CSJ: Tweaks to Presidency is just PAP ensuring it's not beaten at its own game

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By: Dr Chee Soon Juan

I have often pointed out that the PAP is never sincere in ensuring that there is genuine political contestation, it always raises the bar just when its opponents come close to beating it at its own game (think GRC, Cooling-off Day, Public Order Act, etc).

The most recent example is the tweaking of the EP (Elected Presidency). Ostensibly, it is to ensure minority representation in the presidency. The reality is that alarm bells went off when Dr Tony Tan won by just 0.34%-point over Dr Tan Cheng Bock.

As usual, the government goes through the exercise of conducting a “study” of the issue. “Expert” views are then sought to substantiate the recommendations in the study.
02The process goes like this:

Step 1: Frame the issue, set the parameters.

Step 2: Gin up debate in the local media and through various panels (within prescribed parameters, of course).

Step 3: Legislate it.

Much time, effort and money is expended to legitimise a course of action on which the PAP has already decided. Remember the discussions about whether to have 9 or 12 NCMP seats or 3- or 6-member GRCs or which race Singaporeans prefer their presidents?

As Noam Chomsky points out: “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

What is troubling in this instance is that at a time when our country faces complex and enormous challenges – challenges where open and intelligent debate is so desperately needed – the PAP devices yet another scheme to further control the political process.

There is a price, a steep one, to pay for all this.


Republished from Dr Chee’s Facebook.