[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Friday, April 18, 2008

[Transforming Singapore]
Was the case of the recent Malaysian elections one of transformation or transplacement? Huntington writes that it is difficult to draw a clear line between the two. It was likely that PM Abdullah still wanted to have a majority share in Parliament. Although he allowed a longer campaigning period, that could have been a hint to open up thus leading to transformation. It could have been transplacement if there were covert interactions as the oppostion became stronger. To fully pinpoint what it was would require insider information.

Now for the Singapore context.

Transformation in Singapore can happen but this will not happen overnight. It would take years for our opposition parties to build up before the government would find the opposition in Singapore a threat. They may be worried about the role of the online media during the Malaysian elections and that it may happen to Singapore. But largely, the opposition parties are not united in fighting the incumbent (especially the more radical party). Although at the last elections, the ruling party's support declined, the majority of the seats still belong to the ruling party.

How can this change? There are two possibilities - when citizens realise the need to be a full democracy (or ideal democracy - high contestation and high participation) and when leaders with democratic ideals come into power. For the latter, this influence would be diffused thus causing the loosening up of the government. Simultaneously, the opposition parties build on their strengths by having more credible and rational members. Add to that, the relaxation of control over state media will further complement this change thus allowing more transparency.

Replacement in Singapore is very unlikely to happen. State-police and state-military are very unlikely to overthrow the powers-to-be in Singapore (they are all the king's men). Moveover, with assembly acts that prohibit even the gathering of more than four people, this rules out the possibility of having mass demonstrations. Students who demonstrated in public places in Singapore (i.e. their schools and indoors) against the military junta in Myanmar had little impact and caused little change. These actions are not strong enough to really bring about replacement in Singapore.

The death of a leader in Singapore would also not have any impact on the government and future developments of the party. The ruling party's ideals are self-running and even the death of the ruling party's founder would not shake the foundations of a party that was not built overnight.

Transplacement in Singapore is quite unlikely but not to be ruled out. If the opposition parties in Singapore build up and they win considerable landslide votes, they will have a strong representation in Parliament. When threatened, the ruling party may opt to have thorough negotiations with the opposition to further allow transplacement thus propelling Singapore to a full democracy. Unrest and violence (which happened during the transplacement in South Africa) against the Singapore government can be highly ruled out.

So it seems clear that the only way is for a transformation to occur. Whether it would will be based on a confluence of factors.

The next general election would be the first step. It'll probably take more than three elections to see Singapore transform into a full democracy. But that begs the question. Do Singaporeans want a full democracy? Or are they content with the Singapore model of governance?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Do Singaporeans want a full democracy? Or are they content with the Singapore model of governance?"

Why not ? The old generation has gone and now the new generation endorse freedom and expression of the west. So for next decade, it is inevitable that there is a major transformation.

Let the people decide what's best for them, not the government.

