Written by Ng E-Jay
26 June 2008
Once again, MM Lee Kuan Yew has unleashed his old, tired brand of propaganda. He told around 650 participants of a dinner forum at the Shangri-La Hotel on Wednesday that one freak election result is all it will take to wipe out Singapore’s success. This is an old refrain that he has used repeatedly before.
MM Lee warned that a freak result could happen if voters became bored and decided to give the “vociferous opposition” a chance — out of “light-heartedness, fickleness or sheer madness”.
I find it quite amazing that MM Lee would acknowledge the existence of a “vociferous” opposition when PAP’s Organizing Secretary (Special Duties) Dr Ng Eng Han had lashed out at the Worker’s Party in the latest edition of Petir (PAP’s official magazine) for being silent on important issues.
Perhaps MM Lee was referring to parties like the SDP. I shall refrain from speculating further.
But to be very sure, MM Lee is not pulling his punches on this one. He has castigated opposition supporters as people who vote out of “light-heartedness, fickleness, or sheer madness”.
This is a very serious charge in a supposedly democratic country, or a country is touted by the authorities to be democratic. Is MM Lee suggesting that only PAP supporters are sane, rational people?
MM Lee also said, “In five years, you can ruin this place and it’s very difficult to pick up the pieces.” So he clearly is advancing the opinion that opposition parties are incompetent parties that would wreck havoc if they came into power.
But wasn’t PAP playing the role of an opposition party too before it came into power in 1959?
I don’t see how MM Lee’s brand of self-serving logic that does not extend beyond the tip of his nose could possibly make sense to the majority of thinking voters out there.
Many of my readers should already know that MM Lee is merely engaging in bland and worn out scare tactics in expressing the danger that voters plumping for more opposition MPs might end up with an unintended change of government. So I will not belabour the point, but will only state unequivocally that given the current state of affairs in Singapore, an opposition party might well run the place better than the PAP.
After all, wasn’t the PAP itself an untested party before its electoral victory in 1959?
MM Lee also said, “When you’re Singapore and your existence depends on performance — extraordinary performance, better than your competitors — when that performance disappears because the system on which it’s been based becomes eroded, then you’ve lost everything.”
What extraordinary performance is he referring to? Escape by Mas Selamat Kastari and the multitude of serious security lapses committed by the MHA?
MM Lee could not have been referring to the fact that octogenarians are collecting drink cans from hawker centres just to make a meager living while foreigners are taking jobs meant for Singaporeans, or that fact that schemes like CPF Life have to be implemented because after 43 years of independence, the CPF system has failed to secure Singaporeans a decent retirement, despite that fact that Singapore is touted as an Asian economic miracle.
To top the icing on the cake, MM Lee also said that the problem with popular democracy is that during elections, candidates are not judged on how well they can govern, but on their persuasive power.
But surely a political party that is not yet the ruling party would not have had the chance to showcase its ability to govern and perform administrative functions. How will they convince the electorate to vote for them, except through persuasion and debate? Wasn’t that how the PAP itself came into power in 1959?
Going by MM Lee’s argument, the incumbent party should be permanently locked in. What then would happen if one day, the incumbent became corrupt or incompetent? How would the electorate vote them out, if they were expected to judge parties based on their administrative competence, something which no opposition party would have had a chance to display?
MM Lee said that the elements a country needs to have in order to succeed are a government that the people have confidence in and trust, as well as able leaders who are aboveboard.
Sadly, we are having less and less of those.
MM Lee said that 5 years is all it takes to ruin Singapore, if an unexpected change of government occurs.
I say that 5 years of political plurality might be all it takes to put Singapore back on the right track.