Singaporeans suffering from PAP fatigue

From ‘PAP incapable of reinventing itself: Catherine Lim’, article by Fann Sim, news.

…”Reinvention would require the opening up of one crucial area that the government is determined to have tight control over. This is the area of political liberties — open debate, criticism, independence of the media, public assembly, street demonstrations for the cause, all of which are taken for granted in practising democracies.

“Over the years, the government had rather reluctantly made some concessions —  allowing the speaker’s corner, relaxing some censorship laws, tweaking a rule here, tinkling with another law there, but never going beyond these small legal offerings. Singaporeans have no choice but to accept because there was nothing better.”

…Lim also added that there is a “PAP fatigue” among Singaporeans that is a result of PAP’s lack of nurturing Singaporeans politically, and failing to provide the proper environment for political education and growth. “Ideally, as long as they don’t open up, and as long as political dissidents feel like they can be punished some other way. … then the so called transformation from the GE will be at best a partial one,” said Lim.

This idea of the PAP renewing and remaking itself isn’t new, and whether they are slowly delivering on their past promises to reboot a ‘tried and tested’ system of governance is up for debate. The ministerial pay issue, for example, would be readily cited by those affected as a key step in the transformative process, or the fact that you could insult an MP on Facebook and be let off with nothing more than a deletion of your post instead of being sued. You can’t get both sides of the fence to agree on what ‘reinvention’ means. Critics call for a complete change of mindset or a two-party state, while to the PAP it would merely refer to the injection of new blood, less ironclad ruling, or any form of compromise that maintains the status quo short of changing the uniform or even the lightning logo. Getting the PAP brand to overhaul its product is like telling Nike to erase its ‘swoosh’. But here’s a lowdown of how long the PAP has boasted about ‘transforming’ and ‘remaking’ itself, without so much as giving itself a second coat of white paint, the only difference lying in going through the motions.

Back in 2004, PM Lee Hsien Loong had this to say about ‘shedding the old PAP’:

We cannot be the same old PAP…The Government is pulling back to give people more space. We are involving people more in the decisions that affect them.

And then they made the executive decision to build two IRs, mow down Bukit Brown cemetery and run an expressway through Rochor, leaving the people no choice in the matter. This ‘consultative and inclusive’ style was brought up again in a recent plea last year to the party to ‘reinvent’ itself, and only time will tell if such promises to change and engage will prevail or turn out to be bloated rhetoric that will be put on playback every couple years or so just before the GE.

Earlier in the last decade, ‘reinvention’ was all about being less of a fuddy-duddy and more in tune with the youth of the nation. In 2002, Goh Chok Tong announced his plan to set up a ‘REFRESHING PAP committee‘, and said that unlike Singapore, the PAP did not need to ‘remake itself’, only some ‘refreshing’ to win over the younger generation in the interest of self-preservation. The only difference between the PAP ‘freshening’ up and ladies excusing themselves to touch up their faces is that the ladies look much better after, even if both activities are purely cosmetic in nature.

In 2006, PM Lee asked for a more ‘hip and happening’ PAP, launching a Young PAP party at Zouk from behind the DJ console. It’s amazing how Zouk remains hip till this day after this incident; it’s like the Pope washing his hands in the Devil’s bathroom.

DJ Loong is in the House

And yet, the PAP remains as fuddy-duddy and boring as ever, no matter how many Black Eyed Peas songs they ‘get jiggy with’ at their party anniversaries. Let’s face it, PAP was not made for ‘cool’, and anything they touch in an attempt to portray a hip image will turn grandfather-clock old in an instant. But being a total bore and killjoy shouldn’t stop one from governing wisely and effectively.

‘Re-vitalising’ the PAP in the 80’s meant creating the Youth Wing later to be known as Young PAP, to secure a batch of fresh politicians well versed in the machinations of the PAP. Again, this wasn’t so much a rethink of policies but an act of self-preservation, casting the illusion that giving the young ones a chance at leading the country is opening itself to a slew of novel ideas. Clearly, the ruling party needs to be more specific in what it means by self-transformation. Replying to Facebook comments and adopting a down-to-earth persona is one thing,  actually implementing one’s suggestion and improving lives is another. Meanwhile, political films and books not written by the cadre in white remain tightly regulated, international publications are still sued for defamation and the penal system still employs dungeon standards of barbarism to dish out justice.The PAP can renovate the house from floor to ceiling but leave the skeletons in its closet intact.

Promises, promises. Perhaps there’s only so much we can hope for.


3 Responses

  1. Change is not a word, It is a deed. It is total commitment. That is why it is often associated with reinvention of one’s basic beliefs and philosophy. Is papies committed to giving up their monetheism, the root of all evils? If not forget about change. Don’t give empty promises which will be worse.

  2. […] Vote for Change – Everything Also Complain: Singaporeans suffering from PAP fatigue – Trash Thoughts: (Unlicensed) Property Agent in the News again – My Singapore News: Tin Pei Ling – […]

  3. PAP = piàn and pian party

    骗 piàn -to cheat, hoodwink,deceive, swindle

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