“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders – What would you tell him?”
I…don’t know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?”
The above is from the book “Atlas Shrugged“. It is a story about a group of the world’s top innovators, industrialists, artists, scientists, engineers, etc who would rather destroy their own work and disappear rather than let their work be used, misused and abused by people who aren’t capable of creating value of their own. That is something that the Opposition parties in Singapore should learn – the Opposition parties should all give up and get lost.
In parliament, the PAP used its supermajority to score petty partisan political “points” (if it can even be considered points) by amending the WP’s motion to fill the let Professor Daniel Goh replace Lee Li Lian as an NCMP. That episode just proved how impotent the opposition is in having any effect on the policies and direction of the nation. The current system is simply too stacked against the Opposition.
Not just in parliament. But in every field. The state media is biased in favour of the PAP. Many state institutions treat PAP infinitely more favourably than the Opposition. The People’s Association, PA, a government institution, refuses to allow the Opposition to hold events on its premises, even if the Opposition members are the elected MP of that area. Instead, it allows unelected “advisors” of grassroots organisations, which are PAP members, to hold events on its premises. PA officers do not support elected MPs, if they are from the Opposition, but support the PAP advisors of grassroots organisations instead.
Ms Lee Li Lian described a concrete example of how the playing field is completely biased agains the Opposition:
“I tried to apply to the PAP-managed Town Council to hold a charity food distribution event in Punggol East on 30th January 2016 today. This was rejected by the TC because they do not approve applications made by Political Parties. It is rather ironic given that when I was MP of Punggol East, I never rejected any applications from PAP-affiliates to hold events at areas managed by the WP Town Council. During my term as an MP, I was never successful in my applications to hold events at areas managed by the HDB like Rivervale Plaza. As an MP there were many challenges on the ground working with PAP-affiliates to hold events in my own constituency, even if they benefited the residents.”
To further cripple the opposition, PM recently announced that he would make constitutional changes to the NCMP scheme. That is no doubt an ultimate Taichi move. Once those changes are in place, given Singaporeans mentality of wanting their cake and eating it, it is highly likely that there won’t be any opposition “constituency” (to use PM’s term) MPs. But the presence of NCMPs would an illusion that our parliament represents a diversity of voices. The reality is that the voices that are different from the PAP’s are impotent. No matter what sort of questions the non-PAP MPs ask in Parliament, the PAP, with their supermajority, can simply bulldoze their way through. And with the changes in the NCMP scheme and the biased systems, we will PAP’s stranglehold on parliament for a very very long time to come
What can the Opposition do?
They need to give up.
All the Opposition parties should boycott every General Election from now on until the playing field is levelled. Without any Opposition parties taking part in the General Election, then the only non-PAP MPs would be nominated MPs (NMPs). And because the NMPs are undemocratically selected to enter Parliament, let’s see what Parliament would turn out to be. Hopefully, with only PAP MPs speaking in Parliament, Singaporeans would see Parliament for what it truly is – a farce, a rubber stamp and an illusion to hoodwink Singaporeans into thinking that we live in a democracy.
Without opposition MPs (constituency or non-constituency), let’s see if Singaporeans and PAP would be happier with the performance of Parliament. Without opposition MPs, let’s see if PAP would truly be willing and able to take in more diverse voices from society. Without opposition MPs, let’s see if we are indeed able to have better policies and laws. With any luck, one term is all that is needed for Singaporeans to know how important it is to have enough Opposition MPs to break the supermajority of the ruling party in Parliament.
Hopefully, if the PAP truly has the best interest of Singapore and Singaporeans at heart, then it would make the necessary changes to level the playing field, including: depoliticise PA and Town Councils, have consistent rules about political parties holding events in public places, have unbiased state media (the media need not become the fourth estate, but at least need to be unbiased), an independent electoral boundaries review committee.
Opposition parties should wait until those changes happen before taking part in any future General Elections. That is the only way to counter PM’s ultimate Taichi move. Refuse to play the game according to the rules set by the PAP If they don’t, then they will just be playing into the hands of the PAP. There is no way to win the game when the PAP, with their supermajority, is the one setting and changing the rules as they deem fit. If they continue to play the game according to PAP’s rules, the Opposition would do nothing but give PAP with the excuses to claim that they system they set up is legitimate.
If the Opposition truly loves Singapore, and aren’t doing what they are doing for personal glory, then they should just get lost. And only come back when the playing field is levelled.