By Augustine Low
Apart from the pull factor of the irrepressible Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, analysts have identified two other key factors that led to the shock Opposition victory in the Malaysian elections.
Firstly, the 6% Goods & Service Tax (GST) introduced after the 2013 elections has been a sore point with Malaysians. While the country’s macro economic fundamentals appear sound, the majority of Malaysians have found the going hard, with the cost of living surging beyond their means.
The Opposition’s promise to abolish the GST – which Mahathir has reaffirmed since the election victory – has been a sweetener to voters.
Will the Singapore government take heed? It has yet to make a compelling case for the impending hike in GST and the genuine fear for Singaporeans is that costs will keep surging once the hike kicks in.
For the Opposition, it is a no-brainer to make the GST hike a key issue in the next Singapore general elections. It could yield results for them.
Malaysian voters have revolted because their pockets have been hit hard – will the People’s Action Party (PAP) heed the warning signs?
Former PAP MP Inderjit Singh wrote on his Facebook on Thursday, stating that more and more Singaporeans are feeling uncomfortable about some issues affecting them. “It is important that the government listens and understands them. Some say that policies don’t reflect reality on the ground.” wrote Mr Singh.
The other crucial swing factor in favour of the Opposition is, of course, the 1MDB scandal. In Singapore, there is no such parallel, no bombshell of such proportions.
But there is one thing that could, like 1MDB, be the straw that broke the camel’s back – and this hinges on whether allegations by PM Lee Hsien Loong’s siblings and nephew prove to be founded.
In particular, the allegation that there are ambition and the intention to perpetuate a Lee dynasty. Already, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s son, Li Hongyi, is gradually being cast in the spotlight and is seeping into the consciousness of Singaporeans.
Following the allegations, Li Hong Yi replied on Facebook, “For what it is worth, I really have no interest in politics.” and PM Lee refuted the allegations by saying, “I am deeply saddened by the unfortunate allegations that they have made. Ho Ching and I deny these allegations, especially the absurd claim that I have political ambitions for my son.”
Interestingly though, Li Hongyi was featured in the news recently for as head of a team which developed a car-parking app, an app which PM Lee had specifically mentioned in his National Day Rally speech in 2017.
If suspicion turns into reality, and Li Hongyi is brazenly thrust into the political arena, then Singaporeans would recall the string of denials and feel they have been bamboozled and made a monkey of. It could just be the thing to erupt into a political and electoral tsunami against the PAP.
It is timely for the PAP to take stock. The tide can turn when voters feel they have been taken for a ride. The warning shot from across the causeway has to be taken seriously.
Somehow the prevailing notion is that Singaporeans are too lackadaisical to be jolted to revolt at the polls. The spectre of such a scenario seems unimaginable. But then again, even the most seasoned political watchers did not foresee the tsunami that toppled Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional after 60 years in power.