There is one last day of campaigning left to this GE season. Mr Khaw Boon Wan said that there is no guarantee that the PAP will be in government after the polls. I too am worried that that may happen. I care deeply for Singapore too. As such, I would venture to give four suggestions to PAP which I think will help PAP get a greater share of the votes.
Don’t suka suka redraw the borders of the electoral divisions
Say whatever you want. But most people think that the boundaries of some of the electoral boundaries are redrawn are primarily to give the PAP an advantage at the polls in a first past the post system. Why else would Joo Chiat get gobbled up by Marine Parade GRC after GE2011 where the PAP nearly lost to the WP? Why else would Cheng San GRC get broken up after GE1997 where the PAP only won narrowly? As He Ting Ru mentioned in her rally speech on 7 September, this leads to “geographical instability”, something we can do without in Singapore.
Depoliticise People’s Association (PA)
The PA is responsible for supporting the army of volunteers of various grassroots organisations (GROs). It is only good for Singapore that so many people are willing to step up and volunteer to make their own community a better place. But the way that PA is set up irks many Singaporeans. In an area where the MP is from PAP, the advisor to the GROs is the MP. However, in areas where the MP is not from PAP, the advisor to the GROs is a PAP appointed person.
To many, if not most, Singaporeans, this is unacceptable. Especially since the citizens’ consultative committee (CCC), the most powerful of the GROs, is also in charge of selecting neighbourhood improvement projects to be put up for approval by the Community Involvement Projects Committee (CIPC), which is under the MND. These projects can only start after the CIPC approves that they should be funded. If MPs are responsible for municipal functions, as the PAP likes to insist, then why is it that in opposition controlled areas, the PA is set up in such a way that denies the opposition MP from taking charge of the CIPC funds?
Not only that, because the PAP controls the CCC, it means that in areas where the MP is from the opposition, the MP cannot use assets and sites of the CCC. This includes the community club and residents’ committee centres. The unfairness of this system reached an absurd level when the HDB, a government agency, in 2011, after WP won Aljunied GRC, removed 26 sites from the purview of the town council, leasing them to the People’s Association instead. It was such a major issue that even the candidates of the presidential election in 2011 urged for fairness. This politicizing of the PA is a big issue that makes people feel that the PAP is being a bully. And that turns people off.
Stop blatantly making the media so biased
Another area that makes the PAP look like a bully and turns people off is its apparent use of the “mainstream” media. The “mainstream” media is biased in favour of the PAP. That is blatantly obvious. Even more so during this campaigning period. The amount of airtime on TV and radio that PAP candidates get is more than what the candidates of all the other opposition parties combined. In the print media, the PAP gets more print space and stories about them occupy the prime spaces. This has gotten to the point of being sickening for many Singaporeans. Perhaps that is why more and more Singaporeans would rather get information and commentaries about the campaigning through online sources.
Study carefully and implement the suggestions by Yeoh Lam Keong
The 2015 budget has gained much praise from Singaporeans. It has also cemented DPM Tharman’s position in the hearts of most Singaporeans. His rally speech was touted as the only reason why people still have hope in PAP. That said, more still can be done without much adverse impact on our economy.
Don’t take my word for it. But that is the point that Yeoh Lam Keong made. Yeoh Lam Keong was formerly the chief economist of GIC and is now an adjunct professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He believes that we can have “a uniquely Singaporean way forward that combines adequate social protection, fairness to our middle class and future generations as well as ensure fiscal sustainability”. And he gives a number of suggestions how that can be done too.
The PAP should study these suggestions carefully and implement as much of them as possible. That will leave the opposition very little to pick on, reducing their platform to something that will be so populist that most reasonable Singaporeans will readily reject.
It is definitely too late for the PAP to implement any of these suggestions. But if the PAP loses more ground this GE, perhaps they can consider these suggestions, which I am quite certain will help them gain back any lost ground.
See also: Less fear, more hope, please…