Will the fixed PE have consequences for the PAP at the next election? Somehow I doubt it
According to Tan Cheng Bok the fixing of the 2017 Presidential Election will result in consequences for the PAP at the next election due to “a great outpouring of anger and frustration“. He also said “Singaporeans felt they were deprived of their democratic right to vote for a president of their choice,” and this will affect how people vote at the next GE. Dr Tan was speaking at a forum organised by a group calling itself rather grandiosely “The Future of Singapore” (of which more later). The State Times says that he repeatedly urged Singaporeans to vote more alternative MPs into Parliament.
I support wholeheartedly the sentiments he expressed. My problem is that they are self-serving and not because Dr Tan has become a wholehearted convert to the cause of democracy. He is angry that our glorious Leeder, worried that there might be the slightest chance of an infinitesimally more independent President, after Dr Tan nearly won PE2011, decided to gerrymander the criteria so as to disqualify TCB. LHL decided that the next PE must be reserved for Malays but at the same time increased the assets that candidates needed to have managed (unless of course they were a PAP politician) from $100 million to $500 million. He thus guaranteed Halimah, who portrays herself as a person of the people but is so popular she did not want to risk an election, a walkover victory.
The trouble is the PAP and the Lee dynasty have been fixing the rules for the past 50 years to guarantee their complete and unfettered power yet Dr Tan has never before spoken up about it. It started with LKY’s coup d’etat against his former party comrades in Operation Cold Store with the help of the British in 1963, allowing him to win an election he would otherwise have lost. Of course then it was OK for foreigners to interfere in domestic politics. Barisan then did the PAP’s work for them by walking out of Parliament depriving Singaporeans of their democratic right to choose.
In 1986 LKY used fake charges against my father, JBJ to get him out of Parliament and then used the CJ, his crony Wee Chong Jin, to try and fix JBJ so he would not be able to practise again as a lawyer. The people of Anson were deprived of their democratically chosen representative. The PAP refused to follow the Privy Council’s lead and set aside my father’s conviction. Dr Tan was in Parliament from 1980 but failed to speak up. As a reward for loyalty he was elevated on to the PAP Central Executive Committee, in 1987 where he served till 1996. Not even a squeak from him about the detention of the so-called Marxist conspirators in Operation Spectrum in 1987. Anson was erased from the map and the people resettled and GRCs were brought in to successfully reduce the possibility of the Opposition winning seats in Parliament.
In 1997 the Government fixed Cheng San. LHL, PM Goh, and Tony Tan broke the election laws by appearing in the polling booth. Did Dr Tan speak up then about a rigged election? No, instead he criticised my father for accepting an NCMP seat despite the fact that 45% of the electorate in Cheng San voted for him. Nor did he say the Government’s bankrupting of JBJ just before the 1991 election, on a ludicrous defamation suit where Low Thia Kiang was mysteriously let off the hook, was depriving Singaporeans of their democratic rights.
But when Dr Tan is personally affected by LHL’s dirty tricks he suddenly finds his voice but only to complain about the unfairness he suffered. He was silent when my father was denied the chance to stand for the Presidency by being ruled ineligible on account of insufficient moral character (after the Privy Council set aside his conviction). Certainly Dr Tan will now never get the chance to be President and receive more than $1 million p.a. for five years but what difference would that have made anyway? It would not have brought us democracy or done much to improve Singaporeans’ lives. The President is a puppet as long as the PAP hold more than two-thirds of the seats in Parliament because he can always be overruled and if need be removed from office.
Nor are Singaporeans likely to be unduly swayed in their voting at the GE by being deprived of the chance to vote for the President of their choice or the unfairness meted out to Dr Tan. They have stood by while their rights were taken away and an MP they elected was removed from office illegally. They grumble about unfair competition from foreign workers with no minimum wage, the lack of affordable housing, the government’s stranglehold on their savings, being wiped out financially by any kind of serious illness. However as long as they are handed a few hundred dollars in vouchers come election time they are happy to allow one familee and their relatives to treat the state as their own personal fiefdom and for what they earn and the assets they have accumulated to remain a state secret.
I said earlier that Dr Tan was speaking at a forum organised by Future of Singapore which bills itself as a “nonpartisan internet research and discussion forum”. Nonpartisan in the Singapore context means PAP since nonpartisan is a euphemism for those who have been co-opted by the Government or whose jobs depend on it. Thus the forum members include Kevin Tan, an adjunct professor of law at NUS, who attacked Reform Party during the 2011 GE for fielding a Malay candidate who criticised MM Lee’s racist remarks. Other members include the former chief economist at GIC, Yeoh Lam Keong, who is another adjunct professor at the LKY School of Public Policy and Tay Kheng Soon, also of NUS. Hardly independent figures. Just like Tan Tee Seng, who had the honour of being Chairman of Reform Party for a while but left just before the 2011 GE with the gang of Nicole Seah, Hazel Poa and Tony Tan after their attempt to turn Reform Party into just another PAP lite party failed. His wife produces The Peak Magazine, which is a publication of SPH Magazines. SPH is of course controlled by the Government through the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act. Like everything else in Singapore, any so-called independent forums or research groups forming part of civil society are heavily infiltrated and controlled by the PAP, just as organisations in Communist countries are.
So forgive me if I am not convinced by Dr Tan’s announced conversion to the cause of democracy and Opposition in Singapore. Neither do I see any likelihood of change happening any time soon, certainly not at the next election.