By: Gilbert Goh
The headline in Channel NewsAsia, “Multi-party system has real long-term risks for Singapore: Ong Ye Kung“, is a real difficult headline to stomach early in this cold, wet, Tuesday morning.
The true test of democracy is the ability to let different parties flourish with different identities so people have several choices to choose their government leaders from.
It can get untidy of course, but that’s what democracy is all about – diversity, choices and a mix. You encourage it and not knock opposition down as it’s good for the country.
If you prefer a one-party rule then adopt communism and scraps election like what China does.
The lack of a critical opposition in Parliament so far has led to numerous blunders in our civil service resulting in serious corruption charges involving senior civil servants and ridiculous overspending, for example, the $450,000 rubbish bin bill.
A clear case for complacency is seen now in Singapore due to over 50-years of a one-party rule. The ugly outcome of a one-party rule is all too clear and difficult to watch sometimes.
A 2-party rule, on the other hand, generates strong debate in Parliament and the constant checking ensures a clean government is above reproach – one that is always thinking of ways to improve the living standards of the people.
We are currently not really doing well – the economy has hit a rut for the past few years while we enjoy the unenviable status of being the most expensive city in the world with the second highest wage gap to boot.
Bills get passed through quickly without enough critical debate and we need more street-smart people in the cabinet than scholarly book-smart kind.
In fact, the one-party rule Mr Ong advocates may see the ruin of us all, as we struggle to implement serious changes at the economic front. Our only hope right now is the quick huge import of foreign workers into the economy so MNCs have the incentive to stay on. Nothing is being done to grow the Singapore Core so that more of us can lead companies or be entrepreneurial enough to set up enterprises.
The Terrex fiasco reveals how lacking our government has been at the bilateral front and it also shows how inexperienced we are at handling regional conflicts. One wonders how we will fare if there is a potential war situation with our neighbouring countries.
My fear is that the voice of this current regime will be perpetuated by the current views of our potential future PM and we may truly see the end of Singapore.
We truly need a more robust Parliament whereby devised views can be shared to generate more out-of-the-box thinking. The current crop seems to think alike and any critical opposing view is quickly shot down.
No one dares to voice out in open defiance from the same camp and unless we have more opposition numbers in Parliament, we will always lack the critical edge that only a proper check and balance system can provide.