as the gospel truth. Those who care to delve deeper than the biased reports on the MSM by reading up the alternative views online will be able to extricate the lies and see the true picture.

  25. If the opposition is really good, we can vote them in but keep them within control because if their popularity reach the tipping point, we will see two party system in SG. Read the below about what our founding father got to say and the US experience.

    LKY also warned that if Singapore decides to move towards a two-party system, then the people are “destined for mediocrity”.

    “The biggest problem with the two-party system is that once it is in place, the best people will choose not to be in politics. Getting elected will be a dicey affair,” he pointed out.

    In fact, the US Founding Fathers warned about the threat from a two party system.

    John Adams said:
    There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

    George Washington agreed, saying in his farewell presidential speech:
    The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty

    Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

    It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

    There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

  26. Hello Sudhir, Greetings from halfway across the globe. =)

    This is a brilliant piece that resonates with me. I do hope to see a more balanced parliament that not only propels Singapore to greater heights on the economic front, but also one that extends participation and shares Singapore’s success with its citizens outside the elite circle.

    For myself, unfortunately/fortunately, OK fortunately, the opposition could do better; my PAP MP deserves a seat for doing a great job, especially in aiding residents in need instead of spouting senseless excuses in disastrous attempts of redemption. You have able and passionate candidates in your GRC, chances seem low but nonetheless, all the best in supporting the alternative voices in parliament.

    • Unfortunately, by throwing your weight behind a PAP MP, you have become an inadvertent supporter for all current and future policies of the PAP if they retain Parliamentary power. LHL has already declared war: That either his party governs, or Nothing at All. There is no room for sharing in his eyes. Your PAP MP may be decent, but useless when the party whip is raised. I will rather take my chances with diversity, with a multi-party opposition and coalition.

  27. I like your part 1 and 2, less so on part 3. And i think your part 4 is s stretch. Let me explain.

    Part3 feels a bit moaning. As an indian you seem to be bothered by the govt’s unspoken policy of maintaining the racial balance between chinese, indian and malay. But actually if you think about it, isn’t it exactly the reason that we are afraid to be ‘indianized’ as you mentioned in part 3, that justifies the number balance policy. I do not want to go to the length of ‘europe being muslimized’ or america being mexicomized but i hope you get my point. Being an indian you might not think it a big deal if one day singapore has 50% indians, but the threat is real even to imagine that for a lot of non indian singaporeans. Please do not overreact to this view as being racist. It is not. It is just that the status quo is good and a sudden influx of huge numbers of indians would be highly problematic.

    As to tharman’s job, again i feel some of your indian bias here. I am not convinced that tharman would be a better prime minister. It is just your own view. Everyone has a view but evidence is harder to collect. Tharman should be the pride of indian community in singapore, no doubt about it. But if you want to argue a case for tharman to be a better pm than lhl, you need to present more evidence. If you like him to be a pm just because he is an indian like yourself, the case is very weak to say the most.

    Now part 4. I am not sure your number theory works. As i said in my previous reply, we need better quality opposotions. Your love candidate like chee or paul is just not good enough. I am not going to vote a candidate just because he presents some good idea on a healthcare system. Healthcare system is a highly complicated matter and to be fair, pap’s singapore is doing a not bad job, so far. We all know that talk, like we write here, is cheap. Paul need to do more to give voters confidence. I have watched a few speeches of chee and i am not impressed.

    So when you say that opposition has the same competent people as pap, that is again, your own opinion and largely inaccurate. There are a lot of reasons why pap enjoys a majority in the parliament and one of them is that they do have better talents. Pap should not be penalized for the sake of balance in parliament, by some incompetent opposition. That would be too easy for the opposition and would make the country worse off.

    However i do encourage your effort to challenge the ruling party. I think you just need to find better opposition candidates.

