What a night.
In terms of popular vote, it has been a landslide. In terms of seats, the PAP has clawed back 1 SMC and so very nearly won back Aljunied GRC. But let’s call it what it is – it has been a resounding victory for the PAP and left the Opposition shellshocked.
But now is not the time for the PAP to be triumphalist.
There are still people who are very upset by bread-and-butter issues. And although it will be difficult to balance more social spending and fiscal conservatism, it must be done.
More importantly, never again must the PAP stop being politicians and must continue to make an effort to communicate and connect with Singaporeans. We are not a one-party state consisting of technocrats, even if it seems like it. The ruling party is still seen as arrogant and out-of-touch by some people and must continue to work hard to change that image.
For the Workers’ Party, here’s an olive branch. They have good candidates but they need to do two things. Firstly, they need to show they can manage a town council well. There are hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans who voted against the PAP – surely some management talent can be found here to help them. Secondly, they need to offer real policy alternatives rather than tweaking the incumbent’s policies and claiming credit. The WP is still the best chance Singapore has of having a second party.
For the SDP, Singapore needs a party like them – a bona fide liberal-socialist party with a coherent ideology. Some issues like nationalisation and minimum wage deserve a good debate, even if I disagree with them. What SDP needs to do however is for Chee Soon Juan to step down. If he has truly changed and is no longer what Mr. Chiam See Tong called a megalomaniac, he must give way to Dr. Paul Tambayah and let him rebuild a good team.
For the SPP, I still have the greatest respect for the Chiams. But they still cannot build a credible party around themselves.
For the rest of the politicians, if you are bored, please go find another hobby. Stop wasting our time.
Finally, to the Singaporeans who still voted against the PAP, I appeal to two groups of you.
To those with challenges with cost-of-living, jobs, and other bread-and-butter issues, we hear you. Please give the PAP a chance to solve your problems and make life better. People like me who have done well have also not forgotten you and will give back to society.
To those who are fixated on the idea of more diversity for the sake of diversity and want a two-party system, I urge you not to be obsessed with Western dogma. Singapore is unique and we don’t have to ape the West to succeed for another 50 years.
And finally, I again urge everyone to have less anger and more hope.
Singapore is 50 and is precious. Let’s keep it so.
Source: Calvin Cheng