Saturday, April 14, 2007

Will Singaporeans Remember?

Okay... I am taking a short break from exam revision and just thought that I should just post a short comment on the Insight article ("Ministers' pay hike: What is the political price tag?, ST, 14/4/2007) that The Straits Times published today which looked at the political implications of the recent increases in ministerial salaries.

Note: I am adapting the following from a comment I posted in reply to Ms. Charissa Lim's latest blog entry.

Well, to me, the most interesting & insightful comment in the whole article mentioned above was this comment by Dr. Terence Chong, a sociologist and research fellow at the Institute of South East Asian Studies: "The pay hike comes just after the elections, and when the next one comes around, most would have forgotten it".

This comment, in my opinion, is sad yet true. Most Singaporeans do not appear to have very good "political" memories. I mean, for example, who still remembers about the James Gomez incident of the last General Elections (GE), the Wee Shu Min incident or the "demonstration" which was staged by Dr. Chee and a few of his colleagues during the IMF-WB meetings here in Singapore last year?

Though, of course, most Singaporeans would find it most difficult to not remember about the "bad old days" of Singapore and how it was the PAP Government that led Singapore out of those days and into the First World from the Third World, considering that we are constantly reminded of this, especially in the recent days with the debate over the ministerial & senior civil servants salaries increases. (I guess this was what Mr. Jamie Han, remember him?, had in mind when he said this to MM Lee in 2005: "With all due respect sir, I’ve just two more things to say: One, that you are using the fear of the past in order to prevent progress... And second, you are picking examples of countries which suit your argument whereby I can raise a dozen others to counter with you. But this is not a philosophical discussion so thank you for your time.")

The next GE is due in 2011/2012, so it's 4 to 5 years away and 4 to 5 years, in politics, is a very long time, a lot of things could happen during that period to diminish the memories and discontent about the ministerial pay increases. (I guess, by that time, people would be again talking about HDB upgrading, electoral boundaries and perhaps even lawsuits; though, hopefully, there won't be any lawsuits or threats of them)

Well, guess we just have to see how good Singaporeans' memories are when the next GE comes around (hopefully, I will get to vote by that time and not end up being one of those Singaporeans who never get to vote due to walkovers; of course, in the last GE, the GRC I was living in was contested but I was not of voting age yet; I missed it by 11 months)...

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