Sunday, 25 March 2012

From ‘Inclusive Society’ To ‘Time To Work Together’, Can the PAP Change?

2012 Budget calls for an inclusive society and provides more assistance to middle and lower income families.  A step seems different from the past PAP government.  But an inclusive society can only take place when everyone is in.  So, is the PAP inclusive or exclusive in our society?  Is the government working inside or outside the inclusive society?

Not only we want to build an inclusive society, we also need to work together as a divided society, no matter how inclusive it is, will still be an unproductive and ineffective society.  Hence,      

Former foreign minister George Yeo on Saturday urged Singaporeans of all political stripes to work together for the interests of the country, saying Singapore has been divided since last year's general election. (ST 25 March 2012)

Suddenly, we realise we are a divided society, thanks to the general election last year. For the past 50 or so years, are we a united society or an inclusive society? Can a society be divided just because there is a general election or in a short term of few years?

冰冻三尺非一日之寒 – A frozen ice is not made up of one day of cold.  We can only say that when the PAP elites call for inclusive society and work together Singapore, they are just excluding themselves in the march and in the process of a unifying Singapore. 

>When Singaporeans complain about high price of HDB flats, they say it is affordable. It is because they don’t buy HDB flats.

>When Singaporeans complain about the overcrowded MRT, they say it is not as bad as others. It is because they don’t take public transport.

>When Singaporeans complain about the high number of foreigners, they say we are not producing enough.  It is because they don’t know the job situation and cost of living in Singapore.


Looking at the above and other examples, you can judge for yourself whether the PAP government is inside or outside our inclusive society. 

If yes, then we have an inclusive but divided society. This is because the PAP wants to have an inclusive Singapore society but except the PAP elites.  They want to have an inclusive society but they don’t know how to fix themselves into the inclusive society.  This is the current situation as George Yeo had described. Or a lesson George Yeo (or perhaps the PAP) has learnt after 2011 GE. Is this the minimum that they are willing to admit that their past 50 or so years of economic developments have led to a divided society? And with no other choices, they have to urge Singaporeans to work together for an inclusive society.  

If no, then we will face an even worst situation - a divided society plus an exclusive society.  Not only the PAP is not in the picture of inclusive society, they are another group of Singaporeans joining the PAP wanting to be excluded in the inclusive society.  This will result to not only an exclusive Singapore society but also a divided Singapore society.  Is this happening? George Yeo or the PAP has downplayed this possibility.  But if you look around, you cannot deny that the rich and the poor are living in 2 different worlds in Singapore.  This is especially true in recent years. Languages used and spoken, lifestyle, income gap, housing, heritages, neighborhood and elite schools, and many other examples, are not only dividing Singapore but also make certain parts of Singapore exclusive to certain group of people.

Facing a divided and not inclusive Singapore society, who should make the first step to treat the social ill? With all the country’s resources in their hands, the PAP elites have to make the first move and move it fast.   ‘Calling others to act, to be inclusive and one remains exclusive and outside the inclusive society’ is the problem of the PAP.  A government is a servant of the people, if the government is still acting like a master, giving orders and commands, demanding people to work together, without putting themselves into other people’s shoes, then the majority will have to think whether they should kick the PAP out of the inclusive Singapore society.  Or simply the majority should consider whether it is time to change the government.

Because a divided society, under the rule of one man one vote, will have to choose a government that is representing the majority.   Will the majority continuing to vote for the PAP in a divided and exclusive society?   Has the PAP engaged in the right way? Or they act or pretend to be inclusive but think exclusively in their hearts.  

The election of Hong Kong’s Chief executive in 2012 shows how the majority and minority behave in a divided and exclusive society.  Those 1200 have the right to vote are just minority (and many of them are living in their own exclusive society). Nevertheless, they have chosen a candidate not according to the wishes of the majority based on a mock poll of Hong Kong University.

Hong Kong residents are not as privileged as Singaporeans. They don’t have the voting right to elect their Chief Executive. But even that there is a similarity – the winner of the election is preferred by a certain outsider.  For Hong Kong, the winner, CY Leung is supported and preferred by the Beijing authority. For Singapore, the winner of PE2011, Tony Tan is supported and preferred by the PAP.

Can the same situation repeat itself in the next round of elections in Hong Kong and Singapore?  Especially in Hong Kong, if the ordinary residents get the right to vote their next Chief Executive in 2017, then the majority will show the real colour.  Interestingly for Singapore too, our next presidential election will also be a better indicator of the wishes of the majority.

Let’s hope that the majority will win the next time. 

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