Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pork Barrel Politics In Malaysia....

Here's a a Malaysia opposition member talking about pork barrel politics in Malaysia. How it undermines the integrity of the electoral system there and how taxpayers' money is wasted to help the ruling party unfairly maintain the grip on power against the interest of the people. It was one of the many reasons why the Malaysian electorate turned against the ruling party.

I'm glad such things simply don't happen in Singapore with a govt that is proud of its world class governance. The govt works for the good of all Singaporeans regardless of how they vote because everyone pays taxes.

"Jalan Besar Town Council unveils $517m estate upgrading plan" - June 2006

In the video, the candidate explains that the citizens should be outraged that Malaysian govt announces big spending programmes just before elections to swing the votes while underperforming the rest of the time.

"Sembawang Town Council to spend $570m on renewal plan" - June 2006

I think the Malaysian people are now too smart to be swayed by such announcements because they know that it comes from their pocket and the money is better spent on the needy who are really suffering - using taxpayer's money to win votes has become unacceptable there.

"East Coast Town to undergo S$500m renewal programme" - June 2006

Selective spending programmes undermines the political process and divides the country cannot be good for the nation.

"HDB upgrading programme speeds up with 64 precincts chosen for 2006"- June 2006

"Hougang and Potong Pasir residents will lose out on upgrading if they do not vote for the People's Action Party"- SM Goh, June 2006

I guess the Malaysian people are alot more enlightened today. They know that money misallocated will have to come from their pockets either as higher taxes or fees.

"GST to be raised to 7%: PM Lee" - November 2006

As a Singaporean, while we may not have or need inspirational leaders, I'm proud to say that we have at least leaders of the highest integrity who strongly believe in being fair and just. Justice is a word every school going child says as part of the pledge and it means alot to Singaporeans. The Malaysia govt has alot to learn from us in terms of governance. They should eliminate the money poltics that divide their country, undermines the democratic process and ultimately hurt the citizens of the country. Malaysians have spoken with their vote, they are tired of the pork barreling politics - it takes some courage but they have done it....

14 comments:

bruce said...

Lucky Tan you are my journalist of the year 2007. Thanks for your prolific contribution and effort. I hope more people will start thinking what is happening in singapore and where singapore is heading.

Anonymous said...

Awaiting the long overdue perfect storm to reach Singapore shore. Hopes to see it in my life times.

Anonymous said...

it is amazing how history keeps repeating itself...

Anonymous said...

Somewhere someone is flaming you together with that Wang So So guy, for talking to the press about dunno what bloggers becoming politicians.

I guess you are really lucky to be still around :D

Anonymous said...

Pork-barrel politics is a common practice in democracies and it works particularly well when people are living on the sustenance level.

Thailand's Thaksin rolled into power in 2001 through a promise to give money to villages if so elected.

But apparently Singaporeans are living beyond the sustenance level generally, so why is it working so well for PAP?

I said "apparently" because the truth is stranger than fiction. Actually 40% of Singaporean families are living precisely on the sustenance level.

Where do I get this idea? From none else than the PAP own
Singapore Department of Statistics.

On page 8 and 9 in that report the following is found:

Average monthly of household:
:: lowest 20% of population : expenditure $1,259, income $795
:: next 20% (the 2nd quintile) of population : expenditure $2100, income $2059.

This shows that in fact 40% of the population are running deficits in 2003, the latest surveyed year. Similar data from previous surveys were no better for this low income group. And it is hard also to expect the pattern to change much since 2003 to the present.

Since 40% are living on such a sustenance level, then it follows they are would respond well to PAP's pork-barrel politics.

In fact PAP goes a step further in this election ploy. As you know voting stations are dispersed over HDB estates so that voting patterns from specific blocks of flats can be established by PAP during the vote count.

As a result PAP is able to target and punish voters from rebellious blocks of flats. This it can do by deferring estate/lift upgrading or even as some say resettling the residents completely by selling off the land to private developers.

Pork-barrel politics of PAP tie in with its policy of keeping a large section of the people poor - 40% as mentioned earlier. After more than 40 years of so-called nation-building, this is how the quality of life is for our people. And PAP can still claim it has made this country into a developed one. Hence the title boast by Lee Kuan Yew in his book "From Third to First World".

Of course, the various international research companies will just take the figures of GDP & average per capita income and then come up with an assessment of the state of development of this nation.

What they do not say is that despite having a low income group of 40% of the population, due high cost of living arising from high taxes and levies, PAP find it appropriate instead to use S$40 billion of taxpayers' and cpf monies over the last few months to bail out the failing banks of the West resulting in the loss of an estimated 30% since.

The major banks being bailed out by PAP at a time when their own governments were not intervening are : UBS, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Barclays.

You can check out their latest share price at Google or Yahoo Finance pages to verify what I said.

So, PAP never intended to prosper our own people. Why should it when it's strategy is to keep a large section of the people poor so that its pork barrel politics will continue to work to its advantage and ensures that their ministers, MPs and top bureaucrats will each and everyone earn S$millions in remuneration annually from his/her full-time jobs plus several part-time directorships, chairmanships, advisorships etc.

