Time for Opposition to rethink assumptions, lest it repents after next GE

In Political governance on 14/09/2012 at 6:01 am

Shumetime back, I blogged that PM in his National Day Rally speech came out with the message,”It’s yr money, let’s spend it to make you happier”. I’m glad to read that TJS has written, “PM talked about increased social spending supported by tax increases not now but in 20 years’ time, DPM Tharman laid out a case for active government policies “tilted in favour of those with less””. Well nice to know I and TJS have come to the same conclusion, more-or-less.

Which brings me to TJS’ main point, “Events in recent years have shown that the PAP is both incompetent and insincere. To save Singapore from the PAP, we have to focus on regime change … We do not need a national conversation to generate ideas on how to bring Singapore forward …

‘But the current leadership is not equal to the task – what can one expect from a PM who has no vision for the country or an ill-conceived one based on wrong facts, and a DPM who is full of hindsight but empty of foresight? The real salvation for Singapore lies outside the PAP and there are enough talent out there to form an alternative leadership team. It’s time for them to come together, get organised and stand ready to take over. A regime change is long overdue.”

I’m sure his sentiments are shared by the Opposition, even the WP.

But if as TJS is saying the PM is calling for “increased social spending” and “DPM Tharman laid out a case for active government policies “” why shouldn’t some of the 40% of the S’poreans (self included) who voted for the Opposition, vote for PAP in the next GE? If the PAP government starts “walking the walk” of spending more to make life more comfortable for S’poreans, especially the poor, and “squeezed” middle: i.e. more than “talk the talk”, why shouldn’t some of us switch our votes. Remember that in last presidential election, 70% of the voters voted for two men closely associated with the PAP. What it shows that 10% of all the voters are willing to vote for the PAP. They are not members of the “PAP are bastards” platoon like KennethJ, TJC, and Dr Chee and groupies

The only answer to my question is that “The Opposition can deliver better policies and execute them better”.

My next question then,”Where’s the evidence?” Whether TJS and other members of the opposition like it or not, they had better hope the WP MPs start raising their game. So far, three are non-entities, one has underperformed expectations (Show Mao) by doing bugger-all, and two are clowning around (GG* and PritamS). Only JJ is showing his mettle. .

And I’m sure S’poreans remember that the WP have gone quiet on their manifesto call to nationalise the public transport system, shumething I’ve grumbled about regularly. I mean, it’s an open goal what with the tpt minister admitting openly of the heavy subsidies being given. So why is GG** and the WP refusing to take a shot at goal. Scared to miss? Or kelong?

So if there is regime change, there may be no change if the WP is the dominant party in the new government.

So getting rid of the PAP when it is using our money to make life more comfortable for us would seem to be a dangerous and dumb thing to do, neh?

Might as well back the PAP in that case.

The point I’m trying to make is that the governing PAP seems to have ditched the sacred cow  (no longer a Hard Truth) of being mean to S’poreans despite extracting money from S’poreans via all kinds of levies and imposts: it is now willing to spend S’poreans’ money on making things better for S’poreans.

If it spends our money on S’poreans, the Opposition should rethink their assumptions and premises, and the messages they want to send to voters. If not, come the next GE (which could be held before 2016, if the PAP senses that S’poreans have been won over by the spending), the Opposition will be repenting, not the PAP. The ground may be shifting.

Oh and I hope that this is the last time TJS imitates KennethJ’s attempts to portray changes in government policy as evidence of KJ’s genius his genius in pointing out its errors. S’poreans are not stupid, and neither is TJS. He is an RI boy and scholar, unlike KennethJ.

*Eric Tan (remember him) must be v.v. happy. I tot that GG was brilliant in 2009 or 2010, putting online the questions Sylvia and Low were asking in Parly and the responses they got. This showed S’poreans that they were not as quiet as the constructive, nation-building media made them out to be.

**In July 2011, GG wrote an ST article explaining why nationalisation is a gd idea. So it was surprising that went the trains started failing, that the silence from him and WP was deafening.

  1. Spending money is only one aspect of governance. What makes you think that the Opposition cannot spend money wiser? PAP has only started talking about spending money WHEN IT IS LOSING GROUND. IMHO, it is a way to buy votes as in PORK BARREL politics.

    That said, are you happy with the current Immigration policies, Defense budget, Healthcare spending, National Service requirement, Labor policies, Transportation services, GINI index, Housing affordability, etc etc etc?

