Agreeing with People’s Action Party (PAP) MP of Jurong GRC Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s three wishes for the evolution of Singapore’s politics, Workers’ Party’s (WP) Yee Jenn Jong took to Facebook to say that he also wishes for the ruling party to “play fairer”.
In a Facebook post on Monday (20 July), Mr Yee noted that when he joined WP in 2011, he felt that “the only way for PAP to listen was for it to face strong opposition”. He explained that he was, back then, an active writer to newspapers’ forum pages and in government policy feedback groups.
“I did not see the policymakers taking seriously the reforms that were needed. Singapore had gone into a false sense of relying on old methods and becoming risk averse,” he said.
Mr Yee went on to say if people wait for the ruling PAP to “fail badly” before seeing if there is an alternative that would rise up, it might be “too disruptive” for the country. Instead, he asserted that a credible alternative requires time to build up and attract more capable people to join.
Touching on the recent general election (GE), Mr Yee said that he didn’t think the PAP did badly compared to 2011—noting that the GE2015 was a “once off” thing.
“In 2011, there were still not so many alternative candidates able to match the credentials on the side of the PAP,” said Mr Yee.
”Now it faced serious challenge all over the country”, he continued, adding that the results of GE2020 shows a “maturing” of Singapore’s voters.
“All things being equal, the PAP’s brand still hold the advantage because of the general flight to safety. There is still fear by a good number of voters to go into the unknown,” he said.
“But it is changing, and I feel for the better,” he added.
Mr Yee went on to refer to Mr Shanmugaratnam’s three wishes for Singapore’s politics which the senior minister shared in a Facebook post on Sunday (19 July).
Mr Shanmugaratnam said that Singapore should be a democracy with a strong centre that avoids polarised politics; that it must be a democracy that keeps working to promote multiculturalism; and that it must also be a tolerant democracy with greater space for divergent views, a more active civil society and where public discourse won’t be divisive or unsettling to the majority.
Adding to that, Mr Yee said, “I will add one more … that the ruling party will play fairer.”
Mr Yee wrote, “Let’s not pretend that the [People’s Association] is non-political when opposition MPs cannot use the facilities or do activities with the PA. Let’s not pretend that the [Elections Department], reporting to the Prime Minister can be totally independent.
He went on, “Let’s not have opposition MPs need to seek the approval of grassroots advisors, who are obviously from the PAP’s side when they need to use the Community Improvement Projects Fund for the benefits of residents who had voted them in. Let’s not weaponised town councils and make them into banana skins for the opposition to slip up on,” adding, “The AIM saga should never have happened.”
Mr Yee also noted that the mainstream media should “stay more fair” and that the use of POFMA should be watched, or that the law should be done away with altogether.
“Sure, politics is never fair even in mature western democracies. There is a limit though to how unfair you can be and people can see through these.”