Friday, April 18, 2008 11:52:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Bernard's here again from New York USA. I am in my last semester and graduating soon, most likely coming back in July. I looked at the Malaysian elections with interest too as well. Western democracy is not the cure all answer. Here in the States where I am now, I observed that the American elections are democratic in principle and theory. But in practice, a lot of money is needed to run the presidential campaign. Plus you must have the support of some powerful lobby group behind you. Freedom of speech - yes, people do have more personal freedom. But some Americans abuse it for selfish gains. Take the right to bear arms for example, some people use guns for violence. Independence of media press ? American media can be pretty biased.
I see many young Singaporeans of my generation want freedom just for the sake of it. Are Young Singaporeans prepared to take more responsibility for the freedom that comes with it ? It remains to be seen.
I looked at my china classmates who know that their government is not exactly the best one. But they are more nationalistic and take a lot of pride in their nation. In my university, the china students association and even lecturers defended China for the Tibet issue. The Tibetan Americans and China students even had a 'clash' with each other on the campus square.
I personally wonder what would Singaporeans do if it is us ? Act passively and nonchalant ? Come on , sometimes I really long for a little bit of chaos like in the 1960s where people stood up for it for our independence etc. For this, I have to admit the PAP overdid it by taking out the communists and the chinese school activists. This of course put the social unrest to a stop, nipping the problem in the bud. However, Singaporeans became less caring about socio-political issues and care more about economic issues for bread and butter. I suppose this is how Singaporeans in general became passive as a whole and just leave it up to the PAP govt. Now the PAP govt wants to nurture more people to be more proactive. Not easy indeed.
On a final note, I do agree that Singaporeans must decide what's best for them, sooner or later. it is inevitable. How soon ? We shall see. Whatever it is, Singaporeans must face the consequences that comes with it. The bottom line is if you want freedom , you must be prepared to take responsibility.
Personally, I am most inspired by Sun Yat Sen's 3 principles which is a good mix of democracy, nationalism and welfare. Sad to say, it has never been fully implemented to this day. Taiwan politics is too divided while China politics is murky. In my opinion, Singapore politics is like a glass of plain water, boring but it does the job well enough. American politics counts a lot on showmanship.
Ephraim, you appear to be not so pro PAP as a Young PAP member after all , for writing this blog post which I see to be very fair and objective. I remember that you said to me after the Talk with Minister Mr Yeo, that you joined PAP mainly for the sociology reason, not so much for the political reason. I was even surprised that some anonymous man who claimed to be from a Top JC and criticized you for trying to be a show-off and boost your credentials, you just brushed it aside and said you have no interest to be a politician, let alone a minister. Care to elaborate more ? So much for your reputation for being a Pro-PAP that many people say about you. Very good, I am also not all pro-PAP man, just a concerned young Singaporean who is still politically neutral, undecided which side to support. I will only decide in 10 years' time as I said before. Meanwhile, I gather and collect as much as possible to analyze and evaluate who is better that I agree more. Hence, To Minister Mr Yeo, I say that it is on you and all the politicians regardless of which side to prove it to people like me. From then, I will judge accordingly and do about it. Right now, I would say you have 56% indeed from me. Another thing is maybe I might quit Singapore for the world is the oyster. Right now, I still cannot bring myself to do it because of many reasons. That's another reason why I began to train myself to be more proactive to see what can I do. This is my answer to MM Lee's words to YPAP at St James Power station April 2007. Hence, I can at least say for myself that I am a passive young Singaporean who only know how to talk the talk and not walk the walk. So don't say I never give myself, PAP govt, opposition and Singapore a chance to see how it goes. just seeking ways to see what can I do for society.

Sincere Regards To Minister Mr Yeo, Ephraim and Anonymous,

An overseas Singaporean based in NYS USA and a General Branch YPAP member

Saturday, April 19, 2008 12:33:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry , typed too long partly because boredom and a little homesick that I mistype and omitted some words. Here is the amended part.

Hence, I can at least say for myself that I am no longer a passive young Singaporean who only know how to talk the talk and not walk the walk

Saturday, April 19, 2008 12:39:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am currently 21,an undergraduate at a local university.
In Singapore,the one thing lacking is political freedom.Why can't we go out to demonstrate our ideas?Is the Government scared it'd agitate businesses?Actually businesses too values freedom and wouldnt want to be in a nanny state.What we need I think is the freedom which is throughly lacking.We're not in the 1980s,we're in the 21st century we want to express ourselves and our political ideas.We want a new brand of politics.
I seriously think also its time for us to really change our laws.Political Films act?What a load of bullshit!
I bet Minister Yeo would reply and say "oh we aren't at that stage of maturity as yet"..than my reply would be,when!?when will we the electorate be "mature" in the eyes of our leaders whom we ELECT !
Bottomline is this: We want to express ourselves openly with regards to politics and erase that "fear" that's often associated with politics here in Singapore.
We're proud to be 1st world but our political and civil freedoms are worst than even Zimbabwe! Very very sad indeed.I feel as if I am a chained person,I can't go out and express my political views openly ?Why ?What's wrong?
It's time the Governmnent rethink its position.

Monday, April 21, 2008 9:33:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont want PAP dog Eprhaim to reply..instead i call on the minister if he has guts please reply to this.

