Sunday, April 24, 2011

Grievances on the ground

"PAP has lost the moral high ground..."(here) conveys the current popular sentiment well.

Quoting fragments from it:

Yesterday there was a report about the possibility of well known psychiatrist Dr. Ang Yong Guan joining the SDP[Link].

Dr. Ang was the chairman of the management committee of Punggol Community Club, and secretary of the Kampong Kembangan citizens’ consultative committee (CCC).

He received two National Day Awards: a Public Service Medal for social and community service in 1995 and a Public Administration Medal – Military (Bronze) in 1996 [Extracted from Temasek Review].

He served in the SAF for 23 years before he left to start his own practice.

Dr. Ang who has spent years working alongside PAP MPs as a grassroots leader is not someone we expect to join the opposition...and the fact that he is thinking about joining the SDP, a party that has been the target of lawsuits, arrests and unfair public vilification by the mainstream media tells us how opinions and sentiment have shifted among people whom we expect to be staunch supporters of the PAP.

There are many other highly qualified Singaporeans who have succeeded within the system like ex-top civil servants Benjamin Pwee and Tan Jee Say questioning the leadership direction and calling for a change tells us that even insiders feel that the govt has veered too far off course.


In the 2006 elections, the main problems/issues faced by Singaporeans were income inequality, rising cost of living (housing + healthcare+transport), structural unemployment. stagnant wages, and the negative effects of the large foreign influx.

Today every single one of these problems has become bigger and more serious - Singaporeans face the same issues in the 2011 elections and the PAP again promises to do something about them if we vote for them.

When politicians run for office, it is advantageous that they can project a strong sense of purpose, answer the pressing needs of the populace,and  show themselves to be more credible than their opponent.

You start by seizing the moral high ground and start your campaign with an edge - you are the good guy and your opponent a baddie that voters should not trust.

The number one problem this election is the relentless rise in the cost of living which is felt by almost all Singaporeans.

The PAP started by denying that the problem exists by saying that housing, healthcare and transport are still affordable. The problem is the cost of living has risen while wages for a large number of Singaporeans remain stagnant - it is a waste of time telling people that things are "still affordable" when everyone feels the pinch of rising prices.

The people want leaders to seriously look at our healthcare and public housing schemes to find ways to stop the price rise that is outstripping our income growth. The candidates interested in serious change to fix the situation appear to come from the opposition.

I can't recall another election in the last 20 years that the PAP is viewed so negatively by so many people. Those who feel the direct negative effects of their policies have quickly woken up and the PAP leadership gives us the impression that they don't know how to steer us to a better future.

The opposition has been able to recruit some very good  people and make this look like a battle between a group of "yes-men" and passionate people motivated by the need for change.

Many people find the PAP recent move to hike ministers' pay repulsive given many Singaporeans are struggling to cope with the high cost of living.

The PAP has a few fallbacks when things are not going their way - the mainstream propaganda machine, upgrading carrots and long term track record.  When voters are not so sure, the PAP will use their propaganda to say " see how far we have taken Singapore from fishing village to a world class city".

These days economic miracles are not so uncommon and unique. We have Taiwan, South Korea and numerous cities in China that have grown rapidly.

For many Singaporeans, living in an expensive city with a 3rd world wage structure means that life is tough perpetual struggle.

WP's vision of a 1st world parliament that would bring about 1st world quality of life and 1st world schemes for healthcare, housing and transport is appealing to voters.

PAP's attacks on WP's vision without creating a worthy vision of their own send a strong message that their main interest is to preserve the status quo...a status quo that fewer and fewer Singaporeans want for themselves and their children .

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