Uniquely Singapore Politics

1. The PAP remains an enigma for me. They actually have good people serving the country (DPM Tharman, MOS BG Tan), but what I don’t understand is why they need to make the playing field so uneven for the opposition parties. I would say that in an even playing field, PAP would still win anyway. I could only come up with the following explanations: (1) politics is ultimately dirty and PAP is not an exception for that, (2) it basically shows the Singaporean-ness of PAP in being kiasu and must double confirm everything, as confirm only is not enough, and (3) PAP never believes in multi-party democracy, i.e., although de jure Singapore is a multi-party democracy, de facto PAP only believes in single-party democracy (if that phrase makes any sense). No wonder China is sending its civil servants to Singapore. They want to emulate how Singapore managed to have a free-market “democracy” with a dominant-party system.

2. Sometimes I also wonder whether Singaporeans and the PAP are like kids and their parents. You grumble and complain but in the end you can’t live without them. It’s an apt analogy, I think, given the Confucian nature of our society.

(And that’s why it will take many years before SDP’s Western (Nordic?) liberalism could sway the hearts and minds of Singaporeans.)

3. Indonesian political system is structurally good, but totally crap in practice. Singapore, again, might have many good people, but the system itself is crap and needs major reforms. Basically it’s like we are still living in the Golkar-Soeharto era in Singapore.

4. So, the reforms. Free up the media. Reform the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act of 1974. If the ruling party wants to have a state-controlled media for propaganda purposes, fine. But at least allow others to print newspapers as well. They already can’t control the dissemination of information with the ubiquity of internet anyway. And they will keep discrediting themselves if they continue doing this. There is a reason why people call ST the Shitty Times. The nickname doesn’t come up out of nowhere.

5. Abolish the GRC system. It’s a uniquely Singapore system, and uniquely crap at that. If you want to argue that the GRC system is essential to ensure minority representation in the parliament, well, first, Michael Palmer has proven that a minority can win in SMC, and, second, why the increase from 3 members in a GRC in 1988 to 5-6 members now? Now GRC is nothing more than a tool for rookies to ride on the coattail of ministers in order to enter the parliament. And yes that’s a sign of coward politics. At least return it to its original implementation. Accounting for 90 seats in the parliament in 2016 and around 25% of minority in the population, you can make for 22 GRCs (with 3 members each) and 24 SMCs. (In 2011, the composition is 15 GRCs with an average of 5 members each and 12 SMCs.)

6. Free up the Elections Department of Singapore. Stop blatant gerrymandering every coming election. Who wants to bet that Potong Pasir SMC will remain an SMC coming 2016? Stop the practice of announcing the boundary of the constituencies only in a short time before the announcement of the election. How parts of Serangoon end up in Marine Parade GRC and Aljunied MRT is not in the Aljunied GRC are beyond me. Simply follow the boundary of HDB townships for your constituencies. It will be helpful for residents as well, as the geographical estates that they are living in would correspond with their political constituencies.

7. Depoliticize the grassroots organizations. Be consistent. Either you put all MPs, irrespective of their political affiliation, as the grassroot adviser, or none at all. Decouple the “executive” branch from the legislative branch at the municipal level. It’s confusing, sometimes, when you vote for an MP in Singapore. Are you voting for an MP or a mayor?

8. Stop suing (or making a threat to sue) your political opponents. Play fair. You can attack your opponents. Your opponents can attack you back. If you want to attack but don’t want to be attacked back, it’s called childish.

9. Stop discriminating against & punishing your residents based on the election results. Treat ruling party and opposition wards equally. If the PAP is serious about improving the lives of people in Hougang, they should have done so regardless of who won the constituency. Political discrimination is the most despicable thing in Singapore politics. Utterly despicable. Don’t the people living in the opposition wards pay the same taxes? Don’t they serve the same NS? Don’t they say the same pledge?

(As an analogy, could you imagine Partai Demokrat denying APBD to Solo as they keep voting for PDIP? That’s nonsense, right?)

10. Reform the labor tripartite, which is also a BS now. (OK, admittedly, this one is more debatable and depends on your vision of labor union. You might not like the frequent strikes of French unions or the power of American unions.) If NTUC needs to buy an advertorial space in ST to defend itself in public saying that it is not a toothless union, chances are it is indeed a toothless union. Also, another case in point: Ong Ye Kung, who is the executive secretary of the National Transport Workers’ Union and also a board member of the SMRT Corporation. How on earth the same person can represent both sides at the same time? Won’t it inevitably cause conflicts of interest?

11. Ultimately, I think this is a clash of political vision. PAP only believes in a single-party democracy, while the opposition parties (at least for now) are campaigning for a multi-party democracy. Unless the PAP changes this belief, don’t expect all these changes coming. Don’t hold your breath.


2 thoughts on “Uniquely Singapore Politics

  1. Alan Wong

    You have correctly highlighted most of the political ‘cimes’ that our PAP Govt leaders has committed to-date. It is exactly these kind of wrong and unfair things that no reasonable and sensible citizen will ever tolerate any responsible or accountable Govt to indulge in.

    You may have forgotten one very obvious ‘crime’ which our PAP Govt is so famous for and that is the over-indulging of PAP-linked companies in monopolised profiteering from their social responsiblities like public housing, transport, utilities, medical services and not forgetting that they even have the tenacity to ‘rob’ CPF contributors of their rightful earnings from investments derived from their hard-earned CPF savings.

    In my view, PAP is turning into this greedy political monster that we no longer recognise. That probably explain why public support for PAP is becoming worse and worse. The original brandname and goodwill of PAP is fast becoming more of a liability and simply a disgrace for all to see.

  2. allthatjazz

    an excellent piece. thank you.
    and alan is right. we have indeed
    created a monstor. from its
    behaviour, it appears to be just a
    little boy trying to pretend its a man.
    it’s small-minded, it needs to bully.
    it is clueless on how to behave.
    this is generally the result of poor


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