Tag Archive | "opposition"

S’poreans react to PAP commiserating with opposition candidates who are finding employment after GE2015

S’poreans react to PAP commiserating with opposition candidates who are finding employment after GE2015

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Three thoughts that must have went past your mind at some point.

pap-help-opposition-find-job

PAP ministers have reached out to Singapore People’s Party candidate for Hong Kah North SMC, Ravi Philemon.

This after he posted on Facebook that he is looking for a job now that the General Election 2015 is over. He had to quit his previous employment so that he could contest in the election.

Among those who responded to him are Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam and Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan. Both PAP politicians told him to keep looking.

 

Here are three thoughts Singaporeans have:

 

sian-half-auntie “Last I checked, Lee Hsien Loong didn’t offer Chee Soon Juan a job.”
Hee Poh Kit, 43-year-old headhunter

 

sian-half-uncle “I like how the PAP always chut pattern to look magnanimous.”
Da Fang, 62-year-old charity aid worker

 

happy-bird-girl “The PAP should extend their help to the Workers’ Party if they really wanted to make the propaganda work.”
Mai Lai La, 17-year-old popiah seller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 











Voters who voted for Han Hui Hui: ‘We wanted to make PAP & Opposition work harder’

Voters who voted for Han Hui Hui: ‘We wanted to make PAP & Opposition work harder’

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They like to go with human nature.

han-hui-hui-rally

Singaporeans from some walks of life, who like to go with human nature, have come out to admit that they voted for independent candidate Han Hui Hui during the General Election 2015 and explain why they did so.

This after PAP’s Lee Hsien Loong said the opposition’s story line that the government is doing good and you vote for the opposition so that the government will work even harder, goes against human nature.

One Singaporean, Du Li, who did not vote for the PAP, said: “I like to go with human nature. That’s why I voted for independent candidate Han Hui Hui.”

“This is to make the PAP and opposition work harder.”

“In fact, I would have voted for parrot man if I could, but he couldn’t run, so I couldn’t have.”

At press time, some Singaporeans said they look forward to GE2020 where they plan to make the PAP and opposition work hard again by voting for a potted plant if they can.

 

 

 

 

 











S’poreans who voted for Han Hui Hui: ‘We wanted to make PAP & Opposition work harder’

S’poreans who voted for Han Hui Hui: ‘We wanted to make PAP & Opposition work harder’

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They like to go with human nature.

han-hui-hui-rally

Singaporeans from some walks of life, who like to go with human nature, have come out to admit that they voted for independent candidate Han Hui Hui during the General Election 2015 and explain why they did so.

This after PAP’s Lee Hsien Loong said the opposition’s story line that the government is doing good and you vote for the opposition so that the government will work even harder, goes against human nature.

One Singaporean, Du Li, who did not vote for the PAP, said: “I like to go with human nature. That’s why I voted for independent candidate Han Hui Hui.”

“This is to make the PAP and opposition work harder.”

“In fact, I would have voted for parrot man if I could, but he couldn’t run, so I couldn’t have.”

At press time, some Singaporeans said they look forward to GE2020 where they plan to make the PAP and opposition work hard again by voting for a potted plant if they can.

 

 

 

 

 











S’poreans react to PM Lee calling opposition a mouse in Parliament

S’poreans react to PM Lee calling opposition a mouse in Parliament

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Three thoughts that must have went past your mind at some point.

opposition-mouse-PM-Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sept. 1 that the opposition in parliament has put in a disappointing performance even though they were voted in to be a tiger in a chamber, but ended up being a “mouse in the House”.

PM Lee, the party’s secretary-general, said it was “very easy” to make fierce and rousing speeches at election rallies, where candidates can promise to do things if elected but none of those issues are raised when they come to Parliament.

Here are three thoughts Singaporeans have:

 

sian-half-auntie “If the opposition is a mouse, then East Coast GRC MP Raymond Lim was a dead mouse the last four years.”
Ya Pah, 45-year-old speech therapist

 

sian-half-uncle “Having a few mice in parliament really helps break up the monotony of a room full of swines.”
Zhu Ba Jie, 62-year-old butcher

 

happy-bird-girl “PAP MPs didn’t give rousing election speeches, which explain why they aren’t even mice. They are potatoes.”
Mah Ling Su, 17-year-old fast food service staff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 











S’poreans react to PAP’s claim that opposition in parliament had no bearing on PAP policies

S’poreans react to PAP’s claim that opposition in parliament had no bearing on PAP policies

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Three thoughts that must have went past your mind at some point.

opposition-parliament-policies

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has downplayed the role of having opposition in parliament.

