Referring to the article in the ST on 26th August 2006, titled “Young PAP beefs up exco to woo more young voters”, the author would like to look at the above strategy of the PAP in another light.
“The youth wing of the People's Action Party (PAP), the Young PAP, is set to increase the size of its executive committee as it aims to reach out to more young voters.
It is part of a planned two-pronged change, the other being an expansion in the number of advisers to the committee, to include all party MPs from the post-65 generation.
Under the new plans, all the Young PAP heads of the 14 group representation constituencies (GRCs) will be inducted into the executive committee for the first time.”
Barely a few months after the end of the last election, the PAP has right now set its sights on wooing young voters. This is clearly evident from the way the PAP intends to expand the executive committee of the Young PAP and kicking off recruitment drive to attract the young to join them. At the 2006 GE, the young voters made up around 40% of the 1.22 million eligible voters. Come the next election in 2011, the proportion of young voters eligible to vote will increase to roughly about 55%. This meant that young voters will play a major role come 2011, in deciding the composition of the government. Clearly, this is a frightening enough for the PAP to take some concrete actions.
Since taking office in August 2004, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has periodically stressed the importance for the PAP to remain relevant by engaging the young. According to the PM, the PAP must stay relevant to the young. The author chose to interpret his message in this manner. The PAP must realign themselves urgently to tap on all the possible grievances, ideas, initiatives of the young electorate so as to pacify them, and persuade them, albeit on a superficial level, that at the next election, the PAP is still the most viable and innovative party that can bring Singapore forward.
The author would like to offer his 1 cent worth of opinion with regard to this issue.
1. The PAP is fearful of losing power.
All thanks to the ruling PAP government, the 3rd generation of Singaporeans are proud products of a rigorous and effective education system and increasingly they are tired of the intellectual crap that the ruling PAP government conveys through the mainstream media. The young are better able to discern and see through the tricks and facades that the government is trying to create so as to account for their policy initiatives and past mistakes.
2. The PAP is losing it.
They are trying to monopolise the ideas and opinions of the youths in Singapore. This can be seen in the various initiatives that the government have came up with during the past nine months. From the advent of STOMP to SHINE, it’s basically, an attempt by the PAP to better grasp the ideas and opinions of the young. Reason being: The PAP find themselves increasingly detached from the young through its style of government and their aggressive methods to systematically deny the opposition a fair chance in the elections. In short, the PAP no longer understands the youth electorate and if nothing is being done, sooner or later, power will slowly slip from their iron fist.
On the other front, the opposition does understand the dynamics of the changing demographic in the electorate. The opposition is positioning themselves to take advantage of this changing demographic in the electorate. The Youth Wing of Workers' Party recently elected their new executive committee, with an average age of 28, with the youngest being 21. The Central Executive Committee’s decision to elect Mr. Perry Tong to head the youth wing is an indication on how serious the Workers' Party is on this issue.As such, it can be seen that the government’s attempt to engage the youths is a superficial one with a hidden agenda. Essentially, the PAP engaged the young because of personal self-interest which is to keep them in power. Thus, it can be said that the PAP is putting party interests ahead of national interests. The government should engage the young with no hidden agenda. Rather, engaging the young in community work and eventually politics should be carried out with the purpose of raising the political awareness of young Singaporeans, igniting the political awakening of the future owners of Singapore, with the ultimate goal of establishing a uniquely Singapore national identity which will be crucial for the future societal, economic and political development of Singapore in a globalised world. However, the PAP has no intention whatsoever to reawake the political consciousness of the young and Singaporeans in general, because this could have the long term repercussions of threatening the PAP’s hold on power.Isn’t this putting party interests ahead of national interests? What an irony as the PAP continues to champion that they are the sole and only viable protector of the interests of every Singaporeans.