Not enough checks yet to cause checkmate

I refer to the 8 Dec 2014 Straits Times report “Too many checks ‘will lead to checkmate'”.

PM Lee is wrong to say that the opposition does not see its duty to solve the nation’s problems or plan for the future:

• The Singapore Democratic Party launched its national housing plan and national healthcare plan in Nov 2012 and Jan this year respectively to solve our nation’s housing and healthcare problems respectively.

• Both Workers Party and the National Solidarity Party launched their papers and plans for a sustainable population in 2013 to solve population problems caused by the PAP.

• The Reform Party launched its 5 year master plan in 2011 to plan for a brighter future in 2016

PM Lee should not see the checker in parliament as negating the efforts of the government doer, thinker or leader. Conversely, parliament checkers help the government doer do the right thing; they help the government thinker crystallize his or her thoughts better, they help the government leader lead better. The checker has, after all, always served the utmost important role of being the last stop in the line.

PM Lee cannot say there are lots of checkers in parliament when only 10 MPs are active checkers (WP + SPP) while close to 80 are sleeping or absent checkers (PAP). If PM Lee discount the 80 sleeping or absent checkers, he will find there aren’t so many checkers around to cause gridlock or checkmate.

But from time to time, these 80 sleeping or absent checkers can spring into action and become counter checkers. With 80 counter checkers against 10 active checkers, the odds are firmly in PM Lee’s favour. What has PM Lee to fear? Are PM Lee’s policies so flimsy, so indefensible, so easily checkable that it cannot prevail despite an 8 to 1 odd?

No reasonable person will believe that PAP will be checkmated in the coming election. In a recent public lecture, Mr Ho Kwong Ping made the point that PAP won’t be checkmated in the next 15 years. Would Seoul give PM Lee honorary citizenship if it thinks PM Lee’s government is about to be checkmated? The most likely reason why PM Lee would warn against PAP being checkmated is to scare the sizeable electoral middle ground which happens to be the most gullible also.

The opposition asks the PAP to do more because the PAP isn’t doing enough.

Almost every year, the PAP takes from the country billions of dollars more than it spends on it. The money for doing more can come from the billions more that the PAP takes from the country every year.

There is no need for PM Lee to take issue with the opposition over the lack of vision statements which tend to be useless motherhood statements anyway. For example, PAP’s vision of a Swiss Standard of Living quickly turned out to be a household joke. Singaporeans don’t need and don’t care about useless motherhood vision statements.

PM Lee should understand that government surpluses that helped fund the $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package did not come from his own pocket but from the pockets of Singaporeans. The spike in housing prices meant that Singaporeans paid more for housing that ultimately went into government surpluses. The availability of vast amounts of cheap CPF funds also helped fuel government investments that helped earn extra surpluses. PM Lee cannot take credit for the surpluses that ultimately came from the people. In spiking housing prices, PAP is ultimately mortgaging our children’s future to win votes because our children will be paying even more in future for ever smaller living spaces.

PM Lee doesn’t know what First World parliament is because he has never been part of one. By the time he was inducted into politics, Singapore parliament has already degenerated into Third World status. PM Lee should not shamelessly associate himself with our achievement of First World nation status but should instead acknowledge that Singapore didn’t progress to First World status under his watch but under the watch of his predecessors.

PM Lee should correct his mistaken notion that PAP also fighting means democracy will truly work in Singapore. More importantly, PAP must fight fairly and squarely in order for Singapore democracy to truly work. PAP fighting with unfair, self-assigned advantages is insulting and contemptuous to Singapore democracy.

PM Lee should quit being hypocritical. Since when in PAP’s history has it ever been the good, nice, friendly guy? Would nice guys lock up opponents for 30 over years without the permission of the courts?

Straits Times, Too many checks ‘will lead to checkmate’, 8 Dec 2014

Singapore’s opposition parties do not see it as their duty to solve the nation’s problems and plan for the future, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Instead, their main campaigning platform is to act as a “check” on the ruling party, he said at a People’s Action Party (PAP) rally held after the party’s biennial conference yesterday.

But for every “checker” in Parliament, there will be one fewer “doer, thinker and leader” in the government, said Mr Lee, who is the PAP’s secretary-general.

“You will have a lot of checkers, you have no workers… There will be gridlock, like in other countries,” he said.

Singapore’s opposition parties do not see it as their duty to solve the nation’s problems and plan for the future, says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. — ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
“Eventually, there will be no PAP to check… That will be the last check, because it will be checkmate for Singapore.”

In a speech that pulled no punches in criticising the opposition, Mr Lee said that every time the PAP Government puts out a popular policy, opposition politicians respond: “Do more.”

But they fail to suggest where the money will come from, or “who are you going to ‘take from’ in order to ‘give more’ “, he said.

Mr Lee also chided opposition politicians for not putting forth a vision for Singapore, saying it is “because they are trying to avoid answering hard questions”.

The PAP, on the other hand, delivers on its promises and thinks long term, he added. Citing the $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package, which was funded from the surpluses of a single term of government rather than future taxes, he said the ruling party will not “mortgage your children’s future to win your votes”.

Taking a jab at the 2011 election slogan of the Workers’ Party (WP) – the biggest opposition party in Parliament – Mr Lee said: “When other people say First World Parliament, we don’t know what it means.” He added to loud cheers: “But when we say First World Nation – here we are.”

Yesterday, Mr Lee also urged PAP activists to greater action in the lead-up to the next general election (GE), especially in opposition-held wards.

The WP currently controls Aljunied GRC, Hougang and Punggol East – the biggest opposition haul since independence.

Mr Lee said that in June, he visited several thousand Aljunied residents, who gave him a rousing welcome. Pledging to win the opposition constituencies back, he said: “It may take some time, but we will not give up trying and, one day, we will succeed.”

He pointed to the example of PAP MP Sitoh Yih Pin, who wrested Potong Pasir back from the opposition on his third try.

Madam Normah Ahmad, 62, a Kaki Bukit activist, agreed: “We should try to win back Aljunied, slowly, if we have to. It is a hard fight, but I think we can.”

Activists must also toughen up for the next GE, Mr Lee said.

“For democracy really, truly to work in Singapore, the PAP also must fight, and fight to win the battle,” he said. “Because if we sit down and we are good guys and nice and friendly to everybody, I think we deserve to lose.”

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