He said that they do not have bearing on the carrying out or refining of policies, as PAP is solely responsible for these plans.

Here are three thoughts Singaporeans have:

 

sian-half-auntie “It is true because all the problems Singaporeans suffer from daily are a result of PAP’s doing and policies.”
Kuai Ren Chuo, 44-year-old button maker

 

sian-half-uncle “Most PAP MPs also do not have a bearing on PAP policies because they don’t speak up or show up in parliament anyways.”
Qu Na Li, 65-year-old taxi driver

 

happy-bird-girl “Simple. Lesser the opposition in parliament, the lesser the bearing. More opposition in parliament, the more the bearing.”
Jiang Dao Lee, 18-year-old bursary recipient

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 











PAP set to become biggest opposition party in S’pore once GE2015 results are out

PAP set to become biggest opposition party in S’pore once GE2015 results are out

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This will allow them to work hard to prove that they are electable for GE2019.

pap-opposition-party

The People’s Action Party is set to become the largest opposition party Singapore has ever known, according to Singaporeans from all walks of life who like to politicise things.

This after Singaporeans said the PAP stands a good chance of losing as many as all the GRCs and SMCs this coming general election expected to be held in 2015 and not being able to form the majority in parliament.

This will make the PAP the de facto opposition political party as the other parties would then become the incumbent.

One Singaporean, Hor Yee See, said this arrangement is beneficial for Singapore and Singaporeans: “As the biggest opposition party, PAP would then have to work hard for Singapore and Singaporeans to show that they are electable before the next poll in GE2019.”

“This means they would have to prove themselves to Singaporeans that they can make a difference in everybody’s lives by working even harder than when they were in political office to win back their seat.”

“The best part is, as the opposition working hard to help Singaporeans, we wouldn’t have to pay the PAP any taxpayers’ money compared to when they are in parliament.”

“This is the true test of whether they still have the heart to serve the people.”

At press time, this logic is seizing the nation as a moment of enlightenment and clarity.

 

 

 

 

 











Be thankful for 50 years of white

Be thankful for 50 years of white

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PAP rule has taken us where none of our neighbouring countries have ventured. And I’m grateful.

By Ng Zhong Ming

Majulah PAP! Majulah Singapura! Photo: TERENCE LEE

PRAISING the PAP seems unfashionable these days, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Look at how far a small island nation with no resources has come. And not just survived, but done terribly well economically.

Go ahead, scan today’s newpapers and headlines. Politicians talk about realism and pragmatism, their speeches peppered with practicality and gritty competitiveness.

This is because the global economy is in uncharted waters. Even European nations, with their generous welfare systems and enforced immigration policies, are in trouble.

Soul-searching is not reserved only for the PAP: The purported forefathers of democracy are struggling and have a lot to think about.

America is facing up with a resurgent China – a complacent giant that has awoken from its long slumber and realised that the ascendency of the West and Western ideas has been but a blip in the world’s long history.

Even India – the world’s largest democracy, is lagging further and further behind.

And why?

Because ideals, yes, even those that developed democracies depend on, ultimately don’t feed people. Doing what is necessary, to ensure survivability, doing what puts food on the table – feeds people.

Put it this way: In Singapore, ideals are for restless youths who will move into nice, air conditioned offices soon enough after getting a decent education. Beggars living day by day just don’t give a damn.

But idealism can only be sustained if and only if there are other people out there doing the grunt work of being industrious and holding the economic front.

And don’t forget, a decent education to begin with, is the result of the foundation laid for by the PAP, through more than 50 years of proven track record.

Yes, the PAP is not perfect. It even acknowledges that.

However, which government doesn’t make mistakes? And which other government in the world can make a small island state, expelled from a federation, punch way above its weight in regional and international affairs? And this is no hypothetical question.

Should we be voting for the opposition, for so-called democracy and for less tangible gains, while all over the world, democracies are also in trouble, and real competition is heating up?

Therefore, I don’t buy the argument that the presence of opposition enables constructive competition.

Sure, we don’t want to emulate those types of democracy where it is all a mess. But can it not be possible that the presence of PAP is the compromise between a democratic and authoritarian state?

Think about this: Is this the time to push for democratic change without any of the negative trade-offs? Can we afford this, when nations, particularly in our region, are becoming more practical, more competitive, when our immediate neighbours, with their natural resources and vast markets at command, are fast catching up?