    • Just because you say you are trying not to be racist doesn’t mean you’re not. I’m Chinese Singaporean and I find your views appalling. I could be wrong but I suppose you’re Singaporean Chinese too. You feel the balance now is good and thus should be “maintained”, but how would you feel as an ethnic minority here seeing swathes of mainland Chinese being imported to make up the Chinese numbers? Oh and by the way I too feel Tharman would make a great PM; unfortunately I hear he has said he isn’t interested in the position. Tharman has (largely) steered clear of petty name-calling these elections and his eloquence in putting across well-thought out financial policies impresses me. Are you saying that there is no “Chinese bias” if the PM is “preferably” a Chinese?

  28. Excellent analysis of Singapore politics and the PAP! Wake up call to ALL true blue Singaporean to vote wisely and bring in more opposition MP to the Parliament. PAP is no longer the party of the old guards who really work hard to put Singapore on the path where we are today. LHL and his cronies need to be humbled and listened to the common people of Singapore.

  29. You cannot be serious when you say the opposition has the same quality of talents? Some yes , but really? The opposition has to up the game or there’s really no alternatives.

  30. Well said i totally support n agreed with what u has mention in this tat is the point people has been ignoring and well it is time for singaporean voters to wake up the idea and watch wAt ur gov is doing!

    Wp supporter sign

  31. My comments may not matter now as it is pollng day today.

    I readily agree that our old guard leaders were the best lot Singapore has had and our present government cannot compare to LKY and team.

    But to say so easily “so what if PAP loses this GE and we wake up on 12 SEP to a coalition government (it will take at least 3 parties to form a majority of 45 seats) where there will be no issue for Singapore at all” is naïve to say the least. The opposition parties cannot get along with each other and WP has grown somewhat arrogant over the years (witness their not attending the second meeting among the opposition parties to help prevent a 3-party fight; they are quite directly saying we have decided what we want and where we will contest and to hell with what you other parties want or say).

    Many of the opposition parties (WP included) have leaders with big egos and you think they can work together for the good of Singapore? This can happen in a dreamland only. Witness how some of them jumped from one party to another (eg. Tan Jee Say left SDP after they lost, thought he was good enough to vie for the Presidential seat and lost again, enjoyed taste of political blood and formed his own party and then went on record to flippantly say kick out PAP and we opposition will form a coalition government). Wow, so brave / confident. Or is it pure arrogance? Then for political convenience Benjamin Phwee who left Chiam’s party and formed his own party (I was actually quite impressed by him among the lot in the NUSS debate) had now joined Chiam’s again to contest a GRC. Political convenience just to get a parliamentary seat?

    Do you seriously think that if a multi-party coalition party were to form immediately, i.e. tomorrow, that Singapore will not get a shock? Of course those who wish PAP out will rejoice but their rejoicing but be shortlived. We will lose some good ministers immediately (Mr Tharman being a classic example and who is recognised for his economic brains worldwide). I don’t think any of the opposition party members can fill his shoes. The Education Minister in mind is another good minister.

    Ecnomically, we are so dependent on trade with the world. Diplomatically it takes years/decades for the ministers to form good working relationships and influence with other countries, whether regional or globally. And when we lose this it will surely have adverse effects on this little red dot.

    While our civil service is distinct from the cabinet, it will take time for it to jive with a new government.

    Of course, PAP cannot be the government forever but we need time to transition into a new party government. Even WP has some way to go before they are anywhere near being ready to govern the country. Sorry while LTK or S Lim are good in leading their party and the former is a good political strategist, neither, at least in mind, can become our PM or DPM (generally the party Secretary General and Chairman are ushered into such positions).

    It takes years for anyone to learn the ropes of being a minister and by the time the coalition learn the ropes, Singapore would already have fallen several rungs down the ladder and I don’t know if we can recover or how many years it would take for us to recover.

    So, yes, I want opposition party members in the Parliament but I am realistic to say they are not ready for the foreseeable future.

