Thursday, April 1, 2010

What will happen to Singapore if the opposition wins the next general election?

In the highly unlikely scenario that a “freak” result occurs in the next general election due to be called soon which sees the PAP being booted out of office, what will happen to Singapore?
Actually, life will continue as before despite the doomsday predictions by PAP activists and apologists that Singapore will collapse like a pack of cards without the PAP governing the nation.
Contrary to the fear-mongering propagated by PAP leaders, our flats will not become worthless overnight, foreign investors will continue to stay put and Singapore will remain as stable as before.
The only people who will suffer an economic loss are the PAP ministers who will be stripped of their multi-million dollar salaries.
During the 2008 Malaysian general elections, the opposition won the two richest states of Penang and Selangor for the first time and form the state governments.
The Democratic Action Party (DAP) heads the Penang state government while Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) governs Selangor. Both have no prior experience in governance.
As the Malaysian opposition had difficulties recruiting credible and qualified candidates into its ranks for the election whose results were completely unexpected, they had problems filling the state exco positions of the state governments.
Nearly half of the state executive councillors in Penang and Selangor have no tertiary education with some barely completing secondary school.
Furthermore, the states were deprived of funding from the federal government in Kuala Lumpur which is still controlled by the Barisan Nasional coaltion.
Though there were initially some fears about their competence, the opposition-led states not only did not implode from within, they continue to attract foreign investments and life remain the same as before for the people living there.
The Penang state government has introduced an open tenure system for bidding government contracts and Selangor requires its exco members to reveal their salaries and assets to the public.
These are positive steps forward in good public governance which will never be taken under the previous administrations.
Your correspondent visited the two states in February and can attest to the fact that they are still as stable and prosperous as before. In fact, many of Penangites have a favorable impression of the DAP-led government and it is unlikely that the BN can recapture the state in the next general election.
If the Malaysian opposition can rule two states much larger in size than Singapore, why can’t our opposition do so?
According to a recent Straits Times report, the opposition has seen an increasing number of professionals and graduates joining its ranks. Some 70 percent of the candidates standing under the opposition banner in the last election have a tertiary education and the pecentage will surely increase in the next.
With due respect to the Malaysian opposition, our opposition should be of a higher quality and caliber than them.
We have highly qualified leaders within the opposition camp such as Reform Party’s Secretary-General Kenneth Jeyaretnam, a double-degree graduate in economics from Cambridge University who can fill a ministerial position in any cabinets in the world.
Also in the Reform Party are a former SAF scholar Tony Tan and a former senior civil servant Hazel Poa, both in their mid 30s.
From the Workers’ Party, we have Mr Low Thia Kiang, an opposition veteran with nearly 20 years of experience in Parliament and Ms Sylvia Lim, a lawyer by training.
The other opposition parties also boast of candidates from various fields such as medicine, engineering, economics and education.
While the opposition may not have any experience in governing Singapore, they are unlikely to make a mess out of it as the Malaysians have shown.
More importantly, we have a first world civil service to run the nation. The ministers are only in charge of formulating national policies whose implementation on the ground lies with the civil servants.
In other democracies, it is common to see governments come and go and prime ministers replaced every now and then, but the nation stays strong and continues to grow.
For example, Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was voted out of office after 53 years in power, longer than the PAP. It was replaced by the Democratic Party of Japan which has no experience in governance. Do we see Japan in chaos today?
It is high time that Singaporeans do some “spring-cleaning” and sweep the undeserving deadwood out of office so that qualified men can bring about much needed changes in Singapore.
The PAP has clearly run out of ideas to lead Singapore judging from its gross mismanagement of the Singapore economy.
Our GDP growth over the last few years is a mirage – it is built largely on the mass importation of cheap foreign workers which reduce labor costs, thereby inflating the GDP figures at the same time.
A certain percentage of the PAP ministers’ salaries is pegged to GDP growth – the higher the figures, the more money they bring home.
During the same period of time, the median salaries of Singaporeans have stagnated, cost of living has sky-rocketed, income gap between the rich and the poor have widened considerably and standard of living has declined.
We cannot continue relying on foreign workers forever and must move up the value chain fast to produce world class companies and products like the other Asian Tigers, but innovation is incompatible with a totalitarian form of government which brooks no dissent.
The PAP will not make any changes which will threaten its political hegemony. What is good for its survival may not be in the best interests of the nation.
Things cannot get worse than now. We seriously need an urgent overhaul of the entire system and put things back into order.
So Singaporeans should not be fearful of voting for the opposition in the next general election for the opposition’s success will open the floodgates to encourage more Singaporeans to join politics to serve the nation.
An open, competitive and fair political system will only improve public governance and ensure that only sound policies which take the interests of Singaporeans into consideration are implemented.

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