By: Ravi Philemon
PM Lee believes that Singaporeans are generally happy with him and said that was why his party had a super-majority in Parliament. He said recently, “If they were unhappy with me, I would not be sitting here so peacefully, smiling and talking to you. I would have other problems on my mind.”
I wonder what these “other problems” he would have in his mind if Singaporeans better expressed their unhappiness and reduced the PAP’s super-majority in Parliament.
Some time ago, Mr Lee said the opposition’s job was to make life miserable for him, and that they want him to “screw up”. He felt paranoid about them eyeing his seat and said he would have to “fix” them if more opposition members were elected to Parliament.
“What is the opposition’s job? It’s not to help the PAP do a better job! Their job is to make life miserable for me so that I screw up and they can come in and sit where I am here and take charge.
“Right now, we have (3 opposition members in Parliament): so can deal with them, it’s ok. But supposing you had a Parliament with 10, 15, 20 opposition members out of 80.
“Then, instead of spending my time thinking of what is the right policy for Singapore, I’m going to spend all my time – I have to spend all my time – thinking what is the right way to fix them, what is the right way to buy own my supporters over, how can I solve this week’s problem and forget about next year’s challenges?” – PM Lee, May 3, 2006
Why does the PAP need to be so adversarial? An adversarial political system is not good for Singapore. The PAP’s mindset of “anyone who is not for me is really against me,” must change.
Towards this call for non-adversarial politics, I laud Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s congratulatory message to Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, for being conferred the Distinguished Leadership and Service Award by the US-based Institute of International Finance (IIF).
Doc said, “I am delighted that he has been recognised by the international community for his abilities. Indeed, he still has many contributions to make in the international community and we are very proud of him, flying the Singapore flag high.”
In this instance, Doc saw Mr Tharman as a political opponent who deserves credit and recognition. He saw him as a Singaporean who was flying the Singapore flag high in the international arena.
This is the kind of non-adversarial politics Singapore needs!
The opposition’s job is to help the Government do better in caring for Singaporeans – in helping to lift some of the heavy burden that they bear day-after-day. To do this effectively, there must be more opposition in Parliament.
Ravi Philemon is a member of the newly formed Progress Singapore Party.