It is economic growth that holds Singapore together, that ensures we have a say in ASEAN and beyond. In the dog-eat-dog world of international politics, poor beggars will be ripped to shreds.

Are we abandoning what is done, for what ought to be done? To this, Machiavelli had this to say: “He who abandons what is done for what should be done, will rather bring about his own ruin than his preservation”.

We should be mindful that Singapore’s economy is based on international trade and the free flow of capital. And international capital is easily spooked. Investor darling one day, pariah the next.

And increasingly, alternative options are multiplying in the investment horizon in emerging, growth markets.

We are sailing into uncharted seas, and to this, you need a single-minded determination – the captain that you can trust, the captain with the best proven track record.

We are all familiar by now about this driver/pilot analogy, but to be fair, let us hope that the co-navigator will attempt to provide constructive feedback and advice, instead of attempting to undermine the captain’s decisions at every chance, or God forbid, try to wrest the ship’s wheel.

Let us hope the opposition will be able to step up to the task, what more in a small, swift ship in a sea plied with much bigger vessels than ours, braving the storm, and some of these heeling.

Should not a small ship in turbulent seas be more pragmatic? Let us not forget that it is economic growth that holds Singapore together, that ensures we have a say in ASEAN and beyond. In the dog-eat-dog world of international politics, poor beggars will be ripped to shreds.

Detractors say that there is a need for “heartware”, beyond sheer hardware. This is another fair point.

But then again, take a look at today’s papers – not the Straits Times, for the skeptics – and you will notice countries with “soft power” reserves, which are enjoying life, are getting a massive reality check.

The Europeans are waking up to the fact that their lifestyle is not sustainable.

Even the Americans are facing up to the end of hegemony and a new, multi-polar, competitive world order.

Countries with “hard power” reserves and huge resources and markets are the ones delivering the goods. The era of small economies rapidly developing based on trade is over. From the old development “formula“ of Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea, now comes the aptly named BRICs – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and add to that, Indonesia.

The million dollar question remains – will the opposition ensure better governance, and better management? Let us hope so. To be fair, the debate about Singapore needing soulfulness is a perfectly good one, but above that, one is faced with the reality that continued economic performance and growth in a competitive world is what is needed to sustain this small island republic, and its already high living standards.

These are the issues that make an immediate impact on everyone’s daily lives.

Put simply, results feed people. This election, if nothing else, is a healthy injection of realpolitik.

Put simply, realistic politics.

Not the airy-fairy stuff that makes someone teary-eyed but nothing more.

Deliver the results; deliver us across these uncharted seas. For there be economic and political dragons, not ideological fancies. Let us hope the opposition does serve this function, if nothing else.

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Bikers in white back PAP

Bikers in white back PAP

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Opposition candidates can expect uphill battle in Sembawang and Nee Soon GRCs, which has strong grassroots support for the People’s Action Party.

By Terence Lee

Bikers gathered at a PAP Community Foundation branch outside Admiralty Secondary School. Photo: TERENCE LEE (Click photo to view gallery in Flickr)

AS expected, PAP supporters of all shapes and sizes arrived by the busload to a vicinity near Admiralty Secondary School, which is the nomination centre for Sembawang GRC and Nee Soon GRC.

Amidst the sea of white, a group of motorcycle riders stood out: Grown men (some really grown), decked out in sunglasses and leather jackets, chit-chatting besides their Harley-Davidsons and shiny choppers.

It was truly a sight to behold; a couple of angmohs who would look perfectly comfortable in the movie Wild Hogs, a bunch of young and old Malay dudes, and some Chinese riders who don’t quite measure up on the cool quotient.

Soon, their hero emerged out of nowhere and pro-PAP cheers erupted from this group of unlikely PAP supporters. The man at the centre of it all? None other than Law Minister K. Shanmugam.

It turns out that the Minister has been giving moral encouragement to Rider’s Aid, a group of motorcycle enthusiasts that actively participates in community events.

In return, the group decided to show up on Nomination Day to lend their support.

“I know they’re good people,” Mohd Salleh, a 60-year-old rider, says of the PAP team competing in the two GRCs: Sembawang and Nee Soon. “The government has been doing a good job so far. We should be grateful we have a good system. It’s not perfect, but they’ve done their best.”

Given their decades of presence among grassroots leaders, PAP supporters outnumbered opposition ones by about ten-to-one that day, and while we may chalk that up to logistical advantage, it’s much harder to rebut the genuine affection pouring out from the ruling party supporters.

But not all who wear white are fervent Lee & Lee fans.

