During a walkabout on March 26, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong stated very clearly to the media that he is concerned that the residents living in Hougang and Potong Pasir will lose out on upgrading if they do not vote for the People’s Action Party and its candidates.
The issue of upgrading has persistently surfaced during periods leading to General Elections especially in opposition-controlled Hougang and Potong Pasir.
The PAP dangles the carrot of upgrading programmes in front of the voters of Hougang and Potong Pasir, promising the voters over there of upgrading projects in the event that PAP candidates are voted into office and using the stick to caution the residents in Hougang and Potong Pasir of the consequences of a continued opposition presence in the both single-member constituencies.
This is exemplified by a report in the local media on a speech made by the Senior Minister at a community dinner on 9 April 2006 where he says he might consider giving residents of Realty Park in Hougang upgrading, if 60% or more than 60% of the residents there voted for the PAP’s candidate, Eric Low.
Speaking to reporters after he mingled with 100 of the estate’s residents at a community dinner, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who has been charged with helping PAP candidate Eric Low win back the ward, said residents told him it was not fair if they supported the PAP but lost out on goodies, if the ruling party lost the ward.
Said Mr Goh: “They raised an interesting point. Supposing this place supports Eric Low. Not just 50 per cent (but) 60 per cent and above and the constituency is not won back by the PAP. Why should they be punished?”In short, the PAP is punishing voters who voted the opposition into power, punishing voters for not accepting the incentives for voting PAP. In this case, the PAP has to give precedence to constituencies who voted PAP when considering the priority and allocation of funds for any upgrading programmes. In the words of the Minister Mentor, the residents of Hougang and Potong Pasir have to face the fact that they have to wait for their turn at the end of the queue.
A reasonable enough argument by MM Lee. Every government that comes to power will always reward its supporters and make sure that they fulfill their election promises to these people who brought them to power in the first place.
However, this above policy of the PAP have resulted in creating “estates of the 1950s” in Hougang and Potong Pasir. Whose fault is it? The PAP attributed such a predicament to the voters of Hougang and Potong for not choosing PAP candidates. Thus, the voters there have to live with the consequences of having an opposition MP in their ward.Is it really the fault of the voters or is it the responsibility of the ruling government voted into power for the next 5 years to ensure that all residential blocks in Singapore are upgraded?
As long as the PAP does not reclaim power in the 2 opposition controlled wards, the author can foresee the same scenario propping up election after election. The PAP will come along and asked the people in Hougang and Potong Pasir to vote for their respective PAP candidates in order to enjoy substantial upgrading to their living environment, while the rest of Singapore continues to bulldoze ahead in their respective upgrading agendas. In order not to be left out in such incentives, you got to vote PAP or you will risking losing the bulk of the benefits assigned to Singaporeans elsewhere.The residents of Potong Pasir have been waiting for 25 years for substantial upgrading to be done to their housing estates and the people in Hougang have been living in a “1950s estates” for the past 15 years.
With due respect to the Minister Mentor, the author would love to pose this question to the Minister Mentor, what is the current queue number for the voters living in Potong Pasir and Hougang? Is it still at number 22 and 23 respectively? When will their turn comes? These people have been waiting for the past 25 years.
The waiting continues…..
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong once told all Singaporeans to be open and inclusive.
What does open and inclusive means in his context? hmmm.. interesting ..
The author will embark on a simple interpretation of the words of the Prime Minister.
According to the Times-Chambers pocket dictionary:Open means "uncovered, not blocked; free for all to enter."Inclusive bears the meaning of "including everything mentioned"
Herald-ing a new era of freedom and expressiveness in Singapore going by the exact definition of PM's words
As our government is alot more wiser than the people and their perceived understanding of issues, it will be too myopic to take the words of the dictionary @ face value. Thus, the author will interpret the PM words in the following way:All Singaporeans should and/or must be open(free for all forms of control to enter) to the scrutiny of the government and any opinion must be inclusive of whatever is mentioned by the government.
Any other different interpretation of the PM's words? Do feel free to share it with me. I gladly welcome them !
"The government's view is that people can have diverse views, but should not hide behind the anonymity of the internet, to manipulate public opinion"
So declares the government for explaining its stand against podcasting during elections - What's new ! Definitely a no-no !
The government has spoken, we should not hide behind the veil of the internet, behind annoymity. Does that mean the government is finally willing to allow our citizens to voice out their diverse views in the open, put it up for debate?
ah-ha, glimpse of a truly democratic government?
I daringly put this across to the government. Is the government bold enough to cope with the public backlash, yet at the same time, respect any opinion(pro and anti-government) put across by the public, in the event of an open society equipped with the tools of freedom of speech and expression?
I doubt so. Let's bounce back to reality then as "infant" Singaporeans
are so so used to.
Dr Balaji added in his speech that individual bloggers can discuss politics, but have to register with the Media Development Agency if they persistently promote political views.P.S. PHEW! The author has chomp a place @ MDA so late in the day. No Podcasting allowed during the elections
In an apparent attempt by SM Goh Chok Tong to wrest back the opposition held single ward of Hougang and Potong Pasir, he promised to lift the party whip for PAP candidates Eric Low and Sitoh Yih Pin respectively. This privilege will be bestowed on them if they manage to capture Hougang and/or Potong Pasir for the PAP. This above statement was retracted by SM Goh the following day when he visited Potong Pasir.
This brings me to the question and the main issue in this essay: Why is there a need for a pseudo-opposition when there is real opposition around?
Let us look at the why is there a need for an opposition presence in parliament
1. No political system or dominant party is perfect, and thus requires other systems to complement, balance and keep it in check.
2. It is delusional to believe that the PAP aligned in vision, values and ideals can represent the majority perfectly.
3. The opposition puts much-needed pressure on the government to respond to the people’s needs and opinion - the populace has differing needs and opinion and the opposition makes sure that the differing needs and opinions of the people are being heard and taken seriously.
As it can be seen, it is important for an opposition presence in parliament and a pseudo-opposition actually hinders the inherent purpose for a real opposition presence in parliament
1. The pseudo-opposition does put pressure on the government to listen to the views of the populace provided the needs and opinions of the people do not breach the official stand of the dominant party.
2. The pseudo-opposition will eventually be pressured to toe the official line of the ruling party. Pseudo-opposition MPs will have to abandon their conscience and vote according to the official line. This is as good as having no opposition in parliament.
3. A pseudo-opposition pays lip-service to effective and efficient debate in parliament and democracy in general.“Voters don't want pseudo opposition, they want the genuine stuff”
, so said Mr. Chiam See Tong, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) at a recent NUS political forum.However, the author will leave the reader with the eventual decision as to whether is there a need for a pseudo-opposition over an actual opposition. Given the fact that in recent years, the Whip has not been lifted even for controversial issues such as whether casinos should be allowed in Singapore, despite appeals from PAP MPs, it is very questionable as to what impact that a pseudo-opposition can make in parliament, contrary to what SM Goh had in mind when he mentions lifting the party whip for Eric Low and Sitoh Yih Pin. A Contradicting Senior Minister?