Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What Political System do we want to preserve?

I was "presently surprised" when I heard MM Lee Kuan Yew talking about his aim is not about preserving PAP but rather, to preserve a system that could work well for Singapore in the long run.

If I remember correctly, this is the very first time that a prominent leader of PAP has openly declared the need to construct and preserve a "good" system for Singapore, instead of going by the line that without PAP, Singapore will not survive.

However, I could not really reconcile the need to create and preserve good system with the image that PAP projects in each and every elections the critical "scare messages" that if voters voted for opposition, we will be doomed. The reason is simple; if the system is good enough, how would it end up as "doomed" if PAP loses power?

What is the "good" system we are talking about? A system that could be abused if it "falls into the wrong hands"? I find it strange that such message has been repeated again and again, suggesting that our system could just turn into a "monster" if opposition wins the election and become the government! And yet, we want to preserve such system that is so vulnerable to abuse?

This could only mean one thing, this supposedly "good" system has given too much power to whoever in power. It is only when a system gives too much power to those in the government, it could possibly become a monster that could be abused by "bad government". Is this the "good system" that we are talking about in "preserving"?

This high concentration of power in the system could be abused by anyone, opposition parties as well as PAP included. Nobody could predict or even foresee the future. Nobody could guarantee that PAP will always be filled by people of great integrity with high morals. High concentration of power will result in a very imbalance system.

I am not saying good people is not important for the government to run smoothly. However, any instituition that gives great power to a few must have a system of effective checks and balances. If a system could just be "abused" by the "wrong people" being elected into office, it means that the mechanism of checks and balances is ineffective or simply lacking.

Checks and balances could come from two or more dimensions. Within the system, it could come from the government's internal mechanism like Auditor General, CPIB, judiciary etc. It could also come from the political balance in terms of adequate representation of non-ruling parties' MPs in the parliament. If one believes that that the system will fail or even abused by some "rogue" government, it would mean that the internal governmental mechanism will fail due to some inherent weaknesses or reasons and that, the ruling party have the means to curb effective representation of opposition parties in parliament.

We need good people to be in politics, both in the ruling party as well as alternative parties. At the same time, we must create a balance system that could effect good checks on whoever in power. We should not take chance that we will always have "good government". The only way to minimize the adverse impact of having "bad government" is to have a system of good checks and balances.

It is ironic to see PAP constantly harping on how "vulnerable" Singapore's system is if the "wrong people" are voted in as government but at the same time, they wanted to "preserve" such system of great vulnerability! Personally, I agree that the present system is very vulnerable and it should be changed for better checks and balances. This could only be done when PAP is willing to curb some of the powers that it has held on now as the government. As long as PAP is unwilling to subject itself to a system that encourage effective checks and balances from non-ruling parties in parliament, the system we have now will forever remain vulnerable.

I guess it is about time that Singaporeans should start thinking about what kind of political system we want to develop and preserve for our future generation as a Nation.

Goh Meng Seng

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

The system is implemented by whoever is in charge. A system implemented by PAP is a gd system but 1 implemented by WP...... At least Mr Goh is crediting tht PAP has always been staffed with men of integrity but WP...... Mr Goh says we "should not take chance with good govt". Hence what he is implying is do away with bad govt (ie the opposition) and keep voting for gd govt (PAP). The most effective check on the PAP is the vote in your hands once every 5 years. If most S'poreans feel PAP is corrupt, lousy, non competent, they hv the right to change govt once in 5 yrs.

Anonymous said...

hello there, I thought MM Lee made this comment ages ago, aren't you abit outdated?

Goh Meng Seng said...

I think it is a general will to have "good govt", no doubt about it. But sometimes, nothing is perfect and human beings are imperfect. Thus, even "good govt" makes mistakes. It is then only logical to have opposition in parliament to put a check on the govt which is not infallible, no matter how "good" they are.

This is the essence of the system. But if the system is designed in such a way that it could not withstand abuse, then there is a great danger here. Thus, while we want good govt, we must also make sure that there is sufficient checks and balances in the system to prevent the collapse of the whole govt if the govt so "turn bad".

To me, "good" is not "absolute" nor "constant" basically because human beings are not perfect. If PAP worries about the whole system could just collapse within five years of "bad govt", what makes you think that we could wait for five years if PAP suddenly turns "bad" one day?

Goh Meng Seng

bing said...

I can see where Meng Seng is coming from.

We have a good government, but whether we have a good 'system' is another matter altogether. It is easy to mix the two, if we're not careful.

