The following is the translated version of the Chinese article:
I would like to thank you for putting up my previous article “The Spirit of Democratic System”. I would like to discuss rationally the political problems, or even the political time bomb that our Nation is facing.
I need to make clarifications to Mr. Lim that I am not “denying the workings of Democracy” here in Singapore but merely point out the fact that having elections alone is not the only standard to determine whether the system is democratic or not. If half of the voters do not have the opportunity to exercise their voting power, how could the power of the people be enshrined by the system? If 40% of the voters' political choice could not get adequate representation by the electoral system, then how could this system enshrine the political will of the mass in totality?
To be more specific, democracy should be a consensus building process and this process should include more different voices and views. The Nordic country's proportionate representation system should be a good role model for us to research on. If we want to pick an Asian successful model of proportionate system, I would recommend Hong Kong. Although Hong Kong is just a Special Administration of China without universal suffrage for its Chief Executive, but its concept of separation of 5 powers is quite distinctive. Although it did not set up specific organization which is empowered with the power of impeachment, but we all know its judiciary, ICAC and press are all very independent. Couple with the examination system for its civil servants, it has enshrined the independence of the power of judiciary, impeachment and examination. The executive power lies with the Chief Executive and its legislative power lies with the Legislative Council (Legco). In addition, it has Town Councilors who are elected at the grassroot level.Half of its Legco members are elected by means of universal suffrage via the proportionate representation system while the other half are elected by the various functional groups. Diverse interests and choices of the people are fully represented by the whole system.
On the other hand, although Taiwan has the 5 powers Constitution, but due to the long period of marshal law rule, this system of 5 powers separation has not really been practiced. This is why in my previous article, I stressed on the importance of having both the constitution and execution process to explicitly enshrine the spirit of 5 power separation. Taiwan's present political instability is due to the process of jumping from one system of extreme concentration of power to the extreme of civil liberty. This has similarities to the French revolution whereby it took more than 100 years before the whole political situation stabilized. I personally do not wish to see this happening to Singapore and thus, I hope that Singapore could progressively move towards a more mature democratic system.
In fact, the ruling PAP knows that the present system has a hidden big time bomb within, but just like what Mr. Lim says, PAP refuse to amend the constitution to disarm this time bomb due to the considerations of its own interests. This huge time bomb refers to the fact that if this system of high concentration of power is to fall into the hands of those devious ones (these people could come from any political parties, including PAP itself!), Singapore would inevitably face the biggest disaster in history!
The proportionate representation system does not necessarily disadvantaged PAP totally. I dare to say that at this moment, PAP face the problem of having MPs that lacks the baptism of fire. Especially for those younger generation MPs whom we observe during the last Generation Election, they keep making verbal bloopers. Even some seasoned candidates are making the same mistakes. This is a sign of the hidden crisis. If we do not have a competitive environment for our politicians to train themselves, it would inevitably subject the fate of regression according to the law of evolution. Even if they could get themselves elected due to their ruling advantage, could they handle the complex international politics in time to come? If the proportionate representation system could make more MPs and ministers to go through the baptism of fire, this will only benefit both the Nation and the ruling party. To keep soldiers untrained, defeat will be the inevitable.
Furthermore, if Mr. Lim's wish really come true and PAP lost two GRCs, then it would mean that it will possibly lose two or more ministerial caliber candidates. This will be a deep blow to PAP. Under the proportionate representation system, this could well be avoided.
Rules are set by human beings and most important of all, who are the ones that finalize them. If we allow an autocratic ruling party to determine the rules, it would be inevitable that they will make full use of the rules to entrench themselves. This will become a vicious cycle. We must use a more rational, more altruistic attitude that is truthful to the interests of the Nation and its future political stability to set these rules. We should go through a democratic process to produce consensus and then set a new direction for a new set of rules, so to disarm this huge time bomb. This is the only way we could guarantee our Nation's long term survival and stability.
Unfortunately, I think at the present moment the only way to force PAP to amend the Constitution for the good of this nation is to make them feel the pain of losing more ministers during elections.
Goh Meng Seng