Monday, February 07, 2011

Looking Back

Many Singaporean's are expecting the General Elections to be held this year. The elections to choose the President of Singapore will be held in August, so the question is whether the GE is before or after that date. Whenever that date will be will be decided by the sitting government, but it appears that Opposition parties are gearing up for this once in a 4-year event to choose the next government. Most expect the siting government to be re-elected. The only question is how many seats will fall to the Opposition, and if a GRC or more will be captured.

A signal event that took place in the last month is the gazetting of the erstwhile community blog, The Online Citizen. Over the years, its has evolved into a sort of Opposition platform, with lots of dissenting views and, in some cases, quite vitriol comments directed at government policies and actions, and personalities. And to do so seems fashionable, as it has always been, and is taken as a badge of the thinking person.

I disagree with some government policies, but there are other policies I agree with. I do not want to hurl any criticism at MM (Minister-Mentor) Lee Kuan Yew. When all is said and done, he, together with his collaborators has lifted Singapore from a third world backwater, neglected by the British for as long as they had been around, to a first world country, so much so that foreigners are making a beeline for its shores. One may point to the dirty politics that he may have played, about muzzling dissent, throwing people into jail for long periods of time using the ISA (Internal Security Act), etc., But it is often conveniently forgotten that he himself was played out several times in the formative years of the PAP when it shared its bed with the Chinese socialist/communists. Then it was either you or me, and anyone with any sense would want to be the one that emerges the victor. Politics, as the PAP continues to emphasize, is not about charity, but might and perhaps, right.

Whether you agree with me or not is of course up to you. But before you jump to any conclusion, it is best if you found out more about how the PAP developed. And for this, I would recommend that you read "Men in White - The Untold Story of Singapore's Ruling Political Party". This is written by a number of journalists. Though they were once employees of the Strait Times, which, though not always so, tended to be sympathetic to the government's cause, they have, in my opinion, been fairly objective in their account of the birth and development of the most dominant, if not the only dominant political party on this island state. But it was never always so, and the account narrates how the PAP nearly disintegrated. Many say that MM Lee had been vicious and vindictive. But these same people never bother to look at the other side of the fence. If they did, they would find others just as "dirty", if not more dangerous, than the MM.

My father voted for the PAP in every election. The workers unions where we grew up came around to harass him because he would not join their cause. They were fighting Lee Kuan Yew. My father believed in hard work, they believe in agitation. He believe in the PAP, and we, his descendants, are enjoying the fruits of that belief in the PAP government.

We must do justice to ourselves to read both sides of the story and then make up our minds instead of parroting others to gain acceptance in a certain circle of opinion makers so as not to appear as 'running dogs' of the government.