    One other issue. PAP loathes the word welfare but in reality for the past several years (and this is even before 2011) they have rolled out some schemes which are actually “welfarish” in nature despite their not using this word. I cannot recall the names of the schemes but you know what they are. I am one of those who have benefited from some of these schemes.

  32. That the PAP is the only party we can and will rely on to govern our country is not in dispute here. I believe deep down the writer feels the same way. We must also share the belief that our future is better assured by having a stronger government, one that is in the hands of our brightest, bravest and most dedicated. The process toward this has begun. Let’s send them to Parliament regardless of race, language, religion or political affiliation for, like the first three as embodied in our pledge, any divide in the fourth is equally divisive for our young and fragile nation.
    PM and all ministers say vote wisely, scrutinise the candidates carefully. There are suitable candidates on both sides.

  33. I think problems like too many foreign workers, rising cost of living, crowded trains are good problems to have compared to unemployment, half empty trains and stagnating standard of living. It is easy for Paul Tambyah to suggest certain improvements for improving our healthcare system. He did not have proposed a budget on how to fund his suggestions. He does not have to concern about expenses for education, social services, defence etc and how to balance the overall budget. He does not have to worry about how Singapore should respond when Indonesian forcibly take over control of the air space above the Riau Islands and forced not only SIA but also other commercial airlines to make detours in the approach to Changi Airport. He does not have to worry about what Singapore should do when Malaysia forcibly re-possess the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor because we refuse to pay the additional land tax that they demand. In the current spat between Japan and China, Singapore is increasingly under pressure to take sides. Paul Tambyah does not to think about the money that has to be spent to build a strong SAF to deter foreigners from pushing us around.
    Our ministers are also people with feelings. Why won’t they spend all the money to provide generous subsidies to all and sundry who need help – the sick, the needy, the unfortunate etc and in the process win votes. Of course they would if they think we have the money. But these are responsible people. They don’t want to incur budget deficits and condemn our children and posterity to pick up the bill.
    This makes a difference. Consider one party who after taking over a town council get off and spent all the surplus accumulated by the previous party and went into deficit to boot. They could not resist pressures from the long suffering supporters and bestow favours upon some of them, employing them as managers on extraordinary salaries in the town councils and throwing in rich contracts to them as well. All these paid for by residents’ monies.
    It is not easy to find a few good men to bring our country forward to the next level. Some have been proven and we should be discerning and know who we can trust.

  34. The ideal parliament composition with a significant level of opposition with the PAP as majority leading to a more efficient/ resilient political outcome is a hypothesis. I don’t see any evidence for this anywhere in the world and from history.

    In such a parliamentary composition, the reverse could happen as well: i.e. the outcome is less efficient with the PAP spending more effort and resources defending and debating their policies, or compromising on tough/ longer term policies.

  35. I have to disagree with a few points:

    Firstly, the PAP has had even bigger mandates in times past; where is the social instability the author speaks of?

    Secondly, the Black Knights forgetting how to fly isn’t that far-fetched an idea. In fact, there may not even be any Black Knights to speak of if the SDP gets their way. If one had to cut defense expenditure by 40%, one would remove non-essential defence forces first. Now go work out the conclusion yourself. (I would love to see such a cut being debated in Parliament though.)

    Thirdly, the institutions, structures, systems and processes that we have are not going to disappear overnight but they sure can change over a 5-year period. One such change if a particular opposition party were to gain power would be MOH being “parked” under MINDEF (potentially leading to conflicts of interest) & getting a share of the defense budget. Another would be the repeal of the ISA.

    Fourth, the quality of talent between the PAP and the Opposition is almost even only if one is talking about SDP’s A-team, WP’s A- & probably B-team.

  36. I was thinking how brilliant SDP idea is going to be. But after reading… It seem like they took some oranges from others basket, squeeze it into juice and tell every look at how brilliant their juice is compare to the ruling party’s oranges.
    I can see cons and problems of the health system SDP provided. They need to look at the bigger picture.

