Cornering Singaporeans into options is what the PAP is very good at. Take for example the recent argument about inequality and Lee Hsien Loong defended it by framing it into 2 somewhat mutually exclusive options:
1) Have more billionaires to reside and of course spend in Singapore but it will raise the gini coefficients
2) Have less billionaires and it will increase equality, but of course the economy will receive less of their spendings
It doesn’t make sense at all. First thing first, Singaporeans are not gripping at the number of rich people here. Rather, Singaporeans are asking why are the low income and middle class facing stagnant wages in the light of relentless inflation especially happening over the period in the past decade where the population and domestic demand ballooned. In a truly equal society, the wages of everyone across all income earners rise and fall at the same rate. Unfortunately, the rate of income growth of the top 20% have instead risen higher than the rest. Worsening inequality is the point of argument, not inequality itself. How scheming or ignorant is this Prime Minister of him to dismiss critics without understanding the issue.
The meritocratic system in Singapore is a perverted version created by the PAP to ensure that there will always be a class divide. On the extreme spectrum of it, the state ignores the rationale behind unemployment and put forth the mantra that everyone has to earn their keep. Everyone including the disabled, the weak, the elderly and those stuck in the poverty cycle. Helping this people out of the poverty cycle is on the least priority of the PAP because they are simply not incentivised to do so. In other countries, their government spend billions of dollars funding their social security system to ensure that the lowest rung of the society are still able to get a decent upkeep to feed their family. Not so in Singapore, the PAP doesn’t have to spend a single cents on unemployment benefits or even healthcare. They do not even have to worry about their re-election every 5 years because of the extensive gerrymandering tactics and propaganda control they have over the media.
Why have Minimum Wage and anger the foreign businesses, when getting a slave wage is better than having no wage? Why have a social security system to help poor, when there going to be people to abuse the system? Why fix inequality when the rich people are the ones contributing to the economy? Why change when everything has been well for the past few decades?
People who disagree with these notions find it astonishing, and the only logical reason I could explain is the nature of the person. Generally, people’s perceptions could be grouped into 3 nature based on time. People who dwell upon the past, live in the past and work with the past. They are change-adverse and they make decisions based on what happened in the past, and I am referring to the bulk of PAP leaders today. The second type are those living in the present. They see only what happens today and decide on decisions based on what is happening. They don’t think about the past nor the future, hence they don’t plan nor do they grip. They are largely apathetic and believe in instant gratifications. They don’t believe in change, but rather make do with whatever they have. These people are generally the PAP voters. The third type are those with the eye for the future. They are looking at what future they are going to have and they are always planning. They could be as young as in their 20s, but they are looking at their career path, family planning and retirement. They analyze the present and past and take them as history lessons, they are not obsessed with the latest iphone fads and are very into change. These are your Opposition voters. Superimposed on Singapore context, they see an unreliable and broken system and they want to change it so much that they are seen as opposing for the sake of opposing in the eyes of those living in the past.
Naturally, the old batch of PAP leaders are very much people living in the future of their time too. If the old batch of PAP leaders had been contented living as a British colony, they wouldn’t have invested heavily in MRT and Singapore’s infrastructures which Singapore get to enjoy today. Do not be mistaken as compared to Lee Hsien Loong’s era of building fanciful projects of Garden by the Bay, the Flyer, the casinos and what-nots. These are short term revenue-generating projects that looks good numerically on papers. None of these investments have raised the educational qualities or standards of living of Singaporeans, and have instead worsen Singaporeans’ overcrowding and gambling problems.
Henceforth, based on the analysis, the present batch of PAP is not expected to make any groundbreaking changes that will propel Singapore forward to be the model country the world is looking up to. Media freedom? No way, strict media control have benefited the ruling government over the few decades. Inequality? A rising tide will lift all ships, the poor are better off being in a rich Singapore than a poor Singapore, and that what the PAP believe in. The poor in Singapore are going to have it worse as the years go by no doubt. Nationalizing profit-mongering monopolies like the SBS and SMRT? They are making profits, and that is all it matters. Change is the last thing that is going to happen in Singapore if the PAP remains in governance.
So what about the rest who want a better life? The best advice is to get a degree and get out. Thanks to the old batch of PAP leaders who fought Malaysia and promoted English here, we are in a very good position to get out because we beat all Asians hands down when it comes to English. Don’t look at the pull factors, I’m very sure no other countries have good food like ours in Singapore. Rather, look at the push factors. Look at the elderly on the streets selling tissue papers, think retirement. Look at the housing price and think about the amount of debt you might be carrying. Look at the number of people leaving office at 9pm and think about your family. And if you are concern about the country’s future, take a hard look at the PAP leaders and laugh at their intelligence – Lim Swee Say can’t speak English and yet he is a Minister. All these are good enough a push to swing ourselves out of here. Being the future kind of person will serves you well.
Co-editor of Wikitemasek