09 June 2008

Pity that Youthquake 2 didn't make it to the Richter scale

The turnout for the Workers' Party's Youth wing's forum on transportation was poor, a sign of the Singapore public's political apathy, even among young citizens. However, this forum series is an important program for the party and they must persevere. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

I didn't even konw there was such an event to start off with

Anonymous said...


Takes alot of time, resources and dedication to build up what you refer too as an engaged and pro-active society.

I don't believe it just comes about simply because ppl are well educated, well travelled and vocationally smart.

I have personally come across incredibly narrow people who are eminently qualified and even hold high positions. But all they seem to do is subscribe to a very narrow plane of logic.

My main point is I dont believe the decision makers realise how fragile activism is as an idea and construct.

I am not only talking abt what you do Alex. I am also referring to many of the POV's which are frequently ventilated in the net.

They are alot like Orchids, all it takes is a bit of shock and it just dies. And what happens to activism then? It goes maybe ten squares back to the starting line.

My policy is. Always engage. Always reach out and keep all the doors open. Some who bothers to ask really cares. He cared enough to sit down and think it through. He deserves to be heard. And if possible, he deserves a intelligent reply.

Once you shut them out or brick them up, the likelihood is the voices will just grow silent.

You cannot blame them. Who talks to walls?


Sooty said...

Neither did I hear of such an event...

johnnylikesdemocracy said...

the WP has also lost it standing as the leading opposition party.

without actively participating in or outside parliament for the past 2 years, its difficult to associate a robust and healthy debate within the Syed Alwi headquarters.

Now, after the Yaw Shin Leong incident, Singaporeans increasingly feel that a vote for the WP is a vote for the PAP.

Why then would one want to trek to this event to discuss issues that will not be brought up to the PAP by the WP.

yuen said...

the WP seems to think that as long as it maintains its presence in parliament, it is successfully "opposing" the PAP; there is no need to take risks or show other political results, an attitude that is largely shared by the public, whose main interest in wanting an opposition is to see opposition

to a large extent, the blame rests on PAP itself: it puts many obstacles against opposition parties and gives them the excuse not to try

KiWeTO said...

By appealing to all, you appeal to none.

The PAP's approach been so far successful due to the lack of any other appeal from anyone, and the various games they play before, during and after elections.

In most other 'voting' countries, parties do not attempt to appeal to all. They either take strong positions (conservative, liberal, socialist, communist, or other), and then hope to rally more and more people to their point of view.

The WP has lost me, simply because they do not wish to have a POV to start from. By wanting to be so white they become blue, the strategy of being just like them, means, I don't expect any change to the parliamentary system even if they do get in and form a government.
(oh, and their non-position on the recent issue of S377 was key to losing me as a potential card carrying party member.)

In all, my fear is that a strongly right-wing nationalistic party may arise from all the tensions that Singaporeans have been facing with foreign 'talents', and this will be more detrimental to us, (and the party/members possibly drawing unfair attacks from all sectors) and lead to a faster road to ruin.

Politics has always been about power sharing between various interest groups; when one group monopolizes all the power, the others must necessarily operate at the fringe, and be powerless to affect the general course of a society.

Whether the general civic apathy as defined by YB and others will lead to this nationalist party to arise is questionable, but it is truly clear, that at our rate of progress, Singapore will be never anything more than a HOTEL for all of its residents (citizens or not), and not a true land we call home.


Anonymous said...


A frequently heard charges made against the SDP is that it does not address "bread-and-butter" issue, only "airy-fairy" issues like human rights, freedom of speech, etc.

Here we have forum, organised by a "responsible" political party about an issue that is about as bread-and-butter, not to mentioned uncontroversial, as you can get. As you gathered from the turnout not very "quake shattering" was it?

So what does it say about the state of electorate?

Whilst my sympathy lies in the SDP causes, I must in my heart feel sad for the WP members. I have no doubt, many are working their arse off to energise awareness. Only to be snubbed in this fashion must seemed heart wrenching.

Anyway, if you read my last posting in the comments about your view about the SDP modus operandi, I think both SDP, WP and for that matter, other opposition parties, faces the same challenges. That is: how do you energise the electorate to care about issues -- not just political ones? Never mind how to garner supporters to a cause?

My bleakest assessment is that the Singaporean electorate is basically a lost cause. As I see it, you need to get into a crisis not unlike Zimbabwe's to even begin to raise awareness let alone address issues.

The assessment stems from what I see as similarities between Zimbabwe's and Singapore's political and social structure. Namely, you have an elite group that is sheltered from the reality, a middle class that can/do emigrate, and finally a despondent group devoid of hope. It explains why a country like Zimbabwe that still have a electoral politics is still unable to dislodge the incumbent party via the ballot box.

The judiciary of Zimbabwe is been used by the oppositions to fight their political causes and, strangely, has sometimes ruled in favour of opposition complaints against the ruling party.

Apart from a failing economy, there is something we can learn from the Zimbabwe's story. In my interaction with some of my Zimbabweans colleague, I learned that despite a failing economy, the elites of the country have not really seen a real drop in their living standards and if you went to some wealthy parts, it is quite an idyllic lifestyle. One could be fooled into the "crisis, what crisis" mode of thinking.

