SM Goh spoke yesterday of 4 attributes that makes a political system successful - accountability and transparency; capacity for long-term planning and execution; social justice and harmony. Democracy is not one of the attributes. It is not necessary. I would like to say something about how our govt attains the 4 attributes before I go on to explain why democracy is not necessary in Singapore.
Accountability and transparency. ...no unnecessary secrets kept by our govt. Nothing to hide from the people. In some countries this is know as Freedom of Information. (FOI) and they have something known as FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). The basic idea is this - citizens are entitled to all information as long as it does not compromise national security. Hmm....do you know how much Town Councils lost investing in minibonds? When the electricity tariff was increased by 21% - everyone wanted to know why...but our elected minister went to parliament to say it is based on a secret formula used by EMA that cannot be revealed to the public - don't worry there are no calculation errors the 21% hike was not a mistake! Of course, the opacity of GIC and Temasek was explained to us - it is necessary to keep everything secret so that we won't be attacked by hedge funds. If our reserves are vulnerable to hedge fund attacks, all the more the citizens should know what these entities are doing with the money.
Capacity for long term planning. Stop at 2 policy? Use of CPF for housing - which resulted in insufficient funds for retirement? Was the casino part of a long term strategic plan or was the govt jumping onto a bandwagon afraid to miss out on the wealth and riches it will bring us? When it comes to the PAP, things that don't do well in the short term naturally becomes a long term commitment e.g Shin Corp, Citibank, UBS, Merrill. So much for long term planning....
Social justice....minibonds saga....Chia Thye Poh....JBJ....Chee etc. Justice I guess is in the eyes of the beholder. Is it just for someone to hold a full time job but cannot make enough to raise his family? Is it just for the aged who contributed to our society for decades to continue working into their golden years because they cannot afford to retire? MM Lee's justice for those who lost their life savings buying minibonds but are not uneducated or old is their eyes were open...and they have no right to compensation.
When it comes to democracy, our 40 years of existence proves that it is not necessary for successful govt. Govt will work for the people and guard their interests even if the people are unempowered, unable to protest for things to be done right, have no say and have no means to replace the govt. Such a govt would indeed be an extraordinary govt because it can function well without check and balance and feedback from the people. Certainly if such a govt can be successful against the odds, we should be paying them an extraordinary amount of money. ....and the longer they exist against the odds, the more they have to be paid. Our prime minister is now paid 6 times the president of USA. ...guess what he will have to be paid in 10 years time to keep this system going.