18 November 2008

One party good, two parties bad, says PM Lee. Again.

Lee Hsien Loong said incoming President Obama will be attempting to undo the fruits of George Bush's labours, it's the nature of a two-party system that there will be this chopping and changing. Singapore cannot afford such an adversarial two-party system, he said. Not for the first time. Full essay.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

In History,no political party, dynasty or kingdom can last ever.
The longest dynasty was the Han or Tang, it lasted about 400+ years. This was a period where news took months or years to travel. In this modern age, information travel with a click of a mouse so we may never see such long rule anymore.
If Singapore cannot have the resilience to afford a political change, then this nation will perish when the current party fails.

europhia core said...

"Why, each time when the Singapore government tries to parry demands for greater democracy, do they always use the example of Taiwan?"

Taiwan is an asian country. What is the other argument like the argument that Western democracy is not compatible with Asian values?

So by all means, cite an asian country. Both ways we loose.

Jon said...

There is something that I never understood; perhaps someone can enlighten me.

Everyone from the MM down to the PM and the rest of the PAP essentially is saying that there is no point having a democracy in Singapore, since change of government is not ideal and having one single party is the only way to go.

The MM further stated last time that if there was a "freak occurrence" and the opposition somehow won an election, he will bring in the military and essentially implying that the election results will be reversed by force.

If Singapore blatantly does not plan to uphold the ideals and principles of a free democracy anyway, why does it still masquerade and proclaim to be one?

Why not just rewrite the constitution and make it a dictatorship?

Or is the idea to give people the illusion and hope of change, but in reality making sure that change is not possible?

Anonymous said...

And the military is controlled by the PAP, is it not? Let's play the good cop, bad cop scenario in a PAP controlled environment, all within the family! I see this wayang being played out all the time as in yr previous article on NTUC & DBS fiasco, what's new! The right hand slaps the left hand but its still the same person. No changes.

As far as I am concerned, the pure blind faith that my fellow Singaporeans put in PAP is parochial & misguided. Take a good look at other South East Asian countries where democracy is flourishing, eg Malaysia, need I say more, the minority Chinese there are getting heard this time, sure its a tough road but at least there's a passion to want to make Malaysia better.

As for Taiwan, the political scene is as vibrant as ever. How many tech companies that Spore can boast that has such a worldwide impact from Acer, to Asus that makes both PCs & is more synonymous with motherboards & more recently HTC's iphone. Singapore on the world map for product innovation & tech? Zilt.

Anonymous said...

"Passing judgement on their elected leader foolishly jeopardises Singapore's relations with Taiwan. It brings shame to us all when Singaporeans are seen as haughty and presumptuous."

Now I don't get angry anymore when the Taiwanese call us "Peesai" We deserved it!

Anonymous said...

"Singapore on the world map for product innovation & tech? Zilt."

Well, perhaps not for truly innovation & tech. but we have the world's most expensive "innovators" of one party rule.

Alan Wong said...

It seems that our PM forgot to mention that at least Taiwan had the guts to prosecute a past President who make use of his wife, son and daughter-in-law to launder tax payers and corrupt money.

On the other hand, our system makes it hard for anyone to even try to question our Great Master, his wife, his sons and daughters-in-law about any doubts that anyone may have regarding their decisions.

What is there for us to check whether our LKY is another Chen Shui Bian ? The truth is that nobody can check whether he is up to any hanky panky ?

And of course I suppose that's why our PM says that our system is suitable for us!

yuen said...

It is entirely legitimate to argue that so far democratic processes have played out rather differently in Asia compared to the West, because of different cultural and behavioural issues. To claim that we can only expect more of the same in the future, one need stronger evidence, and it is also necessary to ask whether the person claiming this is doing so for self serving reasons.

Taiwan's political process has certainly shown a high level of cronysm, corruption, mob incitement and gangsterly behaviour, while Singapore's has been well controlled and orderly. While Taiwan's past economic progress was impressive, it has not maintained the pace in recent years. It would not do to attribute this to Taiwan's higher attachment to democratic values however, however, since countries with even more advanced democracies have not always displayed the same symptons; the clique divisiveness of new (after 1949) versus old Taiwanese would seem to be a much more important factor.

Anonymous said...

YB wrote: There is undue selectivity in Lee's examples. Why, each time when the Singapore government tries to parry demands for greater democracy, do they always use the example of Taiwan?

Even by using Taiwan as an example, Lee also seemed to miss out key attributes that contradict his own argument.

Lee argued that:

The US could withstand such an adversarial system because of its size: 'Whatever happens, the US will still be there. Eventually, problems will be put right and life will go on.'

Lee also added that:

In smaller countries however, there was no guarantee 'that if something goes wrong...you can put Humpty Dumpty together again', he noted.

By citing Taiwan, which by any measure is smaller than the US and, more importantly, even more so than Mainland China, how it is that Taiwan managed to still remain in tact?

After all with China at its throat, it has managed not to collapse under the opposition DPP administration, which is very much less than friendlier to the China?

More to the point, was it not the point that with a two-party system, Taiwan was able to pull back from a more confrontation anti-mainland administration to one that is less confrontational?

The fact that Taiwan is used as negative example of democracy has also to do with the way the local media portrayed the place. Take for example the old chestnut issue of corruption.

