I was at a meeting yesterday where I had the opportunity to sit with some people from Singapore and Sweden and we had a lively discussion of the ongoing GE rallies in Singapore.
I was explaining to the Swedish guy about the WP's opposition rally the previous night and how I took issue with the devious ways that the opposition has chosen to mislead the people.
In particular, I was upset with Mr. Low Thia Khiang's claim that if the WP had done anything wrong, he would be in jail. This is a blatant lie. The WP cannot be prosecuted even if the govenment wanted to do so as they were exploiting a loophole in the Town Council's Act. Under this TC Act, they are answerable only to their residents and the MND is powerless to act against them. Knowing this and yet they were stoking the sentiment on the ground and implying pure innocence and playing the victim card again - a masterclass in politicking?
In fact if I could remember, the High Court Judge Quentin Loh said that only residents could apply for such action when MND applied to the court to appoint independent accountants to check on the AHPETC books (reported in ST) - a fact that WP conveniently ignored when they blamed the MND for not giving them their grant and hence causing the continued 'deficit'.
They painted the picture of a victimised opposition that was constantly being bullied and in a brilliant act of showmanship brandied their latest FY accounts and said they have a surplus this year and that all past accounting errors were resolved! Resolved? A simple click on the AHPETC website would show that the auditors still gave a disclaimer of opinion (link to full report here).
My Swedish friend then replied in a typical liberal nature - that is democracy, and asked me if I had any children. He said that it would be typical in any family that a child would express their own way of thinking and would want to do things in their own way - no matter what the parent says - and that it is healthy. It would be good for them to learn, and that's what a democracy is about.
This got me thinking, as the opposition has been saying that we need them in Parliament, that they need more seats to better counter the government and free us from oppression. But is the more the merrier? Would a house divided be able to achieve much? I beg to differ.
I'm all for the idea of opposition in a democracy but we need to weigh the costs as well. Take the anology of a household - would it be chaotic if the parents could not call the shots and the kids had the right to vote? Or in any typical business, where management and ulitmately the CEO calls the shots? It would be a nightmare if we were to replace our top talent at our company for the sake of putting in new untested voices - or replace our highly qualified management with people of lower qualifications just because they managed to stoke the populist feelings.
Let's be objective and look at the Aljuned GRC, prior to WP taking over there was no AHPETC deficit at all! You may argue that its a learning process, but did they learn?
I always use this analogy when teaching my kids - how did you learn how to walk? By falling of course. We learn from making mistakes, and the first step is to always acknowledge that you've made one.
I would have viewed the WP rally differently and walked away with much respect and given them a learning opportunity if they had come clean and admitted their mistakes or shown some transparency in the ongoing AHPETC saga.
But instead of showing their accounts they have been hiding - and are still hiding even from their own auditors thus resulting in a witholding of MND grants and a qualified accounts from their own auditor (even for their latest FY which they claim is fine and in surplus).
What a loss it has been for us, when we lost our very capable foreign minister George Yeo in the previous election - for this? For deficits and for a not so transparent opposition that doesn't learn and instead shows us that they have no qualms in lying and protect themselves (even when asked in Parliment they refuse to answer) - hiding behind the town council act and playing the victim card. Yet they want more power, more seats in government! Are we willing to lose more of our talented, proven ministers for such opposition?
An opposition that is apt in playing the crowd, in manipulating our fears and emotions to propose populist manifestos is going to bankrupt our nation. The minimum wage proposal is one such dangerous proposal and I'm proud that our PAP government has chosen otherwise and has instead implemented Workfare in the past years - see Manpower Minister explaining it in this short video:
An opposition that is even turning the football association of Singapore (FAS) election matters into a political issue by twisting it as PAP interferance into all aspects of our daily lives?
Thank you Sylvia Lim of The Workers' Party for speaking on behalf of ALL Singapore football fans, football players, Our Sleague and OUR Football Association of Singapore !!Football fans , Share and Like this video because you heard and agreed!
My Swedish friend said another thing that got me thinking long after the meeting was done. He spoke about the Swedish ISIS fighters and how Sweden's generous immigration policy is causing it (last year Sweden a country of 9 million took in 85,000 refugees and according to an OECD study citing 2013 figures, Sweden took in more than twice as many asylum seekers per capita as any other member country). Do I prize freedom and liberal espression in a democracy like Sweden? Or do I treasure the uniquely Singaporean brand of democracy. Where a single party government whose stewardship has resulted in the Singapore we know and love? The kind of government that has been lauded many times even in the foreign press for not implementing short-sighted populist measures for votes, but does what is right in the interest of its people.
I'd say choose wisely when you vote - more opposition doesn't mean more freedom or a more effective government.
A house divided against itself - that house cannot stand.