Is a multi-part​y system good for S’pore?

Dear Straits Times,

I refer to the 14 Apr 2011 article by Mr Daniel Yew.

Mr Yew points to the near shutdown of US government services as an example of checks and balances checkmating the government itself. But the example is not quite valid because at the end of the day, US politicians avoided government services shutdown and so avoided checkmating itself.

Mr Yew also points to political jostling reducing Portugal to a pauper. But Portugal’s problems is society wide, not merely political.

It is easy for Mr Yew to point out a few unglamorous examples of multi-party countries while ignoring other more successful examples. We can similarly pick out unglamorous examples of single-party countries like North Korea and Myanmar as well. Picking examples to suit one’s arguments is really no argument at all.

Mr Yew asks if minnow Singapore can weather the social instability of a multi-party system. Taiwan and Israel are close examples in this respect. Both are small compared to the size of their respective adversaries, both have weathered the multi-party system.

Mr Yew suggests that if a committee gets bigger, decisions won’t be timely, decisions won’t be the best, decisions will be watered down to please everyone. Not necessary. Let’s say the committee wants to make a decision on where to go for the annual company function, a website poll of employees will quickly settle the matter. While the decision need not please everyone, it must reflect the people’s choice rather than the choice of the committee.

Mr Yew asks if having as many views as possible is indeed so good, why not institute it in the military? Why not consult every soldier for every tactical decision? But the people are not soldiers listening and obeying the orders of the general. In today’s context, the people are shareholders of the corporation. The government is not the almighty general but the CEO and his management team who are answerable to the shareholders. The shareholders are represented by the board of directors who are in turn the members of parliament. If the CEO and management team is also the board of directors and vice versa, the check and balance role of the board of directors gets compromised. It is in the layer of the board of directors that diversity of views representing the diverse interests of the people that is important. For very important decisions, a shareholder meeting can be held for all shareholders to raise their concerns.

Mr Yew says that money from the opposition wish list is written in invisible ink. It isn’t. In the case of HDB prices for instance, what they ask for is not unreasonable. HDB prices have risen too fast too unreasonably. The opposition is merely asking to bring sanity back to HDB prices. Yet our one party continues to deny that flat price has become unaffordable and continues to peddle their asset enhancement philosophy without informing us of the accompanying enhancement to mortgage liabilities. So it seems like it is our one party who has been guilty of writing in invisible ink instead.

Mr Yew says a multi-party system will have no shortage of politicians exploiting emotions and who work the crowd. The same can be said of the one-party system, except that the exploitation of emotions is more thorough, more complete. Does Mr Yew not remember MM Lee’s numerous scaremongerings including the one on our women becoming maids?

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One Response to “Is a multi-part​y system good for S’pore?”

  1. Suz Says:

    Good comments again, kudos!

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