April 06, 2006

The Level Playing Field

Every few years or so, when General Elections looms ahead, citizens get bombasted with the same recurring themes.

On the one hand, the PAP will remind voters of the need for leadership renewal and how their new candidates will shape the nation's future in an increasingly difficult environment. Next would be the carrot in the form of residential estate upgrading programmes. Stern warnings will be given on those handful of radical Opposition politicians perceived to be a threat to the fabrics of our society. The usual. Fortunately, there is something refreshing about the cohort of new PAP candidates in 2001 and 2006. We are beginning to see people with divergent views and backgrounds. This is an interesting development and bodes well for Singapore.

The Opposition, on the other hand, will stress on the importance of having checks and balances in Parliament, in addition to the usual tirade of criticisms on government policies. However, I would like to offer that checks and balances are ideological goals and takes second place behind economic and security concerns. This partly explains why, for all their efforts and ideologies, the Opposition had a rather dismal showing in the 2001 GE. In the aftermath of 911, Singaporeans rally behind a familiar name to lead them through the crisis.

The one thing which I would like to highlight is the recurring theme from the Opposition camp, regarding the so-called "level playing field" during elections, ranging from media coverage, estate upgrading, grassroots support, electoral boundaries etc. Much discussion on these factors can be found in the usual forums focusing on Singapore politics and I shall not repeat them here.

To some extent, I sympathise with the Opposition. They are working against the odds. But, but, but ... this can only be an excuse for dismal performance. It is not a good reason. Unless and until they have tackled the real reason(s) for their failure to win over the voters, the dismal showings will probably continue.

At the end of the day, if they cannot overcome these little obstacles thrown in their way, on what basis should I derive the confidence to vote for them, in the hope that they can accomplish greater things in Parliament?
Take the economic stage for instance. We cannot expect other countries competing with us for the same investors to give us a level playing field in a gentleman contest. The rules will always be written by those in positions of strength. The more resourceful and innovative players will find a solution and succeed against all odds. This is the kind of government leaders which we would like to have in Parliament, resourceful and innovative. We do not need someone to merely repeat the inequalities that exists. We need leaders to keep us in tune with the competition, so that our lives will continue to improve.

Voters need assurances, not excuses.


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