The common complaints that Singapore voters have with Singapore’s alternative parties and its candidates are that the parties and its candidates are not their ideal type of politicians. Either they are not doing enough, not high caliber enough, not showing up enough in their wards, or simply not being practical in their proposed changes to the system.
But before we talk about whether the complaints of the Singaporean voters are valid, we should set out the following facts in the Singapore political context.
- Majority of Singaporeans will not fork out money to support political causes or parties for change (even if it is a change that they desire)
- Most if not all Singapore businesses are beholden to the Government Linked Companies and those associated with it such as NTUC.
- Singapore was ranked fourth on Economist’s crony-capitalism index in 2016.
- Most Singaporeans will not stick their neck out for anyone penalised by the system. Forget what you know about the solidarity of citizens in Hong Kong, Taiwan or any other democratic country.
- Most Singaporeans are grateful to the People’s Action Party for monetary handouts especially during election year even though the handouts are financed through the government and not the party.
So what this essentially means – should the complaints of the average voters be valid – that an ideal political party or politician before considering its political ideology, should:
- be able to self fund the party’s activities between elections because Singaporeans will not donate to political parties and neither will businesses because Prime Minister Office will be told who are the supporters.
- be able to reach out to citizens by paying for outreach events, using their own money.
- reach out to citizens by paid-advertising, using their own money.
- be able to host private events at private venues owned by the political party or the candidate.
- be able to outspend the ruling party and the government on social media platforms to deliver narratives on policies.
With the above, we can conclude that this ideal party or its candidates are:
- simply filthy-rich to burn money for votes.
- a secret organisation having a hidden agenda to siphon the national reserves to recoup their investment in the General Election.
Now the latter is somewhat ridiculous and impossible under Singapore’s strict election laws so unless we have the elites from the mega-rich Singapore families or factions within the PAP coming out to contest in the General Election, one would find it questionable how anyone can contest in the same terms as the ruling party during the GE, particularly when no one calls out the ruling party from legally using state resources to do their own self-promotion and outreach, ie. social media marketing and grassroots programmes.
But yet still, alternative parties are continuously criticised for not performing despite knowing that they simply do not have the financial resources to do so.
Going back to the title of this article, why Santa Claus? Because first and foremost, Santa is an imaginary figure whom people are fond of because he supposedly gives out presents on every Christmas Eve, out of his own-pocket. Secondly, we all know those are actually bought by the parents, but the kids think they have to thank Santa for it and they believe that he really exists because people say he does. So you have a person who can’t possibly exist in real life and people who love him for the presents which are actually paid by someone else.
That to me, relates very much to the mindset of a majority of Singaporean voters as to what they want and why their love for a certain political party is mistakenly placed.
Even the esteemed Dr Tan Cheng Bock will find it hard to please their standards as a running-candidate in the General Election for his party does not have the same war chest and the support from the business community as what his former political party has.
As much we can talk about ideology and political leaning, voters need to understand and realise that a political party ultimately needs money to campaign in an election, Without the support of the voters’ wallet, a win at the polls is like a win at the lottery – pay a little for a very small chance of winning.