Because we need #Accountability #CheckAndBalances

This post is part of a running series about the General Elections where we highlight the strengths and weaknesses of various parties.

Since their first electoral triumph in 1959, the People’s Action Party (PAP) has consistently dominated the Singapore Parliament, allowing them a free rein on governing the country for almost 50 years.

To their credit, the PAP Government has certainly governed Singapore well.

Singapore went from a third-world to a first-world country within a single generation. Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita grew from US$511 at 1965 to US$56,319 today. The Changi Airport is consistently ranked among the best airport in the world.

The list simply goes on….

Despite the many achievements of the PAP Government, nothing is perfect — not even the PAP Government. Along the way from 1959, mistakes were made, and the last 4 years were no different.

With that in mind, MustShareNews reviews 27 mistakes made by the ruling party during last 4 years that may result in a less than optimal GE performance for the ruling party.

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– Gaffes from members of the PAP –

Perhaps it is the heat of the weather these days but members of the PAP in the Parliament seems increasingly incapable of controlling their emotions and have been making gaffes — much to our amusement — in recent days.

1. DPM Teo Chee Hean lashes out at Sylvia Lim

Just days after the declaration of “election season”, Deputy Prime Minster Teo Chee Hean had a major meltdown at the sight of the Workers’ Party President Sylvia Lim eating a plate of orh luak (oyster omelette) at Fengshan. Yes, that is our DEPUTY Prime Minister.

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Maybe WP President Lim should just jio DPM Teo next time.

Nonetheless, the oyster omelette meltdown from DPM Teo wasn’t the first time that a member of the People’s Action Party overreacted at a seemingly innocent action from the Opposition party.

2. SPS Hawazi accuses WP of politicising issues

Earlier in July, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (SPS) Hawazi Daipi rashly accused the Workers’ Party of politicizing issues in the Parliament after the opposition had asked several legitimate questions regarding the renaming the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies.

SPS Hawazi claimed he was hurt by the questions of Worker’s Party.

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SPS Hawazi’s sensitive feelings getting hurt wasn’t even the second time that the ruling party had overreacted.

3. Khaw Boon Wan suggests hara-kiri in parliament

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan went full-samurai when he suggested that members of the Workers’ Party could probably perform hara-kiri for repentance for mismanaging the accounts of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC). Hara-kiri is defined as “a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment.”

How dare you mismanage accounts, WP!

Fast forward to 0:49 of the video for the Hollywood-worthy quote by Minister Khaw and note the awkward silence across the Parliament after that —

Call it gaffes, call it overreactions — either way, the behaviour from several PAP members only reflect the insecurity of the ruling party.

– Failing to manage alternative voices –

After the 2011 General Election, the rise of social media changed the face of the socio-political climate in Singapore forever.

In the space of just 4 years, disgruntled anti-Government figures like Roy Ngerng, Amos Yee, Han Hui Hui, Leong Sze Hian, Jolovan Wham, Arifin Sha, Gilbert Goh, among others, have risen, using the social media platform to openly challenge the government.

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Imagine this — just 4 years ago, these names were unheard of and these faces would not be recognised at all. And now these voices are not merely noise — they are being translated to real-world actions, like the unprecedented large scale of protests,

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…and an increased in desire to publicly discuss politics at political forums.

These actions may eventually result in potential vote losses for the PAP.

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To compound on this problem, the PAP Government actually seems clueless on how to best manage the jarring dissident voices.

The solution that the incumbents is employing is the traditional Lee-Kuan-Yew-ish way of clamping down hard on these voices.

We have to lock up people… without trials. Whether they are communists, or language… chauvinists, or religious extremists. If we don’t do that, the country will be ruins today.

– Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew

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The PAP Government certainly did clamp hard. The Real Singapore was shut down last June, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sued blogger Roy Ngerng for defamation. Here are some areas where perhaps a more delicate handling of the situation was needed.

4. The suing of hospital worker Roy Ngerng

Before the defamation suite, Roy Ngerng was mostly just known to readers of alternative news sites like The Real Singapore. When the story made headlines, his name and the CPF issues he was fighting for could be heard at every water-cooler in Singapore.

Roy Ngerng became a household name and today, his blog commands a viewership of 2 million.

5. The jailing of 16 year-old Amos Yee

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Uh oh, there another incident tarnishing the name of Singapore on International level.

Did sending Amos Yee to jail actually help “fix” Amos in any way? Nope.

