PeasantMoNkEy's MudHut

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." - Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's Amazingly Childish...

I've avoided saying anything about the PAP govt's policy on HDB upgrading until now as I've been waiting to see if the Prime Minister himself would say anything about it. Well, today he did - as reported by the Straits Times and CNA.

What immediately strikes me about the Prime Minister's defence of the policy is how amazingly childish his words are. This is what the Prime Minister said:

"It's necessary because without that, the system cannot work. This is because if everything is the same, then the opposition will say that it doesn't matter, they (PAP) will have to take care of you anyway. So vote for us and you're going to have a PAP government."


And during the elections itself, the Prime Minister also said:

“Right now we have Low Thia Khiang, Chiam See Tong, Steve Chia. We can deal with them. Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I’m going to spend all my time thinking what’s the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters’ votes, how can I solve this week’s problem and forget about next year’s challenges?” CNA– 3 May 2006


And to sum up the ever-confusing rhetorics from the Prime Minister himself, here's what he said during the swearing in ceremony of the new cabinet on May 30 2006:

"We must also not allow ourselves to be divided between haves and have-nots, or winners and losers….If we let the politics of envy drive a wedge between us, our society will be destroyed, and all will suffer. That must never happen."


So, what and how are we to make of all these words?

Honestly, it is rather tiresome for me to try to rebut what he has said. This is because it all can be rather simple - except that the PAP govt has gone and complicated the entire matter based on some instinctive fear which they evidently have. A fear about losing their power base, or their legitimacy to provide for Singaporeans.


To me, it is all very simple indeed. If the govt cares - I mean, REALLY cares - about the old, elderly, infirmed, handicapped - they would see immediately the hypocrisy of such a policy. The fact that ministers and PAP MPs keep defending what is clearly an immoral (yes, immoral!) and unethical policy just shows to me the emptiness of their words - words which sounds really nice but which is now being proved to be hollow and hypocritical.


Here's another of the Prime Minister's quotes:


"Together we say the pledge, we sing the national anthem, we celebrate National Day and we live together as one people."


I can't help but question what exactly the Prime Minister means when he says those words. Is he talking out of both ends of his mouth?


"We live together as one people" but the govt is free to discriminate against those who have chosen - democratically - to vote for another party other than the PAP?


"We must also not allow ourselves to be divided between haves and have-nots, or winners and losers….If we let the politics of envy drives a wedge between us, our society will be destroyed, and all will suffer. That must never happen."


Indeed, lets not 'drive a wedge' by the blatant discriminatory use of HDB upgrading as a tool to cut our society up.


Every Singaporean contributes to the economy. Singaporeans from all walks of life chip in to help the less fortunate. Ordinary Singaporeans do not discriminate between who has voted for the PAP and who has voted for the opposition. Why then, is our self-proclaimed 'gracious' and 'compassionate' govt doing exactly the opposite?


Did not the PAP govt and its leaders speak of 'confucian values'? Did they not call themselves 'jun tzu' or 'gentlemen'?


How shall our society be elevated to the lofty goals of being compassionate and gracious when the very govt which sets the tone of our society is behaving as if they've just been force-fed a bag full of sour grapes?


A government has to rise above the pettiness - and revengeful inclinations - of party politics once it comes into power. The important thing is this, which has been missed by most commentators:


A GOVT THAT HAS BEEN ELECTED INTO POWER BY THE PEOPLE MUST NOT - INDEED, MUST NEVER - TAKE ON A ROLE OF VENGEANCE AGAINST ITS OWN CITIZENS.


This is why I am so disgusted with the way the PAP govt is behaving right now - barely two months after they won what they themselves call a 'strong mandate' from the people.


Lets call a spade a spade and do away with niceties. The PAP govt is clearly embarking on a crusade of revenge against those who have been courageous enough to vote differently. And make no mistake about it, this spells serious problems for the country.


Before and even during the eletions, we were seduced, courted and enticed with cash giveaways, upgrading, promises of more jobs and better salaries, etc.. Yet, here we are after the elections - with the PAP's vindictiveness totally bared for all to see.


Singaporeans must spend some time thinking about the larger implications of a govt which so easily and insistently continues to defend and implement such an abhorrent policy.


What values are we sending to our young? That when it comes to hanging on to power, that the means justify the ends?


An 80 year old in Hougang has the same lift upgrading needs as an 80 year old in Marine Parade or Ang Mo Kio.


A compasionate & gracious, benevolent & wise govt will not even consider vote percentages as criterias for determining if these elderly folks should be given what they need. A wise and compassionate govt would do the right thing - which is simply to render what is necessary to the old folks who needs lifts to stop on every floor not as a matter of luxury but as a matter of necessity.


I shudder to think how much longer we will have to wait for the govt to see the hypocrisy of this particular policy. I shudder because when I think of Singapore being one of the fastest ageing population in the world, I am afraid of how much longer we will be held ransom by the PAP govt's policy on upgrading.


