The PAP Manifesto is out—for those who do not mind being treated to the same old reworked PAP grand narrative.
The PAP Manifesto comes with an address by the Prime Minister who now claims that the PAP is not out of touch with ordinary Singaporeans. Well, it has got to be true. The PAP is not out of touch cognitively—it knows what Singaporeans are going through. But this does not mean that it cares. It does not mean that the PAP can be bothered beyond paying all the lip service necessary to sustain its hegemony, especially when real, positive change in Singapore will inevitably come at the expense of the current status quo that the PAP has painstakingly created to benefit itself.
But Molly is nice and has kindly annotated PM Lee’s message in a bid to generate publicity for his party: Unauthorized Annotated PAP Manifesto
The rest of the manifesto is a lame attempt at reassuring Singaporeans that the PAP’s policies will not sideline them although the very reassurance itself is required because there are groups that have been sidelined. I am unable to tell if the PAP is being smug or feeling insecure and clueless. If the PAP has been truly concerned about improving the salaries of lower-income Singaporeans and giving educational opportunities to their children, there would be no need to emphasize how the PAP will create a Singapore with a place for them. The PAP Manifesto is ultimately about maintaining the status quo, making it cosmetically and statistically better but substantially worse. Expect minor tweaks but do not expect them to translate to any palpable benefit for Singaporeans; do not expect anything near a paradigm shift in thinking. (And no, of course there’s no groupthink in the PAP.)
Recycle unfulfilled promises and perhaps start thinking of more ways to reuse them in the General Election after the 2011 one. Promise the poor that their lot will improve and promise to entrap them with employment. Encourage “self-reliance” with Workfare and entangle the poor in a game of bondage with employment—let them fear unemployment and be enslaved to continued employment sans rights. Promise affordable homes without any reference to whose standard of affordability is being used after slamming opponents who have earlier on articulated a similar vision with a clear standard of affordability. Promise that the education system will treat their children better and provide a statistically better teacher to student ratio but not promise to reduce the average class size or to provide equal resources and funding for all students regardless of their level of giftedness as measured by a flawed system. Promise to double the MRT network to reduce crowding when the current situation of overcrowding has little to do with how many lines and stations there are and making the network more extensive can in fact exacerbate the usage of certain lines or stations. Promise continued PAP authoritarianism by making no reference to human rights and civil liberties.
Voters, you may be selfish enough to vote for the status quo if it benefits you or foolish enough to vote for against your own future, but will you be cruel as to vote against your friends, your fellow Singaporeans, your country?
Filed under: Elections