“I’m ashamed to have the same surname as Tin Pei Ling, and you can put that down!” – Mr Tin

A friend I had bumped into was asked to support the PAP because one of the Ministers assisted in a community project she was doing. So she thought she’d see what the fuss was all about.

“Nah, politics is not really my thing,” she said, clad in white, “maybe this is the first and last time I’ll be involved this elections.”

I’m sure there are many like her, not passionate about politics, but generally pro-PAP and willing to carry the party symbol. And they’re likely to vote them into power too.

Then again, the opposition parties can expect modest gains this elections, since the PAP has not resorted to legal action so far to stymie opposition voices.

Disenfranchised voters, as well as Virgin Voters would form a significant voting bloc for both the SDP and WP, with bread-and-butter issues foremost on their minds.

I spoke to a 36-year-old unemployed man who came to the nomination centre dressed in jogging attire, wearing a blue singlet in support of the WP. He declined to give his full name, but says I can call him Mr Tin.

“I’m ashamed to have the same surname as Tin Pei Ling, and you can put that down!” he tells me.

Tin goes on to rattle off a list of concerns he has, which include: Rising costs of living, ERP gantries, expensive parking charges in the CBD, crowded trains.

“And you call this Swiss standard of living?”

Bryan Wong, a 19-year-old student from Temasek Polytechnic, may not be able to vote, but he’s a keen opposition supporter. His political awakening began two months ago, after doing research on his own and talking with friends. Affordable housing is a chief concern for him.

“If you have a $2,000 salary, it takes you three to four years to save enough money to pay for the ten percent downpayment,” he says, “that is too expensive.”

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Vote out of belief, not fear

Vote out of belief, not fear

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Virgin Voter Dannon Har observes that some of his peers, who work in the public sector, fear voting for the opposition because it might stunt their career prospects.

Proud of being a Virgin Voter? Put this as your Facebook display picture! Enhanced from photo by STEPHANE TOUGARD / Creative Commons

I WILL be voting for my very first time this coming elections. I’m feeling a flurry of excitement coupled with apprehension, and I hope dismay won’t follow after I’ve done the deed.

What brings out such a mixed bag of emotions is that giant question mark bobbing above my head saying: “Does my vote really matter?”

As an average youth living in Meritocratic/Autocratic Singapore, I wonder if my vote will make a difference when opposition giants like JB Jeyaretnam and Chiam See Tong have failed or attained limited success?

Needless to say, the PAP government has been in power since day one. Those who have tried to step up and challenge them have been deliberately quashed under their iron fist.

I’m certainly not exaggerating: Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew admitted as much in his his series of interviews with the Straits Times.

Despite our turbulent political history, what disturbs me much is the indifferent, laidback, nonchalant attitude of many of today’s youths. What disturbs me even more is some of their ignorance or misconceptions.

To be fair, there is a notable rise of youth participation in Singapore’s political scene. Even though there’s plenty of nonconstructive rants online, the fact that more youths are voicing out is at least a sure sign of a diversification of views.

Yet many young Singaporeans only seem to care about the food on their table.

With an overbearing corporatist culture constantly looming over our heads, I fear becoming just another cog in the machine. And I know I am not alone in this.

Singapore’s citizens are described as consumerist, materialistic, and pragmatic. These are now our defining attributes as Singaporeans.

The drastic fall in Total Fertility Rate is a clear sign to me that we are thinking more and more in economic terms, putting all other concerns second place.

In a Straits Times article I read, a lawyer said regarding the reason for not having children: “It’s a question of opportunity cost, and I can’t afford the downtime from my career.”

Political sentiments in Singapore often reflect our materialistic culture.

During sessions of coffee shop talk with peers my age, they tell me they are going to vote for PAP this coming election, as they feel pressured to do so. But Pressured? Pressured by what?

The presence of such fear is a shock to me – regardless of whether there is any truth to it. Why should there even be fear of going against the ruling party – as distinct from the state – in a democratic society?

Apparently, there is an onset of fear about going against the grain. On the ground, there is fear that voting for an opposition party would result in indirect repercussions of some sort.

I hear of comments that are utterly ridiculous. Some tell me that since they work in the public sector, they had better vote for the PAP lest they get stunted career growths and diminished pay packages.

The presence of such fear is a shock to me – regardless of whether there is any truth to it. Why should there even be fear of going against the ruling party – as distinct from the state – in a democratic society?

Such ideas are plainly absurd. Then again, nothing surprises me anymore.

