[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

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

[A new model of political governance]
Ho Kwon Ping's thoughts at the Asia Journalism Fellowship seminar Singapore Beyond Lee Kuan Yew: Institutionalising the Singapore Way goes beyond political systems of governance that we know about. And it presents many comparative dimensions.

"Singapore’s equilibrium is stable, but static. There is no process by which a ruling party paradoxically, renews itself through defeat in the polls. And by which an entire nation self-corrects by one party taking over from another quite regularly. Obama after Bush, Blair after Thatcher – these are all the pendulum swings of a dynamically stable equilibrium."

This sentence reflects, in a sense, why the Singapore system does not tolerate failure. Further, this sentence spells the fate of Singapore without the PAP.

Ho Kwon Ping acknowledges that the Singapore system is one which is responsive to its citizens and able to deliver better livelihoods and capable of leadership self-renewal beyond Lee Kuan Yew.

He states two qualifications: first, whether political renewal within the PAP can produce leaders of sufficient calibre that Singaporeans will continue to support this unique one-party-dominant system. And second, how the Singapore society and its people fare and fend for themselves beyond Lee Kuan Yew.

And that is why he says that the ruling PAP had better be sustainably competent. Internal political self-renewal of the PAP has to sustain beyond Lee Kuan Yew according to Ho Kwon Ping.

This self-renewal is what I am sure of. I recall one incident at a Young PAP dialogue session where we were discussing the PAP after Lee Kuan Yew. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan had then said that the PAP system is like a bus - it will just go on rolling because the wheels have been put on and the system has been tested.

Ho Kwon Ping, through comparing Singapore and China, posits that there could be a new emerging model of governance: "Both the PAP and the CCP believe that they can buck the trends of history and create sustainable, uncorrupted, vibrant and responsive parties which can rule uninterrupted for much longer than a half century. Certainly, their track records to date give reason to take their attempts seriously, even if the weight of history is not on their side. If they do succeed, however, they will have created a new model of political governance which will genuinely challenge the fundamental assumptions of Western liberal democracy with its requisite two-party model."

He further feels that Singapore will outlive not only Lee Kuan Yew but even his own party with respect to his second qualification.

The Singapore that Ho Kwon Ping sees, will continue to be shaped beyond Lee Kuan Yew - slowly liberalising, accommodating and changing towards the demands of the new generation in incremental steps.

But I feel that this does not mean an overnight change or an about-turn, and it is what Ho Kwon Ping acknowledges. This is so because incrementalism is in some sense path-dependent as Sociologists would know.

Indeed the seminar has been insightful. Both speakers shared many examples. There were comparative elements which peppered both speeches. I also finally see the people whose works I have been reading - Tan Tarn How, Simon Tay, Chua Beng Huat - in person.

The question and answer session was very intellectual. Notions of whether the PAP will divide after Lee Kuan Yew, the emergence of internal critics and what impact it would have on the cohesiveness of the PAP, rule of law versus rule of man, whether the Lee Kuan Yew way is the Singapore way and the price to pay for the Singapore way.

For the Singapore way there are political trade-offs but how can the PAP ensure its sustainability? What ultimately then is the cost of having the Singapore system? Are Singaporeans prepared to pay the cost?

I am not allowed to go in-depth for the question and answer session and I hope the broad strokes I have painted will give a jist of the discussion many of which were interesting ideas. I left the session not with many answers but with many questions unanswered but I will find those answers as I observe how the Singapore system evolves and changes in my generation.


Anonymous moshedyan said...

anybody can replaced anyone
nobody is indispensable
how come there are no new young blood to replaced all the overdued/overpaid deadwood ministers who really never performed @ all
now we are livin in crisis gettin poorer by the days
what do you think profressor ho can convined us the peasants?
mere talks will not brin food to our tables

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 10:45:00 am

Blogger Ephraim Loy 黎传志 said...

There has been renewal during the recent Cabinet reshuffle. When the next General Elections come, I am sure there will be an injection of new blood as always.

In recent years, there have been redistributive policies to benefit the middle and lower income earners. I know many would say that more could be done and I believe more can be done too.

Public Assistance has been increased over the past two years. I believe this was debated heatedly in Parliament last year.

I understand your concern about mere talk and I agree that actions are more important.

Thursday, April 30, 2009 1:00:00 am

Anonymous moshedyan said...

[i]From Channelnewsasia:

Presenting the May Day Awards to 55 individuals and companies was labour chief Lim Swee Say.

Temasek Holding’s outgoing CEO, Ho Ching was awarded the Medal of Commendation - Gold for her contributions to the labour movement and promoting harmonious labour-management relations.[/i]

are we the common peasants been insulted again
or are we just too stupid to tote an award?
you tell me
from your point of view
if not i understand the reason

Friday, May 01, 2009 11:15:00 am

Anonymous moshedyan said...


here is the link

my contribution for the above is being moderated
it will NEVER be published

Friday, May 01, 2009 11:18:00 am


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