Right after he was released, he uploaded YouTube videos calling out the government and how the National Day was really just propaganda with excessive spending. Learning from his earlier mistake, he was more careful with his arguments and avoided saying anything that would land him in jail again. And he got the fame and viewership he so badly wanted.

Today, his YouTube videos command an average of 500,000 views and his voice and influence has been magnified.

6. Tey Tsun Hang being wrongly sent to jail for 5 months

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Tey Tsun Hang was a district judge, a public prosecutor and a lawyer in private practice. Also, he probably should never have written that book that accused the Singapore judiciary of inexcusable timidity.

Rather coincidentally, a short while after the book was published, he was convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act and till the day he dies, he’ll only be known as that “Sex For Grades” guy.

The amazing thing was, the high court later acquitted him, overturning the decision of the trial. The judge concluded that Tey was morally reprehensible but legally okay for having sex with his student.

So that means he went to jail for 5 months, lost his job, PR status, and reputation for nothing.

Tey had reiterated from the start that the case was politically motivated.

 

7. The closing of Alternative Websites

Times have changed, these methods that may have worked in the past no longer seem effective today.

The Real Singapore was shut down in view of its anti-PAP Singapore articles that was claimed to stoke racial and xenophobic tension in Singapore.

Sites and Facebook pages like Wake Up Singapore, Sin Rak Sin Party, TR Emeritus, and States Times Review still publish articles with anti-PAP sentiments, and they are loud and proud about it.

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Clamping down on these sites is unproductive, since censorship hardly addresses any important issues. The PAP Government may attempt to source out, shut down, and affix many sorts of barriers to entry for these sites to emerge, but the main issues that prompts Singaporeans to support these sites will still not be solved.

In summary, it is not so much that these people are speaking up that spells doom for the PAP Government, rather it is how their actions have greatly increased the readership that these faces command.

They have fuelled their enemies.

– Old mistakes still slowing the PAP down –

Being unable to address alternative voices is not the only issue that the PAP Government is saddled by.

It seems that the Government is also having issues on solving issues that were present even before the 2011 General Election.

8. Shortage of hospital beds

In 2010, former Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan promised that there Singapore will not by caught out of shortage of hospital beds again, and yet in 2014…..

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Bed shortages in hospital became a problem again after the 2011 General Election.

More recently, Reform Party’s Gilbert Goh posted this observation on hospital bed shortages.

9. Unaffordable housing

At the 2011 General Election, the issue of housing affordability was a major issue — housing prices rose steeply, generating unhappiness among Singaporeans.

The unhappiness was evidently serious that the then-National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan told mainstream media that he accepts responsibility over the unhappiness of Singaporeans.

Housing is always a very sensitive subject. And I guess to the extent that in the last couple of years, housing prices went up very sharply, coinciding with the very dramatic turnaround in the economy, I guess that resulted in quite a lot of unhappiness on the ground. And I accept responsibility for that,

– Former National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan

A Minister accepting responsibility is nice, but the continuation of the problem to the next electoral period is not.

Apparently, housing affordability is still a concern for many Singapore today, according to a survey done by the MediaCorp’s Current Affairs unit, where 78% of respondents were concerned with the affordability of houses.

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10. Excessively High Minister salaries

Aside from the issue of housing affordability, the salaries of our dear Ministers was also a concern to many Singaporeans, and was a major topic of debate at the previous General Election.

Fast forward to another General Election later, salaries of our dear Minister still remains insanely relatively high.

Much has been debated for and against paying high salaries to our cabinet Ministers, we will just let SMRT Feedback wrap it up for us —

– Compounded with new problems –

As if being unable to fully rectify the old problems were not enough, new problems also arose during the last 4 years under the rule of the PAP Government.

11. Surface imperfections of houses

Aside from the high price of housing, complaints of surface imperfections also arose June this year at new Build-to-Order (BTO) Housing Development Board (HDB) apartments….

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By the way, the National Development Minister is Minister Khaw, the same Minister who promised that there will no more shortage of hospital beds in 2010 and suggested hara-kiri for the mismanagement of the AHPETC to the Workers’ Party at Parliament.

Just saying.

12. SMRT breakdowns

The issue of the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) only became a real public concern after the 2011 General Election. The SMRT breakdown in 2011 marked the beginning of public concern on the transport issues in Singapore. The 2011 SMRT breakdown was so severe, a Committee of Inquiry was set up and the SMRT was fined $2 million.

