What Singaporeans complain about…

What are a few of the things that Singaporeans love to do? Queuing up, clean toilets and complaining about the political system, of course.


It seems like everything can be blamed on the incumbent PAP. Haze? PAP’s fault. Floods? PAP’s fault. Pretty soon, I think people might start blaming the sun on them as well.

Complaining is one thing, though, but I can say with certainty that most Singaporeans are unable to imagine our country that’s not governed by a PAP-majority government, much less ousting our Prime Minister.

I’m going to be studying Politics and International Relations in Australia, and Australian politics are nothing if not completely different from what we have here. Prime Minister Tony Abbott – much like PM Lee – has been the butt of many caricatures but the Aussie government is taking it one step further.


He faced the possibility of being deposed from his position, after several other politicians questioned his leadership. This comes as a result of a knighthood being awarded to Prince Phillip, highlighting the disconnection between Abbott and the everyday Australian. If he had been successfully ousted from his post as Prime Minister, a position he’s only had for barely two years, Australia would have seen a whopping change of five Prime Ministers in the past eight years.

Compare that to Singapore…that has a grand total of three Prime Ministers in since independence. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where any of our Prime Ministers would be voted out of the office.

It’s hard – or even downright impossible – to imagine the same happening in Singapore. Our parliamentary debates have been getting very interesting in years, with ministers from different parties delivering less than subtle jibes to each other, but removing the PM altogether?

On the plus side, at least our leaders would be in check. Ministers who do not agree on the way that the PM leads the country could call for a vote to discern whether or not there is trust in our leader, and make relevant changes.

On the other hand, so many leadership changes in such a short period of time could potentially see a very chaotic political situation, where policies and decisions might cause discontent between parties and the people. Ministers from different parties might also call upon such a motion to stall policies they disagree with, or in an attempt to get a minister of their party in the coveted position.

Ultimately, no matter how much Singaporeans complain about the majority party in Singapore, it is hard to imagine a country ruled without them. Whether or not our political system will one day see such a model, much as we complain about everything that the government is implementing, we still have grudging respect for them.





  1. To begin with, nothing is impossible in this world whether you are talking about politics, difficult obstacles to clear in militrary training, or finding a cure for Aids!

    As humans evolve, people throughout the world these days are less tolerant of corruption and abuse of power especially so for people in high position, be it in politics or business environment. Recent news report of strong reaction from Argentine people against their President on suspicious of a procecutor’s death, and “nut incident” chargers against CEO of a Korean Airline are some of the many examples that you can befall on.

    To conclude, allow me to quote a phase from that movie Spiderman:

    “With great power, comes greater responsibility”

    Simply put, people with their basic needs (ie food, shelter and freedom of speech) threatened are willing to take up the challenge for new PM regardless of his/her academic qualification or his lack of ‘blood ties’ with the dynasty!

  2. Interesting reflection. With respect, eastern Asian societies are typically less pluralistic due to many reasons.

    Their homogeneous societies now appear quite strong and successful. In such societies there is often not a real need to have many parties. You can also look at Scandinavian countries, which after the war were ruled by social democratic governments for almost 60 consecutive years.

    As these countries become more pluralistic, their governments changed.

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