SM Goh confident PAP will eventually win back Hougang
Channel NewsAsia - Sunday, July 27
SINGAPORE : Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has said Singapore’s political system should facilitate the emergence of a strong, effective government after every election and a responsible, constructive opposition.
By PAP definition, a responsible constructive opposition has yet to emerge from Singapore. What is a constructive and responsible opposition? One that will help the PAP promote its policy masterpieces like CPF Life, means testing, GST and import of foreign labor. These policies are critical to Singapore so anyone criticizing them would be nonconstructive and irresponsible - so far such a constructive opposition has not emerged and Singaporeans are now warned against voting for the opposition at this point in time.
His key message at the dinner was that the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) must continue to produce results which make people’s lives better.
In 3 years time when we have the next general elections, the key question to ask is "Is your life better after 5 years of PAP rule?"....the answer is always the same - without the PAP, the island would have sunk and your sister, mother and wife would have to be maids in other countries. The fact that you have a HDB flat to live in, a job to go to, food to eat and means-tested medical care means your life is better that it would have been without the PAP. So the only logical conclusion is your life is better with the PAP than without the PAP - so you have to vote for the PAP.
He also said the PAP must never lose the people’s trust as this is the ruling party’s recipe for the continued success of Singapore.
It is indeed amazing but true...the PAP govt can lose the people's money without losing the people's trust. Recent reports and correction on reports that Temasek has lost billions in its investment in Merrill alone (not counting other trouble western banks) ...Temasek explained that it had sold off 5 million not 43 million shares in Merrill which it had earlier said was long term investment. We were told about the 5 million shares only because of a filing error which cause the market to be abuzz with rumors that Temasek had jettisoned its investment in Merrill.
I have learned over time that the way the PAP earns the trust of the people is to manage critical information so that the citizens don't have to worry. From Shin Corp to unemployment figures among Singaporeans. ....there are things that Singaporeans don't have to know. If you don't know, you don't worry and you learn to trust.
While many democracies try as far as possible to have the highest possible level of transparency and give its citizens as much information as possible without compromising national security, the PAP approach to building trust is to implement the draconian Official Secrets Act (OSA) and to manage information and make sure only the good news get to the people.
Mr. Goh also said this before the last elections during which he promised the people of Hougang hundreds of millions in upgrading if they were to choose the PAP candidate. I think it is a matter of money, if hundreds of millions won't do the job, he will just have to keep increasing it until the Hougang people can see real worth of their votes.
Returning for this year’s National Day celebrations, Mr Goh noted that the opposition parliamentarian for the area since 1991, Low Thia Khiang, believes his job is just to ask questions and check the ruling party, but not to offer solutions to problems.
Mr Goh said this is a rather narrow view of the role of an opposition. And the Senior Minister has thrown a challenge to the advisor and grassroots leaders of the Hougang division — to keep its incumbent Mr Low on his toes.Gee, Low Thia Khiang is such a narrow minded kind of guy but I recommend he stay that way. The last time the WP launch an extensive manifesto to address every single major PAP policy with alternatives, it was attacked as "a timebomb" and "poison". I noticed that people who try to change the political system don't stay out of jail or bankruptcy for too long. Chee Soon Juan is the type of opposition that sees a broad role for the opposition - see what happened to him.
Mr Goh said, "Amongst the things you can do... I suggest you study the annual accounts of the town council to ensure that the funds are properly used. Check whether the arrears for S&C (service and conservancy) charges are piling up, and eating into their reserves. Make sure that enough money is put aside for cyclical maintenance.I think after studying the accounts of the Hougang town council, they probably won't have time to study the accounts of GIC and Temasek Holdings. It is so wise of the SM to remind the people to concentrate on what is important in the Hougang Town council and not be distracted by what is happening elsewhere.
"In your walkabouts, check on the estate maintenance. If Mr Low has done a good job, give him credit for it. If there are deficiencies, point them out to the residents. In short, play the role of an effective opposition in Hougang."
He noted, "Eventually, I believe we will win Hougang back, but whether we do or not, I think (we should) serve the people. That’s what we are here for."
Mr Goh noted that the people living in the opposition ward know that they have benefited from government policies. But many also think that there should be an opposition to keep the ruling party on its toes.
The Senior Minister said, "Ideally, our political system should facilitate the emergence of a strong, effective government after every election and a responsible, constructive opposition.
"But no matter how you design it, there is no guarantee, because it depends on whether good, honest and competent people come forward to stand for elections and the wisdom of the electorate when they cast their ballot.
"So there’s a natural tendency — which I can appreciate of some people wanting to have a voice, not belonging to the party, not belonging to the PAP — to check and balance the PAP. That’s understandable because people want to debate issues, they want to have their views expressed in Parliament."
So Mr Goh said the ruling party’s primary task before the next election, which is due by 2011, is to look for good candidates.
He said, "In India, the world’s largest democracy, several criminals have been elected into Parliament and some are serving jail terms, including one convicted murderer who is waiting for his appeal to be heard.
"But recently, they were brought out to vote because a confidence motion on the government was hanging in the balance. They were of course then returned to jail. But can you imagine MPs with criminal records holding the future of Singapore in their hands?"
So the Senior Minister hopes the opposition too would look for good candidates so voters will be given a real choice. — CNA/msOMG, western style democracy is so horrible - look at what is happening in India!!!Thank you for reminding us of the negative examples on democracy, there are several hundred countries with vibrant working democracies but there is nothing we can learn from them. Many countries that went from communism to thriving democracies after the fall of the Soviet Union - Poland, Hungary, Czech...etc were just lucky to get this inferior system democracy working for them. The constant focus on failed democracies will remind the people that democracy is not good for them and they should happy with what they have today.