5 decades ago when Singapore became independent, we had the most democratic system in the South East Asian region and one of the most democratic political systems in Asia. A little more than a decade ago, S. Korea and Taiwan were under military rule and many countries like Indonesia and Philippines were under authoritarian strongman leadership. Today many of these countries are full blown democracies. While democracy did not solve all their problems, the overwhelming majority of the citizens of these countries prefer democracy over authoritarian one party rule for the past in which their voices were ignored.
While countries around us have made political progress, the PAP took our democracy and turned it into dominant one party rule by tweaking the system so that it becomes less democratic and parliament became less representative of the voice of the people.40 years ago we had 5 independent newspaper companies now we have one and it is not so independent. GRCs, votes for upgrading, use of propaganda and use of threats to win votes become part of our elections.
"If Aljunied decides to go that way, well Aljunied has five years to live and repent." - MM Lee [Link]
The PAP govt paddled this whole nation backwards politically so they can have dominant power. They could do this because Singapore was one of the Asian Economic Tigers that saw rapid economic progress. We were sold this myth that dominant authoritarian rule is necessary for economic progress. When S. Korea became fully democratic after the Asian Crisis, they made far greater economic progress than they did under authoritarian rule. Their entertainment industry blossomed and they became highly productive and innovative leading the world in areas. If you look at the Middle East, many authoritarian regimes that use propaganda and fear to control their population became unstable when the Internet punched holes in their propaganda machine and their income gap became too big. The country that remains stable in Middle East is Israel which is the only country with full blown democracy surrounded by nations authoritarian govts. It is only slightly bigger than Singapore but has multi-party rule ...and it is strong militarily and has a highly dynamic innovative economy. They have diverse voices in their parliament, a free press and debate vigorously all national issues...and the nation is highly cohesive when it faces adversaries. It is not true that a country the size of Singapore can only have 1-party rule - it is something the PAP tells us to justify their harmful dominance Singapore leadership. This dominance does not lead to better stewardship of the country, in the past 5 years it can't even deliver economic benefits to ordinary citizens ...this dominance is also starting to polarise our society as many feel their voices are not heard in a parliament.
Low Thia Kiang explained very clearly his thinking behind the decision to contest in a GRC yesterday. He first contested in the General Elections in 1988. His GRC team was defeated but had the support of 42% of the residents in the GRC. During the counting, there were some precincts with as high as 70% support for the PAP and these areas diluted the votes in constituencies where Workers Party would have won. The GRC system allowed the PAP to artificially dominate parliament. 33% of the voters who voted for the opposition are represent by 2% of the MPs in parliament. The PAP likes to paddle this bogus argument that GRCs are meant to bring in minority candidates - all it takes to do this is a GRC size of 2...not 4-6. The GRC system allows the PAP to redraw boundaries to maximise its seats in parliament. Low Thia Kiang chose to contest in a GRC so that if he wins, it will force the PAP less dependent on GRCs to stay in power because they cannot rely on this artifact anymore.....it will drive the PAP to stay in power by serving the people and implementing good balanced policies that benefit Singaporeans and earn the support of the people legitimately. .
Low Thia Kiang has been an outstanding MP He has been dedicated 23 years of his life to politics. He has played by the rules and found a way to take Singapore forward politically. The power and choice is now in the hands of Singapore voters.
Vote wisely and we will have a better Singapore on 8 May 2011.