Opinion: Why now? Stability is the key
The results of GE 2015 have sunk in. Here are the reactions of three readers who look back at what happened and look ahead to what must be done.
Many thanks to your paper and your hard working reporters for the report "Why Now" (The New Paper, Sept 13). I agree that stability is key. Stability with good policies is crucial for Singapore as it steers its way into a changing future.
The word "stability" summarised everything in my mind when I cast my vote - stability with harmony and effective creative adaptability. We cannot afford to have an unstable, timid, fragmented, or fanciful policy framework.
For stability to work well, political leaders need to be worth their salt, and practise what they promised, especially that part about being "servants" of the people. They should consult if it really makes sense to do so, though it does not make sense for the government to consult the public on every measure, especially if they already have ears close to ground.
We elect the government to govern fairly, but no decision is fair to a person adversely affected by it. And should the government prove unworthy to the majority, it will have to face the electorate which is now reasonably mature, educated and know what will be good for the nation, especially if there is an equally mature, responsible opposition which will not rave and rant but will be capable of leading rationally, knowing and avoiding the whims and fancies that will destroy Singapore.
But one opposition leader came across as arrogant, as he implied public servants were partisan, and accused the government of bullying and unfair practices. It showed him up as not understanding the territorial and financial framework within which town councils work. For example, they would need to comply with environmental health regulations and other rules. Civil servants are just doing their jobs. They are prodded by the law and their duty to pursue a course of action.
Another candidate lambasted the Prime Minister, saying he has let his father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, down, and blaming him for a riot and for setting up the casinos and for Singapore supposedly going downhill. Luckily the heavy haze came on cooling off day or else the Prime Minister would have been blamed for that too.
Another candidate tried to appeal to the Muslim vote by saying he will fight for the wearing of the tudung. Luckily for us, our Muslims brethren are smart and educated enough not to allow themselves to be exploited for narrow political ends like in some other countries.
Another candidate wanted to do away with National Service and replace it with a regular force. Yet another proposal was to place the Ministry of Health under the Ministry of Defence.
Such ranting at rallies and in social media made me, my friends and family worry what an opposition victory would mean for Singapore, much as we would like to have one. A large part of the opposition and their supporters, in our minds, lack political maturity and rational reflection.
It was bad political judgement on the part of some opposition leaders when they chose a person who defamed the prime minister as a candidate. What sort of Singaporeans would we be if we let a prime minister who has led Singapore so well despite ill- health and personal tragedies be defeated by someone whom he successfully sued for defamation?
I think the nonsense spouted by some opposition leaders and candidates put off rational people, even those who support the need for an opposition. Some opposition parties put forth proposals without thinking of the adverse consequences that will result if they are implemented. The average Singaporean is sufficiently educated and intelligent enough to have a rational understanding of what can and cannot work for Singapore.
In short, the opposition shot themselves in the foot by frightening many of us who just want stability, security and an acceptable standard of living, with proper housing, affordable health services, economic growth and jobs.
Some want a happiness index instead of economic and financial indices. As a measure of good government, this is for the likes of Bhutan and not for a vulnerable city state with little agricultural land and hardly any natural resources. Even our water resources need to be wrested from nature. We have to create tourist attractions to prosper.
So, despite my deep personal grievances, like why the Central Provident Fund needs to hold back tens of thousands of dollars in my Medisave account when I have Government pensioner medical benefits, pioneer medical subsidies and Medishield, and my need for money to be released for my monthly use, I resolutely voted for the People's Action Party. Like many in Singapore I know I have to look beyond my narrow personal dissatisfactions and individual policy grievances and vote with our head for the future progress and well-being of Singapore. Voting in an opposition is good but we need to be careful who we vote in.
Is it not hilarious that one opposition party leader likened our system to that of communist countries? If it is so, he would be in jail by now.
Ranting, victimhood and irrational bluster might gain the opposition some supporters but the majority of Singaporeans are not that brainless. So opposition parties must prepare themselves and their speeches at rallies well, to reflect properly crafted policies.
- A.Y. Lim
I am writing about the General Election, which was extensively covered by The New Paper.
When Mr Lee Kuan Yew was planning to step down, Singapore had the luxury of three choices - Dr Tony Tan, Mr Goh Chok Tong and Mr Lee Hsien Loong - who were all capable of taking over as Prime Minister.
It was Mr Goh who took over, and then the younger Mr Lee, and we have to ask now if he will have that kind of time or space for a smooth transition, something that could have a bearing on our next 50 years as a nation.
It is important to find the right candidate when forming the Cabinet, and groom him, so that he can carry on the good work of his predecessors.
And this has to be done at the same time as meeting promises made to the electorate, who voted so overwhelmingly and unexpectedly for the People’s Action Party (PAP).
Having shown in no uncertain terms they trust in the ruling party, they have also placed the onus on the party to deliver the goods.
There is also the need to address the 30 per cent who did not vote for continuity, and wanted change. They obviously have grievances that need to be addressed before the next election, to avoid the uncertainty that reared its ugly head before GE 2015. Investors were watching, following the less-than-satisfactory results of GE 2011.
As for much of the electorate, common sense seems to have prevailed this time. With the economic gloom that has settled over the island like the haze, it was important to have someone with the experience and knowledge of statecraft to run things. All we have to do is look around at what has happened in other parts of the world, where wrong choices have been very costly.
As for the PAP now, the need to serve the country and its people is paramount once again. Which is why picking the right cabinet is so crucial, and putting together the right policies will determine a calm passage while taking Singapore to the next level.
Having made our choices, we must now get to the business at hand. It is time to move forward as one and attain the objective that must be uppermost in the minds of all those involved, and that is ensuring even further stability, growth, progress and prosperity to be enjoyed by all, without taking anything for granted.
It is time to work towards making, as far as is possible, every citizen comfortable so that there will be even more to celebrate when SG100 comes around.
This we must never lose sight of, and turning back every now and then will help us remember how we got here in the first place, and act as the impetus to keep us going.
Our first generation of leaders embodied and instilled in us that character, drive and determination. We must put this to good use, but with greater intensity, to make this city state of ours even better than it already is.
- Manoraj Rajathurai
I am writing about Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) leader Chee Soon Juan, who seems to have turned over a new leaf.
During the election campaign, it was abundantly clear to many Singaporeans, myself included, that Dr Chee has mellowed, and is contributing to the ever-changing political climate in Singapore.
Despite huge setbacks, Dr Chee has not raised the white flag, but has persevered time and again through the support of his wife and children. Even though he did not make it to Parliament once again, he is now open to the idea of working with the Workers Party to help bring about a more unified opposition.
Making a living out of publishing books is no easy task especially when you are unable to secure sponsorship and find suitable marketing platforms. As a writer myself, trying so hard to put food on my table, I know that only too well. I recall how Dr Chee was shunned when he was peddling his books at different locations. That must have been a humbling experience. I am happy that more Singaporeans are willing to offer support now, going by the numbers buying his books at the party's rallies.
I believe some of the policies presented by the SDP and the other opposition parties are workable if they cooperate with the government, which can do some modifying and fine-tuning where necessary. The ruling party should not reject ideas and suggestions from the opposition parties or from active citizens. And I am pleased that Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has spoken of a willing to consider the views of the opposition and to engage citizens.
- Raymond Anthony Fernando