An oft-heard opposition retort towards the AHPETC saga is that the PAP is adopting “bullying tactics” to fix the WP. Or that the WP were given a poor starting hand when they began managing the newly won Aljunied GRC back in 2011. The premise of these arguments is that the WP is playing an unfair game with the stakes stacked against them by the PAP.
And because of this unfairness, one should not vote for the PAP. (This post will not discuss whether this “unfairness” is real or perceived.)
I heartily disagree with this”unfairness” argument. In fact, I would go far as to say the WP does not deserve my vote because they have failed to react well to unfairness.
The hard truth is that life is never fair. Big countries will always have more resources and options than small countries. A small economy like Singapore will always be especially vulnerable to global shocks like epidemics, global recessions, terrorism etc. We live in an increasingly uncertain world, where unfair circumstances can and will plague Singapore. We live in a region where our neighbors are not always friendly and stable countries.
I feel that too much of the election debate has been concentrated on insular issues like AHPETC, foreigner workers, minimum wage, transport, education and healthcare. These problems, as big as they seem to be, are ultimately small matters compared to larger global shocks. Does it matter how many foreigners are squeezing in the train with you, if your company is going bankrupt in the face of another global recession? Are Singaporeans so naive to think that we are immune to the events happening outside our shores?
Hence what matters to me is whether Singapore has strong leaders that can deal with unfairness. In times of great stress, will our politicians be able to face any crisis head-on so that Singapore emerges unscathed or stronger? Or will our politicians be paralyzed by fear or fail to make the tough decisions to save Singapore? We cannot depend solely on civil servants to carry us through these tough times, as the civil servants role is to suggest and implement policy, and not to make the big decisions.
The track record speaks for itself. The PAP has navigated Singapore well through crisis like SARS and the global financial crisis. While the PAP tries to paint itself as a caring government, its actions show that it is prepared to take swift and decisive actions to protect itself and Singapore. No “weapon” is considered too extreme, even bullying tactics. It takes a certain kind of courage and thick skin to say no towards more populist policies, or to deny upgrades to housing wards that don’t vote for the PAP. It takes a certain kind of leader to take responsibility for their past failures and take action to rectify these.
On the other hand, the WP has not shown that it can handle crisis well. The micro-crisis of AHPETC has shown that WP cannot get its act together. In the face of PAP accusations, WP has failed to produce accounts that its own auditors are willing to sign off for multiple years. WP has provided no satisfactory reason for why it fails to provide auditors with the information it needs. Instead, what we see is a blame game. What we see is a political party that only wants to check on the incumbent, instead of putting in place some credible plan to eventually become the government.
Ask yourself this. When the shit hits the fan, do we want leaders who are willing and able to take responsibility and decisive action? Or do we want leaders who blame others and let the problems fester? We are electing leaders, not saints.
I know my answer. My vote goes to the PAP for this GE. The WP will simply have to do better next time.
In the words of the late LKY – “Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him. Or give it up. This is not a game of cards. This is your life and mine. ”