Your rubbish is collected everyday. Our streets are safe. Most people have jobs. You have electricity, water and gas. The trains and buses may be crowded but they still take you where you want to go. Singapore is a stable place - we don't have riots, different races and religious groups live in harmony.....
"It is a surprise for us that the resentment is so deep and the unhappiness is so deep." In fact, it was only during the campaign, that "we began to fully appreciate the extent of the unhappiness and resentment towards the Government, hence the pledge by the PAP team led by Mr George Yeo for us to have a strong role in the transformation of the PAP itself."[Link]
Why is Nicole Seah so well received? Why are so many people hoping that she will be an NCMP to be their voice in parliament? It is not just her pretty face or the ease with which she handled the media - she is afterall in advertising - it is her understanding of the concerns of the ordinary Singaporean that impressed many:
"Singapore has really developed as a country on a whole, but what we do not realize is that there are many cracks beneath and there are many Singaporeans who are falling through these cracks." - Nicole Seah, at the start of her election campaign.
The great mystery here is not why people are angry and unhappy. Ordinary Singaporeans know why - for those of you who still don't understand I suggest you read some of the postings in this blog on various issues. The real mystery is how the PAP with its vast grassroots network, meet-the-people sessions, feedback unit and forums can miss this. The answer to this question consists of 3 parts - PM's deep denial, elitist yes-men and the ivory tower. I guess when the PM saw the faces of men and women who turned by the tens of thousands it suddenly dawned on him that things are not okay\. However, he has no excuse for being surprised at what he saw. Over the years, strong signals have been sent to him on many issues including high ministers' pay, GST hike, the income gap, overcrowded buses and high cost of housing. At every point in time when he could have proactively done something he lost the opportunity by denying the problem is serious. For instance when asked about Singapore's high GINI index, his response was the GINI was not a good measure and he gave an example of Carlos Slim coming to Singapore which he saw as a good thing but will cause the GINI to go up. When asked about the crowded buses and trains I remember he said that people were still able to open up and read their newspapers so it was still okay. There were many opportunities if the PAP govt bothered to listen but I suspect they thought that ideas from blogs like mine echoed the resentment of a small vocal minority....
The truth is resentment runs deep and those who voted against the govt are much more unhappy than those who voted for the PAP are happy. There is net unhappiness. The PAP, I would argue, didn't acrually get a strong mandate to rule Singapore. Many voted for the PAP for estate upgrading rather than PAP policies. PAP policies carry an ideological extreme that few people in society would accept. For example, increasing the healthcare burden of Singaporeans as costs go up just to keep govt expenditure on healthcare as a % of GDP low - it is hard to accept such policies, It is hard to accept that car prices and public housing prices are their highest in the world. It is hard to accept our income gap - bottom 10 percent of Singaporean households had an average monthly income of $1,400 last year, versus \$23,684 for the top 10 percent.
There is plenty for the PAP to fix. Be it reform or transform, they have to make major changes or more people will reject their system...and more people will reject them at the next election.