Often when Singaporean politicians stray from the script, they produce gems, phrases for the ages, words destined for internet meme stardom.
Yesterday I was on my way home from town when four buddies messaged me on separate chats: “Did you hear what he just said?”; “Did you see the exchange?”; “Free riders? Hmm.”
Like the fan who is late to the game and has missed the opening goal, I scoured YouTube as soon as I got home.
I watched Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s prime minister, describing a segment of opposition voters as “free riders”, in a parliamentary exchange with Pritam Singh, the leader of the opposition.
Mr Lee was specifically referring to Singaporean voters who voted for the opposition even though they expected the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) to win the election.
“But if you say, vote for for me, somebody else will vote for the PAP, and therefore the PAP will be the government, that, the economists will call a free rider. It means that you’re taking advantage of somebody else who’s doing their duty of electing a government for the nation.” (Video at the bottom.)
This is an awful thing for a country’s leader to say about its voters. Here are five reasons why.
Continue reading “A free ride: Singapore’s prime minister in a muddle”
“Sud, you better lay low,” one of my buddies said in May, after Foo Teow Lee, Singapore’s consul-general in Hong Kong, wrote a letter to the South China Morning Post (SCMP) questioning my integrity and motives. Another friend said “they will come after your family.” Another one said: “Eh, your videos are getting more radical ah.” “Which video?” “The one on race you just published.” … Continue reading Mindless bullies: How some PAP fans try to silence me
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?”
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?
“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?
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
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.”
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?
PAP politicians Sun Xueling and Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim handing out reusable masks to the homeless in Potong Pasir on April 29th 2020, during Singapore’s circuit breaker (effective lockdown) and more than two weeks after the party officially stopped all ground activities. Dear friends in Singapore, below is the last piece I intend to write on pandemic politicking. It is an open letter that I have … Continue reading Pandemic politicking: an open letter to a minister
On Sunday April 12, five days after Singapore’s effective lockdown (known as circuit breaker) began, Chia Shi-Lu, a politician with the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), visited the Alexandra Village Food Centre.
“We were not doing a walkabout, we were there to tell people to wear masks when serving and please wear masks, it was more an education thing,” was Chia’s response.
Strange, then, that Chia, a medical doctor, chose to perform this selfless act accompanied by an entourage, including a prospective political candidate and a photo journalist from Lianhe Zaobao, a government-controlled Chinese newspaper.
Continue reading “Have politicians been setting a good example? A pandemic timeline.”