Gerald said...

Thanks for highlighting this! But you forgot to mention New Singapore Shares, Progress Package, Economic Restructuring Shares, and other Vote-for-Me Shares. Whose money is that?

Anonymous said...

What we have is a perfect hegemonic system developed over 40 years with social, economic and language planning. It is a creation of a social class system where no individual or group of classes can cause a shift or lost of power to the ruling party. The upper 3-40% would not want any change because they fear they might lose what they have and the bottom 40% is just given enough to survive and fed with lots of hope on one hand and fed with fear of losing what ever little they have should the opposition win. This is also played out along racial lines.

Anonymous said...

Town Council money is whose money? who pay S&C for us? GCT pay?Talk kok, watch out GE2011, we would not be swindled by you anymore.After GE 2006, in Nov. 06 GST increased to 7%, causing high inflation from bread to pork, from cooking oil to rice.What is the use of GST rebate, singpore shares,we donw want all this, dont bribe us ok.

Anonymous said...

The GST rebate is for just 5 years worth of GST paid by you. But after that they will still be collecting until you breathe your last breath. At least for income tax you don't pay when you stop working. Singaporeans are in for more bad years.

Anonymous said...

It used to be that the forum at Young PAP website was aggressively protected by PAP 'moderators' (so to speak).

Nowadays I am surprised that the whole forum is so populated with criticism and sarcasm, it's impossible to differentiate it from the messageboards of anti-PAP blogs.

The message to PAP is universal and clear : Reform.

But can PAP reform even if it wanted to, out of fear there is an ongoing groundswell that might eventually translate into a Malaysia-like electoral result?

For Malaysia, I happen to think the political problem there is not so deep-seated as Singapore. This is because whether it is about an unfair social contract, inflation, strong suppression of opposition, control of mass media, graft and cronyism, or religious fundamentalism they are basically external to the nature of the government.

As such they are subject to change or dismissal without breaking the political system.

But that's not the case with Singapore. PAP has over the decades institionalised a whole new system of running the country. PAP govt has grown a corporate arm - otherwise known as that group of GLCs - so immense and with top positions filled with PAP's own people.

This mammoth corporate arm of PAP on deeper analysis also lies at the heart of widespread political criticism.

This is because Singaporeans are becoming increasingly aware that the security of their life savings and the nation's reserves, the world-class income of our politicians and top bureaucrats,the mind control of the people through the press, the affordability of consumer goods (like health care and foods) and industrial goods (like commercial premises and taxi rentals) through monopolies, all these and more are tightly bound up with these GLCs.

This corporate arm of PAP is as firmly set in the Singapore's political system as the cement on the pavement.

PAP has, as it were, built a huge castle (this corporate arm). Inside this castle PAP puts its generals and soldiers to guard while PAP leadership feels protected by it all.

However this castle that PAP has built has become PAP's own prison in that it has greatly restricted its scope for change.

Reform for the PAP is no longer about issues external to the nature and structure of the government. Policy change will greatly affect the setup, management and relationship of GLCs to the political leadership.

Thus any reform in response to universal criticisms of its ways has become for PAP a dirty word. This is because it is like asking PAP to dismantle its empire.

PAP leadership has grown too accustomed to its corporate arm to believe that it is really not fundamental to the political system.

Herein lies its political weakness in the face of a sea change in politics now sweeping across S E Asia.

Anonymous said...

The first to fall would be that Malaysian Khaw Boon wan. Introduce means testing and I am sure he will go, no matter what the size of his GRC. After a few years, more than 80% will have to pay much much more. As it is, asking us to pay for enhanced medishield is already too much money. Meanwhile our CPF funds wilts away in those US bank shares, while my money is tied up andf cannot be withdrawn.
Read this :
http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Business/Story/A1Story20080324-56001.html
Our ministers are taking unhealthy risks for our CPF. We must change.

yamizi said...

Aiya...

Singaporeans are forgetful one.

When election comes, it will be back to square one again ba...

Anonymous said...

So Singapore has the ideal political system which all other countries should aspire too? Two things.

First, Singapore is openly authoritarian - a fact which is reflected in some of the ridiculous laws in the city-state. Moreover, when a member of the opposition gets a seat, a member of the majority has a heart-attack. It is not a democracy, and it does not pretend to be. Although Malaysia and other developing countries are not either, this is what they are striving for.

Second, it is a city state and is in a favorable geographic area. Authoritarian systems work better since there is a smaller population with which to keep happy. Few are marginalized, and those that are are far to small to make their voices heard.

These are two undeniable realities which make Singapore incomparable with other countries. Although it is successful, it is by no means a model for other developing countries, struggling with different, more challenging and diverse problems. I don't know who wrote diary of a singaporian mind, or for that matter I really don't care. The only thing I would recommend is for him or her to remove their head out of their arse , open their eyes and understand the problems being faced by other countries without having your view tainted by nationalist arrogance which is entirely misplaced in any situation. Im a brit, I should know.

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with the post above.

Put the Singaporian system of government in Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand or even the UK and we'll see what happens. A revolution would be most likely.

There is only one other country which Singapore can be compared to. The Vatican city.