I couldn’t agree more with the observation that the PAP government’s current modus operandi is to stir up the emotions of Singaporeans by reminding them of how bad life was 50 years ago and brandishing the image and words of the late former Prime Minster Lee Kuan Yew (LKY). There is no substance beneath the rhetoric and no new ideas behind the facade of past greatness.
Yes, LKY and other leaders of his generation were instrumental in Singapore’s transformation but the leaders after him have merely inherited an existing system. What new ideas have they brought in? What fresh policies have they initiated to bring positive and memorable change to Singapore? LKY oversaw Singapore’s transformation from third world to first world. What has current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (PM Lee) done apart from keeping a system which was already built intact (arguably, barely)?
The current PAP leadership has to keep rehashing the past because it really has nothing else besides the past to focus on. Prices are increasing while wages are remaining stagnant. House prices are high and the GST is about to be hiked. The public transportation services are facing breakdowns. People are increasingly questioning the high salaries of those in power and perks such as the subsidised parking rates of elected MPs are being disclosed. This is not a rosy picture to win elections with and as such, they have to resort to the romance of the past. What better way then to lull the crowds into nostalgic loyalty by invoking the LKY name? LKY and Singapore’s young days as an independent country are the essence of the PAP brand and the only way to keep that brand alive is to keep him and the past alive.
One may argue that the government ought to focus more on new ideas. However, how can a party that chooses to live in the past come up with new ideas? It might even be that the past is a shackle to the PAP’s ability to rejuvenate.
Without new ideas, the only way to stay in power is to sway voter emotions by rehashing past glories. That and bringing in distractions such as the fear of terrorism. If people are fearful, they tend to vote status quo. As pointed out in previous articles, the threat of terrorism in Singapore is not higher now than in previous years. Yet, there is an increased focus on fanning the fears of terrorist attacks.
It isn’t just a case of taking Singaporeans for granted and for fools that the government puts Singapore’s grandiose past on auto repeat. It is also because the PAP government just doesn’t have anything else apart from the past and inventing distractions. This is far scarier than taking us for granted.