by Joseph Nathan
Love them or hate them, the People’s Action Party (PAP) coming into power has a lot to do with their mastery of mass propaganda.
Like shrewd sales men, they can sell you just about anything.
Post independent Singapore was already a thriving port that was supporting a vibrant trade hub under the British rule, and yet the PAP can change the narrative to Singapore being a backwater slum, with no hope of becoming a nation without them.
If not for the thriving trade, why would many of our parents and grandparents migrate to Singapore? If not for the British, Singapore would not have any functional Court or Legal System to enforce Law & Order, no Shipbuilding & Rig-building expertise, no Military, no under-ocean or land telecommunications network, no Sea & Air ports, infrastructure etc.
PAP has not only inherited these expertise and legacies from the British, but has benefited from it.
If Singapore was to be under any other European rule, like the Philippines or economies in Indo-China region, then we would have to start from scratch as those colonial masters literally destroyed most critical infrastructure before departing.
Even our CPF Scheme was created in 1955 by David Marshall, via the Progressive Party committee as a compulsory savings scheme to assist workers to provide for their retirement needs.
This Pension Scheme was not created by the PAP but yet the PAP can narrate to give the impression that the CPF Scheme was their brainchild, and that Singaporeans should just trust them with their retirement pension.
In fact, the PAP is just a few months older than our CPF Scheme, and the irony is that many Singaporeans are still clueless about this fact!
At the grassroots level, we already have Kampong Heads and District Leaders to keep our community functioning and stay informed about social, economic and political developments.
Unlike our current million-dollars mayors, these public-spirited individuals do not have to join the PAP just to be of service to their communities while controversially collecting obscene amount in remuneration.
Before any election, political parties like the PAP would have to “sell” their political agenda to these Kampong Heads and District Leaders, and assured them that the people and society would benefit from voting for them.
This “check & balance” by our real grassroots leaders has kept the First Cabinet of the PAP on their toes.
In all fairness, our First Cabinet did deliver on many of their promises and Singapore prospers as a nation due to the collective efforts of our active citizenry.
Independent check and balance was a key to Singapore’s early success as a nation.
For the PAP to secure full power and control, these grassroots leaders, like the journalists of yesteryear, were like sores that needs to be surgically removed.
Fast forward, they were now replaced with high-paying politicians and political appointees from the PAP and our mainstream media are now at their beckoning, a sore point that has been constantly vocalized by concerned Singaporeans.
With full power and control comes less need for responsibility, more so when the PAP starts believing that only they can or know what is best for Singapore and Singaporeans. They have master the mastery of being our master.
This delusion is not only very dangerous but toxic even to those in the PAP that aspire to do good. As once gerrymandering comes into play, these politicians will join in the gerrymandering for fear of losing their benefits. Can anyone name any patriotic PAP politician that has put country before party politics?
This explains why complacency has creeped into the current 4G PAP, and without the proper “check & balance”, some of them have even the audacity to be arrogant and dismissive when questioned.
People’s Association (PA) was created by the PAP in 1960 to further our Nation Building, to ensure that Singaporeans actively contribute to our nation’s growth, and this was underpinned by a Social Compact.
When the PAP decided that their politicians and office-holders be paid top dollars, they inadvertently apply the welfare state mentality that unsustainably support a politicalized social system where politicians enjoy a state-sponsored Swiss standard of living while majority of our Working Class continues to slog and struggle just to put food on the table.
This clearly wasn’t the basis of our original Social Compact, was it?
If PA is no longer the agency for the original Social Compact, what exactly is the role and function of the PA these days?
For a small city-state like Singapore to support a legion of politicians who would otherwise become economically non-viable in the real world, it is inevitable that the PAP has to create and justify the creation of endless new public offices that do not make any sense, like having 5 mayors despite having PA, ministries, agencies and VWOs actively involved in social development.
Then there are the Town Councils, Political Advisors etc.
If the PAP is genuinely sincerely about the welfare and well-being of Singapore and Singaporeans, then they should return to the wisdom of financial prudency.
I have to agreed with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat when he spoke in parliament on Friday that “we should strive to remain fiscally prudent to build back our reserves gradually”.
So what can we do to be “fiscally prudent” to ensure that we can “emerge stronger” as a nation?
By directing the Ministry of National Development (MND) to take back all municipal roles and functions of all Town Councils, Singapore can save from the economic of scale in municipal management and make much greater stride in our Green Initiative and fight against Climate Change. No?
This will encourage more activists, politicians and volunteers to step forward and effect critical changes needed to ensure our urban sustainability.
This will also means that all the offices for mayors can also be obsolete should the Ministry of Social and Family (MSF) be directed likewise.
Likewise, we can also correct the absurdity of putting new politicians, who are clueless about the endless challenges of our society and still “wet behind their ears”, as Grassroots Advisors when we already have plentiful of experience and public-spirited grassroots leaders and volunteers that are keeping our society functioning.
What exactly can these young and inexperienced Grassroots Advisors advise experienced grassroots leaders, activists and volunteers?
The huge savings will definitely go a long way in helping and supporting Singaporeans in needs too.
There are a lot of reasons to bring back the true Kampong Spirit of yesteryear but there is One Serious Impediment – how to keep those useless politicians economically viable?
We clearly cannot afford paying these political bums millions in remuneration and pension when the majority of what they profess to be doing are in fact opportunities for public-spirited Singaporeans to volunteer or exercise their patriotism in the first place.
Is the PAP justified in blaming Singaporeans for not being socially active when they are the ones who are monetizing these avenues and reserving these “enhanced opportunities” for their own in the first place?
If Singaporeans are truly concerned and patriotic, then we must help the PAP government solve this Great Impediment and restore Singapore back on the road of sustainability by removing the exclusive state mentality of the 4G PAP politicians.
Time to think hard if we still believe Singaporeans deserve better…
This was first published on Mr Nathan’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission