Thursday, October 24, 2013

Half Way Bell Check of SG Political Parties - SDP III

It is never easy to write a "fair assessment" of other opposition parties which do not have any seats in Parliament. We cannot use the same yardstick as PAP or WP to assess them because they have neither any opportunity to demonstrate their skills in parliament nor running any TC.

There are three main areas which I would look at these two parties, mainly

1) Organization functions, growth and stability
2) Consistency in ground work
3) Policy literature, deliberation and strength which includes commentary, press statements on various political issues etc.

All these are important parameters to gauge whether an opposition party without seats could be successful or having better chance to convince voters of their abilities in its future election bids.

Voters mentality is that they may give you "chance" but you must first show them what you are capable of, in terms of consistency in ground work, appearance on the ground and your ability to talk sense in your policy statements and published stance on various political issues. Of course, the potential of the party will also depends on how well the party is managed and growth.

SDP's Struggle on Keeping Gains and Talents

Ever since GE2011, SDP has been consistently losing talents. Part of the reasons was that most of these "high profile" candidates were not empowered by the party to become new stakeholders by appointing them as Cadre members. This in turn deprive them the opportunity to participate in SDP's CEC elections which could provide SDP the necessary party renewal.

SDP has performed reasonably well in GE2011 without its Secretary General Dr Chee Soon Juan's direct involvement in its rallies and public appearance during the election period. Thus somehow, it gave SDP a very important signal that without Dr Chee, more voters are willing to give SDP candidates with "good caliber" a chance to serve them. Of course, this may create a sense of "crisis" to the SDP leadership that the new batch of candidates may over-shine or take over the party. Thus if we look from this perspective, it is not that difficult to understand why post-GE2011 for SDP ended up with the loss of critical talents.

The only person who was new but elected into SDP's CEC was Dr. Vincent Wijeysingha but even he has quit SDP. The latest reports on Dr Ang Yong Guan has indicated that he would most probably moved on to Singapore People's Party with Mr. Tan Jee Say who have left SDP earlier to run for the Elected Presidency. Michelle Lee has long been seen putting up WP's blue T-shirt. Thus, it basically means that SDP has lost the WHOLE Holland Bukit Timah team which happened to score the HIGHEST among SDP's contested constituencies. i.e. SDP has lost its whole A TEAM.

Although SDP has since recruited new talents like Jeremy Chen who was involved in drafting the new Housing policy, but I think the lost of the whole GE 2011 Team A will reflect quite badly on itself. It will create doubts on both voters as well as other potential talents who might have second thoughts of joining the party after witnessing such losses.

The Best Website But....

If you make a thorough comparison of SDP website with other political parties, you will find that it is best professionally designed with good videos and even shopping cart for selling books to raise funds. Apparently, it has spent a lot of effort, time and most probably money in building up its website. However, something is just not right. First of all, there is no link nor information of who are the key CEC members of SDP listed on the website. Secondly, most of the books listed on sales are written by Dr Chee and even on the "FAQ", its first objective is to defend Dr Chee from the accusation that he "kicked" Mr Chiam See Tong out. Then it went on to stress that its Party is driven ideologically by Dr Chee, listing his books and such.

But it is interesting to note that SDP manages to get very talented people to help with its publication, website designs and video creation. It is a strength unmatched by other parties.

Ideologically Based on Dr Chee

It is not difficult to conclude that SDP has been built around Dr Chee by the look of its Website and literature published. Thus it seems that SDP cannot live without Dr Chee and the reverse may be true as well. This would mean that at present, any attempt to renew its top leadership would mean totally impossible because it has been so entrenched in one single man's presence in the party.

When you see Photos, you see ground work

SDP ground work has been "well documented" in the sense that each ground activity will definitely be reported on its website accompanied by photographs. However, if you observe very carefully, consistency on ground work is lacking. Consistency requires weekly engagement on the ground. There are sales of their newsletter Democrats and door knocking but these were not done regularly right after GE2011.

Ground work is more than just public visibility or photo shoot exercise. It is nice to put photos on website for netters to see but what matters most is what the ground knows of your presence.

Strength of Ideology, Policy Views and Political Literature

SDP professed to be strongly "ideologically rooted" by "Democratic Principles". Over the years, it has also developed a massive amount of political literature, thanks to Dr Chee working FULL TIME on this political front.

