We’ve all heard many times by now how the PAP says they are learning from their mistakes, and that they will improve. I think the mid-term report card delivered through Punggol East By-Election results says one thing very clearly. The PAP has failed miserably. I thought in the past the PAP was just trying to play cool. But I’m now beginning to wonder if they are a lost cause.
Headlines from international news media say it quite bluntly. No “saving face” headlines that you’ll see in local news channels. Here’s a glimpse: Ruling Party Suffers Blow in Singapore By-Election” (WSJ); Singapore ruling party rebuked in by-election as disquiet rises (Reuters UK); Singapore’s ruling party loses by-election, struggles to stem citizens’ rising discontent (Washington Post); Singapore Ruling Party Loses Parliament Seat in Setback for Lee (Bloomberg); By-election shines a light on discontented Singapore (Reuters); Singapore ruling party rebuffed in by-election (Yahoo). The list goes on and on.
Outside Singapore, the news is not so much about the Workers’ Party’s triumph, but all about PAP’s loss.
The PAP has said before about how they need to get closer to the ground, to listen better, to respond to needs, etc. They talk about having to re-make themselves. This is pretty much just all talk. How much has the PAP actually changed to meet the challenges in the current climate?
Dr Koh Poh Koon was apparently the best that the PAP could field in this by-election. I don’t mean any offence to Dr Koh, but I didn’t think he was a very qualified candidate. Sure, he had a lot of party backing. But clearly, the party backing wasn’t enough. Or perhaps the party backing had actually worked against him.
The sad thing is, after losing the by-election, the PAP doesn’t reflect on the results and voter sentiment to improve themselves; but instead immediately makes excuses about how it was a tough fight for them, and that the odds were against them.
The odds are only against the PAP because voters felt the Workers’ Party’s candidate could best represent their interest and fight for them.
The Workers’ Party win in the Aljunied GRC in the last General Election has turned up some of the dirty laundry of the PAP. I wait to see what the Punggol East SMC will turn up under the new Town Council management. This is a great example of checks-and-balances at work. This is one of the things we talk about on the need of having credible opposition in Parliament. We sorely need more of this, lest the PAP get too carried away about how they, instead of the Government, run the country.
The current generation of voters demand more transparency, more accountability, and a government that will work for them. I think the PAP still doesn’t grasp this. They are losing touch with reality.
I still want a strong and capable government. Having a circus in Parliament may be entertaining. But it’s more important that we secure a better future for Singapore. I dare not hope that things would turn around for the PAP by the next general election; I can only hope they wouldn’t slip too fast.