  37. Pingback: Singapore and the Future of Democracy | Din Merican: the Malaysian DJ Blogger

  38. I went to check the Gini index of US and UK, it has been increasing since the 50s. US has two parties system while UK has multi-parties democracy. So to me in theory it sounds great but in reality multi-parties democracy fails to reduce inequality and care for the poor.

    Another example is in US where Obama worked so hard to give health care to about 30m poor Americans with no insurance protection, the Republican fought so hard to get it nullified.

    I also check the per capita income for 2014, UK ranked 24th with US$39,137, US ranked 9th with US$54,629. Singapore ranked 3rd with US$82,763. How come with no natural resources we could have such a high per capita income? Can a multi-parties system in Singapore achieve this?

    Can we not have our own unique system where we work closely with a dominant party that the people trusted with some opposition to serve as a check?

  39. Some comments from a reader:
    1. I don’t agree with the reason you cited as the cause of the racial riot in 1964. To say that it was caused by PAP who decided to contest in the Malaysia General Election then was too simplistic. (It made me wonder if you were born then. This was answered when I read more about you in your website.)
    The PAP believed and still do in a multi-racial society with equality for each and every race whereas Malaysia believed and still do in a multi-racial society but with special rights accorded to Malays or bumiputras. Yes PAP might have broken their promise not to participate in the Malaysia GE but there was a reason for it. Do you know the reason? The reason was that they didn’t believe that Malays should have more or special rights than the other races. Or else where is the equality? So on the surface, it is true that PAP caused the racial riot but the root cause was the special treatment that the Malaysia Government had accorded to the Malays.

    2. You questioned why the PAP claims that we are a multi-racial society but they continue to have Chinese as the majority. Yes it does look odd indeed. However think further of where we are situated. We have 2 immediate big neighbours with a huge population of Malay. At that time if we did not have the Chinese as the major race, we would have ended up like Malaysia. Now the question is after so many years do we still need to have Chinese as the major race? Well, the way I look at it is that we still need many more years before we can be very certain that the Malay in Singapore will consider Singapore as their home as the influence from the big neighbouring countries are still very strong. Of course, you can then question if the percentage of Indian population should be allowed to increase. I can only say that the ratios have worked well for the past 50 years. Is there a need to make a major change like this?

    3. You suggested that it won’t caused much damage to Singapore if the opposition is in power for 1 term. I am not too sure about that. Firstly we are a small country, both in population and land, and we don’t have natural resources. Can we really last for 5-6 years with a weak government? I am not saying with certainty that the current opposition parties are weak. However, they have not proven to be strong. Except for WP, if you have attended or heard what they said or did during those past elections, I am sure you would not want to vote for them. Yes, currently they seem to be a better lot in term of educational qualification and career. but whether they are good in coming up with feasible ideas is yet to be seen. Of course, you can argue that they need to be elected first before they can show that they are capable. Well, that is the dilemma that most Singaporeans including me are having. We want more members from the opposition to be in the Parliament but we also want PAP to be in power. So, if you have a feasible solution how we can achieve that, I am sure we can have the cake and eat it.

    4. You questioned about the frequent change of policy with regard to procreation. Yes I was affected when the PAP Government implemented the Stop-at-2. I was upset then. But think about it. At that time, Singapore’s standard of living was very low. With limited land and no natural resources, could we have sustained a big population? Where could we find the money to build schools, hospitals and infra-structure? After we had improved our standard of living, people’s thinking changed. Many of them wanted better life as in having more leisure, more travel, etc. This was coupled by the fact that more girls are better educated and men did not want to marry girls with higher educational qualification and the girls with higher educational qualification also did not want to marry men with lower educational qualification. So the number of babies born was not enough to replace those who would pass away many years later. (This is not unique to Singapore. It is happening throughout the whole world.) As a result we need to have immigrants to make up the number. However I do agree that the PAP Government did not plan and manage the increase in the immigrants well such that we had housing, transport and social problems in the past decade.

