Charles Chong on poor quality of PAP candidates and inablity to
(C) PAP MP Chong admitted that the party had not succeeded
in recruiting a number of "high-flying" business leaders to
run. In fact, the party had to reach down to some of its
second and third tier candidates to fill out its ticket.
Those new candidates will all run in the Group Representative
Constituencies (GRCs) helmed by higher profile
ministers -- for example, four of them will run in Senior Minister Goh
Chok Tong's uncontested district. Overall, the opposition
will compete in only 7 of the 14 GRCs.
This is an admission by a PAP MP of the difficulty of recruiting good people to fill MP positions. The PAP has to pick "second and third tier" candidates and bring them into parliament using the GRC system so they can ride on the coat-tails of a higher profile minister.
There is nothing new here and most discerning voters are able to judge the quality of the candidates. The frustration of voters being "forced to vote" for candidates they did not want in parliament using the GRC system is causing this scheme to backfire as voters start to vote against the whole team if there are candidates they really do not want in the team.
In the past few elections, a growing number of ministers are recruited from the SAF and civil service - typically from highest echelons. It is hard for career officers who benefited greatly from the PAP system to say no when asked to join the PAP even though they probably prefer to be parachuted into jobs in GLCs such as Singapore Technologies, SingTel etc where they can escape public scrutiny and criticism. In the long run this is a unhealthy trend for Singapore - it undermines the ability of the govt to transform and changeas they recruit senior people from their monolithic power structure into govt.
In order to overcome its recruitment problems, the PAP govt used financial incentives - high ministerial salaries, pensions, high MP allowance etc. Given the private sector is seeing the same "over-compensation" problems as we see in US - the US is the only developed country with a comparable income gap - the astronomical ministerial pay cannot attract \talent from the private sector into govt and the PAP has to get ministers from its network of GLCs, SAF and civil service. As a result there is a lack of diversity of ideas and a tendency for inertia to preserve the status quo. Singaporeans wanting diversity of ideas and debate in parliament have little choice but to vote for a capable opposition willing to push for change and question the status quo.
In recent years, the PAP has lost its attraction for people who truly want to serve the community. Its right leaning ideology limits MPs that want to do more for those in need to the current policy framework. A PAP MP can't ask the PAP to shave off 1-2% of the defense budget so that there is more financial aid for the poor and the underprivileged children can have better a pre-school education. They can't fundamentally change policies related to housing, retirement and medical care - all of which ideologically puts as much burden on the individual and their families as possible to keep taxes for the rich and corporations low....something painful and far less acceptable today because the PAP has allowed to income gap to grow to such an extent that a large segment of the population is unable to shoulder these financial burdens anymore and have fallen into poverty. For this reason, the opposition is again on the rise and anyone seeking to advance our society will seek out ideological alternatives that has greater potential to solve the social problems Singapore faces today.