Singapore’s opposition parties have over the past few years come out with credible policies which can better the lives of Singaporeans.
On Sunday, prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said: “Only the PAP is solving problems and planning for the future. Only the PAP is putting forth a vision for Singapore.
“No other party does it better than the PAP!”
He also derided the opposition by saying: “The Opposition does not see any duty to bring people together, solve problems and plan for the future.
“Every time we put out a popular policy, they say ‘Do More’”.”
However, Mr Lee’s criticism of the opposition might only make him look petty, and this would only entrench the common perception that he is trying to “fix” the opposition.
A close observation of the opposition would see that they have been conscientiously devising credible policies which are in line with the wants of Singaporeans.
Singaporeans First (SingFirst) has said that it plans to provide free education from primary school to university, and also implement an old-age pension in addition to CPF and unemployment insurance.
This would provide Singaporeans with a strong safety net to protect the young, the old and the unemployed.
The PAP has made no such promise.
Moreover, the PAP on Sunday said that it has changed its values to wanting to uphold a fair and just society, but so far, it is “no action, talk only”, to quote Mr Lee’s own words.
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has gone a step further and over the past two years introduced several policy papers to make public housing more affordable and to reduce the salaries of the ministers.
SDP has calculated that it would be possible to bring down public housing prices to be below $250,000 for new buyers, if the government takes back the control of transactions.
On the flipside, it is the PAP that has continued to be ineffective and has made broken promises about making public housing cheaper. National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that he would reduce the prices of Build-to-Order (BTO) flat to less four times the annual salaries of Singaporeans. However, the actual amount is still far higher.
On the Central Provident Fund, the National Solidarity Party (NSP) has this year also conducted a focus group and proposed solutions to enhance it even before the PAP did.
The Worker’s Party (WP) has also, since it expanded its representation in parliament, has been able to ask some hard-hitting questions, which has exposed the low healthcare expenditure that the government is spending for Singaporeans, among others. In its place, Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam has also proposed alternative healthcare policies to increase healthcare spending to benefit Singaporeans which the PAP has however rejected.
Even as Mr Lee said, “Only the PAP is bringing different groups together,” his talking down of the opposition has by itself created divide.
Indeed, this was astutely observed by the Secretary-General of SingFirst Tan Jee Say who told Channel NewsAsia: “SingFirst sees the next GE (general election) as a last chance for Singaporeans to assert ourselves, our interests and well being in the face of PAP’s relentless attempt to dilute the core of native Singaporeans by converting huge numbers of foreigners to citizenship.
“Yes the next GE is deadly serious for true blue Singaporeans.”
Chairman of the Singapore People’s Party and Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam also said that the next GE is “also a serious wake up call for its own government, to fix its many wrong policies right, for affected Singaporeans”.
The other political parties present themselves as formidable opponents to the PAP and it is obvious that the PAP sees them as threats, with Mr Lee bellowing against them so blatantly.
Indeed, the next GE is seen by many observers as a make a break situation for Singapore, which also explains why the PAP is now kept on its toes – it knows that it has postponed the much needed changes for Singapore and is finally worried that its delay in resolving the issues in Singapore is now going to cost it votes.
Even in the likely situation that this might happen, Singaporeans can take heart that the other parties have already armed themselves with analysis to improve the lives of Singaporeans when they take over.