17 November 2007

A Rumsfeldian future

Singapore coasts along with a one party system. Our opposition parties have insignificant roles to play, and going by present efforts, won't be growing anytime soon. What if some unknown hit us in the future, and the government proves incompetent, or the unknown hits the government, paralysing it? Full essay.


yuen said...

Is Singapore a Quasi Democracy?
Various opposition figures and foreign journalists like to say that Singapore is not truly democratic; what do they mean by this? If the definition of democracy is that elections are regularly held and the party with majority support (measured according to some well defined procedure which does not necessarily mean "most votes", e.g., Al Gore had slightly more votes than George Bush in 2000, but a well defined legal process eventually had the Supreme Court making the final decision that allowed Bush to take office) wins control of government, then of course Singapore is a democracy.
When critics say "Singapore is not a 'real" democracy" and it does not have a "real election", what they meant is that the opposition have no "real" chance of winning the next election. I wont go into the issue of whose "fault" this is as it lies deeply into the social structure (those interested can read this long article http://sinazen.com/neoconfucianism); instead I wish to address the question "if electrions do not 'choose' the next government, what purpose do they serve?" The answer is they allow the people to give the government a "mark", i.e., the vote counts indicate how satisfied people are with the government generally, and with individual or groups of parliamentarians. A drop in the vote would cause re-evaluation of policies and candidates and allow changes to be made during the next term.
This might be somewhat different from political science textbook definitions, but it is a logical and practicable concept. It has various consequences: the group that maintains longterm control will have to continually demonstrate its superioty over the opposition. Since the opposition has never been in government, you cannot really compare the past performances of two groups people and decide which to support, so this demonstration has to be based on other criteria, such as educational qualifications and past experience before going into politics. This makes politics a kind of career extension of successful people, and parliamentary candidate selection is like headhunting

Anonymous said...


So who is the 1/4 of the Opposition Party leaders you have not interviewed yet? Ok, maybe it's not so important anyway.

Anders said...


While I understand that one may prefer the Singapore system over democracy, I think it is still wrong to call it democracy since that only dilutes the meaning of the word. If we apply the term to a system where elections only serve to grade the government, then the term has lost its meaning.

Or, if we don't use the textbook definition of the word, then what definition should we use?

Anonymous said...

Let's suppose the PAP govt has indeed been wildly successful in conditioning people's minds to believe that the current model is the best. People then vote in the PAP repeatedly despite the lack of democracy. Is that neccessarily wrong? IF people do not desire democracry or IF they simply prioritize other values over democracy, would you still force democracy upon them?

KiWeTO said...

The one hope we can pray for is that another positive demagogue like the one in 1959 arises.

positive in that he/she truly believes in bringing the society forward through a crisis.

Sadly, I daresay that at the first sign of crisis, I have no faith that the current leaders have the steel to hold any kind of steady course or belief. They have shown many times their willingness to chance course/policy at the drop of an economic indicator - does this mean our national policies are built upon some arcane reactive approach?

For any viable opposition to come forth and hold national attention, they will need to figure out what kind of message or position that they can stand for. Given that those in white tried to monopolise philosophies such as 'integrity, responsibility, etc'... what is there left for them to stand on as a platform?

Unfortunately, we will only know once the ship starts to sink. Given the mood, and an still huge segment of the manufacturing economy biased towards a sinking US economy, are we in trouble yet?


Charles said...

It is true and as history has shown, that great men and women will come forward to do what they believe in when they feel their country is in some trouble or when the government has done something morally wrong.

Take the Iraqi invasion as an example. Cindy Sheehan has been campaigning ceaselessly to end the war and even demanded the Democratic Party House Speaker, Nancy Peloski to impeach members of the Bush Administration. When Peloski refused, she said she would run against her in the next elections.

When Vietnam war was waged, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organised large scale protests. Draft resisters were also common at that time.

These are just some of the things that people will be compelled to do once they see and understand the rot of their society or system - even if it meant going to jail, paying a fine or risk being physically attacked or tortured by the security forces.

No one can predict the future. The only thing one can do is to continue doing what they believe in and hope that it will provoke in other's a sense of justice and ultimately, an unwavering believe and optimism for mankind.