The Workers’ Party has proven itself to be a credible party as evidenced by its ability to attract candidates far superior to PAP’s Chut Pattern, Sim Ann.
However, credibility alone will not ensure success at an election, not when PAP has total control over public resources and always hits below the belt. WP needs a strategy change.
As the only opposition party with elected MPs, its track record in Parliament has been sort of a let-down. With transparency and accountability unaddressed, WP has yet to deliver on its promise of a First World Parliament.
Although the parliamentary questions raised by WP were important (eg. Gerald Giam’s blog), it should have given priority to improving transparency and accountability.
A transparent system, not propaganda disseminated by PAP-controlled mainstream media, allows voters to make informed choices. Asking the ‘right’ questions in Parliament will force PAP to come clean with voters. Instead of perpetually being defensive, WP should consider turning the tables on PAP.
Some questions which WP MPs should ask:
– How many grassroots members receive tax dollars from their business dealings with the government? 5000? 10000?
How many billions in tax dollars do their businesses receive from the government annually?
– What is the individual multi-million pay package of directors of GIC and Temasek Holdings?
– What is the total remuneration of ministers and political office holders? Most Singaporeans are under the impression that a political office holder receives only a salary and his MP allowance which is of course not true. MOS (PMO) Heng Chee How receives a town councilor’s allowance, NTUC Income director’s fee on top of his MP allowance and MOS salary. Since all MPs are funded by taxpayers, they should declare all other incomes and business interests.
– What is the personal wealth of all politicians? PM Lee must take the lead by declaring his personal wealth and assets. If he is a good leader, being extremely wealthy will not turn off voters.
– What is the total amount spent by PAP on SG 50? $200 million? $400 million?
– What is the total amount spent on LKY’s funeral and propaganda?
– Why is PAP taking in 30,000 PRs while more than 10,000 pack up and leave every year?
– Why is the government managing about 800,000 CPF accounts belonging to foreigners? Why are tax dollars and reserves used to guarantee CPF returns for foreigners?
When questions have been tabled, WP should demand answers and not allow ministers to skirt them as if WP MPs were invisible. If there is insufficient time, table them at the sitting. WP’s constituents do not deserve half past six answers from PAP ministers.
WP needs to change its strategy urgently because it will become increasingly difficult as PAP brings in more new citizens to increase its base of supporters. Perhaps it may also need to demand evidence from PAP that its immigration policy is not flawed.
This is because our TFR has continued to fall (chart below) despite having granted some 300,000 citizenships to foreigners since 1987. Anyway, Lee Kuan Yew has already confirmed that “immigrants do not boost our fertility rates because they have as few children as Singaporeans do”.
(The chart below also shows South Korea’s TFR declining in tandem with ours. But its foreigner population is less than ours despite its total population size of about 50 million, almost 10 times ours.)
Since PM Lee took over in 2004, the intake of new citizens has almost trebled to about 20,000 a year.
With a 70% endorsement at the polls, PAP will likely grant citizenship to 25,000 (the upper limit that it has stated) foreigners each year.
Barring any black swan event, support for opposition parties will be further eroded at the next GE due to an increase of more than 100,000 new citizens. But all will not be lost if WP is able to adapt to a new strategy.
According to veteran journalist Seah Chiang Nee, an “authoritative source” once told him that PAP must have control over three things to stay in power – “security forces, finance and the media”.
PAP has been losing control of the dissemination of information as social media now plays an increasingly important role. One down, two to go.
What PAP fears most is the loss of control over state finance, ie our reserves and CPF managed by Temasek Holdings and GIC. WP should recognise that if this second shoe falls, so will PAP. Without control over state finance, PAP will not be able to buy votes, eg bonuses of $3,000 for GIC staff, DBS $1000 and SMRT $500 (both GLCs), $500 for civil servants, etc.
Once PAP ceases to have control over the media and state finance, its loss of control over security forces is inevitable.
WP failed to understand that the CPF issue could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back and missed a golden opportunity during CPF protests at Hong Lim Park. It’s still not too late to revisit the issue and, together with other opposition parties, organise the mother of all protests and pressure PAP to release all our CPF at 55 or conduct a national referendum. A crowd of 20,000 to 30,000 supporters from all opposition parties should be easily achievable.
By releasing $79 billion, or even a part of it, belonging to CPF members aged 55 and above, citizens will be convinced that empowerment is not some mere rhetoric.
Such a move may even see PAP supporters throwing their weight behind opposition parties, provided they are convinced opposition parties are dead serious about fighting to get back OUR money.
What will happen is all the foreign media will converge and soon realise that GIC is not the typical sovereign wealth fund because most of its funds actually belong to citizens and not to the state. International pressure will be brought to bear on the PAP and it can’t continue to wayang by setting up CPF Advisory Panel 2.
Bear in mind that when PAP reluctantly released Amos Yee from prison, it was not due to SG 50 feel good factor, but because of international pressure.
WP and other political parties should think out of the box, work together and galvanise support to voice our concerns outside Parliament. Forget about a classroom approach – it has not worked and never will. Roy has done it and his success can be repeated.
Social media and netizens are mostly supportive of opposition parties. If we weren’t, PAP would not have shut down The Real Singapore.
WP must review its strategy for its own survival and the survival of Singapore as a country, not a corporation. No battle can be won by any opposition party with only 6 elected MPs representing 30% of voters under the GRC system.
We do not have the luxury of time to wait till the next GE because the number of new citizens will have increased by more than 100,000. We must start chipping at issues and every success will convince citizens that we can be empowered.
Opposition parties should pool their limited resources and take our issues to ‘Hong Lim Parliament’ because our voices have never been represented in Pariahment.
We must stop PAP from running down Singapore, abusing public resources, instilling fear in citizens, using taxpayer-funded state media for propaganda and diluting our national identity with its mindless immigration policy.
As the party with the most supporters and elected MPs, WP’s belated strategy change and leadership at this juncture could prevent PAP from taking Singapore further downhill.