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51 years since independence and time to reconsider PAP’s total political domination

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By: Chris Kuan

51st year of independence and 48th year of PAP’s total political domination. Do we get to 100th year of independence and beyond? For that we have to consider whether the PAP’s 48 years of total political domination is the right path to get there.

Last year before the 2015 General Election, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned the voters that Singapore’s future was at stake in that if PAP failed, the nation was in trouble. This narrative has always been effective for many Singaporeans who are uncertain of life without the PAP.

But in it lies the danger on the path to our next 50 years and beyond for the narrative implies that without the PAP, there is no viable alternative to govern Singapore. That is to say, we as a nation has no backup, no double, triple redundancy, no recovery plans to ensure the continued prosperity and relevance of Singapore, should the PAP fail. How safe is such a company in coping with human failure let alone a nation state?

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The PAP may not have failed but that is not the same as saying it has not failed in certain areas, or that it has not failed certain segments of the population. It has always maintained that it must have a supermajority, better still no opposition in order to focus on the long term. And yet this did not stop the PAP from indulging in short term fixes that have long term consequences. Neither did this ensure the PAP understand and therefore mitigate the trade-offs in its policy choices.

These are the consequences of the PAP’s single minded maintenance of total political domination. It stymies the opposition parties and repress the legal and political environment so that there can be no policy alternatives than its own. The much bigger potentially catastrophic consequences is that the nation will be in trouble should the PAP fail because there is no other alternatives to govern the nation.

Think of it as making sure the nation failing together with the PAP if the party should fail. That should be how we read Mr Lee’s warning.

So while you may not like to contemplate life without the PAP, you are also putting the nation at long term risk if you do not aim for political plurality in our nation, the sort of plurality in which nations survive centuries without having to depend on one party.

Besides, who is to say the PAP will not benefit from a period out of government?

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