It’s time you know the truth about the our government. Here goes. Our government is complacent, self-centered and self-serving. Bold statements? Read on to make up your own minds.
For almost 50 years, Singapore has been having only one party in government. The question you need to ask is this – is this healthy? PAP have tried convincing us that it is in our interests to ensure that there is only one government so that it will create stability, and will then attract investments. They’ve tried to convince us that if PAP is no longer in power, Singapore will crumble and fall under the opposition’s leadership. For the past many years, we’ve believed in it. The fear that they’ve ingrained in us have caused us to buy into their ideas and we continue to vote fervently for PAP because we indeed fear that what they say would happen. But would it? Have they explained to us clearly how their logic works?
For the first part, I will look into the fear-tactics that PAP have used and address the rationality of them.
Busting the Singapore Myths
Myth #1: If PAP is no longer in power, Singapore will crumble because the opposition is not experienced enough to do the job. FACT: The elected government makes up less than 100 people in Singapore. This 100 people are not the people who do the actual job. The actual job is performed by the thousands of people in civil service who will continue to do their jobs, regardless of who is in government. These thousands of people will continue to drive strategies and will continue to function effectively – unless you are telling me that they are not already effective and they need to be spoon-fed by the government, which is why we need a group of 100 elected government leaders to lead strategies? I think we know better than that. Singapore will still go on, regardless of who is in power.
Myth #2: If we do not keep a strong military, other countries will invade Singapore. Singapore will lose investments and we will all perish – this is another fear that the government has created in us. FACT: The countries in the region have their investments in Singapore as well. They depend on Singapore, just as much as we depend on them to survive. Do you think they will want to attack Singapore? And in the event that they do, what is there in Singapore that they want to attack? The region will lose its stability and investments won’t come in anyway. The countries in this region won’t do anything drastic to upset the balance – not when we are all tied into the capitalistic market and we need each other to survive. You are only attacked when you do not pander to the capitalistic market, then this is when other countries will want to attack you, because you do not allow them access to your markets and your resources, of which, Singapore has none to speak of, so then, what is there to attack? The countries won’t bother wasting their resources attacking us when there are better things to do. In any case, the military that is built up is meant more to ward off any rebellions from Singaporeans, rather than from external forces.
Myth #3: We need a large amount of reserves, so that we can save up enough such that in the event of uncertainties, we have a large pool of reserves to rely on. FACT: Currently, Singapore has hundreds of billions of national reserves – possibly $600 or $700 billion, or maybe more than $800 billion. Each year we spend about $50 billion for the national budget. Our reserves can thus last us for the next 10, maybe even 15 or 20 years. But we would never know because the government does not want to let us know how much we have for ourselves. But they tell us that we cannot increase our spending, especially on social spending, because if we do not have enough in the reserves, that’s it for us. And this is the reason why they continue to pay millions of dollars to the heads of the major Singapore-owned companies, which the government had privatized from the public services, which then become the portfolio companies of the GIC and Temasek, which are government-owned. Do you see where the money is going? To the management and shareholders who benefit. So, indeed if we do need to keep a large pool of reserves for national security, why are we paying millions to the heads of these companies? And why are they earning billions and billions in revenue and profits? Really, our reserves are that important that we can afford to let private companies earn that much, at the expense of goods and services which are essentially public services which the government had privatized. For whose benefit? This is what you need to ask.
Myth #4: If Singapore increase taxes or if we impose a minimum wage, companies won’t invest in Singapore because we will become too expensive for them. FACT: The companies that Singapore wants to attract are multinational companies (MNCs) and big global businesses. These businesses have accustomed themselves to ethical ways of working, such as providing for minimum wage and paying higher taxes in other countries. To them, this is a norm. Sure, lower taxes might be more attractive, but ask any company and they would tell you, taxes and wages are only one portion of their consideration of whether to locate their companies here. Who are the low taxes and the unwillingness to impose a minimum wage really meant to benefit? Other than the MNCs, the other major businesses in Singapore are the Singapore-owned companies which the government has a stake in. And together, they account for hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. If taxes are increased and a minimum wage is imposed, other than the MNCs, who else do you think will be affected? No prizes for the right answer. And if MNCs are able to adjust to it because they’ve been able to do so in other countries, then who truly benefits from not having higher taxes and a minimum wage? Who are they really trying to protect? Again, no prizes for guessing. And if you own the majority of the businesses in Singapore, would it be in your interest to ensure that you continue to profit? Well, yes, of course. Now, if you can see beyond their rhetoric, you will see for yourself how their reluctance to increase taxes and implement a minimum wage is not because we won’t pay. It’s because they do not want to eat into their own profits. Aside, and in relation to this, do you know why there is no concerted effort to groom SMEs in Singapore? SMEs take away the profits that the big government-linked businesses can make. If you are in power and you’ve managed to create a system where the major money churning companies are all owned by you, you will make sure that if any other companies benefit, they should also be under you. The growth of these SMEs which do not belong to them take away their profits. They have no incentive or want to let SMEs grow. They have no incentive to groom these SMEs.
