Image from Ministry of Social and Family Development

by Augustine Low

This is the prevailing sentiment for many Singaporeans.

Regimes and ruling parties are in control as long as the majority of people think along that line.

It’s when they start veering away from concern about bread and butter to resentment over injustice, inequality and lack of human dignity that upheaval and revolution take place.

In Singapore, people generally still prefer to talk bread and not politics.

But we wouldn’t know for sure when the tipping point is, the point at which people collectively wake up and demand for change.

Ho Kwon Ping, Chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings, gave his take recently on the situation in Singapore in relation to the Malaysian tsunami. Many saw it as him giving the verdict that the People’s Action Party would not suffer the same fate as the Barisan Nasional.

However, he did have his finger on what the tipping point would be, possibly predicating the fall of the PAP: the day when nepotism and cronysim set in, when the PAP creates “quasi cronyism amongst cliques of elites,” drawing people from immediate circles of friends, the military and administrative service.

He also signalled that the detrimental effects would be compounded if complacency sets in, exemplified by lack of internal competition within the PAP and the use of the “same old formulas” to solve problems.

A case could be made that the handwriting is on the wall, that some of the rot may have already been seeping in.

Has the PAP taken pains to consolidate an inner core of cronies and elites?

Has internal competition become ‘soft’ and flabby?

Is there a lack of motivation and appetite to break out of the same old mould and same old formulas that have taken the PAP this far?

The worst thing that could befall the PAP is when it becomes a party of paranoia, inward-looking and detached, and isolated from the needs and cries of the people.

The real danger is that it gets carried away with its own sense of invulnerability, giving voice and reason only to a cadre of yes-men and yes-women.

Things can happen at breakneck speed and in life, we learn to never say never.

But there are danger signs for the PAP and unless it takes stock and takes heed, the tipping point could come when it least expects it.

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