Change or no change? Then or now?

August 5, 2011
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

 Then: We’re sorry

After the tears have dried up, after the whispers of change have evaporated things are back to normal.

Last week at the Economic Development Board’s 50th anniversary dinner, investors asked Mr Lee Hsien Loong if Singapore will change direction after the recent General Election.

No, he assured them, the PAP’s policies will not change.

Contrast this to his election speech at the PAP’s lunchtime rally at the UOB Plaza on 3 May 11: “When these problems vex you or disturb you or upset your lives, please bear with us. We’re trying our best on your behalf. And if we didn’t quite get it right, I am sorry but we will try and do better the next time.”

Contrition. Humulity. Sevice. Sweet music to the ears of the voters. But that was then, this is now.

The PAP’s policies will not change, the PM avers after the election dust settles. Question: If PAP policies will not change, how is Mr Lee going to try and do better?

Policies like importing cheap foreign labour en masse to suppress our wages and force us to live in an overcrowded city with an infrastructure unable to cope with the population increase.

Policies like the Minimum Sum Scheme which the Government uses to withholding our CPF savings.

Policies that continue to make public services like housing, healthcare and transport profit at our expense.

These are the policies that vex the people. And yet, just barely three months after the elections, the Prime Minister is back to his old ways and doing what the PAP knows best – making the elite richer on the backs of the ordinary folk.

At the EDB dinner, PM Lee insisted that “the population has to support consistent and rational policies that create jobs and wealth.” Singaporeans have no problem with policies that create jobs and wealth. What we question is for whom are the jobs and the wealth created?

  Now: We will not change

The tragic fact is that if we don’t change our economic direction will get less, not more, competitive. We have relied on perspiration rather than inspiration to drive our economy all these yeras. We do not innovate. We do not create and make things that the world wants to buy. We are still stuck in a command economy, not a knowledged-based economy.

This kind of an economy benefits the few who sit at the top of the economic food-chain. It does little for the broad masses which continue to endure stressful lives with the prospect of not being able to retire.  

The PAP is bankrupt of ideas except to bring in more people onto this island to increase its tax base and expand the pool of cheap labour. The question is: How many more people can this place take?

But Mr Lee is right about one thing – there will be no change. Why should there be? He and his ministers are ensconced in their bungalow houses, walled away from an overcrowded society that drives its citizens into distress and depression.

No, nothing has changed and nothing will. Ministers will shed tears, candidates will promise reform, and the government will whisper sweet nothings into our ears – all before the vote is cast.

But make no mistake, change will not come just because the PAP promises it. Change will only come when the people demand it, when we are willing to make the effort to claim back our political rights – our rights to free assembly, a free media and free elections.

Let us learn the lesson already.