(Image Credit: TODAYonline)
I’m thankful that PM Lee has moved away from his past rhetoric, which I thought was rather unbecoming of a Head of State:
“What is the Opposition’s job? It’s not to help the PAP do a better job, their job is to make life miserable for me (straw man argument), so that I screw up, and they can come in and sit, where I am here, and take charge. Supposing we had a parliament with 10, 20 Opposition members out of 80- then, instead of spending my time thinking of what is the right policy for Singapore, I’m going to spend all my time- I have to spend all my time thinking (false dichotomy), “What is the right way to fix them? What is the right way to buy my own supporters over? How can I solve this week’s problem, and forget about next year’s challenge?”
He’s progressed from utilizing these sorts of flawed arguments and simplistic thinking- I think that’s a step forward for Singapore.
But we’ve still got a long way to go. Here’s why- let’s look at his newer rhetoric:
“I think in Singapore, if the PAP is not able to deliver, I think the politics will malfunction because it’s not going to be easy to put together another group to make Singapore work.”
Here’s what I think. If we have come to a stage where we are overly dependent on any single group to make Singapore work, then we have already failed.
How is it that somewhere along the line we became so willing to trust a single institution with essentially absolute power, as if it were absolutely incorruptible? After all, as MG Chan Chun Sing said, Diversity Is The Only Survival Strategy.
Why did we ever allow ourselves to get into such a position in the first place? (I am almost afraid to start exploring this train of thought, because I suspect it might reveal something rather tragic about our cultural identity. It would be sad if a good part of the Singaporean identity turns out to be “pussy-whipped.”)
The PAP is using a “too-big-and-too-important-to-fail” argument. (aka the Abusive Spouse argument.) Keep us in power, even if we become irrelevant or obsolete, because you can’t possibly risk having anybody else. You can’t have anybody else because nobody else is qualified. Nobody else is qualified because nobody else has the experience. Nobody has the experience because we’ve monopolized politics in this country, for your own sake. (Not ours!)
From the PAP’s perspective, it’s a beautiful position to be in. Singapore’s survival depends entirely on the PAP’s promise of quality and goodwill.
(My smile, if I were a PAP member)
We just have to take their word for it. And I’m sorry lah, this really isn’t personal- but no matter how sincere your intentions may be, in matters of public interest, I simply can’t take your word for it. That’s just too much risk!
Think about this: We have no counter-measures in case of PAP failure. If the PAP fails, we’re all screwed! Why is that somehow completely okay? Point to me ONE example of any institution in the history of mankind that has never failed.
I don’t want to sound doomsday-ish. I’m genuinely optimistic about Singapore’s future. Over the past year, I have had the wonderful opportunity of interacting with individuals like Indranee Rajah, Irene Ng, Tan Chuan-Jin and PM Lee himself, and I am very convinced of their conviction and the content of their character. They are pretty great people by any standard, and Singapore is lucky to have them.
Even so, I wouldn’t want them to be running the country all by themselves, even with the most golden of hearts and the best of intentions. I would never put all my eggs in one basket because that’s just a damn stupid thing to do no matter the situation!
My primary motivation in voting Opposition isn’t that I think they’re going to do a better job. I have no idea what kind of job they’re going to do! That’s the problem. I’m voting Opposition anyway because the very idea of Singapore being overly-dependent on a single group is TERRIFYING.
So, in my mind, the PAP is going to have to learn to work effectively with other parties. It just has to, I see no other strategic alternative. (What, “Trust the PAP forever?” NO. I’m sorry. It’s not personal, I love Singapore too much to have that much faith in any particular political party.)
For Singapore to survive 50, 100 years into the future, we must have a crucible where it’s always “easy” to put together a group to make Singapore work, because we have just that much damn talent lying around, eager to serve, and highly skilled at working together.
PS: I want to reaffirm that MPs like Indranee, Chuan-Jin, Irene, etc are doing absolutely fantastic work and Singapore is much better off for having people like them. But it’s still bloody stupid for us to be over-dependent on a single political party.
What do you do when you’re in a relationship where your partner says “You’re nothing without me?”