Similarly, the problems with the GRC system has been discussed for many years - how such a system allows new candidates to ride on the coat-tails of established ministers will not result in voters having the best people to represent them. In the 2011 elections, the flaws of the GRC system was clearly demonstrated when the PAP can't get its own foreign minister back into parliament while Tin Peh Ling rode on the coat-tails of ex-SM Goh Chok Tong into parliament. It remains to be seen whether the PAP govt wants to keep the GRC system. Without GRCs, new candidates will have to work the ground long before the elections to win support and trust. The public has already realised the flaws in the GRC system and most people, I believe, do not want it.
For the past 5 years, this blog discussed the rising income inequality in Singapore and around the world 2011 was the 'tipping point' that saw protests around the world against economic inequality. The Occupy movement that started in 2011 has not ended. In Singapore, there was much anger among voters surrounding this issue and the rising cost of living. While the Occupy movement did not spread to Singapore in the form of protests due to our political climate, income inequality continues to be a serious unresolved problem in Singapore.
Malaysia took a bold step to eliminate the ISA in 2011 as part of its political advancement towards greater democracy. It is hard to believe that Singapore was once among the most democratic nations in Asia where the rule of strongmen, military juntas etc was common. Today, the political progress in S. Korea, Thailand and our closest neighbor has left us far behind the curve. Why does one the most well-educated, well travelled and best behaved citizens anywhere in the world not deserve greater freedom , rights and democracy? Our men, committed to defend this country, deserve less rights than people in Taiwan, S. Korea and Malaysia?
2012 will be a critical year for the world as a number of serious political and economic problems have surfaced. The eurozone crisis remains unresolved and mis-steps can lead to negative implications for the rest of the world. Inflation remains high in Singapore even as our economy begins to slow. The US presidential elections will be conducted on 6 Nov 2012 and we cannot be sure it will be Obama as his popularity has suffered due to the economic conditions in USA. The global economy with the huge imbalances i.e. high debt, high income inequality may just crack leading to some serious economic pain but that will pave the way for change towards a more sustainable system. In Singapore, we have been put on this economic threadmill of GDP growth that no longer produce better quality of life as Singaporeans work longer hours, experience sharp rise in cost of living and have less ability to save for a proper retirement.
Going forward, Singapore needs to raise its productivity level instead of depending on cheap imported labor to spur economic growth. Singaporeans are now well aware that expanding the labor input to achieve GDP growth will not deliver a better quality of life but has numerous deleterious effects of widening income inequality, overcrowding, rising cost of living, structural unemployment etc. To make our economic growth more sustainable and to produce better outcomes for Singaporeans, our economy has to be restructured in the coming years.
2011 was a year when many Singaporeans were politically awakened to see that change is badly needed in our country. Many of the negative effects of PAP policies were felt by ordinary citizens and social contract under which Singaporeans gave up certain civil liberties in return for prosperity was broken. Ordinary Singaporeans today know they cannot simply trust a power-elite with diverse interests in businesses linked to it to undertake policies that will generate the best outcome for them and their families. A strong political alternative capable of taking on a larger role and an active citizenry with access to information can serve as checks on the govt. New emerging tools such as Facebook, blogs, internet forums and YouTube will help to overcome one-sided propaganda disseminated by state controlled media to allow citizens to aware of the change needed in this country.