    Sure PAP can always buy votes with money, which they are doing now. But you are trivializing the importance of alternate parties critical in a functioning democracy. And that is not serving the long term interest of the country.

    • One criteria I judge Op is WP Mps in parly. As I said only JJ is any gd. Two are clowns and three are non-entities.

      • Where are your “facts”? Or is this just a “rant and rave”?

        And don’t cop out by telling me I don’t read your blog. If you’ve blogged about it before, make links to it.

      • If you are too stupid to understand, I can’t help it. More facts than Janice Koh ever included in her piece. But then she from VJC a school with pretensions.

      • You must understand that the Opposition has NO power in the current parliament. It does not matter how much noise they make. They can’t even stop PAP from rewriting the Constitution or devising new undemocratic election schemes (GRC)! PAP is perfectly happy with alternate voice in the parliament, as long as it holds on to the power.

        Why don’t you judge all 80 or so PAP MPs and tell us who are gd, clowns, and non-entities? (I don’t expect you to do that as you will be in big trouble.)

      • No power doesn’t mean no need to show competence is it? As to PAP MPs, they admit they are running dogs of govmin so why bother. WP MPs claim they are not running dogs.

  2. By its nature, LHL is an incremental type person. So yes, they want to move in the direction of “more inclusive growth”, but the way they do it tend to be very slow. Lets take Tharman’s recent budget for eg. In one stroke, every low income family is reportedly getting more in subsidies than they are paying out of GST. Ask any man on the street today – do you feel it? Do you feel less “squeezed” economically? No.

    Why is this so? Because the effort is half-hearted – existing policies are repackaged to be part of the mega subsidies. Because they are always behind the curve – transport fee increase, conservancy fee increase, etc etc – every little thing adds up to negate the impact. And fundamentally, it boils down to top leadership – for LHL to even say “20 years later”, shows how snail-pace his mindset is.

    In other words, rhetoric aside, my guess is that the people will feel that PAP is too slow to change. The big wayang about “National Conversation” which has drifted slowly to “National Recalibration of Expectations” will be one of the final nail in the coffin.

    As the earlier comment also pointed out, it is not just because of the fact that the bottom rung of society is left to fend for itself, that is a megabug. Immigration, cost increase are others. Fundamentally, there is the pervasive feeling that there is no security anymore – you may lose your job anytime to a “faster, cheaper, better” foreigner, your children won’t be able to afford a house or a car in Singapore, you’re left to fend for yourself in your old age. There is no game-changing policy the PAP has announced or implemented to address these. And my perception is, because they have run out of ideas. Or, are too boxed into their ideological boundaries, that they cannot offer anything new.

    • Gd pts. I hope people who read article read yr comment. I might to post it next week as a “contribution” OK with you?

      • I support the publishing of JG’s comment.

        Don’t cop out yar, I’m monitoring you because you are obviously a pro-PAP spytroll.

      • If you read TRE, you will know that my pieces are regularly republished there. So it also part of the PAP system? Janice Koh hardly ever appears there.

      • Just saw your comment to my comment – go ahead!

  3. […] Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: Time for Opposition to rethink assumptions, lest it repents after next GE – Singapore Kopi Tok: Dr Chee’s Bankruptcy – TRE: Analysis: Why did Lee and Goh […]

  4. Can you point out concrete facts of the WP’s non performance in parliament. Let me give you an example of their due performance in parliament. GG questioned on the usage of funds for National Day Parade, ever increasing and for what purpose? (Even while there was a financial crisis in 08)

  5. I do beg to differ from some of the comments. I think ATanS1 is right to point out the opposition isn’t doing their job. Surely you cannot implement policy but you can criticise and even suggest policies. Or are they holding these policies as trump cards waiting for the day when they are in power to roll out these policies? Are they afraid the PAP will adopt them as their own? Whatever it is i agree the opposition isn’t doing their job especially the WP. Surely the accusations that the Opposition (sorry to lump everybody in, but …) only comes round once every four to five years are holding true? On going issues can be highlighted and thoughtfully rolled out with rebuttals and counter policies. And there is no excuse that the MSM won’t publish them. The internet is your medium. And finally, just because some of us occasionally sounded pro-PAP does not mean we are. Can the word “independent” be used instead? I for one will support any party or individual if he or she or the party is right in their thinking and their policies and their concerns for Singaporeans.

