Pro or con, this blog and its contributors all make excellent points. These posts, in many ways, are the crux of the upcoming special election. While the PAP may be the seated party, one should not be so quick to blame them for all of Singapore’s successes or ills. Before rallying behind the opposition and casting a vote simply to make a statement, one should first draw a clear distinction between People, Political Parties, Governing Bodies and the Government itself.
Any government, even the most efficient one, is riddled with red tape and bureaucracy. As a government and the people it was designed to serve grow fat together, at many points in time, each becomes too fat to be satisfied by the other. We have seen what happens when governments such as some in Europe and North America over-reach, over-provide and over-promise. They fail both themselves and the people they were created to serve.
On the other hand, a governing body is designed to reign in or expand the government as needed. This governing body, comprised of people, is not perfect, contains multiple bias, personalities, viewpoints, ideas and solutions on how best to move forward. This governing body is made up of individuals with their own agenda as well as that of the groups they identify with such as the district (people) they represent and their political party affiliation. While some Singaporeans dream for a divided, two-party government, one only needs to look at the mess America and Europe are in. A strong, people-focused, single-party government isn’t such a bad thing, especially when things actually do get done.
Ever think of how political parties came to be? How their names, symbols, platforms and founding members came about? While one joins a political party for comrade with like minded individuals, others may do so for the prestige or perceived advantage that belonging to such a group may afford them. One should never be mistaken in believing that everyone within the same political affiliation shares the same philosophy. Even within the same party, there is disagreement and between opposing parties there should be agreement. One political party over another is not inherently evil. The individual members of one group are not anti-establisment or pro democracy or truly for the people simply because of their affiliation to an opposition or seated party.
At the end of the day, it’s all about people. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? We, the people, look to the government to provide the most essential Physiological and Safety needs. We ask government and those in governing bodies, elected to serve us, to provide us with clean air, water, food and toilets, a place to sleep, good health care, physical security, transportation network, educational system, robust employment and a stable economy. Are these not all met by the currently seated government? When one honestly compares the life of a Singaporean with those across the planet, in particular, if we contrast ourselves to our neighbors in the region, life is quite good. Sure, nothing is perfect, but it’s far better than many others.
Following Maslow’s Hierarchy, once the essential needs have been achieved, people seek Love/Belonging, Esteem and then Self-actualization. Isn’t the final stage where most Singaporeans are? Sure, there will always be someone who has more than we do, but how much do we want vs. need? We are fat and happy and this breeds contempt, the desire for even more. Don’t we then begin to bite the hand that provided the basic rungs on the ladder? As we climb to the top, we begin to resent anything that may seemingly stand in our way, looking to any alternative and the promises that it may hold with no guarantees.
Going back to People, Political Parties, Governing Bodies and the Government itself. While the PAP is the seated party, its members are not the Government, we are. The Government is an entity that needs to be restrained and refined to continually suit the needs of the people. Pointing the finger at the PAP is not the solution. When one sifts through all of the “anyone but the PAP” rhetoric, what is their real complaint? That almost everyone’s basic needs are met? That the seated party has provided a path for success, yet it is up to us to use what we have been blessed with to then become successful on our own?
Beware of anyone who over promises. While I too want my government to take care of the people properly, I neither want, nor need it to baby me from cradle to grave. While Government can be a good mother and a good father, at some point we all need to grow up and do for ourselves. I agree with some of the sentiment of the opposition, those desiring change. Change is good, as long as the changes are needed. I do not feel that voting for someone whose only true selling point is that they are not a member of the PAP is the smartest use of one’s vote. Opposition simply for opposition’s sake sounds to me like a spoiled child, unsatisfied with the toy in hand, reaching for the one out of reach.
Sure, the PAP as a political party is not perfect, nor are its members who comprise the majority of our governing body. Why? Because people are not perfect. As we, the people, as fellow citizens, we should seek to work with our leaders not oppose them for opposition’s sake. The People’s Action Party has gotten us this far and I feel comfortable trusting in the PAP and Mr. Desmond Choo Pey Ching to take up the right course and start getting things done again for Singaporeans in Hougang as well as for all of Singapore.