SDP has been able to provide timely comments, press statements and media responses for various issues, ranging from political stance, policy issues etc.It has taken its initiative to formulate various policy papers like Healthcare, Housing etc. These are good efforts even though we may not agree totally with their views.

It has also been actively sending its members, particularly younger ones, to participate in international or regional political events.However, the effectiveness of such overseas activities on local political scenes. But at least, there is some form of political education process.

SDP has put up various policy papers and some of them are quite impressive. However, many of those who helped to put up these policy papers, the brains behind all these, have left the party.

Policy papers alone will not get the party candidates elected. Each candidates' strengths and weaknesses count. Thus, it would be awkward if the party goes to GE with all these policy papers without the brains behind them.

The Linked Fate of SDP and Dr Chee ?

One of the biggest political blunder SDP has committed in post-GE2011 was the positioning of SDP by Dr Chee during the Punggol By-Election. Quite a number of SDP members and supporters I have met back then, expressed disappointment as well as frustration of Dr Chee's handling of the by-election issue.

Many acknowledge Dr Chee's contribution to the party for the past decades and had assumed that the fate of SDP will be linked to Dr Chee. However, some in the party, in increasing numbers, start to think that SDP would do better without Dr Chee as its leader. The Punggol By-election was a point that ignite such confidence crisis on his leadership.

Dr Chee will be able to contest in next GE but it was reportedly said that someone close to him has put up a "matter of fact" comment that he should quit politics altogether if he doesn't win the next elections. Unfortunately I don't see how he could win when all his able generals have left the party one by one.

I personally feel that Dr Chee should have opened up the party for renewal, accept the fact that the party has performed much better in last GE without his public participation and it is time for him to sit back as party advisor instead of taking the front driver seat. It doesn't reflect well if the party could put up an individual as its candidate during GE but in the end, was NOT promoted as the party's cadre members for whatever reasons. This is especially so when the candidates in question, are all very well qualified.

It would be irresponsible for a party to put up a candidate whom it doesn't trust to be its cadre member but deems fit to be an MP in parliament representing Singaporeans, unless there are really valid reasons to refuse such promotion for these candidates.

Especially so for a party that advocates Democracy, it should first practice it openly instead of just merely playing lip service about Democracy.

Cadre System and its Folly

The Cadre System is practiced in most political parties in Singapore, except for a few. The Cadre System is set up to prevent infiltration by opponent's agents so to disrupt leadership continuity or placement. However, the Cadre System has become a tool for incumbent leaders to control who can contest and vote in party leadership election. Most of the Cadre System only empowers the CEC or even just the few party leaders to decide who can be or not be cadre members of the party.

Thus, if the CEC or leaders are to preserve their own power and position in the party, the only thing they need to do is to appoint more members that they trust to vote for them during CEC elections. This will create a bad vicious power inbreeding and made renewal extremely difficult if the leaders themselves refused to step down.

During my time in NSP, I have made a couple of proposal to improve the Cadre System (or Congress Membership) in NSP. CEC will not be the only entity that holds the power to promote and appoint cadre members. The Cadre members themselves can propose and approve cadre membership during Party Congress. This will strike a balance of power between the need to prevent infiltration while avoid power inbreeding among the CEC members. I have also proposed to give Party Congress of cadre members the only power to remove critical assets like MPs. The CEC basically cannot sack any MP (if they have any) due to politicking, but have to seek the Party Congress endorsement in doing so.

This is to prevent the similar situation where SDP CEC sacks Chiam See Tong from party membership back in the 1990s due to differences in opinion and politicking.

Democracy - The Balance of Power

SDP has to show that it is serious about what it advocates : Democracy. The fallout of its team of promising candidates in the last GE indicates a serious systemic problem within the party framework.

While it is "norm" that parties may field candidates who joined the party at the very last minute but it must be cautioned that any candidates fielded by the party will be seen as someone whom the party has confidence in serving the constituents. Thus it is illogical for the party not to have the confidence in these candidates to become stake holders of the party by promoting them into cadre members.

The party structure will also need to be seen as transparent,accountable and open to constant renewal. It must also be seen as balance in delegating power instead of being seen as a "One Man Show", else it would be ironic contradiction for a party that advocate Democracy but in reality, practice dictatorial management style.


