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SDP Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan said that given the serious problems that Singapore faces, there is a “frightening lack of discussion about the direction the PAP is taking us.” He was speaking at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) Post-Election Conference 2015 at the Orchard Hotel yesterday.
He pointed out the lack of motivation among Singaporean workers who are exhausted from stress, resulting in the perennial problem of low productivity.
“PM Lee Hsien Loong said that we have ‘maxed out’ on easy ways of producing economic growth,” Dr Chee said, “and yet productivity and innovation, which are much needed for growth, is stifled by the authoritarian system here.”
He also cited the record high household debt in Singapore where half of Singaporeans families have little or no savings, living from paycheck to paycheck.
Dr Chee also cited the sudden influx of immigrants which will result in the burgeoning the elderly population in the not-too-distant future and which future generations of younger Singaporeans will have to support.
He pointed out that these are serious issues confronting Singapore, all of which will determine how we live, how our children live and even threaten the very identify and existence of Singaporeans.
“These are defining issues that are screaming for debate and reasoned solutions but you have all the meaningful discussion of a cemetery,” he added.
The control of information flow and the political narrative may be good for the PAP. And it has continued to help the party win elections handily.
But the one thing that you seldom hear – at least not in polite circles when PAP representatives are present, Dr Chee said – is that the PAP wins because the election system is neither free nor fair.
This is because the party controls the print and broadcast media, it uses state bodies such as the People’s Association for its own partisan-political purposes, and the Elections Department works from under the PMO.
Acting Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung who was one of the panelists defended the state media saying that he was promised by the Straits Times that the newspaper would do an editorial piece on him during the election period.
But he said that the article did not materialise and the spot was instead given to Dr Chee. (The SDP has no record of the piece on Dr Chee.)
The SDP leader then replied that he would be happy to trade places with Mr Ong, that is, have 50 years of continued praise and reporting of the SDP and giving the PAP editorial pieces only during the nine-day election period.
Mr Ong did not respond.