First Assistant Secretary-General of the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP), Heng Swee Keat has declared that the Workers’ Party (WP) was using the prospect of an opposition wipeout to sway voters and win more seats in Parliament. In saying this, Heng seems to be echoing what Secretary-General of the PAP, Lee Hsien Loong had said earlier when he claimed that suggestions by the WP that the PAP could win all 93 contested seats this General Election were an unrealistic outcome and a “tactic” to win seats in the General Election.
Why have Lee and Heng both mentioned this?
In reality, Singapore has been ruled at the incumbent PAP for over 50 years. In fact, Singapore has never had any other Government apart from that formed by the PAP. Not only has the PAP won every single General Election since independence, it has won by a landslide each time. In context, it would appear that the only thing unrealistic here are the seemingly irrational fears of Lee and Heng.
Lee has gone on to warn voters to about how political consensus has frayed in countries that change governments regularly and urged voters not to be being taken in by opposition parties offering an alternative choice to the PAP. Why is there so much fear associated with the PAP campaign? Fear of opposition party “tactics” on the part of the PAP leadership and now passing on fear to Singaporeans about the “fraying of political consensus”.
Lee’s warning is also not really appropriate for the Singaporean context. Firstly, Singapore has not changed governments regularly. We have had the same political party rule us for over 50 years. Secondly, this is not likely to change. All that might happen is that there are more checks and balances within Parliament.
That, is a good thing. Nothing to be fearful about. A blank cheque for the PAP is far more scary a prospect.
Lee went on to say:
“After a government falls, what follows isn’t a new, more stable equilibrium, but more frequent changes of governments and divisive politicking. People appear to have a choice, but often the more things change, the more they remain the same. These countries have not done better than Singapore,”
Why is he talking about falling governments when nothing is going to fall?
Even if the PAP loses its majority (which it will not), the government will not fall. The PAP is not the government. It is a political party. The PAP can lose every single seat and the government still will not fall. Secondly, a difference in opinion plus more checks and balances in Parliament does not equate to division. We are adults who can have differing opinions, discussion and compromise for the betterment of the whole. That is nothing scary about that.
Every single opposition politician that has addressed this issue has stated clearly that they do not wish to topple the PAP. All they want is for the PAP not to have a super majority. Is Lee incapable of listening? If he can’t even listen at a time when he is campaigning, can he listen after he wins a super majority?
Voters really need to think long and hard about this one.
Lee also urged Singaporeans not to vote for the opposition if what they really want is a PAP government. Again, Lee has missed the point. Everyone is in agreement that the PAP will win the election and form government. It may even win every seat. The only issue up for debate is whether or not the PAP will win a super majority. So, voters should vote based on whether or not they want to grant the PAP a super majority. Lee is conflating super majority with mandate.
Also, why is Heng echoing Lee like a parrot?
He is predicted to be the next prime minister of Singapore after Lee retires. Shouldn’t he have more original ideas? This general election is a chance for Heng to display his leadership. Yet, it would appear that all he has done is to bomb in East Coast and repeat after Lee. Is this promising for a future prime minister?
If voters want proper debates in Parliament as opposed to an echo chamber, they should think long and hard about how they choose to exercise their vote.