It has been going on during the dictatorial rule under the KMT but it was largely seen as non-existence because there was not much of an open press than. The fact that it is more reported under a more liberal press does not, therefore, imply that corruption was brought by the introduction of two-party politics. But it seemed many in Singapore (not just Lee) have this crazy notion that democracy == corruption.

Anonymous said...

I would like to comment on the current political situation in Singapore.
We now have a parliament with a dominant PAP party, two opposition party members, an MP from the opposition party who had the highest number of votes among the opposition who lost the previous election but who had no voting power and several NMPs.
The ruling attitude from the PAP seems to be "We are the one with the power to decide the future of Singapore. But we realise that we may not be always circumspect in our thinking. Therefore, we welcome opposing voices that do not threaten our power. The two opposition members are chosen by the electorate. This is due to market forces which is beyond our control. But we will twart the opposition movement in Singapore by various means, one of which is to tie the upgrading programme to whether the vote is for the ruling party. Since the other opposing forces in parliament, for example the NMPs do not have voting power, we still have the final power to decide and this decision will be based on noble intentions because the members of the ruling party are people with integrity chosen by leaders with classic Confucian integrity."
The architect of this ruling philosophy seems to be Lee Kuan Yew. The other PMs, cabinet ministers and MPs only inherit this philosophy. The methods of perpectuating the power of the ruling party, and thus Lee Kuan Yew for example tying the upgrading programme to the votes may not be the invention of Lee Kuan Yew, but are a product of this philosophy.
If I am correct, Lee Kuan Yew considers himself to be a Confucian gentleman. Because he, himself is an intellectual elite, he may be elitist in some of his approaches and hence the constant emphasis on talents, 'talents above all else'. Even the recogntion of some gay rights is not based on humanitarian considerations. It is based on the recognition of pink talent and pink economic value. Lee Kuan Yew considers Singapore to be his life work, the basis of his self-worth and the basis on which he can stand tall on international stage, to be an equal, perhaps an even superior partner to the Western leaders. Therfore, holding on to power is very essential to him. And even after his demise, he will ensure that power will still remain with people who are followers of his ruling philosophy who are his alte-egos. The possibility of having a two-party system or a credible opposition even if there are sufficient opposition talent now will be useless while he is still present. Changes may only come after his demise.

Anonymous said...

At least in Taiwan, they can vote in Ma Ying Jiu (whether good or bad), when they have a Chen Shui Bian.

If we have a Chen Shui Bian in Singapore, we will all be screwed!

Anonymous said...

When did the MM say that he would call in the military to quell the opposition if it ever takes power?

Can someone provide a cut & paste from ST?

And most importantly mail that to the State Department of USA & to the EU to give a hard slap on PAP by imposing trade sanctions on Spore!!

Yes, I know it hurts the layman & their rice bowls.

This PAP should be taught not to pass judgments on its citizens by screaming "WE ARE DONE IF YOU VOTE OPPOSITION!" STOP IT!

Anonymous said...

Mailing the US State Dept wouldn't do any good. The US only imposes sanctions on countries that threaten the US or have egregious human rights violations (like Sudan). Sanctions would only cause Singaporeans to hate America, not to hate the Singapore government. It is Singaporeans' responsibility to take care of matters in Singapore, not America's.

Robert L said...

Anonymous of 20 Nov, 11:08, said, "At least in Taiwan, they can vote in Ma Ying Jiu (whether good or bad), when they have a Chen Shui Bian.
If we have a Chen Shui Bian in Singapore, we will all be screwed!"

The PAP has been telling Singaporeans that if they vote in the opposition, they are screwed. Even if it's a freak result that the opposition gains power, then Singapore is screwed. This disinformation is now bandied around by the PAP's internet brigade.

Let there be no mistake: nothing is further from the truth. If the opposition gains power, you can be very, very sure that the PAP will become an opposition party. You can be very, very sure that the PAP, as an opposition party, will be very vocal on any mistakes that may be made by the ruling party. If the ruling party cannot perform, then the PAP will win back the voters.

So, ladies and gentlemen, do not believe the blatant lie that Singapore is finished if the opposition wins an election. I simply cannot buy the absurd idea that the PAP will, like a spoilt baby, crawl away and sulk after it loses an election. That is not the kind of behaviour of any adult.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they just abolish elections in singapore?

neil craig said...

I would disagree with your position on proportional representation. The problem with a dirst past the post situation is that it is inherently unstable giving dieproportionate representation to big parties. In theory that should mean almost all votes going to 1 big party with about 70% of the votes. In paractice in most countries except Singapore it means 2 parties - one to be in government & 1 for all the people who think the government are rubbish. Since they usually are the opposition then gets its turn & proves to be equally rubbish. If a good 2nd party evolved in Singapore that might happen.

In proportional representation systems a number of different parties can exist with different viewpoinrs which can move in & out of government. This means that while there is less chance of a complete change of governmental direction new public opinions can be expressed without the straightjacket of having to fit one of 2 parties. There can be oppositions on both the left & right (& indeed other directions), all of which may be inducted into a coalition government.

Probably worth amending it slightly to exclude any party that doesn't get 5% of the vote, as they do in Germany to keep out the sort of looney parties that end up with 2 seats & 1 ministry in Israel.