Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Strange Call

After losing his Aljunied seat in the last General Elections (GE), former Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo has pretty much stayed out of the limelight. I always thought that was unfortunate because Mr. Yeo was one of the more popular government ministers in the Singapore government.

Mr. Yeo is now back in the stoplight though the People’s Action Party (PAP) probably wished he wasn’t. Last week, Mr. Yeo publicly acknowledged that many Singaporeans had lost faith in the PAP government and that Singaporeans have to set aside political differences and work together as a nation. Most Singaporeans including the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) secretary-general Dr. Chee Soon Juan take his statement to mean the ruling PAP and the opposition parties.

If that is the case, then I find the statement to be incredibly strange.

Mr. Yeo’s statement urged politicians from both the ruling and opposition parties to work together with people's interest at heart. However, there are less than 10 opposition Members of Parliament right now. That’s nowhere near enough for the opposition to affect policy in any meaningful way. Why this call to work together when everyone knows the PAP ruled the roost? It just makes no sense.

To me, his statement would only make sense if it is meant for members of the PAP only. The evidence has been piling up for a while now. Outside the loss of Aljunied GRC in the GE, many Singaporeans voted for Dr. Tan Cheng Bock (who is a PAP veteran) instead of the PAP-back Dr. Tony Tan in the Presidential Elections last year.

To me, Mr. Yeo’s statement does not seem like an off-the-cuff remark. After his defeat in the GE, Mr. Yeo said that he will help the PAP to reform itself for the Singapore public. Dr. Tan Cheng Bock went even further after his defeat in the Presidential Elections, publicly stating that there was a spilt in the PAP, and that the grassroots were not happy with the PAP leadership.

You put two and two together and it seems to me that Mr. Yeo’s statement reflect that of a frustrated man. Any reform Mr. Yeo seems to want has failed and the spilt within the PAP stated by Dr. Tan Cheng Bock is still there. Time will tell if the spilt will hurt the PAP in the next GE.


Anonymous said...

The problem is that they need a seat warmer before the rightful emperor (think 3rd generation) takes over. That might take a while. There is a lot of mistrust that the Dynasty will be unsurped before that happens should the reins be handled over to the wrong person. These are the good ones who have their own camp or support. The tradition is that the Army boys and related family were always the trusted ones, with a few exceptions like Woody. So there is a split

Anonymous said...

The problem with the PAP is this: they can't think out of their old box. Until they can do so, no amount of new blood will help as all the new blood will be deferential to their party seniors and incumbents and for some the outmoded ethos that the Admin Service has ingrained in them. PAP needs a revolution of sorts that goes far beyond what Tony Blair brought to the Labour Party in the 1990s. Above all, it needs a complete change of leadership, meaning people who are not encumbered by relationship with people from the earlier generation and not encumbered with links to the admin service. It is not happening anytime soon for sure. So that means that the task of getting another party to take over government becomes more urgent. Capable Singaporeans who care about their country should seriously consider stepping up to and help and serve the alternative political parties. Good government is not created in one election. If because of that Singaporeans refuse to do anything but to keep voting in the increasingly lame PAP, then these Singaporeans are only helping our country to decline.

Proud to be a true blue Singaporean

Ghost said...

The call being only for the PAP is the only thing that make sense because of how weak the opposition is right now. As for the PAP spilt...only time will tell who will come up on top.

Anonymous said...

"The problem is that they need a seat warmer before the rightful emperor (think 3rd generation) takes over. That might take a while."

Seen in this light, whatever policies made to seemingly put Singapore first, eg the recent Primary School registration reversal to Singaporeans first, is really only one of a series of HOLDING ACTION, to staunch the flow of sentiment AGAINST the govt. In other words, such actions are not sincere changes, just affordable scraps thrown to regain lost goodwill and trust.

About George Yeo, the doubts about him is justified seeing that he was (still is?) the party ideologue. Do not forget he was the one who publicly castigated author's Catherine Lim pronouncement that there is an 'affective divide' between the people and the govt.

The acid test of sincerity of govt is in its willingness to make real change or redo substantive plans (eg. The Bukit Brown issue, cutting down the ambition to swell the population to over 6 million (still on the drawing board) and introduction of minimum wages). IMO, if the govt remains immovable in respect of these issues, among others, then it is fair to say that all those 'feel good' changes are really COSMETIC.

A recent example of substantive change that the govt has refused to budge from is that of the MOE scholar's Sun Xu position as a scholar. He deserved to be removed from the scholar's scheme and asked to re-apply for admission. His 6 years bond is a joke! Do you think such a person have truly learned his lesson? I seriously doubt it. I bet he would continue to bad-mouth Singapore and Singaporeans well beyond this current episode, if he is not already doing it in private!

Ghost said...

This case and the Sun Xu are 2 different case. In my view, mixing them up is a terrible idea as one is a political issue while the other is a social issue.