Saturday, August 15, 2015

Campaign Trail - Understanding PAP Supporters

Understanding PAP Supporters

I have a few talks with some of my school mates and classmates recently. Most of them are doing pretty well in life, have good jobs, good business and families. More than half of them are PAP supporters while I am the only opposition politician among my cohort.

Almost all of them are well traveled all over the world or have lived and worked in other countries, both developed as well as underdeveloped countries in the world. The PAP supporters will feel that Singapore is the best because in other countries, even for developed countries, their efficiency sucks. Bureaucratic system makes simple task like getting electricity or telephone land lines a big headache.

I know of such things too, way back in the 1990s. Singapore and Hong Kong are the most efficient cities in the world and that is the basis of our success. But for me personally, in most of the aspects, Hong Kong is far more efficient than Singapore while in some instances, Hong Kong may need to learn from Singapore.

While my well-to-do friends appreciate the efficiency we have in Singapore as well as the "safety" they enjoy (at least they don't need to watch over their back or employ bodyguards for the rich ones), they also think that PAP has managed Singapore well in terms of economy. The huge influx of foreign labour doesn't seem to worry them at all and they would even defend the need of such influx of foreign labour.

Apparently they are not affected by the crowded public transport nor the bed crunch in public hospitals. Neither would they mind to pay higher price to drive a car nor understand how increase of food prices affect other middle lower class.

Most probably they won't know how the poor live their lives with foreign labour displacing them while thinking that all of them are lazy that is why they are in poverty. They won't support minimum wage because they are made to believe minimum wage is bad.

All these are inconsequential to them. Some may even think that running a country like Singapore as a company is perfectly the right thing to do....

It actually makes me think hard after these meetings. After graduation, we have moved on very different paths. I would say my cohort would make up the "elites" because we come from some "top schools" in Singapore, but I am definitely not the elite whom I was supposed to be.

Perspective is very different between me and my friends, even though some of them have similar background as me, from poor families. They are thankful to PAP for their "success" in life while I am less of a material person.

Although all of us, including me, have traveled to different parts of the world, but yet, we view things very differently. They may feel that it is a great thing for PAP to make such a tiny red dot success in such a short time while I think it is precisely we are small, it is easier to gain success in such a short period of time. In fact for a city like Shenzhen or even Shanghai which may be bigger in size than Singapore, they gain success within 30 years to catch up with us or Hong Kong!

Of course if we compare to Malaysia, we are better in much better shape. And naturally, Malaysians or New citizens who were Malaysians, would definitely feel that PAP is remarkable and Singapore is a paradize to them. The compare and contrast are too great.

My point is simple. I do not take what we have now for granted and I am definitely not out to destroy it either. A system without a counter balance will eventually be a system full of frauds, abuses and corruptions.

Chinese are made to believe that all those in power are saints and expect them to be saints. Thus they are comfortable with a system with high concentration of powers. But the Westerners have a more pessimistic but realistic view of human beings; human beings will become crooks if absolute powers were given to them.

Thus, Democratic concept of separation of powers come from the westerners. I believe in that just as Dr Sun, the father of New China, did. In this post-LKY era, there will be more reasons and urgency to reform our political system of governance to install real separation of powers to assure us of stability and sustainability.

The fundamental difference between Hong Kong and Singapore is that, despite the fact Hong Kong does not have universal suffrage for the Chief Executive, the British has installed a good system with effective separation of powers in governance. The Free Press is one of the key to the Impeachment power.

My PAP-supporter friends and I may have very different political views but at the end of the day, we have one consensus: we want stability, sustainability and prosperity for our country. We just differ on how we could achieve that.

Goh Meng Seng

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