Wednesday, May 28, 2008

CORE VALUES - Political Parties.

I have been dragging my feet to write about this article about CORE VALUES ever since I have attended an Army Logistics course last year. Finally, the recent saga of my ex-WP comrade Yaw Shin Leong voting PAP instead of SDP in GE 2006 has prompted me again to contemplate about this critical issue.

Many people in internet forums and blogs have their say about this saga, mostly unfavorable about Yaw's vote for PAP in his constituency. Personally, I respect each individual's vote. Politicians must be first a citizen then a politician. And each citizen's vote should be sacred and kept secret. Unfortunately, in spite of kind advices, Yaw has chosen to declare his vote to various people and even through his blog. This is a grave mistake to start with.

But my assessment is that the damage is not as big as some would think. The fact that SPH's Chinese papers have not publicized and politicized this issue so far, demonstrates that there is a concern from the establishment that the silent majority of Chinese voters may not think badly of Yaw's choice of vote. The truth is, the Chinese papers have been portraying SDP in very bad light and it would only serve WP or Yaw's position if they publicize about Yaw's vote against SDP in the last elections.

Having said that, I do not think it is wise for Yaw to tell anyone of his vote, neither do I think it is necessary to ask for Yaw's blood, like resignation from WP or opposition politics altogether. This is just a lack of strong CORE VALUES on both sides, Yaw and his critics who are asking for his blood.

CORE VALUES are shared values for a movement, organization or institution. CORE VALES are the guiding light and principles for the members of such platforms to carry out their individual's duties. For example, Disney may just have a simple CORE VALUE of "Bringing happiness to mankind" and this will translate to each and every decisions made by the management leaders as well as actions or duties carried out by its employees. The overall impact is an atmosphere of joy for its services.

In terms of political CORE VALUES for any front line political workers, we yearn to build a multi-party political system in which proper checks and balances are installed. This, I believe, is our common CORE VALUES. At different stages of political development, different priorities and considerations should be made accordingly. At this stage of political development for Singapore, it is about breaking the PAP's monopoly of power. Thus the strong responses from many hardcore Anti-PAP and Opposition supporters are expected. To them, it is not about candidates that matters; some even declare that even if it is an insect, they will still vote for opposition. It is about lowering PAP's votes so to send a strong signal to them.

However, ironically, for this group of voters who will even vote for an insect rather than PAP, they are the ones that are asking for Yaw's resignation. Their frustration over Yaw's choice of vote is understandable. But is Yaw really worse than an insect? I am afraid not. Then why are they calling for his blood? Yaw might have made a serious mistake in terms of inconsistency with the common CORE VALUES but I do not have any single doubt of his sincerity in working towards the common goal of multi-party parliamentary system.

If Yaw's critics would rather not vote for Yaw if Yaw continues to work in opposition politics and contests in their wards, then I would say that they are also having the same voting consideration like Yaw, so why would they asking for Yaw's blood now?

The main problem with many young political activists in this era is that they have weak understanding of what their CORE VALUES imply. Or rather, they do not really understand about the CORE VALUES of the whole political movement at all. This is a result of a lack of proper political education process within the organizations (i.e. political parties) that they are working in.

Most of the programs carried out by opposition parties are basically more functional in nature. Like how to run election campaign, sell party newspapers, carrying out Non-Violence ACtions etc. What is lacking is the molding of political ideology and direction. If you ask any opposition party members what their party ideology stands for, most likely they will give you a blank. Same applies to PAP too.

As for why Yaw has acted in such a way is probably due to the conflicting values he has in mind: Pro-Singapore vs Political Pluralism. Pro-Singapore requires him to vote "responsibly" but Political Pluralism would require him to cut down PAP's votes of mandate. But if one views that cutting down PAP's monopoly of power (i.e. depriving them two third majority for a start) would be good for Singapore in the long run, then such conflicting dilemma would not even exist.

