Tag Archive | "Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum"

PM Lee justifies the PAP’s weak candidate

PM Lee justifies the PAP’s weak candidate

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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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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.”


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.


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