The Lack of Competition Breeds Political Complacency
See, Singaporeans, half a century of rule by one party had breed complacency and disinterest in the livelihoods of the people. It wouldn’t be as bad if there is intra-party competition which allows the party to continue to regenerate and grow. But there isn’t. There is a party line that PAP politicians have to toe. So, the PAP has grown accustomed to making decisions, based on what they think is best – they say it’s for the betterment of us. You think? Why do you think there are no large-scale independent surveys to gauge public sentiment? Why do you think the PAP gets to set the discourse? Everything is controlled by them, even what we should believe. What compounds the issue is this – PAP has run the country primarily on a capitalistic stance. This in itself, isn’t necessarily bad, as we belong to a capitalistic global economy and unfortunately, we have to play by the rules of the global market. But more than 40 years of operating a country on capitalistic tones and you necessarily compromise on the social growth of the people.
In other countries, you have at least two parties – one which usually takes on a more capitalistic stance and the other, a more socialist stance. Both parties get a chance to form the government now and then, which allows the people’s social well-being to at least be looked into and taken care of once in a while. In Singapore, we only have PAP. PAP doesn’t believe in catering to the social and welfare needs of the people and thus our social and welfare needs are sidelined and in fact, become irrelevant. This is the state of Singapore as it is now – a country where the people are the most unhappy in the world and feel the least engaged because they’ve been robbed of their autonomy to be, while we are expected to work and toil for the capitalistic government.
The problem is this – there is only one party in government. There isn’t competition for them. You need competition so that whoever is in power is kept on their toes and who will not be complacent in their decision making. Of course, then you might ask, is it good to have a multi-party system? Won’t it create more tensions, like in America? Well, then it depends on how honest and sincere the government leaders are. Look at the Nordic countries then. They’ve handled themselves admirably even if they work on a multi-party system. Also, competition need not come just in the form of another party. A friend suggested that it can be in the form of civil society groups or even Singaporeans. Well, true but see, the voices of civil society groups have been robbed as well, and Singaporeans aren’t allowed to demonstrate and make our voices heard. When we go online to speak up, the government can choose not to report about what is said online, choose to sideline it or choose to twist the information said to purpose it for their own use. Thus the voices of Singaporeans are robbed as well. In effect, there’s no effective counterbalance and competition to keep the government in check.
What’s more – they’ve created a system whereby they own the big businesses in Singapore. They’ve privatized the public services and have made them into companies which generate hundreds of billions in revenue and have become some of the richest companies in Singapore. There is interest for them to continue helping these businesses earn more money. And when that is their goal, whose rights will then have to be compromised? The rest of the Singaporeans.
And the thing is this – we allow them! We allow them to take our rights away! We buy into what they say. In the past, this is due to a well-oiled PR machine where they were able to say what they say, and because we did not have the Internet to check things up so effectively, we blindly believed them. And then, even when we disagree, we do not have an effective platform to speak out nor are we allowed to demonstrate, so everyone is led to believe that whatever PAP says is the truth. But things are different now. We have the Internet. And we are more aware of how we can find out information. With this, we’ve been able to analyse on a broader level and dissect what they say more effectively. We are learning that we don’t have to believe what they say, and in fact, they don’t make a lot of sense as well!
Then, finally, the question is this – why do they create or falsify so much information? What are they trying to prevent us from knowing or disrupting? Why do they want to dumb us down? Why do they not want us to know their secrets? If you ask me, they’ve created a system where they’ve formed a group of people who are then party to this system where they will create and keep wealth for this selected group of people. Whatever decisions they make is thus aimed at securing the wealth and security of these individuals. Ultimately, is it because we need our a solid reserves because of national security? Do we need a strong military because of national security? I’ve realized that national security is just an affront. What is it that they are truly concerned about? Well, it’s pretty clear by now what I’m trying to say, isn’t it? And if you’ve been following my line of reasoning and my past few articles, you can see for yourself that the logic is quite clear.
What are the alternatives then? PAP need to have the humanity and conscience to look within themselves to remember who and what they should be really working for. Otherwise, our government might have corrupted themselves by pandering to a capitalistic system, which they realise can also pander to their own needs, and thus they’ve entrapped themselves in the system. So, if PAP is not willing to reflect and introspect to think about what truly needs to be done for Singaporeans, then a change of government and political party is in order. We would need to put new people in place who will have the conscience to do what is right for Singaporeans – people who are able to look out for our needs and where we will then have the power to hold them to their responsibility to do what is right for us.
I’ve tried to paint a picture of how we are being told stories of fear so that we would allow our rights to be robbed and so that we would not dare choose any alternative than PAP because we’ve been told a story by them that makes them look good and are the only ones that can be our saviour. Of course, they paint the story – they can make even the smelliest poop smell like a rose. And we’ve allowed ourselves to believe in it because when we lived in a rural pig sty, that’s all we saw – poop. And then we were moved into the city and then we starting seeing what roses really are like. And we started thinking to ourselves – wait, all this while, they told us poop was rose? And we are starting to open our eyes.
So, Singaporeans – the question is now at your feet. What would you do? Will you continue to be blinded because you actually allow the fears they propagate to play out? Or would you do something about your own rights, your children’s rights and the future of yourself and your family, to do what is right for Singapore? It is time we look beyond our own self interests and start looking our for our neighbour and our friends, and realise that we need to do our part to help one another along. We need to see beyond the rhetoric that the government puts out to realise that we need to create our own destiny. Singaporeans, the time is now. We have to do our part. We have to act. We have to take our destiny in our own hands and create change. Because we own it to ourselves to be happy, and to create a future that will make us happy, and not allow ourselves to be trapped in fear and dogma, created by a small group of people who no longer have our interests at hearts, but have only their own pockets at heart.
What say you, Singaporeans?