My strongest criticism of Yaw's reasoning lies in his stand that even if his very own comrades stand in his ward, he would also make the same consideration: candidate vs candidate. This is really a no brainer to me. For example, during last election, IF I have to apply his standards of consideration in AMK GRC, how could I ever vote for him, even as comrade? Comparing him to Mr. Lee HL? I simply voted for him and his team basically because we are standing on the same platform, share the same aspiration, CORE VALUES, direction and beliefs. IT IS NEVER ABOUT CANDIDATES, so to speak. As long as opposition parties could come up with decent candidates better than insects, then the consideration is about how to break down PAP's monopoly of power.

If I ever have second doubts about my own comrades as candidates, I would not even stand as a candidate myself. This is simple political logic.

In fact, during GE 2006 campaign, PAP has tried to use the same logic by comparing candidates in Aljunied GRC one to one: Sylvia Lim to George Yeo, Tan Wui Hua to Lim Hwee Hwa, James Gomez to Cythia Phua, me to Yeo Guat Kwang, Rahizan to Zainul. If voters really take the bait in making such comparisons, I seriously doubt that we would cross the 40% mark. Ironically, Yaw in his confusion of priority of CORE VALUES, has chosen to vote according to PAP's advocated logic. Yaw's reasoning is more damaging than his vote.

What went wrong? Its about the STRENGTH of CORE VALUES and POLITICAL IDEOLOGY.

Political ideology may sound "outdated" to many in this globalized world but it is still a necessity for any political party to function coherently, just like Disney or any other organizations, via their decision making process as well as members' training.

The recent Malaysian Elections is a good illustration of how a strong CORE VALUES work for the benefits of the opposition parties there. The common shared CORE VALUES is about anti-corruption and moving towards depriving BN the two third majority to curb its abuse of powers. Almost every party workers of the opposition parties know exactly what they are fighting for. A coherent force with a shared common CORE VALUES will help to spread the CORE MESSAGES of the campaign more effectively.

There is much work to be done to enhance the scope and depth of this common CORE VALUES of political activism in the days to come up to the next elections. Else, we may just face confusion of priorities and CORE VALUES again in future elections.

Goh Meng Seng


Anonymous said...

ST Forum Letter

May 29, 2008
Drop the adversarial approach, be nice even if you think you're right
I REFER to Sunday's reply by Ms Isabel Cheng, 'Buy value packages to save money at zoo, Night Safari' to Mr Kamar Lim's letter last Friday, 'Zoo, Night Safari, lower your charges'.

I am a regular visitor to both attractions and have largely enjoyed the experiences. Recently, though, I have noticed an increasingly haughty attitude from the service staff on site. I've always wondered why, and I think I know now.

Instead of taking the opportunity to engage a supporter, Ms Cheng chose to reel off facts to disprove the complaint about the zoo's stiff charges. For example, her reply to Mr Lim's view that the food was too expensive was that it's not, as there were 'fresh large prawns and other quality ingredients' in the laksa sold by the zoo's food outlet.

I'm sure Mr Lim is by now convinced that the fresh prawns, quality vegetables and fishcake are worth the money. Our public institutions should start dropping their adversarial approach and start treating Singaporeans as valued customers.

We give feedback because we hope the experience can become better, so that the attractions stay profitable and world-class. We don't do it to get special treatment or privileges.

Ms Cheng ends by saying that Mr Lim 'should feel free' to contact her staff if he has further questions.

I don't think he should, as the management is not going to be appreciative of any feedback. The phrasing of this last sentence reflects the tone of her entire letter.

Steve Tan

Anonymous said...

Man! This steve tan dude is really lost in space! How the hell did he get the notion........never mind.

Anyway, Yaw is wrong. Yaw is a political novice who just shot himself in the foot and doesn't realise it. Which makes it worse! He's giving opposition a bad name.

I mean think about it. If ever a PAP grassroot leader thinks that an opposition candidate is a better person. Would that PAP leader vote for the opposition?

Right. NEVER!