Compared to the situation in Singapore, my rough and ready analysis, suggest a similar grouping of social classes. You have (a) an elite class increasingly out of touch with the ground; (b) a middle class capable of emigrating; and (c) a despondent class of poor.

Unlike Zimbabwe the elite class in Singapore is quite widely distributed. I used the term "elite" to mean people having the means to access the ruling's party largess. In Singapore terms, these means people in the civil service, GLCs and "approved" non-inner circle people. Generally speaking people in this circle don't see any crisis - potential or otherwise, that would warrant the need for reform, especially economic.

In terms of politics, you could say the elites may accept the need for a less brutish form but I don't get the sense that in substance they find anything wrong with the substance of the existing political institutional arrangement. Even so-call not-in-the-circle elite, such as Catherine Lim have only asked for a change in form rather than substance.

In this respect, here is where the oppositions that operates on the believe that addressing the bread-and-butter issue will wins hearts and minds will find their scope of actions hampered. I suppose parties such as WP and SPP (or Chiam in particular) really want these elites to defect to them.

Unfortunately, WP and SPP faced a stark choice: (a) accept the overall PAP economic philosophy but limited to addressing marginal policy issues or (b) proposed an alternative, which by Singapore context, will be radical even if it was the mildest of departure in reality.

The SPP's choice is (a) but as can been seen from Chiam's obsession with the bread-and-butter issues. That alone could not really expand its political appeal to beyond what is in essence a personality cult. All Chiam could be address was limited to gaining upgrading funding and nothing more.

The WP also seemed to be opting for (a) which if you take the Youthquake 2 forum, as an illustration, could only address a very marginal issues -- transportation -- and all within the constraints of PAP's pro-business economic philosophy.

If either SPP or WP had deviated from that overarching philosophy, it would have been seen as suspicious to the elite group it is trying to court.

The MDC in Zimbabwe also faces the same problem, if they deviated from the ruling party's economic position they would be deemed suspicious by the ruling party's elite. Hence a split occurred in that party -- between those that want a departure and those that want to court the disaffected elites.

If there is any lesson to learn from the MDC's experience, the WP must realised that if one chose to play in a circle defined by others, it'll have to dance to that tune. At some point it'll have to decide which group to embrace. In fact, no need to learn from MDC. The SPP experience is worthy of not repeating. The SPP is so afraid of split that it simply ends up becoming a personality cult.

In the wider political and social landscape, with migration being a relatively easy option for many middle class, the opposition parties are going to find it tough to attract support.

Anonymous said...

Sheer waste of time. Youthquake whatever. When the workers party campaigns, it's an earthquake. Thereafter, they become a storm in a teacup.

I'll rather spend my leisure shopping ,dining, wining. Afterall there's a GSS going on.

Gary said...

Coming from a neighborhood school,its no wonder that sixteen-year olds like me aren't present at the event.First it lacked publicity.Secondly, students aren't interested in politics because they had been "brainwashed" by the teachers how great this government is.

Whenever i raise a question eg; "How is our Minister's pay justified if its benchmarked to the economy;the president of US earns 5 times lesser then our PM but runs a economy 10 times of ours?"The teacher will then brush my question aside and start with the reasonings that the ministers had given.

And when i talk about opposition figures,they will be very quick to condemn them by saying "I don't see why they should be there"

So given the biasness of the teachers,its no wonder that generations after generations,PAP is still winning the support of the people.

Unfortunately my friends fail to see that the government pays the teacher so effectively "A dog will always be loyal to its master".

In my opinion,none of the oppositions are strong enough to "dethrone" the government simply because many Singaporeans are unsure if the oppositions are able to propel Singapore forward.

Unlike,Malaysia who has Anwar -a credible opposition figure having taken the seat of DPM before,he should know how a country is run.On the contrary, our oppositions,do not even have experience as a cabinet minister.

Unless a few(2-3)members from the PAP quits and form a party or be have the next Obama, its very likely Singapore will still be a authoritarian state in many more years to come.

Anonymous said...

HI to all who said the event lacked publicity,

The first YouthQuake was held first week of May with a full-house turn out. 'Today', 'Straitstimes' online as well as 'TOC' publicise the event.

After that there were write-up about it.

YouthQuake 2, as per the first one, invitation and news were sent to all press media and online media. 'TOC' made known in their website about such an event...(I thought people read either the press media or the online media, isn't ? Is there any other way that YouthQuake can be publicise? Please advise)


Anonymous said...

2 points:

1. I wasn't aware of the youthquake as well.... otherwise would have advertised it during my lecture...

2. ""But relative silence too has drawbacks. People perceive the party as (1) aloof, (2) slow on the uptake of topical issues, or that (3) it simply has no opinion -– it doesn't know what to think.""

To the above statement I disagree... because I don't think WP is aloof... rather I would think WP is too suppressed... mistakes are common in politics... but in the LKY era (READ: today is still the LKY era) ... NON-PAP political mistakes are attacked while PAP political mistakes are defended

So how?