Clearly, right now, the 'system' works because the PAP is undoubtedly full of talents, and in terms of economics, its policies work.

But is it due to the 'system'? I don't think so. I credit more of our near-miraculous economic development to the PAP, instead of the 'system' the PAP has built.

Granted, right now, we have checks and balances in our 'system'. The votes of the voters are the most powerful checks we have now, and it serves as a warning to the ruling party, to prevent it from being complacent. To renew its mandate, it needs to consider the views of the majority before implementing policies.. that's good.

But checks and balances do not just come in the form of elections. In a system of checks and balances, we need other forms, such as viable opposition parties, pressure groups, civil participation, a non-biase judiciary, and a critical-yet-not-cynical media.

So the key point for us here is to dicuss, whether the current 'system' allows us to have these tools as checks and balances.

1) opposition parties
Although I would also like Singapore to have a better opposition, I can't really blame the 'system' for the lack of viable opposition parties we have today. The PAP remains the most viable party to be government, and as much as I support the opposition parties' balance against the PAP, I don't trust them to be government if they are elected in.

(you are welcomed to argue about proportional representation or the GRC system, or even the Parliamentary system itself)

2) pressure groups and civil participation

Singapore has a culture whereby people do not really care about politics, or simply feel they wouldn't be able to change things even if they care. Of course, there are few people who do not fall in this category. So it is a cultural thing. But what contribute to this culture? We have to think about it. The PAP creating the climate of fear? The people spinning their own fear stories? The 'system' which the media is highly controlled by the state? The 'system' with the 'illegal gathering' law, Internal Security act, and other laws to curb expression?

3)non-biased judiciary
for that, i'm not too sure. Perhaps other people know how judges are appointed? What about the culture of the civil service? Are they independent from any party affiliation?

4)The media
-- it's well known that the state has a stake in mediacorp and SPH. How does that affect the biase-ness of the mass-media in Singapore? What about the laws that require the state's share in mass-media companies? What about the laws and acts regulating the mass media? Will it result in the lack of crticism of the government? Will the conflict of ownership and interests lead to the media not being able to perform its tasks of scrutinising policies?

Currently, the 'system', with all the laws and acts against the freedom of expression, in terms of the mass media, surely grants too much power to the government.
Right now, the PAP is quite tolerant of criticisms, as long as it views it as 'constructive'.

But what if a government decides to abuse the excessive power the 'system' grants it?

I'm not sure whether the current mechanism is good enough to stop such a government.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Goh,

Whatever system or government we have depends on the quality of the leaders we vote in. And Singaporeans must never vote in a person like you! Otherwise Singapore will collapse in 5 months! Let's hope Mr Low Thia Kiang will have enough foresight and courage to kick you out of the CEC soon.

benson_lim said...

hey meng seng, read some of your posts in sammyboy forum. think you should delete them as they protray the WP quite negatively. Are you making friends or enemies on internet forums? for goodness sake, stop disgracing us there!

Anonymous said...

old as this issue may be, it is still currently valid and worth analysing.

until a stupid government comes into power to kill the golden goose (by overtaxing citizens or some other means of oppression), singaporeans generally are happy enough to endure COE, GST, bus fare hikes, CPF cuts etc. so long as their daily lifestyle does not involve any drastic changes. singaporeans generally find it satisfactory to pay quite an expensive sum in return for ensuring tomorrow will be pretty much the same as today. this is because as much as they complain, they still find they earn enough to live comfortably.

while it is quite safe to assume that anyone smart enough to make it to the top will be smart enough to see to it the golden goose is just well treated enough to keep laying eggs, why take the risk by maintaining the system?

Anonymous said...

What wrong has the PAP done? If you are that great, the PAP would have invited you to their tea party. Only second-rate losers join the WP. Wake up the idea, man!

Kong Ming said...

Sorry dude, if you are the "alternative", I rather have no alternatives.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time i saw so many anti WP comments here. Normally WP supporters came here. And suprisingly, Goh who is well down to put down any critical comments abt him hv not reacted so far. Hence I came to the conclusion tht he is admitting to all his "GUILT"

eat too much nothing to do so post said...

I guess it was because all these comments were posted by the pple from a same group, or posted by a same person.

too full so post said...

".....If most S'poreans feel PAP is corrupt, lousy, non competent, they hv the right to change govt once in 5 yrs. "

Don't you think that wait until a govt corrupted then change it may be a little bit late?
Don't you think that find a better way to prevent it corrupt before it corrupt will be better?
If can prevent it corrupt before it corrupt why must wait until it corrupt then change it?

still full so must post to said...

