Friday, August 29, 2008


NSP Press Release:


The Prime Minister’s National Day speech was generally interesting in terms of linguistic versatility and showmanship. It however lacked sufficient impact as many of its measures were deemed to be short, despite the lengthy 3.5 hours delivery.

Few people are surprised at the Government’s lackluster efforts to “liberalize” the political landscape, considering its paranoiac obsession towards power consolidation over the years. The nominal gestures in softening media controls and confining outdoor demonstrations to the Speakers’ Corner, are rather insignificant responses to international pressure for Singapore to reveal its true posture in the arena of democracy. Those superficial measures are grossly insufficient in meeting the needs of an expanding, politically conscious and active citizenry.

The Government could be more proactive by expanding the platform for greater public participation in politics and parliamentary elections. A genuine attempt to liberalize should include the easing of cumbersome election procedures, reverting mega-sized GRCs to their original size of three, introducing proportional representation, and refraining from any eleventh-hour “stick & carrot” inducements. Here lies the toughest challenge for the PAP … to be truthful to itself.

PM Lee exhorts the people to look beyond complaints and see the bigger picture. But the bigger picture also comprises of high inflation and job insecurity made worse by intense competition from locally based foreigners. The average, middle-class family would take a rational, double look and flinch away from the risk of a 21-year responsibility of raising a child in the light of such uncertainties. The change in lifestyle of the now generation, coupled with social pressure and the usual marital stress, would render the latest tranche of goodies with only limited appeal. Thus, the Government should have tackled the “bigger picture” first.

Instead of wringing blames on “external factors” the Government is expected to well manage the steep rise in inflationary rates -– a job for which it has, for long, been very well paid. Instead of pointing at “uncontrollable factors”, it could reduce and not increase the GST rates, ERP rates & gantries, and public transport fares. In fact, the inflation rate started to climb along with the increment of the GST rate from 5% to 7%. The PAP Government had, in many ways, helped to initiate the inflationary price hikes; it therefore cannot be free from blame!

The decades-old Courtesy Campaign has never been successful. So has the annual ritual by the Government to inspire grace as a way of life. Its consistent emphasis on materialism, elitism and officiousness effectively cancels any budding effort toward graciousness. The Executive and the Judiciary – in effect, the entire Establishment -– are always so full of pride and prejudice. Compassion seems to be a galactic term. The recent STTA power-hungry fiasco easily brings one to mind the ease of corruptability of naked power. Ego and materialism have now dug deep as a full-bred culture. Perhaps, the PAP Government could conduct a little introspection on itself first, before its next pronouncement on the need for social grace.

Nevertheless, we do sincerely applaud the Prime Minister for his continuing efforts to bring about improvements. We also hope that all these improvements would ultimately be for the betterment of our little red dot of an island. Majulah Singapura !!

Ken Sun


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