Monday, October 05, 2009

A power shift only when the PAP becomes incompetent and corrupt?

"But if the PAP ever becomes incompetent and corrupt and lets the people down, then it deserves to be voted out. We will do our utmost to ensure that this does not happen"

The above remark, according to today's Straits Times ("Serving well is key to success", 5/10/2009), was part of the answer given by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in response to a question from Japanese journalists on whether "the political shift that occurred in Japan recently -- with the Liberal Democratic Party losing power to the Democratic Party of Japan -- could happen in Singapore".

On my first reading of the above remark, I cannot help but notice it could be interpreted in two different ways. One, that the PAP will do its utmost to ensure that it does not become incompetent, corrupt and let Singaporeans down; this, I believe, was what PM Lee meant. Two, that the PAP will do its utmost to ensure that it does not get voted out; this, although PM Lee was not saying it, is perhaps what the PAP has also been doing with much vigour.

And on deeper reflection, I cannot help but wonder if the PAP does indeed become corrupt and incompetent, will it, in light of the institutional measures it has put in place to endow itself with the greatest advantage in elections and politics, really be voted out of office? Or will it be more likely that it will remain in power, despite it becoming incompetent and corrupt, because of the institutional measures it has put in place previously?

Also, even if a corrupt and incompetent PAP does get voted out of office, will it, in light of the institutional safeguards it has put in place to guard against a "freak election", regain political power after one term because any new non-PAP government will be stymied by these institutional safeguards?

Of course, as MM Lee Kuan Yew said in a dialogue session with young Singaporeans three years ago, if the PAP does become incompetent and corrupt, Singaporeans will, despite the institutional measures in place, nonetheless find a way to remove it from office, either peacefully through voting or violently through protests and demonstrations.

However, while I agree with the point that if the PAP does become completely unbearable, Singaporeans will find a way to remove it from office regardless of what obstacles there may be, I suppose most of you all will agree that such a situation is not one anyone of us all is looking forward to (that is, the PAP becoming completely unbearable and Singaporeans needing to resort to extra-electoral means to remove it from office).

In the end, while it may be theoretically true and easy to say that the PAP will be voted out or removed from office once it becomes corrupt and incompetent but things may not be that simple in reality.


chillycraps said...

I guess political turbulence is not something that people want to see.

Marc said...

The way I see it, we're already halfway there. Nobody knows if they are corrupt or not, but we have all been witnesses to their incompetence in the last 5 years.

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