Two articles in the Sunday Times 10 April 2011, demonstrate the inability by members of the ruling party to link cause and effect.
Uh… but you control the campaign period, wat!
In the first (“Aljunied GRC is in good hands: Lim Boon Heng”, Eglin Toh, p. 4), Mrs Lim Hwee Hwa criticizes the Worker’s Party for not revealing its line-up for Aljunied GRC, and Mr Lim Boon Heng goes on to say, “… So when it comes to a campaign, a short 10 days, I think it’s quite difficult for people to assess… so it would be a pity if people are made to cast their choices without the proper assessment of candidates.”
People should be given sufficient time to make a proper assessment of their candidates. However, the cause of insufficient assessment time is not that the opposition parties do not reveal their line-up. Had the Prime Minister, who is also the Secretary-General of the ruling party, dissolved Parliament immediately after Budget 2011 was passed on 9 March 2011; made Nomination Day a week later; and allowed a three-month campaigning period between Nomination Day and Election Day; all this discussion would be moot. Everyone would know where everyone else was running, and all the candidates would be introduced in the constituencies where they would run. The matter is entirely in the hands of the ruling party.
If the ruling party was concerned that there was insufficient assessment time, why have they not quickly pinned down Election Day and called for nominations? Perhaps it is because they are learning slowly, and still adjusting to new circumstances. In the past, when there were no alternative media sources, the ruling party would use the lead-up to Nomination Day as an unofficial campaign period. They would use the unreliable (according to PM Lee: http://theonlinecitizen.com/2011/04/straits-times-credibility-et-tu-pm-lee/) state-controlled media to set the agenda and discussion for the coming elections. Opposition voices would be suppressed and given selective coverage. Today, this has changed – many articles in the Straits Times are in reaction to issues raised by voters online, and PAP candidates suddenly realize that they are being very seriously assessed on their merits. The ruling party can no longer control the election agenda, but they have failed to adjust, sticking instead to their old election strategies.
If Mr Lim is really concerned about the lack of time for a proper assessment of the candidates, perhaps he should speak to his Secretary-General and ask that Election Day be quickly determined, and that a sufficiently long campaign period be instituted.
It’s the mind, not the body
In the second article (“Judge on ability, not gender”, Teo Wan Gek, p. 1), Mrs Lim Hwee Hwa urges Singaporeans to assess new PAP candidates on whether they had the conviction to serve and on their abilities and competencies. She goes on to say, “So I hope people will assess (them) from that perspectives, and not target them… more or less because they are women”, in an obvious reference to two of the PAP’s new female candidates, Ms Tin Pei Ling and Ms Foo Mee Har.
The reporter then goes on to say that Ms Tin was criticized for her youth. It seems that some members of the ruling party are unable to discern that youth and gender are in fact two different dimensions. In any case, in addition to her lack of experience (not “youth”), the criticism of Ms Tin centered on her inability to express independent thought or put together a coherent argument. In contrast, Ms Sylvia Lim of the Worker’s Party experiences her fair share of criticism but has always defended her thoughts and arguments robustly. She has never had to resort to saying, “Oh you are bullying me because I am a woman.”
The arguments about the lack of independent thinking are not “targeted” at Ms Tin, but also apply to the other new PAP candidates. Perhaps Mrs Lim should pay more attention to what the voters are saying.
The failure by the members of the ruling party to relate cause and effect, and their failure to understand basic economics (http://theonlinecitizen.com/2011/02/failing-to-understand-basic-economics/) are strong arguments for the necessity of a vibrant opposition and the creation of a government-in-waiting. Only through robust debate can the flaws in the thinking of ruling party members be exposed. Only through robust debate can better policies be concocted. Only through robust debate can Singaporeans once again contribute and take control of our collective future.