By Phillip Ang
Three weeks ago, the executive chairman of Banyan Tree opined that PAP could only lose power completely after 25 years. Last week, we heard Han Fook Kwang, SPH Editor-At-Large, speculating on the possibility that PAP could even be in power for another 50 years after losing, perhaps, the next 2 elections!
Han correctly points out the challenges faced by the current crop of inept leaders such as the proliferation of social media, more diverse issues, a widening income gap, etc. The feedback he received – the PAP has changed beyond recognition and likely to lose a substantial number of votes from its past supporters.
Han compares Britain’s political parties, which managed to transform themselves, to the PAP. However, our politics are worlds apart – Britain did not have any political party which had hung on to power for 5 decades through gerrymandering, engaged in fear mongering with total control of the press, civil service and grassroots, jailed political opponents for more than 2 decades, bankrupted opposition party members, etc. Neither did they have a petty PM like ours who has taken legal action against an ordinary citizen over a blog post.
In short, Han is comparing apples and oranges.
The PAP has been addicted to power, easy tax dollars for its exorbitantly-priced ‘service’ to citizens, tweaking flawed policies at its whim, unable to resolve chronic issues, etc. The PAP has not been listening for 5 decades but Han thinks there may be a miracle? Perhaps Han thinks a leopard could change its spots.
The PAP has continued with its old ways of “never mind what the people think” governing and lives in its ivory tower where social/online media do not exist. It has continued to demand total control and does not tolerate dissent.
In 2011, Lee Kuan Yew, ex PM/SM/MM, warned that the PAP may be voted out, giving the example of the fall of the Japanese Liberal (Democratic*) Party which had almost-uninterrupted power from 1955 to 2009. He said the LDP’s downfall was partly because it “carried on with old ideas”.
Has the PAP not been carrying on with old ideas and governing as if the internet does not exist?
The PAP is unable to rejuvenate itself because its old ideas are a turn-off for potential candidates. The PAP has only been able to attract incompetence after scraping the bottom of the barrel. So long as PAP MPs continue with its old ways of promoting minimal transparency, no accountability and working against the people with PAP’s pro business policy, they are effectively useless to voters.
Like Ho Kwon Ping, Han’s crystal ball merely distracts with his meaningless speculation of PAP’s potential return to power. Han has certainly outshone Ho in his assessment of Singapore politics.
Because Japan’s LDP has recently regained power in 2012, Han tells us not to rule out the possibility this may also happen to the PAP. Why is Han even comparing PAP and LDP when our political landscapes are vastly different?
Hmm.. so after Han, who will be roped in to speculate on PAP’s even brighter future?
Fewer citizens now believe the PAP has our interests at heart because the PAP has thrived on:
- Minimal transparency
- No accountability
- Maximum control of citizens through its absolute control of state resources, civil service, grassroots and security forces.
The PAP has abused its power for decades and its popularity has been on the decline despite belatedly increasing the number of housing units, giving the assurance of an increase in number of hospital beds by 2020, ‘recognition of our pioneers’ contribution with the PGP, etc.
More better-educated citizens now demand accountability for PAP’s epic screw ups. Without accountability, it’s only a matter of time before PAP finishes digging its own grave.
Take for example the ‘forgetful’ MND permanent secretary and senior civil servants who have caused hundreds of thousands of citizens to commit additional hundreds of dollars to their HDB mortgage every month – why have they not been held accountable ie demoted or sacked? What about other senior civil servants who continue to draw exorbitant salaries or may even have been promoted after screwing up citizens’ lives?
But it’s not easy to implement accountability in our system because that may mean the removal of numerous top civil servants who have been sleeping on the job. It would lead to a revolt with embarrassing information leaking to the public.
In 2003, Ngiam Tong Dow warned in an interview: “I suspect we have started to believe our own propaganda”. 11 years later, the PAP has held on firmly to its belief that flawed policies are good for the people.
The PAP has been so successful with its propaganda that it is able to teach new dogs old tricks with newbie minister Tan Chuan Jin trying to convince Singaporeans that our elderly, as old as above 80, are working as cleaners/other menial jobs to avoid boredom and be independent.
After PAP has abdicated its responsibility to vulnerable and needy Singaporeans, another newbie-scholar-fast-tracked minister Chan Chun Sing wants Singaporeans to believe in our unique Kueh Lapis way of tackling poverty. Fact is the PAP has in place hurdles to prevent financial assistance from being disbursed. Charities have been forced to raise funds in the most unproductive manner, incurring private sector costs, such as high salaries of CEOs, resulting in less assistance provided.
The PAP simply cannot change from running Singapore on a for-profit basis to one which prioritises the well-being of citizens.
The abusive PAP is increasingly viewed as a party unfit to govern and it will lose more votes come the next election. Citizens would have none of its old ways of governing, taking us for another ride without transparency and accountability. Its pro-business policies and pro-business union, NTUC, have caused untold suffering but the PAP has yet to realise the need to change.
Both Ho Kwon Ping and Han do not commute by public transport, eat at hawker centres, do not need their CPF for retirement, etc. With wealth and right connections, life must be a breeze for them. Are they supposed to understand issues faced by ordinary citizens? Are they aware ordinary citizens are increasingly fed up with the PAP and will not hesitate to boot them out?
In 2011, the WP’s Sylvia Lim said “this is not the time to take over the government”. The mainstream media subsequently seized the opportunity to cast the PAP as indispensible, conveniently forgetting that Sylvia also mentioned that “it doesn’t mean we are not building up towards that day”. That day could be now.
Is the WP and other opposition parties ready? Why not when there were/are ministers like Wong Kan Seng, Yaacob Ibrahim, Chan Chun Sing, Lawrence Wong etc, and MPs like Tin, Ang Wei Neng, Intan, Alvin Yeo, etc. Which opposition member could be worse than Lim Swee Say?
The PAP has been clinging on to straws in a desperate attempt to mask its shortcomings ie creating distractions by casting aspersions on the opposition such as giving the WP’s AHPETC a red band in estate management (again), NEA taking WP to court over a trade fair permit, calling the WP a liar over hawker centre cleaning issue, etc No wonder the PAP has not been able to govern properly – it spends too much time and public resources micromanaging and trying to fix the opposition..
The PAP has abused the trust given by citizens and enough is really enough.
With increasing awareness of what’s really been happening in our society through social/online media, it is a certainty an abusive government will not last long. PAP has overextended its stay in power and may fall sooner than we think.
This article was first published on likedatosocanmeh.