“Anarchist”, “Anti-PAP”, “Neutral” or “PAP Butt Kisser”?
I think this highlights one disturbing problem with local politics. Singaporeans tend to only classify fellow men (who are interested in politics) to be only either an anti-PAP (for which you supposedly sanely passionate) or you are just a PAP-butt-kisser (for which you are insanely loyal or ambitious). Neutrality is not in the dictionary of most and the convenient label for neutrality is “fickle-minded”, “fence-seating”, “indecisive”, “bo chap” or several other similar nuances. In America, you are either a Republican or a Democrat. And the system even penalizes independent voters by having you to fill up applications to declare independence from your previous vote (eg previous vote for Republicans) and reregister as an independent electorate for the next elections (otherwise if assumes you follow your previous choice should you not vote).
I’ve never believed in neutrality for neutrality sake but I believe in giving credit where credit is due. Politics should never be the case when you are either with me or against me kind of attitude. Nor is politics having a definitive right solution and a definitive wrong solution. The world is changing and no longer is the world where the truth is white (no punts intended on PAP colours!) and the wrong being black. Perhaps the world is just a shade of grey. Is it difficult to be neutral? Definitely so and I’m no exception. But I do try my best to bring a fair picture to articles and when being neutral sometimes require me to be “pro-PAP”, inevitably, I’ll be called a PAP-butt-kisser... I guess people only want to hear what they believed in. Otherwise, anything else would be non-neutral.
A crude example of politics in motion is just a stadium of people watching a soccer match. In it, there are 22 players, 2 managers and 1 referee but 50,000 people thinking differently and that they know the best method to win. The solutions often seem obvious to the 50,000 people but they wondered why the manager or the players hasn’t played to their solutions. In relations to politics? The first mistake that any political analyst can make on politics is to think that there is one true solution to each problem. Politics, by nature, is messy and never has clear cut question or answers. What maybe rational to some maybe be irrational to another. Without making this a political science article, the bottomline is that many political scientists still ponders upon whether politics should be left in the hands of a few “sage rulers” or in the hands of mass public. The jury is still out on this one, with the argument shifting from representation (democracy) vs the complexity nature of politics for laymen.
From the comments, I supposed wolong is quite into Chinese History, which I’m also a fanatic. Allow me to illustrate my point. After the unstable founding of the Republic, after the collapse of Qing Dynasty, Dr Sun Yat Sen championed the causes of Three People's Principles, which is 民族主義 "The People's Relation/Connection" or "Government of the People"): Nationalism, 民權主義 "The People's Power" or "Government by the People"): Democracy and 民生主義 "The People's Welfare/Livelihood" or "Government for the People"): this is sometimes translated as Socialism. But against the autocratic regime of Yuan Shikai, his ideal democracy and parliamentary system never took off. His abled lieutenant, Song Jiaoren was assassinated shortly after orchestrating an election victory by the KMT in March, 1913. When push comes to shove and against the warlords of the north, some KMT party members change sides. Dr Sun tried to rally a second revolution against Yuan, but the party did not respond to his call. Then, he too realized that a certain amount of control was needed in the expense of democracy. Later, he made himself Generalissimo, a title which Chiang Kai-Shek later assumes. Obviously, this is a very short and concise history that left out many details, but this drives home a point which even Dr Sun realizes. Would democracy be suitable for China now? USA seems to think so but not the CCP. Should Democracy occur in China this very moment, the western China provinces such as Tibet and pre-dominantly Muslim provinces might declare independence. Stability or instability after democracy? We wouldn’t know.
Democracy is a tool for nationhood and is a means but not an end. The fundamental assumption of democracy is that people are rational enough to make their own choices. But what is rational and does rationality differs from one and another? Yes! Why do people smoke even though they know it is bad for their health? But it is also rational to some sense is that they are maximizing their own short term happiness by smoking. Fundamentally, democracy is only a tool to bring more fairness, justice and better lives to its citizens. Sometime it works (Switzerland); sometimes it doesn’t (Philippines).
Do I think if the Singapore Parliament can do with more creditable oppositions? Yes, I think so. But the opposition member should not be elected just because it opposes for the sake of opposing. He/she has to be creditable and capable. Too much of the underdog sympathy and therefore-I-vote-for-them kind of attitude doesn’t make our society any better. But we do need check-and-balances as the Worker’s Party advocates. Personally (which maybe objective), I think PAP has used too much underhand (but legal) means of gaining unfair competition ahead of their oppositions in the past. But they can’t and I don’t think they will do that again as the perception of fairness amongst the public has increased. There are issues which I’m strongly against the PAP’s decisions. Example: Why should a legitimately elected opposition MP (eg Chiam See Tong and Low Thia Khiang) not able to seat in the Constituency’s Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC) as the Adviser but have an PAP appointed representative (eg Sitoh Yih-Pin)?
Enough of ramblings from me and after this article, I will write on something more empirical. At82, Aljunied GRC will definitely change. Don’t be surprised that you land up being at Sembawang GRC or Pasir Ris-Punggol or even Ang Mo Kio GRC. Wolong, I did think of writing on older generation of leaders and communist Lim Chin Siong or Fong Swee Suan but probably younger readers are not used to such colourful past.
Coming Up Next: Policy Implementation in Singapore
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, “I tell you one thing we can do the Chinese cannot do. I can ban chewing gum in Singapore and make it stick. Can you do that in Tiananmen?” Traditionally, when leaders put forth a policy, Singaporeans assumed that it is implemented. Implementation has always been the strength of the PAP government but behind the veil of Ministries, what really happens and how does it get implemented?