by Augustine Low

This week, the People’s Action Party (PAP) whipped out their playbook and gave us their greatest hits.

Except that the lines have long become tired, jaded, stale. Rinse and repeat. Reuse and recycle.

The PAP showed that all the talk about change and reinvention was just talk. It cannot bring itself to ditch the playbook that it has relied on for decades – preying on insecurity, vulnerability and division, and promulgating how indispensable the PAP is to a glorious one-party system.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was in his element. The world has “turned much more troubling, even dangerous,” he said. That’s why the 4G leaders need support from every Singaporean in an increasingly troubled world.

Usually, they ramp up such messaging during election time. In the past 20 to 30 years, there has not been a general election where they do not amplify global or regional uncertainty, and looming threats and dangers.

But this time around, they have started courting voters early. PM Lee, in his speech, outlined various “storms” that Singapore faces. Not one, not two, but three storms.

PM Lee seems to have a fascination with storms. But consider how out of sorts his messaging is – when the storms hit, people are told to seek refuge with the PAP, the party that has the thunderbolt as its symbol. Sounds like double trouble.

PM Lee also assured us that “the 4G team is in place.” This, too, we have heard before.

In fact, we thought the 4G team was in place a long time ago. Heng Swee Keat was in place and ready to take over. Then the runway became too short. PM Lee himself said several times he was ready to pass the baton to the 4G team before he turned 70.

Well, his 70th birthday has come and gone and he is still the Prime Minister, still talking about the readiness of the 4G team, still talking about storms.

Straight from the playbook, PM Lee called on Singaporeans to stay united as one people. By that, what he really meant was for the people to unite as one behind the PAP.

If we support the opposition, we stand divided, and we are branded as free riders.

Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, sticking to the playbook, said that it cannot be assumed that the PAP will win the next election and form the government.

That, too, has been drummed into Singaporeans for decades.

Come election time, they will warn us that Singaporeans could wake up realising that the PAP has not been returned to power. They reckon this is enough to scare the daylights out of people.

DPM Wong took a potshot at the opposition. The opposition, he said, must offer concrete alternatives and “not just opportunistic or populist ideas.” Should the opposition come up with “good ideas,” he added with a straight face, “we welcome them.”

Under their playbook, the PAP has a monopoly of good ideas and top talents. The opposition have nothing concrete to offer, they are opportunists with a bag full of populist tricks.

Those who still harbour hopes that with the passage of time, the PAP would change are hoping in vain.

After six decades, we should know better. There is no motivation or desire to change.

As long as the people keep giving them their parliamentary supermajority (83-10 now), why would they see the need to change?

In that sense, the people are responsible for making them think that their playbook is invincible.

Truth be told, the onus is on the people to change. The ball is in the people’s court.

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