Photo of Marsiling Hawker Centre by NEA

Rising discontent for extremely high ministerial salaries against declining living standards, may be enough to push PAP out in next GE

If Lim Guan Eng is right the rising discontent for the extremely high ministerial salaries set against the backdrop of declining living standards may be enough to push the ruling party out come the next General Election

In an interview over dinner with Singapore’s Sumiko Tan (Tan), newly minted Finance Minister for Malaysia, Mr Lim Eng Guan (Lim) offered his insights into a number of issues concerning the political landscape of Malaysia, including the factors that contributed to the downfall of Najib. What he said was particularly insightful. Instead of crediting Pakatan Harapan (PH) or fingering the flagrant corruption of ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak, he highlighted the poor economy of Malaysia as a whole that led to PH’s resounding victory at the polls earlier this year.

Some may dismiss Lim’s summation as needlessly cynical but I cannot help but see his point. Corruption has always existed. Not just in Malaysia but throughout Asia. In short, corruption is tolerated to a certain extent (however grudgingly) as long as life is still good for the majority of the people.

Corruption only becomes a real issue, serious enough to unseat a government, if the people are no longer living a good quality of life. The high living of those in power will, in that scenario, serve as a grating and unbearable reminder of how bad the lives of the common folk are. This is when the tables will turn on the establishment and in Lim’s view, what happened in Malaysia.

This has bearing for Singapore. Many government supporters have dismissed comparisons between Singapore and Malaysia in this regard. In so doing, they have declared that Singapore does not have the gaping hole that is 1MDb or the bombshell revelations of Najib’s insatiable greed. That may well be true but if Lim is right, it wasn’t really the knowledge of corruption that lit the tinderbox in Malaysia. It was the confluence of governmental wrongdoing and poorer standards of living that led to PH’s dramatic victory and Singapore is certainly showing the signs of a decreasing standard of living.

There is widespread concern over rising living costs and stagnant wages. Prices of necessities such as water and electricity have been raised and GST is also set to be hiked. So great is the concern that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (PM Lee) decided to dedicate a significant part of his National Day rally address to deal with this issue. Unfortunately his suggestions of “belt tightening” seem to have fallen flat. With rising discontent for the extremely high ministerial salaries set against the backdrop of declining living standards – is this enough to push the People’s Action Power out of power come the next General Election?

If Lim is correct, it is very possible indeed.