Other comments I’ve heard include feelings of gratitude for what PAP had done for us in the past. With this argument, some think we should continue voting for them since they have done so much for us.

They further add that the good track record is testament that they’ll do as well if not better in the future.

But I say that if a party’s recent track record is any indication, then recent hot potato issues like immigration, housing prices, and ministerial salary among others would indicate that the time for change has come.

I will be voting in Tampines GRC this coming election, where PAP veteran and minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan will be contesting.

He may not be very popular, based on online sentiments, but how many votes will actually swing in his favor simply because of PAP’s dominance?

My personal belief is that each and every contestant should be judged based on what they are really offering on the plate instead of party affiliations or worse, empty promises.

Sadly, the political game is often reduced to a shallow popularity contest rather than a substantial analysis of political manifestos.

In deciding who to vote for, I realise that jumping onto the same bandwagon as everyone else simply displays a lack of forethought on my part. I am given a mind for a reason, and that reason is to reason.

I can’t let others decide for me whom I’m going to vote for.

But I am not blindly advocating western ideals in Singapore, as each country is different and should be run differently. A system that works in one place may not work in another. I’m clear on this.

My beef is with people refusing to stand up for what they believe in, when they should be voicing out their concerns for a future they want to see happening in Singapore.

Seriously, if we look closely enough at the PAP government’s current policies and scrutise it, can we confidently say that we are able to sit down and stay passive?

At 23 years old, I am ready to do the little I can to express my personal beliefs, perspectives, and values in the political realm. It is my own conviction to eliminate indifference among Singaporean youths, starting from myself.

So to all my fellow Virgin Voters out there, be daring enough to do what you sincerely think is right for the sake of our own generation’s future.

And to all experienced voters out there, good for you if you have not compromised your ideals. But if you have and are thinking of voting ‘safely’ time and again, do not for a moment think that others will do the fighting for you.

As Dr Chee Soon Juan once mentioned, “Democracy cannot be wished for, it must be fought for.”

Dannon Har, 23, has studied in neighborhood schools all his life. He is currently majoring in Sociology and minoring in Communications at SIM University while interning at a prominent business news organisation. He spends his free time clearing his school assignments hanging out with his better half who keeps his humanity from dispersing as he chases the Singapore dream.

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Confessions of the Virgin Voters

Confessions of the Virgin Voters

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New Nation presents a unique way of covering the elections.

By Terence Lee

Here's our first Virgin Voter graphic - the Schoolgirl Virgin Voter! Put this up on Facebook and make your confession.

THIS year, I will be voting for the first time, and so will my fellow editors (except Belmont, who’s an old timer). There are about 100,000 people like us; maiden voters who are about to catch the excitement of the polls.

While one of our writers has said that voting is like having sex, I disagree.

Voting is better than sex. Or chocolate. Why? Because while an average person is likely to do the dance countless times, contingent on the fact that he or she has the EQ to get laid, that same person may reach 80 and never get a chance to vote. Ever.

That’s especially true if you live in a constituency where no opposition dare to tread.

For the luckier ones, assuming we live till a 100 and the elections happen once every five years, we’d get at most 16 shots at the voting booth.

If I were you, I’d be super invigorated.

Therefore, we folks at New Nation want to celebrate the fact that we’ll be Virgin Voters. From today onwards, you’ll be hearing from many first-timers about their thoughts towards the elections, the candidates, and the proceedings.

Some of us will even be providing coverage of our respective constituencies, speaking to MPs, candidates, and voters. We’ll be attending rallies and walkabouts, giving you our unique take on the elections, through the eyes and dirty minds of a virgin voter.

Now, as you know, it takes two to tango.

While, we, the editors and writers of this humble online magazine, are eager to get off the starting block, we are counting on you, the reader, to contribute with us. Whether you are a virgin voter or a second timer, it doesn’t matter. And if you’re 60 and doing it for the first time, there’s no shame in that.

And we don’t care whether you’re pro-PAP, or anti-PAP, lesbian or straight, passionate or blah. Here’s how you can help:

1) Write for us. Or help with photography and making videos. Share your thoughts about the elections, and we’ll publish them. If you’d like to take this one step further and cover the elections in your constituency, do let us know too. Email us at [email protected] if you’re interested.

2) Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and share the gospel of the Virgin Voters with your heathen friends.

3) Share the pride of being a Virgin Voter using one of our unique Facebook display pics. We will be launching new ones every week on our Facebook page. Don’t like them? Why not create your own, and share it with your friends, and us?

Together, let’s make our first time a less scary one!