What is even more appalling is that out of 82 PAP MPs who proclaim themselves 'leaders of integrity' and 'non-conformists', whom the PM himself has urged to speak up even if what they say is critical of the govt, it is appalling that NONE of the 82 has said anything about the hypocritical nature of this policy!


Are they taking the asy way out and turning a blind eye to what is clearly discriminatory? Or have they been so indoctrinated by party philosophy that they have lost all common sense?


82 PAP MPs and NONE sees the discrimination against Singaporeans - especially elderly Singaporeans.


It is indeed amazing!


Will they still be threatening, discriminating against me when I am in my 60s, 70s & 80s?


Will I have to give my one precious vote to them so that I do not have to climb the steps to my flat when I am old, weak or infirmed?


I wonder - seriously - what Confucius would think of such a policy.


I believe that he would be aghast at the twisted manner by which the PAP govt and its leaders have hijacked his teachings and deformed them to suit their selfish & hypocritical political greed.


"We must also not allow ourselves to be divided between haves and have-nots, or winners and losers….If we let the politics of envy drives a wedge between us, our society will be destroyed, and all will suffer. That must never happen."


Lee Hsien Loong

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/060531/5/singapore211126.html


"To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness."
- Confucius


Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Young & The Politics Of Singapore



It is said that young Singaporeans are apathetic, self-serving, self-engrossed and ignorant when it comes to Singapore politics. I have always taken a slightly different view from this.

Sure, they may not - as a whole - be as knowledgeable as older Singaporeans about local politics. However, could that be due to older folks simply living more years than the young , thus having been exposed to more politics? Even if that were so, there are many older folks who are just as uninformed as the young.

To me, the real reason why the young are regarded as apathetic is also a very simple one: The environment in Singapore is not one where politics are openly participated. It really is as simple as that. We have an education system and schools (where kids spend an increasingly larger amount of time daily) which do not actively encourage political discourses or involvement.

Sure, you have your occasional NUS political forum but that's about it, really. There are a few hundred thousand students in our hundreds of schools. How many are exposed to such forums? A miniscule number, no doubt. That leaves the vast majority out.

Having said all that, however, the Workers' Party so-called "Suicide Squad" team in the recent elections has raised political interest among the young - simply because the 6 are in the young age groups of 20s & 30s. (Gopal Krishnan may be 52 but he's young too - at heart!) It was a masterstroke by the WP leadership to pit this young team against the man at the helm in the PAP (and Singapore), PM Lee Hsien Loong himself.

That caught the imagination of Singaporeans.

What perhaps even the WP didn't suspect was the 'positive fallout' effect of fielding such a team. This 'positive effect' was the raising of awareness not only among the general public but especially among the younger set. Granted that the level of awareness of the WP team was not as phenomenal as could be - but this is because of the media which shunned giving 'undue' publicity to the them.


Even so, the interest generated by the young team is undeniable.

Would younger Singaporeans take this team as a sort of role model? Would this awareness encourage the young to be more involved in the politics of our country? That is left to be seen. It will depend on how the team fares in the coming years and beyond. However, there is much that the team can do to further promote engagement of young citizens in the present moment. There is a need to keep up the interest through continuous engagement. What and how this can be done is best left to the Workers' Party itself.

I would also say that the local mainstream media has a role to play. Instead of shunning the team, they should engage it and help raise political awareness among the young especially. This is a golden opportunity for Singaporeans - everyone: the media, political parties, ordinary Singaporeans - to take part in something which until now has been the domain of the few elites.

The WP's AMK team could be the catalyst for a new political awakening. Indeed, when asked for his assessment of the recent GE, the WP's Goh Meng Seng used two words to describe it: "Political awakening".

I agree.

But an awakening can also fizzle out. We should not let this happen as this awakening was borne out of what was truly a 'baptism of fire' - something which even the PAP cannot claim to have for its new candidates. Thus, all Singaporeans (and not just the Workers' Party) shoudl cherish it, embrace it and further it in whatever ways they can.

The young are at a threshold. We should not keep harping to them about just jobs, money and material wants (or greed). There should be a new dimension to their lives in Singapore. I would offer that a political dimension or outlook in the lives of young Singaporeans would be most fulfilling, and exciting.

Those who have important roles to play include:

1. The media

2. The Workers' Party & the AMK "Suicide Squad" in particular

3. The govt : They should not put obstacles in the way of such awakening.

4. Schools : Teachers & principals should also use this interest generated by the elections to further allow and engage students politically.

5. Ordinary Singaporeans : Everyone has a role to play.

Of the above 5, the Workers' Party has the most important role. For it is from them that Singaporeans took notice of how things can be done another way - instead of just the "PAP way".

Thus, I hope to see more activities and engagement events from the Workers' Party in the coming months and years.

It would be a shame if such a hard-fought opportunity is left to chance - or worse, wasted ignorantly.