"hello there, I thought MM Lee made this comment ages ago, aren't you abit outdated? "

Don't mind show the readers when did MM Lee made this comment, don't let pple misunderstanding that our MM never said this before.
Please....

Nobody post so I post to said...

".... if you are the "alternative", I rather have no alternatives."

If don't have any "alternative", I rather have no govt.

-----------------------------------

".....If you are that great, the PAP would have invited you to their tea party. Only second-rate losers join the WP. ..."

Then were you invited to the tea party? Or
you also second-rate losers so can post comments here only?

-----------------------------------

"........ read some of your posts in sammyboy forum. think you should delete them as they protray the WP quite negatively. ...., stop disgracing us there! "

Hi, WP 'supporter?', I don't feel disgracing there leh, so can I excluded from your group?

-----------------------------------

".... Singaporeans must never vote in a person like you! Otherwise Singapore will collapse in 5 months! Let's hope Mr Low Thia Kiang will .... kick you out of the CEC soon."

Do you means WP no democracy??
Mr Low can just kick a member out of CEC without other members agree??
If Singaporeans vote in a person like you, will Singapore sure not collapse in 5 months!

Anonymous said...

i'm not surprised. Goh Meng Seng must have made many enemies in cyberspace given his personality.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Goh,

I have thought of your question for a long time and I think the best system for Singapore is still the present one. Only with the PAP in power can our future be secured.

Anonymous said...

Wolong123...the Joseph Goebbels of the Singapore Blogosphere...1st poster again! Do u check Mr Goh's site every hour???

Anonymous said...

How can we vote a person like you who call Singaporeans who support the PAP DOGS? Mr Goh, if this gets to the media, you will become as famous as James Gomez, no political future in Singapore!

GMS shocked me! said...

come on ppl.. sum1 please tell the media about it! Let everyone to know Goh Meng Seng's true colours!!

Anonymous said...

Goh Meng Seng is right, PAP members and supporters are DOGS! Or we won't be in such deep shit!

Joe_Cole said...

Mr Goh....where are you??? Come and clarify yourself in the Young PAP what you mean by PAP DOGS or we will bring this matter to the media. Can you imagine TODAY publishing a headline "WP CEC member calls PAP Dogs on internet forums". That will be juicy, isn't it? Come on Mr Goh, got guts to say, not balls to admit?

Anonymous said...

when and where did GMS say that? you guys have any proof? otherwise it is defamation and we can sue you!

joseph said...

A WP post now read widely by PAP dogs. I don't them supporters because they behave in manners befitting dogs; wagging their tails even when their masters mistreat them.

Anonymous said...

i agree, so what if we call them DOGS! PAP = DOGS!!! We WP are not afraid of them, ask them come to HG and fight one on one!

Anonymous said...

Eh? In Sammyboy forum everyone scold everyone dogs? Are u sure if that is the doing of GMS?

If it is really so pls post the link to show evidence/

WPBoyz said...

Even if GMS said that, it is the truth. We dun need to apologize for saying the truth.

We WP Youth all agree that PAP are worse than DOGS!!!!

Anonymous said...

"We WP Youth all agree that PAP are worse than DOGS!!!!"

- The one who pictured PAP as "DOGS" are the real dog of WP. Period.

Anonymous said...

A PAP go is a PAP dog is a PAP dog. Shits are they, period.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, is this the kind of opposition we want in Singapore?

Anonymous said...

One big rotten apple in the cec of the opposition DOES NOT make all bad.
Do not forget that.

Richard said...

Yeah, I like Sylvia, she is the kind of MP we need in Parliament. As for the "big rotton apple", when will he be kicked out of the CEC? The longer he remains there, the longer WP's image will be tarnished.

Anonymous said...

I respect Mr. Low Thia Kiang. But I think his hardwork is coming to waste bringing in all these new people that just don't cut it. Mr. Low really need to cast his net out wide to grab some good people.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Mr Low has been awesome. So is Sylvia Lim.
The rest? Gutless chickens running around in circles, like the big fat one here.

Anonymous said...

??

Anonymous said...

where else can WP net good people except PAP rejects like GMS?

Anonymous said...

I am already going to 40 years old and I have not been even given a chance to vote because probably my constituency is a GRC. But my Shanghai colleagues mentioned that they have been voting in China at the county/village level and they have been involved. My US colleagues were very surprised that I have not been voting. So which political system is our country running now?