After the departure of Vincent Wijeysingha, I am rather pessimistic about SDP's future. No matter how many good policy papers it has produced in the past, political contest in Singapore is still reliant on individual personality on the ground.

A party cannot progress with massive loss of experienced, good candidates, especially from its A Team. It will setback the party's advancement and dent the party's credibility if the reasons for losing these candidates is due to internal politicking or the lack of trust in these candidates. 

Unfortunately, rightfully or wrongfully, Dr Chee will be seen as one leader who have dampen the progress of his party TWICE in history. I do not have high hope that Dr Chee could win the GE when he keeps losing good candidates. He may have the best Website and so on, but he lacks the appeal to the voters at the center who will decide winners.

Goh Meng Seng

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Singaporean First Alliance

Over the years, we have heard about how the big influx of foreign workers or talents has created great impact on Singaporeans' life. We have also heard about how some Singaporeans cry out foul about those who protested or made comments about these foreign migrants as "Xenophobic" or simply "Extremists".

Some would even accuse anyone who raise the flag of Singaporean First as Xenophobic without really understanding what it means, neither will they reason it out in proper context.

We have seen how companies under the control of foreigners have started to build "racial enclave" within their own working environment. It is no surprise that we observe some banks or business entities being filled by employees with the same country origin. It has become so absurd that we start to see job advertisement put up in public space to have race or country origins or "Singapore PR", worse, to boast about their present working environment is dominated by their "own people" from the same country! And this actually happens right in our country!

When such things happened and reported on the social media, those usual suspects who cry foul about Singaporean First as "Xenophobic" have suddenly suffered strange disease of muteness. They have simply lost their voice and we have not heard from them calling these advertisement as "Xenophobic" or "Singaphobic"?  It is totally illogical for Singaporeans to be discriminated right in their own country! No citizens in the world, will become second class citizens and get discriminated by FOREIGNERS in their own countries. I guess these "human rights activists" who cry "Xenophobic" too often, should get their perspective right in the first place and stop taking that self righteous stance. There is nothing more righteous than good reasoning, fairness and justice.

In order to understand the whole problem of globalization, we must first understand the basics of ultra-capitalism. In the traditional teaching of "Free Market Principles", ultra-capitalism dictates that it would be BEST for the capitalist to have totally free mobility of labour and free mobility of capital funds so that they could maximize their profits wherever opportunities arise.

It would be easy to understand this ultra-capitalism concept by looking at the simple economic equation of production:

GDP = Labour Input + Capital Input+ Land + Technology + other factors of production (eg. raw materials)

It is not difficult to see that if we want GDP to grow indefinitely, we could just keep increasing labour and capital. This is exactly what PAP government is trying to do. They are trying to grow GDP at all cost by increasing labour, thus population and capital via luring MNCs.

The problem is, Singapore is just a little red dot with limited land space. We couldn't possibly increase the labour, thus population size indefinitely without resulting in more crowded living space for all Singaporeans. We should also be very mindful that we should not just increase GDP for the sake of GDP growth itself. The ultimate aim should be providing Singaporeans better jobs, better wages, better living standards and quality of life but definitely not higher inflation. But are we getting these in spite of higher GDP growth? What we are experiencing is that 80% of Singaporeans suffered from the cost of such ultra-capitalist method of growth, in terms of higher inflation and depressed wages, while only top 10 to 20% of Singaporeans benefited from such development. This is obviously represented by the ever increasing income disparity in Singapore.

I have renamed my FB Name to Goh Meng Seng SingaporeanFirst to indicate a new phase of my life in response to the various ridiculous happenings going on in Singapore under PAP rule, which allows us to be robbed of our dignity as a citizen, as well as subjecting ourselves to major discrimination by a huge foreign population allowed in by PAP. It will be a new era of Singaporean First Alliance for me from now on.
I have created a FB group Singaporean First Alliance and the following is my declaration of purpose:

As a small country, it is inevitable for Singapore and our citizens to feel the full impact of Globalization. It is inevitable for us to bring in more foreign workers, be it talents or otherwise, to supplement our workforce which will face contraction due to aging population caused by low fertility rate.

