I was interviewed by Joseph Tan for his blog article about the future of Singapore’s governance. Below are my replies to his questions.
(1) When did you start to turn against the PAP
I won’t say that I had turned against the PAP. There’s the misconception that if one doesn’t agree with the PAP, one is anti-PAP. This is not true. I simply do not align myself with their views and policies and would align myself more so with another party, or philosophy of governance.
It was last year that I started writing about socio-political issues. I realized that the policies were not as favorable towards creating a society that is caring and communal. A society where there is inner fighting, even psychologically, doesn’t bode well for the society in the long run. We need a country where our people stay united.
However, after a few months of writing, I realize that the PAP just isn’t keen on creating policies that will ensure that ALL Singaporeans will have a good standard of living – and not just a select few. Also, I realized that the PAP was more interested in ‘looking’ like they’ve created fair policies when the policies in themselves wouldn’t amount to that.
That was went I gave up on the PAP and realize that we need a new government in charge, to look out for the people’s interests and needs – of ALL Singaporeans.
In the new form of government, the PAP should optimally take up about 15% to 30% of the seats, because this is about the proportion of Singaporeans that the PAP would look out for, or who continue to believe in their policies. And in any government, different parties should be voted in to represent the different viewpoints of the electorate. In such a case, the PAP would still be necessary for a small proportion of Singaporeans.
The rest of the government should be made up of other political parties, whose values and principles would align to the other Singaporeans.
(2) What do you think is the biggest problem with the PAP?
I am not sure if we want to frame the issue as to be about what the biggest problem with the PAP is about. To the PAP’s credit, they do have their merits. For example, they are strong in their economics and business acumen, and this is good for Singapore’s international standing – as we have the finances to internationally back ourselves up. It also allows Singapore to continue to be relevant to the global economy.
However, it is also the PAP’s business and economic agenda that has become its Achilles’ heel.
Because the PAP has over-steered its focus and governing principles to be one about the production of wealth, it’s one-sided and silo agenda has thus caused the PAP to go wayward.
And thus the PAP would bring in politicians and members who would align with its agenda and principles of wealth production.
However, as a government, you have to be quite clear that your first and foremost service is to the people. In the want for the production and accumulation of wealth, it should be to benefit the people and to protect the people’s survival in the country.
Unfortunately, because the PAP has trained its sight in money as the ends, instead of the means to the ends – which is the welfare of the people – it has thus sullied its ability to govern.
A government where the politicians’ goal are first and foremost money generation and their own financial well-being, necessarily contradicts with the key role of governance – which should be to put the people first.
Because once you ensure that you protect the people and their welfare, yours as a politician would naturally come. You create a system that protects the people, you will be protected as well. You protect a system that protects yourself first, you might allow the people to go unprotected, as is the case in Singapore now.
(3) Do you see a better future without the PAP?
As I had mentioned, the PAP will continue to have some relevance in the short to medium term future of Singapore. There are a group of people, whether through association or relationship ties who continue to believe in the PAP, or rather the policies that the PAP had created and who have their self-interests to continue to see the PAP as being relevant to their political and economic needs.
However, a large section of Singaporeans no longer align their individual interests with that of the PAP. And thus they would seek out other political parties who would be better able to represent their views and interests.
An optimal form of government in Singapore would be one where the people vote to put in political parties who would be able to proportionally represent the different segments of the population. And just like the governments that have been able to function effectively in Europe, the political parties in this new form of government in Singapore would need to learn to work together to run the country.
And Singapore is well-placed for this to happen. We have well-natured Singaporeans who are collaborative and who are interested in working together for the joint interests of the country.
A coalition government where all the parties work together for the collective interests of all Singaporeans is a model that is highly feasible and will bring about the gradual change that is required in the political arena in Singapore.
Whether or not the PAP will continue to be relevant in the long term future of Singapore will be dependent on their ability to the needs of their supporters, and on whether there is a need for their vision in Singapore.
Ultimately, the people decide the form of government that they want. And whether or not any of the political parties would gain relevance would depend on how well they structure their values and vision with that of Singaporeans, how well they communicate their identity across and how well they maintain their consistency in their message in order to gain the trust and support of the people.
At the end of the day, it is the role of the government to protect the people, to ensure that their welfare and standard if living is taken care of. This means a government which can ensure that wages are maintained at an equitable level, where the cost of living is manageable and where the people would be able to achieve a social and psychological balance and well-being with the economic environment in Singapore.