Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Is Prism Project Another Central Planning of the PAP?

There are 3 scenarios under the Prism Project#1 of Institute of Public Policy.  However, it looks more like the central scenario planning of the People’s Action Party. From the instructional menu of Prism Project Primer #2, participants were guided to a situation in 2022 and they have to imagine, within the Primer framework, to come out with 3 possible scenarios in Jun-Aug 2012. 

2022. What a coincidence! Not long ago, PM Lee declared that he would like to hold the prime minister post for another 10 years. The other coincidence is the similarity between the 3 scenarios and the candidates of PE2011.

How competitive and sustainable are the 3 scenarios to the people of Singapore and to the PAP?   Will the scenarios produce competitive and sustainable Singapore, Singaporeans or the PAP?  Perhaps, as what the Chinese say: planning cannot always catch up with changes.   And planning sometimes turns out the wrong, bad and unexpected results, especially when planning without considering the people and their souls. And the worst scenario for the PAP is the loss of majority in the parliament in 2022.   

Central Planning in the Past not always right

As a one-party state, many planning in Singapore are centered on the wishes of the PAP. In the past, a PAP planning usually comes with a campaign, for example, HDB housing, population, bilingualism, integrated resorts, etc. When we look at the Prism Project, after the publication and announcement of 3 scenarios, the public will now have a chance to watch the campaign ‘wayang’ in November.   

Unfortunately, not all past planning matched the aims and desires of the PAP:

  • -       Singlish rather than English is preferred in this English speaking country and the need of Speak Good English campaign.
  • -       Bilingualism education system produces monolingual graduates and a hate feeling of mother’s tongue.
  • -       GRC can no longer protect the PAP for running Singapore likes a one-party state.
  • -       A Swiss standard of living ends up with widening rich-poor gap.
  • -       Productivity improvements achieve through low wages and foreign workers. 
  • -      

10 years later, when we look back at the 3 scenarios, we will know whether it is a central planning of the ISP for the PAP or not. Is it a proof of closer relationship between government institutions and the PAP?

PE2011 and the 3 scenarios

The Prism Project Report presents 3 scenarios:, and

Below is short summary as reported in Today:

1) A pro-business government focusing on economic growth and ensuring better-paying jobs for Singaporeans.

2) A government formed by a splinter group of the People's Action Party providing cheap and heavily subsidised healthcare, education and housing.

3) A weak coalition government running a country whose citizens have little trust in it but where there is high venture capitalism and much community-driven effort.
One of these three scenarios could become reality a decade from now, according to a first-of-its-kind scenario planning exercise conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) which involved some 140 participants from a cross-section of Singapore society.

When we compare the 3 scenarios and the 3 PE2011 candidates, table below shows an interesting coincidence:

Prism Project
PE2011 candidates
Tony Tan – supported by PAP
Tan Cheng Bock – a splinter of PAP
Tan Jee Say – alternative

For the PAP, it wants to maintain a status quo – continuing with the present economic and social policies – population, immigration, health care, education etc. If they really cannot hold the position, the PAP will prefer to transit from .com to .gov by providing more cares to the people.  In this case, the younger brothers of the PAP are still in control of the government.  It is clearly stated in the Prism Report that is a splinter of the PAP.      

[Referring to a point when Workers’ Party said something about the coalition government last year, it is possible this splinter group, not the original PAP, joins hand with WP to form the government.]   

What the PAP totally cannot accept is the scenario 3: described Wikicity as:

In WikiCity, there is no central power because in this world, political unhappiness from a government that was disconnected from ground sentiment resulted in a low level of trust among the people. 
The state looks after foreign relations, trade and law and order, while keeping taxes and regulations as light as possible, much like the way the British ran Singapore in the 1960s. 
Because of this, though, communities are independently formed to help one another and provide essential services and assistance. International companies will withdraw their investments due to the instability but high net worth individuals who settled abroad will return to invest in promising enterprises and spare productive capacity here.
The description above sounds very familiar and matches the tone of the PAP towards oppositions, especially SDP. 

The 3 scenarios can also arrange into 3 types of political developments in Singapore: 

Prism Project
Political Development#3
Status Quo

What we have already known of ‘Singastore’ is the status quo – the present situation of Singapore. Do you think it can remain unchanged for another 10 years? Most will think it will move towards SingaGives or something between Scenario 1 and 2.

Scenario 3 type of transformation is also possible but seems like a wild card. It is a wild card because Prism Project gives it a negative definition as does the PAP.

Why don’t we disregard the likelihood scenario and think of the unlikely scenario?  Majority will agree that Scenario 1 – SingaStore will not happen in 2022. It is preferred by the central planners but is not acceptable by the people.  

The likelihood and possible happenings will be the other 2 scenarios, their combination or new scenarios. This will depend very much on the people’s power not the central planning of the PAP.   
Only if the central planning of the PAP succeeds, then Scenario 1 will remain and there are not many changes in Singapore in 2022.    

Selection of participants

Todayonline reported that ‘some 140 participants from a cross-section of Singapore society’ participated in the scenario planning.

This project, likes the National Conversation and other government projects or surveys, suffers from sample bias.  When Mediacorp tried to explain the participants to the TV forum of National Conversation were fairly selected, we all know that this explanation of inclusiveness cannot stand.

If you click on the name list of participants: Young Singaporeans (21-22 June) #4, you will see there is not a single student representative from NTU.  However, you find students from NUS, SMU and even SIM and JCs in the name list.  By this analogy, the meaning of ‘cross-section of Singapore society’ may need to be redefined. 

Is this only happened to this sector workshop or others? Even for an easy task of selection of student participants, this exclusiveness can happen.  What about other sector workshops?  

However, to central planners, they will use their own definition of ‘cross section’, inclusiveness, and of course, their desired scenarios.  And can all these face the challenges of times and changes?






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