Mr Heng Swee Keat has announced that the so-called 4G leaders will embark on a series of dialogue sessions with Singaporeans to chart the future.
“We will consider all views with an open mind, and adjust our course accordingly,” he said, “We will bring Singaporeans together and give everyone a role to turn good ideas into concrete action.”
If this sounds familiar, that’s because Mr Heng also headed Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) exercise in 2012.
Back then, Mr Heng also said that the government would “gain in listening” and “engaging openly and patiently” with the people. He promised that the OSC would “help build the Singapore they hope to see in the future.”
The SDP had pointed out then that the OSC was just a PR exercise and that the PAP was more interested in talking among itself and its supporters than making substantive and meaningful changes in Singapore. (See here, here, and here).
Sure enough, the government has proven that the OSC was a giant wayang, continuing to ignore the views of Singaporeans after the exercise. Here is the proof:
In 2017, the PAP amended the Constitution to reserve the Presidential Elections for its candidate, Ms Halimah Yacob. It ignored the national outcry against such a move.
Also in 2017, PM Lee Hsien Loong was accused of abusing his official powers by his siblings. One example is his decision to appoint his personal lawyer, Mr Lucien Wong, as Attorney-General. But despite widespread calls to hold an independent inquiry into the allegations, Mr Lee chose to answer the criticisms in Parliament where his party dominates.
Instead of abiding by the promise to “help build the Singapore they hope to see”, the PAP has introduced legislation in the Films Act and Public Order Act to clamp down further on its critics. The government has charged even a solitary figure of Mr Seelan Palay for doing a one-person protest.
The government has also chosen to ram a series of price hikes – including raising water prices by 30%, carpark fees by 27% and GST to 9% – down the throats of the people. This is despite Singaporeans’ difficulty of coping with the already high cost of living.
Despite the widespread unhappiness over the influx of foreigners, the government continues to import overseas PMETs in huge numbers to compete with locals. The HDB is even talking about increasing the population to 10 million.
All this shows that the PAP government is not sincere in engaging and listening to the people. If it was, it wouldn’t have to conduct yet another dialogue exercise, it just has to keep to its word from the last one.
The truth is that without an effective opposition in Parliament to ensure that it keeps its promises, the PAP will continue to perform PR stunts by pretending to listen but in reality run roughshod over the people.
Remember, trust doesn’t come from what you say but from what you do.