In my previous post, I had pointed out the Orwellian signs in the way our country is being governed. And I had asked if the PAP government is stepping up its attempts to mould and align young Singaporeans’ thinking with the government’s doctrines through the new measures introduced by the Ministry of Education.
Lo and behold, PM Lee Hsien Loong said some things yesterday that confirmed my suspicions and dampened my hopes that he and the other PAP leaders would be able to change to be more open minded.
In his address to PAP party activists on Saturday, PM basically told them there is no room for any other political party in Singapore except for the PAP.
“If Singapore had a blue constituency and a red constituency, I think Singapore will be in trouble,” he said. This is not the worrying part as one would expect him to use scare tactics to get people to agree with him that we should only have the PAP party in government. It is the other things he said that raised deep concerns.
In PM’s words as reported by TODAY :
1. “We have tried to make sure that all our constituencies are about the same colour … because we want all the constituencies to share the same interests. Then we can think together and when you represent Singapore, you represent the whole of Singapore.”
2. He noted that the party has to “not just reflect the consensus of the nation, but also form and help to shape the consensus of the nation”.
3. It is the PAP’s responsibility to help to lead the discussion together with Singaporeans to persuade them to “see things more like the way we do and to be able to see things in a constructive way which makes sense for themselves and for Singapore”, he added.
In just a few sentences, PM has dashed the hopes of many that he and the rest of the PAP government are capable of changing their mindsets to build an inclusive society that reflects the diverse views and hopes of Singaporeans (hello, 40% is almost half of all Singaporeans ok?).
A chill ran through me each time I reread his words to ensure I did not misunderstand him. But what PM said to his party activists was crystal clear and it sounded ominously Orwellian and somewhat communistic.
In a nutshell, he is saying that the PAP will continue to tell the people what is best for them and what they should do. And that the PAP leaders and activists will go all out to get the people to think like their party (because he claims it’s for the greater good of all – a very Orwellian tactic).
I am downright disappointed with his views, as many others are judging by the online response to what PM said. I had nursed some hope that our government would do some real self-reflection and have a paradigm shift.
But what PM said yesterday reminded me that while it is easy to change behaviour (such as show a softer, friendlier side and hold National Conversations), it is extremely hard to change mindsets and attitudes.
So much as been said both online and offline and via the National Conversation platforms. Has all the feedback from concerned Singaporeans fallen on deaf ears and deadened hearts in the government?
Is the National Conversation just a wayang after all – as a means of ameliorating growing resentment and to use it to “persuade” people to “see things more like the way we [PAP] do?”
I frankly do not know what to think anymore when our PM says such things. We are living in a democratic society and not in a communist country where the people must all be comrades and place country and party above self. We are also not a homogenous people. Human beings by nature are different and diverse with varied backgrounds, experiences and hopes. This diversity is apparent even in modern-day communist China from cosmopolitan Shanghai to commercialised Shenzhen.
For PM to say he wants us all to be of one colour and to think more like the PAP is truly a letdown and unbecoming of a leader of a major cosmopolitan, democratic country. It shows a lack of real vision, inflexibility and a lack of heart and understanding of the very people that he wants to lead. How does he expect Singaporeans to become more creative and competitive if he continues to rein them in and shape them to think alike?
PM: if you are reading this, please don’t take it personally. I am just very sad and disappointed. But I still hold a tiny hope that you may have a change of heart one day…when you are freed of the shadow that looms large over you now.