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4 years later, it is evident from the 7/7 SMRT breakdown that the public transport issue is hardly resolved.

Apparently, the transport issue is so difficult to resolve, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew stepped down before even finishing his term as a Transport Minister.

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13-20. Misc issues

Not to mention new issues that have arose over the years such as the AIM saga, messy statutory boards accounts, the Central Provident Fund Minimum sum rise amidst protests, the National Stadium embarrassment, consistent rising of transport fares, questionable distribution of flyers by PAP activists, non-action on Youth PAP member who made racist remarks, insanely narrow walkways for Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) building, just to mention a few.

21. This YPAP video

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What did I just watch?

– Questionable election tactics –

In the first General Election without Lee Kuan Yew, the PAP’s tactics seem relatively lacklustre. In fact, PAP might have gone overboard in their preparation for the coming General Election.

Here are some of their tactics that aren’t quite making sense for us.

22. Openly announcing incentives of upgrades

It is an open secret that the PAP Government favors and lavishes upgrades and developments on constituencies that the PAP are in charge of. PM Lee (also the Secretary General for the PAP), does not deny this, and even justifies this logic.

What is so intriguing is that while unveiling their candidates for GE2015, the PAP teams has been rather shameless open about the upgrades that they can offer to the residents if they are voted in in the coming years.

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23. Trying too hard to touch the ground

Perhaps it was the last attempt from the PAP to convey the message that they are rather close to the heartlanders before going into the General Election. The PAP has been unveiling their candidates at very strange places.

Bishan – Toa Payoh MP Ng Eng Hen and West Coast MP Lim Hng Kiang introduced their team at coffee shops —

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Potong Pasir MP Sitoh Yih Pin chose a park shelter —

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Sembawang MP Khaw Boon Wan unveiled his comrades at a old folks home

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Well, eventually these silliness had to backfire somewhere, and it backfired on MP Khaw Boon Wan (AGAIN)’s team.

24. The SWAMI Incident

According to Ravi Philemon of the Singapore People’s Party (SPP), holding the introduction at the Sunshine Welfare Action Mission (SWAMI) old folks could have breached SWAMI’s constitution in allowing a political activity to take place within its premise.

Subsequently, Low Chang Yee, the president of the SWAMI old folks home admitted that he did not consult the constitution before letting the PAP use its premise for a political activity.

Minister Khaw attempted to justify his choice of the SWAMI old folks home to the media

[W]e felt it was an accessible place and had sufficient space to accommodate reporters.

– Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC, Khaw Boon Wan

– Gutter politics –

25. DPM gets mad at Sylvia Lim’s omelette.

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Netizens accused the DPM of gutter politics after DPM fired this salvo at WP’s Sylvia Lim. Yes, we wrote about this on top already but this incident is so ridiculous that it deserves a double mention.

“Now we see the chairman of the town council saying that Fengshan SMC looks quite delicious. What’s going to happen? You’re going to swallow up Fengshan? For what purpose? To serve the residents of Fengshan? Or is Fengshan delicious because you want to add it to the pot? And help the town council with the deficit?”

– The wise words of DPM Teo Chee Hean

26. Nicole Seah alleged to be dating married man

Firstly, this isn’t even news.

Secondly, what Mr Brown said.

27. MSM publishes Daniel Goh poison pen letter in swift, coordinating fashion

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Yup, an anonymously letter detrimental to Daniel Goh’s reputation somehow gets published across all mainstream media outlets in Singapore. Was the source of the letter verified? Nope. Was there any evidence? Nope. Was the timing impeccable since Daniel Goh was just re-introduced a few days before? Yes. And his former student has since spoken out saying the letter was untrue.

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Now, we’re not saying these news stories above are linked to the PAP, but you rarely see PAP candidates being treated like this by the media. #justsaying.

And we would be lying if we said Singaporeans did not feel our state-owned media is influenced to some extent by the state.
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Not so white any more

As much as the PAP government delivered, they have also made their fair shares of mistakes over the last 4 years.

The question is how was performance of the PAP Government in the last 4 years–

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In 2 weeks, you’ll decide….

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Featured Image via YouTube
With references from Channel News Asia, Channel News AsiaThe Online Citizen, Land Transport Authority, The Straits Times,  International Business Times, Yahoo Singapore, Yawning Bread, Business Insider, Wikipedia, The Heart Truths