PAP can represent everyone’s interest? Thanks, but no thanks

PAP can represent everyone’s interest? Thanks, but no thanks

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Here’s the scary part about last night’s Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum: For a minute there, I actually bought what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had to say. But not for long.

By Belmont Lay

The Prime Minister's wife, Ho Ching, was there to lend her quiet support. Photo: FANG SHIHAN

THE gist of Prime Minister Lee’s argument about leadership renewal is pretty straightforward: There really is only one party in Singapore that is wise and talented enough to attract the best and the brightest to lead this country.

And that party happens to be the PAP.

This is a re-iteration of what his father, Lee Kuan Yew, famously once said: If a jumbo jet carrying 300 of Singapore’s top leaders were to crash, Singapore would be finished.

So you want viable opposition parties to be at the helm? Nope, sorry. They are going to find it even harder to attract the best.

You want a two-party system? Nope, not even remotely possible. Not that the PAP did not think about splitting itself into two.

The younger Lee said: “But the most important reason why a two-party system is not workable is because we don’t have enough talent in Singapore to form two A-teams.”

He added: “We are now pulling together the next A-team of Singapore. And the PAP candidates in this round will form key members of this team and in the next couple of rounds.”

Fair and good, right?

Well, not until you take a look at what is happening on the ground in the opposition camp and you can easily dismiss what Lee had to say about the shortage of talent.

The simple fact is that not everyone who is bright and able wants to be part of the PAP.

The National Solidarity Party has two ex-government scholars: Hazel Poa and Tony Tan, as well as a lawyer, Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss.

The Singapore Democratic Party has Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, who worked as a social worker (with a doctorate in social policy) and absolutely rocked at the Channel NewsAsia debate last week.

And short of introducing God himself to run in a GRC, the Workers’ Party has Chen Show Mao.

So, pray tell, I want none of these but Tin Pei Ling? Just because the PAP says she is good?

Why should I trust the PAP’s ability to screen for potential candidates let alone attract top dogs? There is nothing in their mechanisms that inspire confidence or convinces me that they are not just making up numbers or creating the appearance of looking diversified by fielding Tin Pei Ling.

Therefore, two rebuttal points to the PAP system: It reeks of hubris and it has a tendency to breed bureaucratic apparatchiks.

But what really got my goat was what Lee had to say about PAP wanting to represent every Singaporean: “I think we should try to the maximum extent we can, align all the interest of Singaporeans and make sure one party can represent you, whether you are the CEO or whether you are a taxi driver.”

Right…

I just cannot buy the argument that one party can represent the interest of every segment in society.

If you’re gay, or if you’re staunchly single, or if you’re divorced, or if you’re a swinger, or if you’re a single parent, or if you’re homeless, or if you’re liberal-minded, or if you’re a hippie, or if you’re really old, or if you’re really poor, or if you lack next-of-kins, you’re screwed.

Even lesser so, when it is one party trying to be representatives of all the people by manipulating the interests of its citizens.

This is social engineering gone mad.

Let’s not argue about hypotheticals but illustrate using a vivid example: Just look at what happens when you have one Housing Development Board dictating the housing needs of 80% of the population.

The system eventually went tits up late last year when it can no longer make affordable housing to cater to the needs of the masses.

My take on this is pretty simple: If the present Government (a term that was interchangeably used with PAP last night) is indeed as brilliant as it makes itself out to be, it should have been able to create an alternative to the HDB, or made tweaks to refine it.

But it didn’t.

And you ask: Why is there a need for an alternative?

Because public housing, which are built across the island, 1) do not have any quotas reserved solely for local Singaporeans and 2) are subjected to open market competitive pricing, forces prices of housing across the board (private property included) to explode the moment demand goes up.

HDB prices have gone up drastically over the last twenty to thirty years, outgrowing the average Singaporean’s ability to afford them.

And yet the HDB would still insist on providing for the majority, which means it will come back to bite you and me in our asses, because no matter how much richer you can get, you might still end up in a HDB.

Or remain staying with your parents.

I see you have half a million dollars there? I’m sorry, you can probably only afford to buy a three-room flat in Ulu Sungei Goondu, behind Woodlands forested water catchment area, you high-income earner you.

So, here’s the point of today’s missive: If you’re gay, or if you’re staunchly single, or if you’re divorced, or if you’re a swinger, or if you’re a single parent, or if you’re homeless, or if you’re liberal-minded, or if you’re a hippie, or if you’re really old, or if you’re really poor, or if you lack next-of-kins, you’re screwed.

