What Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a rally on Sunday 7th August 2014 has set Singapore guessing and many tongues wagging. This was what he said essentially.
"Singapore's next General Election (GE) will be a "deadly serious" fight between the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and the opposition. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the GE will be crucial to Singaporeans, as it will be about who forms the government and not just how many seats the opposition gets."
First guess, the next general election will be held next year, in 2015 instead of closer to the stipulated deadline of Jan 2017. Actually this was the guess when the government decided to celebrate SG50 to mark the nations's 50th year of independence.
The most mind boggling is what the "deadly serious" means.
I would like to attempt the most maverick guess next. Is the PM actually referring to an alternate party (opposition) with the capability and ability to form the next government, but till now not known to Singaporeans. I have always entertained the thought that George Yeo, would lead a pack of dynamic personalities to serve as an alternate to the PAP. If this is so as guessed, this would be most palatable to a sizeable number of voters who wants alternate voice yet governed by a stable government. Whether the PAP ultimately wins or "X" party gets the mandate, the boat of Singapore's stability is not rocked.
The current crop of opposition parties grossly lack the kind of leadership integrity, ability, and experience that George Yeo can bring along to the table. Many who did not vote for the PAP had been sympathetic at the lost of George Yeo for Aljunied although they had no pity at all for the PAP. Till now, no political party with such impressive credentials has yet to emerge.
Without any better choice and still wanting oppositions in parliament, the voting public has to live with whatever they choose even if there are lingering doubts. Of course the main doubt or you may even call it fear that the prediction of Ho Kwan Ping's prediction of a freaked election comes true. It may not be the Workers Party winning more than two thirds of the seats, but an uncomfortably misfitting coalition of opposition parties forming a fragile government.
As noted by Straits Times, this is the first time PM spoke about a possibility of PAP not forming the government.
Some has taken PM Lee's comments as yet another "wolf is coming", or "Fear Factor". Indeed the PAP has in recent modern times issued many warnings, but each time the real and painful sufferings did not cause too much discomfort to Singaporeans. Could this be the answer behind the "Fear Factor" notion that Singaporeans had quite got used to? Then this must be a damn big mistake for both PAP and Singaporeans at the same time.
The PAP had it in their culture that it is their duty to warn of any calamities, work the solutions, talk about it for a while and file closed. Many a times these fore-warnings that did invite some resentments among Singaporeans were dismissed as distractions and the work to avoid calamities continues. Recent property price rise, unbridled car ownership supported by insensible loan availability, swelling debts even amidst the possibility of a return of higher interest in borrowing were all dutifully addressed and guided towards soft landing. But Singaporeans are viewing measure to curb property prices, control loan quantum as obstructions created to better their lives. They cannot upgrade to a better house now, nor buy a better car for the family. Even the industry is accusing the PAP of stifling their business and causing them loses.
The PAP has always took it upon themselves to solve problems ahead and Singaporeans have little or no part in the problem solving equation. What happens next is...Got problem? Ask government to solve. Not happy, blame government. Don't this sounds familiar?
The PAP may have realized, or even awaken to the fact that Singaporeans must grow up, and be matured. Maybe I should not be putting it this way. We Singaporeans have already grown up and are matured enough to manage our own affairs. We can even manage our own CPF monies, but why sue the guy who spoke up on Singaporeans' behalf? This is yet another contentious point, the PAP will always sue dissenters, make them bankrupt, make them incapable of running for political office.
I cannot help but being forced back in time to re-experience what it feels to be adolescence again. Am I a grown-up or am I not? Am I not matured? I guessed this is what Singaporeans are, both grown up and not being an "adult" at the same time. Mature, yet not mature.
Like it or not, Singaporeans must grow up and be matured. For Singaporeans' sake, or for PAP's sake. Fifty (50) years have gone by, it's time to calibrate the relationship between the PAP government and Singaporeans. Although 50 years in human history is short by any standard, it is long enough for Singapore as a small country and fast paced Singaporeans. But that is "mental time" or "philosophical time". In "real time" Singapore has not finished its Nation Building phase, yet it may have to slow down and focus on issues that "grown up" states are facing. Now we see Singapore as being an "Adolescent State". We may have to give up some things that a growing-up nation needs and parachute ourselves to face the harsh real world of "Adults".
Singaporeans have enjoyed great teenage frills. The "by election" effect that PM Lee mentioned allowed Singaporeans to experience voting in oppositions to check on the government and yet still enjoys the safety of parental (PAP) provision. To this point, those who say the PAP is very paternal is not very wrong either. But the paternal PAP feels that the kind of adult experience Singaporeans are getting is incorrect and inaccurate. The oppositions they voted into the parliament are not exactly what opposition members should be. Singaporeans will end up getting a parliament that is very "unreal". PM Lee's further comments about opposition politicians attested to this.
So at the next general election, Singaporeans are expected to come out of their paternal sheltering and "be a man" so to speak. So what does the PAP meant by "choosing the next government"? Could it be that if they are able to form the next government but short of two thirds, they will resign enmass? Could it be that they'll scrap the GRC system altogether and eradicate the effectiveness of the opposition's by-election strategy?
Whatever strategy that is going to emerge from the PAP in the coming months, there is no escape for Singaporeans to vote for the opposition and get the PAP man working, another strategy employed by the opposition parties. Every vote will decide who is going to be government.