Monday, 31 March 2014

Political Trust = Institutional Trust = Public Trust?

To the PAP these three trusts are the same. You trust the PAP, your also trust the Institutions and so there is a high public trust.  This is the assumption of the PAP which thinks it always remains in power. And all the major institutions, including NTUC, in Singapore are equal to the PAP.

You trust one then you trust all three: the PAP, the public institutions and high public for the government.  There is no such thing as high public trust, high institutions trust and low PAP trust. Why not?

It is time we separate the political trust and institutional trust. The institutions, like the public administration, the Courts, and even the Presidency have to be independent and not related to the PAP.  Otherwise, a bad PAP will result to a bad institution and poor public trust.

The trend and development should not follow this equation. A matured Singapore should see the separation of political and institutional trust. Public trust of institutions shouldn’t be like the past. A successful model cannot guarantee the same success, especially when the economy and reserve grow bigger and bigger.  

However, the PAP still insists on this relevancy and wants to continue to use institutions to push its political agenda:

[….. there are three things policymakers must do to retain public trust and govern well.

They are: to implement policies well and make sure they work on the ground; include the public in working out solutions; and invest in community life and the intangibles that matter to people’s sense of well being.

On implementation, he said policymakers must consult widely when crafting policy, and put themselves in the shoes of the ordinary citizen.

They must also pay attention to details, correct mistakes quickly when they happen, and explain policies in a way that help Singaporeans understand them.]#1
In his speech to civil servants, DPM Tharman stressed the importance of political trust = institution trust. The PAP wants to engage the civil service to push its political cake of ‘The Pioneer Generation Package’ as they see this as a “live case in point” and a “major and complex exercise” (to gain votes).  They seem to forget that to provide common good is the duty of the party. Good policies are the key points to continue to stay in power. But rights and benefits of senior citizens have been neglected for so long and only now because of the coming election, the PAP thinks of this is complex exercise and live case.    

Clearly, the PAP wants to make use of the institutions to score political points even though it thinks it now enjoys broad public confidence.  Perhaps this illusion only happens outside Singapore, like the Singapore Day in London where PM Lee was mobbed#2.  

To gain public trust will be a challenging task for the PAP in years to come. There are more demand to separate the institutions and politics. However, DPM Tharman sees it in another way: today’s environment is more complex with competing interests and rising expectations#1.

But what are the ‘competing interests and rising expectations’? These can be more checks and balances, more transparency, more independent institutions, more academic freedom, and many more.

The 2011 Presidential Election clearly demonstrated this demand. Voters have rejected the equation of Political Trust (PAP) = President Trust (pro-PAP candidate). On the contrary, voters want an independent Presidency as an effective institution to check on the ruling party.

The PAP is facing a dilemma. On the one hand, they want Singaporeans to know the outside world. On the other hand, they don’t want Singaporeans to learn from outside, for example having the same political demand of checks and balances, independent institutions. Hence, PM Lee had this to say in his Facebook: “In Singapore, we are usually caught up with domestic issues, in some sense, I think we somewhat neglect to notice external trends and global developments.”

Does PM Lee really want Singaporeans to notice external trends and global developments? Or what type of trends and developments has he in mind for Singapore youths?  The fact is Singaporeans are moving ahead of the PAP in noticing outside changes.



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