I remember a conversation one Sunday morning I had with my Dad when we were living at 260D, 109 Commonwealth Crescent, Singapore 3 – I guess I was 10 or 11 (late 60s/early 70s).
I seem to recall that there was some water shortage because of lack of rains and that we had to have water rationing in Singapore. I asked Achan (Dad in Malayalam), “why can’t Lee Kuan Yew and the government just build a huge dome over Singapore so that we can keep out the sun and make rain and cool the place down and not have to worry about water shortages.” He looked at me and smiled saying that it is not easy to build a dome and even if it was possible, it will be very expensive.
Looking back at that conversation, after 40 years, I can see why I asked that. Lee Kuan Yew and the government he led was getting things done and for a young child, it appeared to me that he was capable of doing just about anything. And I think I was right. The 1st team of PAP leaders had the right motivation and held a vision for Singapore and were able to drive it. Yes, they did abuse their power (using the Internal Security Act detaining “pro-communist” people etc). I guess the abuses were “tolerated” by both the population and the greater International community because of the realities of the geo-politics then.
The Viet Nam war, the Sukarno and Suharto antagonism with Singapore, the “domino theory”, the Chinese “cultural revolution” possibly occupied the attention of the external entities that they closed one-eye on the abuse in Singapore. In a morbid sort of way, their nonchalance allowed the LKY-led government to push ahead with hard-nosed economic progress which in turn helped build Singapore into what it is today.
Those were the salad days for the PAP.
Those were the days Singapore was able to go past the thrusting of the nation into independence and the withdrawal of the UK forces in the Far East based in Singapore. The 1st generation of leaders from the PAP did deliver.
The steady downhill trending of the PAP, IMHO, started when they continued with their (ab)use of defamation and libel laws to essentially bankrupt many an aspiring and credible challenger. People like Dr Lee Siew Choh, J B Jeyaretnam, Francis Seow, Tan Wah Piow (although there were not all necessarily directly in the political arena at the same time) were essentially made paupers or pushed into self-exile (the latter two). Has Singapore lost out on knowing how they would have contributed to make us an even better place? I am sure we did.
When LKY stood down as Prime Minister in 1990 and Goh Chok Tong took over, I felt elated. Why? I can’t tell. It could be because GCT (while looking very much like a very favourite uncle of mine), had the human touch. He fumbled occasionally. LKY described him as “wooden”. But, wood has a nice quality about it. It bends with the wind. It is warm, it is soft. Tell me who does not like wood? GCT was and inspite of his current boo-boos is, still likable. GCT opened up dialogs with people. He wanted to hear and take note and make things that Singaporeans want. But, GCT was caught between a rock and a hard place.
When GCT stood down and let Lee Hsien Loong assume prime ministership, I as very disappointed. LHL has nothing going for him. He is stuck under his father’s banyan tree. How does one become a true to yourself, if *ALL* your life, you’ve had to work under the gaze of your father.
In some sense, I pity LHL. He has not been able to stand on his own two feet.
He is still under PG (parental guidance) with his Dad still in cabinet (and earning just slightly less than him) and watching over all of LHLs moves – in case LHL stumbles. While I hate to use the term “tipping point”, I think we are at that precise point now (or will be on May 7th 2011). Do I want a prime minister who is still under PG? I don’t think so. Wouldn’t it be interesting if on May 7, Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade GRCs both go to the other parties (Reform and National Solidarity respectively), leaving only LKY as the one person in parliament who was a prime minister before and hence, taking on that role? It is a possibility.
The rot in the PAP clearly is for all to see. They have become too successful for their own good. They lost they moral bearings when they started paying themselves millions of dollars from tax-payers monies. And when questioned about these excesses, they threaten the populace. There is no gratitude.
Yes, a lot of us Singaporeans are grateful to a group of PAP leaders to Doing The Right Thing. Gratitude, like karma, is a two way thing. And see the description of gratitude in wikipedia for a wonderful description:
Gratitude and indebtedness
Gratitude is not the same as indebtedness. While both emotions occur following help, indebtedness occurs when a person perceives that they are under an obligation to make some repayment of compensation for the aid. The emotions lead to different actions; indebtedness can motivate the recipient of the aid to avoid the person who has helped them, whereas gratitude can motivate the recipient to seek out their benefactor and to improve their relationship with them.
Gratitude as a motivator of behavior
Gratitude may also serve to reinforce future prosocial behavior in benefactors. For example, one experiment found that customers of a jewelry store who were called and thanked showed a subsequent 70% increase in purchases. In comparison, customers who were thanked and told about a sale showed only a 30% increase in purchases, and customers who were not called at all did not show an increase. In another study, regular patrons of a restaurant gave bigger tips when servers wrote “Thank you” on their checks.
If the PAP wants Singaporeans to continue to support them, they need to show gratitude to us and not threaten us.
MM Lee has threatened that those constituencies that vote in non-PAP members of parliament will “repent”. How disgusting is that from someone who helped bring this country to a level that we can all be proud of to continue to spew vile and garbage? He shows NO gratitude to us. He expects gratitude but is not willing to give any. Read Bernard Leong’s analysis of MM Lee’s falsehood when MM Lee says that property prices will drop
All in, PAP’s heydays are way behind them. Just as the LKY’s coat tail hugger, Chan Chun Sing’s story (lame one at that) about how two ancient societies in South East Asia perished can be applied to the PAP. It is not Singapore that will perish, it will be the PAP that will.
News is coming in that Osama Bin Laden has been killed. Perhaps this is a harbinger that the PAP will be routed at the polls as well.