by Sivakumaran Chellappa
Even under the unusual circumstances of this Covid-19 pandemic, the People’s Action Party (PAP) never failed to amaze and amuse, as black a humour those may be, in these dreadful times.
Historically, if there was any event which had gripped the entire world at any one time, this is it. The World Wars would probably only come very close. But strangely, the PAP had not seemed to have been moved as it should and had almost treated the situation as largely BUSINESS AS USUAL in the early stages.
Why? It seemed economic interests had prevailed overwhelmingly.
In the mid-nineties a very unusual term, at least to most of us, appeared in a mainstream paper which sounded revolutionary at that time. The term was Singapore Inc, which I had to admit, had instilled in me some sense of pride at that time, for my country had become an economic powerhouse. A term much enticing and unprecedented, but I too admit that the hazards of going that path did not dawn upon me at the same time.
With the benefit of HINDSIGHT, that term simply meant that the Republic of Singapore which we all knew our country to be, had become a business entity — which need not be necessarily a bad thing. But what it failed to clarify was, whether it was a business entity in addition to its essential role of being a country to its people remains undiminished. Or, heaven forbids, had the country morphed into a form which operates solely for business pursuits at the exclusion of its primary role? Were such business pursuits, the sole motivation for its existence, instead of being the embodiment of its people?
Hence the dire necessity at this point, and more so during this pandemic, to re-establish the FACT that Singapore is a country. Nothing by way of anyone’s desire, should this fact be a subject for change.
In the recent years, much confusion in the priorities had occurred, as to what a nation primarily ought to be. The prime hazard of that confusion was the deviation away from the conventional norm of what a country should be, to that of a business entity absolutely mired in economic greed.
The most telling of that greed was the promotion of a massive foreigner influx under various guises, to serve the economic ends of a few.
Consequences aplenty, the education and employment interests of Singaporeans were suppressed for the benefit of foreigners, as these have been surfaced at many junctures. The request for the numbers by the alternative politicians for the effective comparison and clarification were rebuffed with stiff resistance from the PAP.
With disproportionately extreme labour policies, an excessive congestion prevailed in the foreign worker dormitories operated here, very much away from the view of average Singaporeans. It seems in some instances, the dormitories were operated by persons aligned with the establishment, which I hope would be thoroughly and duly addressed. It is not an exaggeration to state that those foreign worker dormitories are currently the HOT SPOTS in the Singapore chapter of this worldwide crisis. So hot that there seems to be an inclination developing among the establishment to hive off the infection numbers at the dormitories into a separate category altogether.
Would our political heads have had steered clear of their ambitious population targets with the benefit of HINDSIGHT? Would the PAP parliamentarians who had voted for the upping of the population, would now retract, with the benefit of the HINDSIGHT? Most importantly, would the people seek to assert the will to ensure that a country remains a country and not allow it to be distorted into a business entity, again with the benefit of the HINDSIGHT?
Most importantly should we not seek a moderation, not a total abandonment though, to notion of the Singapore Inc. Of course, with the benefit of HINDSIGHT too.