However, we must always remember that for whatever policies the ruling party of the day make, it must be solely for the benefits of our citizens. Thus, Singaporeans' interests must be the FIRST PRIORITY of ALL policies made by the government.

1) We are against the over-liberal FT policy which has compromised not only the wages of Singaporeans but also job opportunities for Singaporeans.

2) Foreign Labour from Third World developing countries can afford lower pay because of their lower cost and standards of living in their home countries but Singaporeans have to bear FULL impart of the higher cost of living for them and their families in Singapore. Cheap labour substitution by companies should be prevented by legislative and administration means by the Government.

3) We are just a tiny little island and any big influx of foreigners will definitely push up our land and property prices which will in turn inflate our rents and eventually prices for all goods and services. We are against mindless population targets set by the ruling party PAP which will eventually cause high inflation and push up our cost of living in Singapore.

4) We are against of the aggressive population target set by PAP because this will cause great strains on all public services starting from public transport, public housing to public healthcare.

5) We are against of the 6.9m population target because most of the foreign immigrants we are taking in are from Third World countries which have the very third world mentality and attitudes which are very different from ours. This will inevitably cause cultural frictions which may be a potential source of social tensions or even unrest if it is not managed properly.

6) There may be people who would accuse us of "Xenophobic" or even "Extremist" but we are not. We are just Nationalistic amidst the waves of Globalization and massive influx of foreign migrants, to defend the dignity, jobs and rights of our citizens, brothers and sisters of all races.

7) On the contrary, we view PAP's liberal FT policy as extremism and ultra-capitalist that only takes care of the interests of big MNCs, GLCs and business interests but disregard the welfare, well being and interests of our citizens. Such policy has only helped to suppress wages of citizens and compromise citizens' job security and well being, aggravating income distribution in spite of high GDP growth. Such strategy of Growth at ALL COST coupled with a weak labour law and union have made most Singaporeans suffer the high cost of growth while a minority of people, including foreign MNCs, GLCs and business owners, to enjoy the fruits of growth.

8) In fact, we are far from being Xenophobic as we are concerned and against the unethical modern slavery that has been practiced by some industry and businesses on low or unskilled workers from the Third World country. We are against of such modern slavery in Singapore which not only bring shame to our country but compromise wages of our Singaporeans in these fields as well.

9) We demand FAIR WAGE for ALL, including foreign workers with priority given to Singaporeans First. We understand that if we do not enforce FAIR WAGE for Foreign workers, our local Singaporean workers will be displaced by CHEAPER foreign labour.

10) As our national race strategy is to prevent the formation of "Racial Enclaves" in housing and such, we have observed that "Racial-National Enclaves" of foreign labour have formed in various sectors and industries. This has gone unchecked when the foreign migrants have started a quiet but deliberate effort to employ their own race or national origins for job openings when they have gained control of the hiring power within their organizations or companies. This is in effect an unhealthy development of Economic and Job colonialization by these foreign workers. This must be stopped. Any company in Singapore that do not employ at least 50% of Singaporeans will have little reasons to stay in Singapore as their presence will not benefit Singaporeans at all.

11) Last but not least, we may welcome these foreigners to work along us or even become Singapore citizens eventually one day, but we must maintain that these foreigner should realize that they are guests while we are the hosts. They should respect and obey not only our laws but also our cultural practices and way of life. Foreigner should integrate into our core, learn the ways of our multiculturalism harmony and tolerance instead of trying to impose their own values and way of life upon us. 

The self righteous Human Rights activists as well as PAP people will definitely try to throw labels like Xenophobic on such movement but I have only one simple defence, do they kick out their own family members so to let their friends stay in their house?

Singapore is the only land Singaporeans have to call home. It is only right for us to demand our government to take care of our own citizens and defend our rights and dignity against being treated and discriminated as second or third class residents on this land. These self righteous Human Rights activists should stop their own delusion but open their eyes to the real happenings around them, start to acknowledge truthfully the absurdity happening in Singapore that compromise our citizens' rights and interests.

If all fail, call me Xenophobic if you want; it is only right for me to fight for FAIR treatment and against mindless ultra-capitalist liberal FT policy.  If you can't see the abuse and trespasses of our citizens' rights and interests, so be it. I am just simply Nationalistic.

Goh Meng Seng