Monday, April 21, 2008 9:37:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi anonymous,
If you are really so anti PAP govt, you should have the courage to do something concrete for your beliefs. This is my challenge to you. Got guts, go and gather as many people as you can to demonstrate in the streets. Come on, Are you prepared to give up your life for freedom ? Nothing is for free in the world. Thomas Jefferson said " The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. " Throughout history all over the world, it has always been the case for all countries regardless of whatever political systems - democracy, communists etc. Come on, got something to prove ? got us what you got what it takes to be for it ..
Personally, I joined PAP and never have the intention to suck up to the MPs or even Minister. I had always seek to speak what I think and honestly from the bottom of my heart for what I think for the best of Singapore. I am not a PAP dog. Based on my earlier meeting with Ephraim during the meeting at Hougang Mall with Minister Mr Yeo before my departure for the States last year, I can also somehow tell that Ephraim is not a all PAP yes man and definitely not a dog. This is further affirmed by observing his blog posts that he wrote etc so far. He said that he joined the YPAP for social community reason , not political. He even refuted another anonymous guy supposedly from a top JC , that he have no intention of becoming an politician , let alone a minister.
Therefore, I implore you to stop being so prejudiced, having such a extreme bias and jumping to conclusions. For me, I make it a point not to jump to conclusions so quickly. True, the govt does have its flaws and mistakes like the recent mas selamat's ecsape.
Indeed as a Singaporean based overseas, I had to play some ' bad PR damage control' on in front of my foreign friends in my university - something like a ambassador albeit a voluntary one. Not easy because Singapore is widely thought to be safe. I was trumpeting this to my foreign friends in my varsity. I can only imagine what Minister Mr Yeo had to do for Singapore in front of his counterparts. Not easy indeed. The govt must strive to improve itself from this mistake. or else it will lose its' first class reputation and certainly unworthy of the million dollar salaries. Benchmarked by corporate standards, such things like this would warrant the top execs to resign in Corporate America such as the current financial crisis - several top honchos resigned for their perceived failure. Not that I am saying that Minster Mr Wong must resign for this incident. We shall see how the govt handle this in the end. At least I will take this into consideration for evaluation.

Bernard writing from NY USA
who will get back later in case of any further reply by Anonymous, Ephraim or Minister Mr Yeo after a exam by this thursday NY time 12 hours behind Singapore time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 11:33:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your response simply makes me wonder whether you're a 10 year old primary school kid who has nothing better to do.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 11:00:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous,
I sort of know that you would said something like that. You are not the first one, neither will you be the last one that I had seen what I call a political dreamer. I once had a classmate whom I made a similar debate about politics. He got totally bogged down by the fall of his flimsy argument that he used more lame excuses than you.
I am a political realist. And I can tell you that I am here in USA, been here, done that. I had certainly seen more things, definitely much more than you ever had. Since you want to have freedom and expression like the west, Are you WILLING TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET IT , EVEN IF IT MEANS LAYING DOWN YOUR LIFE FOR IT ? ARE YOU ? ANSWER ME ? This is a simple question YES OR NO .
In America, a sizable number of people are willing to do it, forming themselves into groups for their agenda and political beliefs. Some of these groups are so influential that the politicians canvass for their support. People are more independent-minded, less reliant on govt, thus less regulations. Again, this shows that nothing is for free in this world. You want freedom, you must be responsible for it.
You talk as if freedom come easily, just follow the western model and that is it - done. I am not like you, I never follow blindly. I am making detailed observations about the American model through surveys , dialogues and interactions with Americans such as my roommates, classmates, professors and even ad hoc people I sometimes meet in my course of studies about their views about things like the Nov 2008 presidential elections. Plus, I added in fellow international students from China, Japan, S Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Dubai , Saudi Arabia and Malaysia for their impressions about American democracy and how are things going on in their countries. Such is the extent of my comprehensive study about politics all over the world, not only Singapore alone for this 10 year evaluation of mine in a fair and objective manner. That's why I still did not joined PAP as a full member yet. Ephraim may still be a bit more towards PAP, but he certainly does not look to be all 100% pro-PAP , looking at him so far.
Tell me, what have you done or know ? Hmm Never mind, I can't be bothered to communicate with you anymore if you got nothing more constructive and useful to say. I will just ignore you because you are clearly not on the same level of understanding with me, just like my former classmate.

So long,

Friday, April 25, 2008 9:41:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is the Minister taking so long to reply !

Sunday, April 27, 2008 7:37:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come and reply to me if you dare to take up the challenge. Hahah ! hmm I wanna see what kind of young 'political change' activist you are ? Show me what you got, kid !

From a 25 year old to a 21 year old.

Monday, April 28, 2008 10:15:00 am


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