The PAP doesn’t represent your interest at all. It can’t and I won’t even humour myself to say it can.

Period.

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Quit playing games for my vote

Quit playing games for my vote

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You know it’s time for you to vote when all you hear in the news is the “PAP” and “The Opposition”. But you know it’s supposed to be about you and not them right?

By Justin Zhuang

I THOUGHT that Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng was shooting himself in the foot when he questioned the opposition’s motives of wanting to capture a GRC in the upcoming elections. Then again, he made a lot of sense.

“Some say they are doing it for party renewal, some want to be the first ones to do so, but what is the elections about? Is it about the ambitions of a political party or individuals to make history?” he asked.

Clearly, he didn’t seem to remember that his party, the PAP, also has intentions to capture a GRC for party renewal. After all, the party is trying to build its fourth generation team. But in case anyone gets this “team” mixed up with “government”, here’s a quick reminder: The PAP candidates need to be elected by the people first.

That aside, I think his remarks pretty much sum up the elections hustings thus far. All the politicians have been doing is talking about themselves or with one another.

And if history repeats itself, that’s probably how the upcoming General Elections will turn out to be — political entertainment served up once every five years. As usual, the PAP will have a field day caricaturing the opposition parties and their candidates, digging up any dirty and dismal past.

Just look at what they did in the 1963 elections, using cartoons on flyers to succinctly sum up their position against their opponents. The same thing in the 1967 by-elections was done on banners at a rally in Thomson. Nowadays, they just say it as it is, like in 1997 when they labeled Workers’ Party candidate Tang Liang Hong anti-Christian and a Chinese chauvinist. The medium may be different but the method stays the same.

On the other hand, all you hear from the Opposition parties is the plea to us to vote out the PAP — the exact rallying call of the Barisan Sosialis in the 1984 elections.

Yet, what is an elections really about? Is it just about who we vote in or what we are voting for? The problem with our elections here is it never seems to rise above petty politics (and personalities) to a proper debate about issues that matter. It’s like watching an entertainment show on television, with two sides trying to outdo one another, and you as a viewer (some people don’t get to vote, you see), you stand to receive prizes (goodies) just by picking the right winner.

One big reason for this is that neither side treats the voters with enough respect. We don’t know who we are as voters. The constant redrawing of electoral boundaries give us no sense of place. This elections, I am be part of Hougang SMC, but in the next I could be part of Aljunied GRC! Then, there’s the parachuting of candidates: people who don’t live in our constituencies or spend years with us are suddenly moved to stand in a constituency to suit the party’s strategy.

We don’t need a Cooling-Off Day to think about who we want to vote for, but we need certainty about who the candidates are as early as possible. How can we be expected to make an informed choice about a candidate in weeks? Especially when I have to live with the decision for five years!

But the true mark of a people’s candidate is when voters come up to you to take a photograph and an autograph. Not the other way around.

The uncertainty is further fuelled by the lack of a fixed election date, that leads to unnecessary time wasted on speculation. “When are the elections?” “Who will be contesting?” become the de-facto election questions when voters should be discussing the ‘Whats’ and ‘Whys’ of voting.

Uncertainty also breeds uncommitted candidates, because nothing is confirmed until Nomination Day. And in order to win our votes in such a short time, politicians on both sides end up engaging in mudslinging to make their opponents look bad. The opposition especially seems prone to that.

On the flipside, parties the party that can afford more, resorts to gimmicks and giveaways that are sometimes in such bad taste. In order to wrest Bukit Gombak back from the SDP after the 1991 elections, PAP candidate Mr Ang Mong Seng began celebrating the birthdays of children attending the constituency’s PAP Community Foundation preschools. Recalling how he won it back in 1997, Mr Ang told The Straits Times that not only did he sing them birthday songs and cut a cake with them, he even posed for a photograph with each child and autographed it.

Besides the likelihood that the children would have preferred to pose with Barney instead of Mr Ang, I wonder if they even knew who he was. At the very least, the children’s teacher who spends much more time with them in class is more worthy of being in this photograph.

This example pretty much sums up the elections in Singapore: It’s the candidates imposing themselves on us instead of convincing us that we need them. They stick themselves into our lives not necessarily because they want to, but they need to. And when voting is compulsory, it often becomes a choice of the lesser evil.

But the true mark of a people’s candidate is when voters come up to you to take a photograph and an autograph. Not the other way around. To get to this level of acceptance, candidates should start talking with the voters instead of to them.

Oh, and please leave the kids out of your politics.