    Same reader, separate mail
    1. Paying more cash for babies. If you have realized, the government has increased the baby bonus, increased the subsidy for childcare services, increased maternity and paternal leaves, allowed greater use of Medisave fund for IVF, helped the married couples to live near their parents, etc. All this directly or indirectly means more cash for babies. Unfortunately the results so far are not very encouraging.
    Some may argue that more cash should be given. That may be true, but there are other consequences. Who is going to fund the additional subsidies? What is the impact to cost of business for the SME and MNC?
    Besides, couples nowadays want to have more leisures, to enjoy good lives, etc.They don’t like to be tied down, taking care of children which is a tedious task to them. Dangling more cash/subsidies to these parents is not going to change their mindsets significantly if at all.

    2. Promoting more elderly and women in the workforce. How does this increase the population?.

    Additional comments.
    1. Having friend and relatives taking up the top posts in parliament and civil services. Much as I dislike it, I can understand why this is happening. It is also happening in the commercial world. Those at the top will always want people that they are familiar with to work with and for them. By doing that, they have a better chance of achieving their objectives and they don’t need to spend additional time checking on them as they would if those working with and for them are unfamiliar people. To put it simply, it is the trust that you can get from close friends and relatives.

  40. From a Scottish friend, Edinburgh:
    Some points in your final pre-election piece particularly resonated. One was the importance of Piketty’s work, and the dangerous consequences of ignoring excessive wealth accumulation. In the post-financial crisis years, I’ve felt that the UK has reached a kind of tipping point where social mobility is going backwards (starting with my own generation, unfortunately enough!) The negative impact of treating the real estate market primarily as an investment opportunity for the affluent, rather than (at least equally) as a sector that is key to providing the basic human right of a family home for all, is starting to be felt more keenly. And as wealth entrenches, so the space to protest and attempt to counter-balance the trend is squeezed – in part by a media narrative hostile to any dissenting voices, and in part by actual laws & regulations.

    The positive responses include new social movements and increased membership of centre-left/green political parties; the negative responses are obviously the rise of far right parties. The main reason I was pro-independence for Scotland was that I saw it as a route to a more democratic and accountable polity, where the interests of big business & the very wealthy would be better balanced by the array of parties elected through proportional representation. But another reason was genuine concern that we were becoming entrenched in a “managed democracy” dominated by centre-right parties, that would eventual push all centre-left opposition to the fringes (see: all mainstream media outlets referring to not-very-left-wing-at-all Labour politican Ed Miliband as “Red Ed”); and that if unchecked, this could one day potentially lead to mass protests and violence. (Not that crazy – there’s a trade union bill in parliament as I write that proposes forcing picketers to give their details to the security services, and to even ban trade union activists from using social media. UK, or Singapore?)

    Happily, underlying democratic structures remain in place, and in combination with social media activism and good old-fashioned town-hall meetings, the election of Corbyn as Labour leader shows that even when the full weight of the mainstream media is against it, a dissenting voice can prevail. We now face an interesting situation: the mainstream media, all the way from the Daily Hate and the Telegraph to the BBC and the Guardian, are unified in favour of “establishment” politics (Conservatives plus the right wing of the Labour party). Yet we have a non-establishment party running the Scottish government with a very strong mandate, and now a non-establishment Labour leader. There is such dissonance on the airwaves, as the BBC and pretty much all media outlets continue to try to dismiss these individuals and their supporters as loons or naive kids caught up in some mass madness, even though it is the people who take more interest in political, economic and social developments, ie the better-informed parts of the population on the whole, who form the support base.

    To me, the true madness would be continuing with a status quo which has us on a path to ever-increasing wealth disparity, ever-worsening (high-level) corruption and capture by interest groups of the political system, reducing democracy and human rights, all compounded by a refusal to properly address climate change and all its impacts (refugees included).

  41. Pingback: on Singapore’s presidential election « Musings from Singapore

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