Because cannot find enough people mah.
By Fang Shihan
“We are not able to generate the talent in order to produce those numbers of people who are able to do their job, competently, to the satisfaction of Singaporeans” – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 5/4/11
Now we know why the PAP’s fielding Tin Pei Ling. In his reply to a student during the Q&A session of the NUS-organised Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum, PM Lee defended the decision to field Miss Tin by emphasising that she empathised with the elderly, was bilingual, and had been doing grassroots work for 6 years.
He also revealed that the PAP had trouble finding suitable candidates to be fielded as potential MPs. At least, not enough candidates to form a “team B” to serve as a shadow opposition party. PM Lee did not mention if he currently had enough candidates to field a complete team.
This begs the question of whether the current team consists of deadweight to make up the numbers.
But let’s give him the benefit of doubt. Not many people are like Miss Tin: Despite the years of moral education taught both in Mother Tongue and English, not many people truly love old people, are bilingual and care as much for their community. She must have been a rare find, groomed the moment she was talent-spotted speaking at a PAP convention while schooling in NUS.
She’s not the only inexperienced new face in white. To ensure that the party does not stagnate, PM Lee emphasised that it was of utmost importance that at least a quarter of the PAP candidates are fresh faces. Around 20 new candidates will contest this elections of which 18 have already been revealed with less fanfare than Miss Tin.
If you’ve got no idea who these new guys are, you’re probably not the only one. Chan…Chan who? Orh, the former general har. He believes that Singapore should er…. er…
*crickets chirp in the background*
The new candidates have no experience in politics, credentials from past jobs aside. If they appear weak or unimpressive, that is to be expected. Paraphrasing PM Lee, voters must give them time and support over the years in order for them to deliver results.
In Singapore, new MPs are not elected based on political skill or savvy. Oh no. MPs become understudies only after they’re elected.
You, the voters, hold the key to the minister job-training centre. If these new faces don’t get voted in, they will not be able to start their on-the-job training and will hence weaken the half-a-century old PAP succession plan.
Scared already? Read on.
The GRC system allows for the assumption that all candidates who won the GRC are competent, an assumption with no proof until he, the one with no political clout, enters office.
Not only does PM Lee admit that the lack of qualified candidates has led to MPs needing to be trained on the job after being elected, the need to enforce racial harmony through the GRC system has sustained repeated batches of low-profile MPs with the ability to do a disappearing act better than David Copperfield.
You’ve heard of them. That one minority candidate in each GRC that you’ve never heard of, or seen for 5 years. And you know he’s there just to show his non-Chinese face. Whassisnameagain? Er…dunno. The Malay guy.
Okay, maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe he’s been busy behind the scenes, fixing problems plaguing the neighbourhood like broken tiles, uncleaned litter and whatnot. And there are many other Chinese MPs like that too.
But you get the point. GRCs allow politicians to… not be politicians. They allow MPs to be quiet servants of the public, or as one MP puts it, the caretaker of the constituency. Most of all, the GRC system allows for the assumption that all candidates who won the GRC are competent, an assumption with no proof until he, the one with no political clout, enters office.
A big risk for the voters, no? Yet according to PM Lee, the risk of not having a proportionate number of minority candidates is a bigger threat. At least bigger than having a potential deadweight on the GRC team.
If GRCs were abolished one day, he says, Singaporeans would vote overwhelmingly for the candidate of the same race. For example, newly converted citizen, Janil Puthucheary, despite not having done his national service and justifying that practicing medicine was a form of service to his new country, would have the overwhelming support of Indians in this country.
The PAP conducted tea sessions with 240 candidates, of which only 20 made the cut. And PM Lee still laments that the PAP cannot find enough qualified, ministerial-quality candidates. But he still has to fill the numbers. MP spots have to be taken up just like minority quotas have to be fulfilled.
Is the PAP responsible for ensuring each and every candidate is deserving of the peoples’ votes? No. They’re only responsible for ensuring a win. If a deadweight politician makes it to office just remember, you elected them.
Or did you?
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