Justin Zhuang is a Singaporean writer and editorial designer. He blogs about Singapore’s politics, society and visual culture at justrambling.sg

United PAP, divided Opposition?

United PAP, divided Opposition?

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More work needed to increase credibility of the Opposition.
By Terence Lee

Chee Soon Juan (left) and Chiam See Tong talk after being presented with appreciation gifts by The Online Citizen, organiser of the Face to Face forum. The two had an acrimonious past while working together at the Singapore Democratic Party.

Chee Soon Juan (left) and Chiam See Tong talk after being presented with appreciation gifts. The two had an acrimonious past while working together at the Singapore Democratic Party. Picture from THE ONLINE CITIZEN.

LAST WEEK’S Face to Face forum, which gathered all the major opposition parties into a hotel ballroom, was fascinating in many ways. Rarely do you find them gather in such posh settings, under air-conditioning that actually works.

I am more accustomised to see them hawk party newspapers at the food centre near Bedok MRT and shouting party slogans in their polo-tees.

Images of Chiam See Tong, secretary-general of the Singapore People’s Party, conducting his Meet-the-People Sessions at the HDB voiddeck comes to mind too.

The forum was orchestrated down to the minutest detail – including how the opposition members came in, which seats they occupied, and the time allowed to ask and answer questions. The format of the Q & A session was deliberate: Choo Zheng Xi, moderator of the forum, told me that it’s same model used for the US elections.

But the event seemed like a kick-ass public relations exercise for the Opposition.

Chiam, the most seasoned of the group and the first to come through the front door, was promptly greeted with warm applause. As he sauntered up the stage, he was helped to his seat by Goh Meng Seng of the National Solidarity Party.

Dr Chee Soon Juan, whose arrival at the political scene once led to Chiam’s ousting from the Singapore Democratic Party, shook hands with his former mentor. Chee exchanged pleasantries with Chiam, displaying no sign of animosity.

There’s no doubt who was the star that night. Although Chiam’s voice was sometimes weak and muffled, the audience hung on to his words and heckled when he poked fun at the PAP. Although past his prime, his piquant wit was still on display.

…given the similar ideologies and outlook of these political parties, I am surprised more isn’t done to promote common causes between them.

The event painted a picture of a united opposition front, and Chiam is the leading advocate of that unity. His formation of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), a conglomerate of three political parties, represents his crowning achievement in bringing together disparate tribes.

But conflict had erupted around the totem pole. Late last year, rival factions from the Singapore Malay National Organisation, or PKMS, took their infighting literally to the streets. Five people were injured.

This year, a spat between right-hand man Desmond Lim and himself became public. Chiam attempted to oust Lim as the sec-gen of the SDA, but the Supreme Council of the Alliance rebuffed him by voting that Lim serve out his full two-year term.

The Alliance’s inability to keep their house in order has hurt the Opposition’s image, especially among those with a mild interest in politics. The PAP, on the other hand, have presented themselves as a cohesive fighting team. You don’t see Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan strangulate National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan in public.

Internal dissent, if present, is either congenial or unpublicised. Perhaps the presence of strongman Lee Kuan Yew and an obliging mainstream media helped.

Such public spats wouldn’t matter if this is the United States, where senators and representatives frequently clash with one another and vote against party line. But here, disunity is seen as a sure sign of weakness.

Seen in this context, the forum became a perfect opportunity for the Opposition to rehabilitate their image. And they took full advantage of it.

Speaking to Goh and Gerald Giam of the Worker’s Party, I seemed to get the sense that all is well and dandy within the Opposition. Oh, we’ve never gotten along so swimmingly well, they said. They mentioned as proof about how cross-party talks occur frequently behind the scenes – an uncommon occurence in the past.

Goh added that no singular platform for the Opposition is necessary, and avoiding three-cornered fights is a sufficient form of cooperation. Diversity is good, he said.

But given the similar ideologies and outlook of these political parties, I am surprised more isn’t done to promote common causes between them. Lower ministerial pay, greater civil liberties and political freedom, a stronger social safety net, and greater transparency in governance – these are pillars around which a common platform can arise.

Perhaps a flexible arrangement that takes into account the differences in the factions while spelling out the similarities would work. Putting up a common, broad manifesto would be a good first step. Establishing cross-party research teams to develop alternative policies is a possibility, and so are issuing joint press releases to denounce certain government policies as the situation calls for it.

These small, but workable ideas could help convince a skeptical electorate that the Opposition is worth voting for. When all the streams flow as one river, you hear the deafening rush of water.

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