Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vote for Change - The Lost Generation

I have been reading the TOC article and comments on the projection that born and bred Singaporeans may become the minority in our own land and this slogan "Vote For Change" keeps repeating on the various comments.

This slogan is repeated because many of the readers of TOC feels that the PAP's FT policy that opens the floodgate indiscriminately for foreigners to come into Singapore to work and suppress our wages are causing harm to the place. We have one of the most liberal emigration policy in the world. No other countries in the world open up their doors as wide open as ours.

One may argue that these are just emotional outbursts that only happen in the cyber world. However my recent experience on the ground indicate otherwise. Singaporeans from all walks of life, regardless of race and religion, have come up to me and complain about "foreigners" taking away their jobs. Even the coffeeshop auntie whisper to me how angry she is that some cheap foreign labor have been taking away jobs from Singaporeans like her. The underlying emotional pressures cannot be underestimated.

However, what is the thing exactly that we want to change? Prior to GE 2006, just before the Workers' Party published their manifesto, some of us were thinking of a catchy slogan for the manifesto which will become the theme of our main campaign during the elections. My wife and I have dealt with the theme of "CHANGE". After much discussion and deliberation, the theme "Change" though looks attractive and sound catchy, we decided that Singaporeans are not ready to stomach such "drastic" movement.

On hindsight, although the Workers' Party manifesto did bring up good policy views, but it just falls short of providing much revolutionary ideas that could be termed as "fundamental change" to the present socio-political-economic system. Most of the ideas were about tweaking the present system, though some of the ideas would mean a total revamp of policy directions. Thus in the end, I would have to agree to the slogan "You have the Choice" instead.

There are many dimensions to the concept of Change. As I have stated in my earlier postings, the fundamental pillars of a nation consist of Social, Economics, Culture and Politics. If anyone wants to call out for fundamental change to Singapore's development path, he will have to provide a central idea or ideology or Core Values as the fundamental guiding principles to deal with all the four pillars of this nation.

My personal political belief is Democratic Socialism and it has been the guiding principle for me in molding my policy views over a wide spectrum of issues. Although some would argue PAP is also founded on the ideology of Democratic Socialism but I would say that they have discarded such idealism long time ago. From my perspective, they are moving towards Ultra-capitalism instead. Thus, if I am going to use the concept of "Change", I would urge voters to Vote for Change, from the ultra-capitalism to the ideology of Democratic Socialism. However, in modern context, I was told that people no longer care about political ideologies any more.

Thus, I was quite puzzled about the "Change" that some Singaporeans are yearning for. Exactly what kind of changes are they talking about? From the TOC article and comments, it seems that the people there are hoping to change the FT policy so to eradicate the social-economic problems that comes with it. Or to change the ways that the whole government works? Changing the power structure within the parliament so that the ruling party would become more responsive, responsible and accountable to the people's wish?

If that is the case, we will be seeking bigger change than just voting more opposition members into parliament. The whole political system has to be revamped. I would champaign for a proportionate representation system for Singapore so that minority voices would not be ignored altogether in the process of policy and legislative parliamentary debates.

Changes that would bring more accountability and transparency within the government is a big theme that needs great courage from the voters to vote towards such transformation. Such changes are indeed necessary but to me, insufficient in terms of a total review of our national policy directions. But maybe our concerns back in 2005 is still valid, Singaporeans may accept certain pace of change but not a drastic one.

Interesting enough, this call for "Vote for Change" is initiated by somebody that would most probably call themselves "The Lost Generation". It is a simple term but invokes great depth of thinking.

Why "Lost"? The fear of being the minority in our own homeland may constitute to such label. We are lost because we have been overwhelmed by foreigners in our land. We are lost because we are helpless when job advertisement in our very own land actually discriminated against us, all of us Singaporeans, when they state categorically that only foreigners need to apply. Best of all, there is no law or rules that our elected government could apply and do something about it. We are lost in bewilderment when the minister in charge of labour would make the wild call for "Cheap, faster, better" workers while the ministers themselves would constantly justify why they need to be paid the MOST EXPENSIVE salaries in the world as ministers.

We are lost when the problems that foreign labour brought upon us as in cheap labour substitution and inflated HDB prices are not dealt with properly but on the other hand the government is more concern about Singaporeans not welcoming and integrating well with these foreigners in our homeland. It is strange when some of these foreign labour could not speak our "common language" Singlish/English while serving us in hawker centres and coffeeshops but instead, the burden of integration actually lies with us. We are lost when the government takes more care to the businesses instead of its people. GST increased just to reduce corporate taxes. Opening the floodgate for foreigners so that businesses could have cheaper labour substitutes.

Personally I am not all that anti-foreigners. But the situation becomes so absurd when the ruling party allows indiscriminately foreigners to flood our land with disregard to the fact that our infrastructure, public transport, healthcare, housing and public space could hardly cope with such influx. The problem does not lie with the foreigners but the government of the day. It is the ruling party who have open the floodgates and they should be made accountable for all the problems that are generated by this policy decision.

I guess the most important factor that created the Lost generation is the feeling of betrayal by the government with the series of policies that do not take care of them.

Vote for Change....and Accountability.

Goh Meng Seng


cy said...

i agree that change is a good theme to use for the coming election. obama also used that.

However,due to an absence of opinion polls, are those asking for change just complaining or really welcoming change?

remember 叶公好龙? lots of ppl attended opposition rally in 2006, but in the end we were disappointed again. hopefully, times are changing this time.

弃暗投明 said...

The kind of change we need is the change from TALKS to ACTIONS 从“光说不练”到“实际行动”!

Vincent Sear said...

This is just a second wave, when locally born ethnic Chinese majority feel threatened by the tide of immigration induced by the government to keep up a viable country-size population.

The first wave was when locally born native Malay felt threatened by the tide of immigration induced by Sir Stamford Raffles to build Singapore into a port city.

In both cases, it's important to retain immigrants, converting them from residents to citizens. For example, had all ethnic Chinese returned to China after WW2, there'd be no Singapore nation, hardly even a city, just a town left. The native Malays then have to adapt to the demographic changes, regardless of who's native or who's immigrant, a citizen is a citizen with whatever differences. Now that this generation of locally born ethnic Chinese Singaporeans are facing more or less the same challenges.