  6. You may be right but my heart is already cast in stone after watching and experiencing PAP as government for almost 50 years,it is not impossible but difficult to change my heart.

  7. U r RIGHT .. WP is not living upto my expectations..
    whatever the situation is in Parly..they (WP) must at least speak up and put on record their position.
    I hope YOU will write more on how the opposition can buildon what WE have enabled them with .. the chance to REPRESENT the ppl in Parly ..

  8. “Is WP living up to expectations?”

    If you read Temasek Times, its 100% no (“wayang party”). And everything is derived from 1 single sentence that Pritam once uttered : If PAP loses majority one day, we WP will work with them to form a coalition govt. One single sentence from one MP – and the entire party is disqualified. Can anyone find one single sentence from one MP from PAP which you strongly disagree with (eg: “repent”? “grow more spurs”?) for which you will also disqualify the entire party of 81 MPs? So Temasek Times is an extreme case. They, and probably some netizens too, prefer the “fire brand” type opposition that CSJ or SDP seems to offer. So if you’re not the fire-brand type, you’re not “effective”.

    But what you’re pointing out is a more moderate opinion that I’m also hearing from other sources – the WP are just not speaking up on issues of importance.

    I’m not here to defend them. But everyone will have different expectations of WP. Some supporters of Obama are disappointed that he hasn’t rescued the world in 4 years, some are not so disappointed. In general, the higher one’s expectations, arguably the bigger the disappointment.

    My personal expectation wasn’t high in the first place.

    Before 2011 GE, when LTK was MP and Slyvia Lim was NCMP, you can already see the “style” in which they are comfortable in. At critical junctures, they will speak up. I still remember vividly how LTK berated WKS over the Mas Selamat screwup, and Slyvia berated the Ministers of having no shame for their pay. But they do not speak up on every issue. And many of their speeches are not memorable, they are basically not orators. They are more “ground people”. Personal touch, work the ground, take care of bread and butter issue and preferably in a low key fashion. In fact, if you ask LTK, I guess that he will say to him, the relative importance of ground work vs rhetoric is maybe 80 : 20. I sometimes think netizens weigh it the other way around.

    So post-2011 GE, this was the tone adopted by WP team. So one part of “have they lived up to expectations” must surely be weighed in terms of whether they’ve met the expectations of people on the ground in Aljunied. Their bread and butter issues, their constituency issues. Running a Town Council is not rocket science and I think that in general, if you’ve got an experienced team (from Hougang) and you don’t screw up, you should be OK.

    That said, I also think that many netizens do not bother to find out, or read up on, issues raised by the WP in Parliament. Not having made a combative speech, doesn’t mean not having raised an issue. When good points are made, they are also not necessarily covered in the ST, perhaps deliberately so.

    But again, at critical junctures, they do speak up. The recent memorable ones are Sylvia raising the Woffles Wu issue, Gerald calling out the PAP for labelling Singaporeans dissatisfaction with the Govt’s immigration policy as “xenophobia” (and provoking a stupid response from Sim Ann) and Yeoh JJ speaking out on unfair subsidies by the Govt to PAP Kindergarten and NTUC in the private pre-school market.

    Are they the best debaters? No. Could Sylvia have handled the cut-and-thrust of the debate with Shanmugam better? Yes and she didn’t. So maybe she scored say 6 out of 10? But that’s Sylvia. No different from the Sylvia of NCMP days. Its easy for netizens to, on hindsight and out of the line of fire, come up with more robust responses. But just take a look at the recent PM Lee tea-party with bloggers – when PM asked whether anonymity is supportable, look at the weak responses the bloggers give. Even seasoned bloggers like Andrew Loh literally “peed on their pants” when confronted with unexpected questions at the spur of the moment. I’m sure if you ask Sylvia to respond the next day, she will probably come up with a better answer. Just like all bloggers did, when they commented on the anonymity issue the next day.

    My point then is this – It takes time to build up a credible opposition team. Its one thing to have only 1 or 2 opposition members, its another to have 8 or so members and quite another to have or to want to have 20 or 30 members. With WP, you know (or should have known) from the start that they’re not a fire-and-brimstone type party and see it as much more important that you do not screw up publicly and you work the ground. We do need to give them time and of course, constructive criticism is needed too.

    But have they met my initially low expectations – yes. I want more of them in, so that when it comes to critical decisions in the future, it will not be a guaranteed “law is passed” vote in Parliament.

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