Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Celebrating SG50, Celebrating the End of One-party Rule.

Celebrating SG50 is a closing chapter for Singapore politics and economy. It is the end of the one-party rule of the PAP and the beginning of the participation of alternative politics. All of us, whether supporting or opposing the PAP, will agree that the PAP will lose more parliamentary seats. PM Lee even warned that the PAP might lose power in the next election.

So, when we celebrate SG50, we are also celebrating the emergence of two-party or multiparty politics in Singapore. The celebration of the past, like SG50 and the memory of walkovers, GRCs, NCMPs, will unlikely to be the ‘history repeats itself’. To the PAP, the creation of SG50 is to dream of a ‘history repeats itself’.  However, this is not a realistic sweet dream. SG50 is a closing chapter for the PAP monopoly politics.  

It will be a new political arrangement, a new economic arrangement, perhaps, a new legal and social order.

Two-party or multiparty

Past election data shows the possibility of two-party system rather than a multi-party arrangement. The PAP popular votes will go down, to what level? 55%, 50% or even 45%. Even with 45%, the PAP may still remain in power with a simple majority. In a first-past-the-post system, like PE2011, the PAP can still win with more than 30% support in a multi-corner contest.

For an opposition party with a past record of 40% popular support, it is not an easy task to unseat the PAP. We may see one or two outliers with very strong opposition candidates and ground works.  If the outliers become a norm, and if that happens, it will be a freak election - the biggest worry of the PAP. Then, it will bring forward the multiparty politics in Singapore.

What will cause a freak election? It must be something very big and at a national level. For example, the reserve and CPF.  Suddenly, evident shows the reserve is gone and CPF Board has no money.  Exchange rate and property price can also lead to freak election. Euro crisis, financial crisis and big falling in real estate value had brought down governments.

Sustainable growth

When we celebrate SG50, we will also have to accept a slow growth economy. With 2-4% growth, it is possible some sectors may experience negative growth, some sectors may not be able to restructure and productivity growth will continue to be a problem.

The PAP calls it a sustainable growth. Whether sustainable growth or slower growth, Singapore will be very different from the SG50 era. PM Lee wants to project a prosperity future but fails to bring out solid and sustainable solutions. The PAP’s foundation is high growth, high inequality, and less social support. They have no solutions for low growth, equality and more social support. Alternative inputs and solutions are needed in these areas.

International Commercial Court

Singapore International Commercial Court is a new business venture.  Comparing this to casino business under SG50, we can’t say this is bad. However, this legal venture needs strong political and economic infrastructure.

Moving from one-party to two-party or multiparty politics will strengthen the tribunal business. An international court, whether commercial or criminal, needs the support of democratic system and open economy.  It has a higher chance of success if we go beyond the mindset of SG50.

Interestingly, Chief Justice also announced the setting up  
of a Centralised College for training and educating judges. In many ways, in the post SG50 era, judges will have to consider the new political and economic reality. Training and educating judges accepting the new reality should be part of the college programs.

Society at large

More social involvements, especially the young and social media, will be new reality. The PAP cannot solve all the problems in Singapore.  It is also difficult to hide the problems or issues like the past.  The harmony in the past will not be repeated. There is no more honeymoon for the PAP. Newly elected parliamentary representatives will have shorter learning curve. The planned and ordered PAP succession format, from minister of state to minister, will be a joke after SG50.

We will also see more social activities, from cat, dog, toilet, kindness, religion to red dot.  Singaporeans will demand more transparency and openness. Temple business, unlicensed trade fair, charity donations, $2 company will have hard time in the post SG50.

In 2015, we welcome SG50. In celebration of SG50, we turn the past impossible into reality. The end of the PAP’s monopoly means a new beginning for Singapore, even it is a challenging one.   

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