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Wednesday July 11th 2018

Why PAP won in every election despite a suffering population?

As Singaporeans faced yet another unjustificable slew of price increases in essential utilities this month – electricity tariffs and water – many are left wondering if both the companies are caught in the red resulting in the price increase.

On the contrary, for example, SP group has made an average net profit of almost $1 billion each year for the past 13 years but it has raised electricity tariff again – the third time this year of a hefty 16.8% in total raising doubts about its rationale.

There is also no tenable reason given on why it raises the price of both the essential services as electricity and water are household daily usages that no one can do without. In short, there is no need to explain why it has to raise prices as there is no one to account to except its loss-making major shareholders Temasek Holdings.

The government also tries to pacify the population by giving back an average of $300 in GST voucher to 1.6 million needy Singaporeans earning $28,000/ year and below but this is small change compared to the increase in monthly utilities bills they have to pay. With the increase, each household is expected to pay an average of 6-8% more in utilities on a permanent monthly basis compared to the one-off GST voucher to be handed out early next month.

So why does a intelligent-sounding government like ours kept increasing the cost of essential services that will naturally infuriate the average population though it has being making profits all along? Moreover, there is actually nothing much to gain from the percentage increase other than another tens of millions added to the two utilities’ giant coffers but to the average Joe earning less than $2000/month, it will definitely eat into the household’s consumable income.

They will have less to spend on the kids’ Macdonald outing, no more movies during the weekend or trips to the zoo. More significantly, its ability to be financially independent is crippled due to the tightening grip of the government on household expenditure.

One feasible reason we can think of the government’s move is in the politics of control. The more the country is in the firm grip of a totalitarian government, the more it will feel that it has no power to free itself of resulting in less personal empowerment to change things individually.

Alice LoCicero, a Cambridge-based clinical psychologist and researcher on leadership and terrorism says:  “It’s easier to understand why it’s adaptive and common for people to bond to powerful leaders. In Darwinian evolution, the people who bonded with the leader survived. That instinct got passed along.”

We saw that here when many young professionals join the RC or CCC in the overt attempt to associate themselves with the ruling party so as to gain some flavour from that close association.

Thus, according to LoCicero, the more power a government holds over it’s people, the more they will feel powerless  without the elements in control. They have effectively surrender whatever individual rights they have to the rulers sometimes voluntarily and often blindly without knowing the devastating result it has on totalitarianism.

Dictators like Hitler, Stalin and Gaddafi all enjoyed tremendous popularity with their subjects despite their autocratic ways and merciless purging of dissent. Millions died at their hands but yet people still adore them sometimes blindly. We also witnessed how the country went into a nationalistic mourning when Lee Kuan Yew passed away and though he is not in the tyrannical mould of Hitler or Stalin he is certainly no true democratic ruler.

Nevertheless, our government has so far control everything in our lives and has made a living hell out of many people. For example, there is no minimum wage so people could not earn a decent living – another stripping-off of personal empowerment as the population struggles to survive in the world’s costliest city without any reprieve in sight. So, the safer way to survive is to conform and play along and left the dangerous role of implementing changes to the few heroic ones.

If everybody is to earn sufficient wages and live decently, the need to depend on the government’s periodical welfare hand-out will be lessened as there is no need to depend on them anymore effectively loosening the grip of the rulers on its subjects. Giving out cash vouchers regularly is a cheap but effective vote-buying strategy and for the poor it is something that they will think of before casting their votes during election.

More than 15% of our population (estimated 300,000)  live below the poverty line i.e $1500/month income and below and giving out money prior to a general election is a tried-and-tested way of getting in the votes and it is no wonder why the PAP is not keen on really trying to improve the livelihood of our working poor.

Thus, in a cruel attempt at total control, PAP has no desire to really improve the livelihood of the population and the poor struggles to get out of poverty often pushing them to the feeble welfare arms of social services to make ends meet. Besides weakening the poor’s personal empowerment at looking for a permanent change, it also drove them to the ones that could temporarily improve their condition abeit momentarily by way of cash freebies.

Nevertheless, totalitarianism also has its own personal appeal to the population as it leaves everything in control to the ruler – decades of absolute power means the people know nothing about exercising its personal right and often they witnessed how opponents are mercilessly crushed resulting in a climate of fear.

You will always find a voter who has cursed at the ruling party vehemently because of certain policies but yet they will cast their vote for the incumbent come polling day!

Repression is a multi-feared tool aims at repressing dissent so invaluable for regime change as it takes massive ground reaction to trigger change.

Many non-Singaporeans marvelled at the high percentage votes the ruling party receives for the last election even though hundreds of thousands of foreigners were allowed in to snatch away jobs from Singaporeans and the high cost of living has affected many people resulting in a mini exodus to JB.

In fact, many of the poor who are left suffering from the many erroneous policies of the government voted them back in for another five more years of pain and turmoil as they could not see how they can find another better alternative than the current totalitarian regime they are so used to. Thus, total control is psychological and sometimes it is so ingrained that to escape from its grip is unthinkable.

Propaganda has also driven a country to believe that without the PAP, our country will be in shambles and left to perish. We see them day in and out on our TV channels and gradually people start to believe that without the PAP our country will suffer.

Nevertheless, the recent regime change in Malaysia provided us with a glimmer of hope that if the people unite and rise up together, change is still possible!

Right now, we just have to suffer along with the majority who is still swayed by a totalitarian government and let’s hope that it won’t be for too long…

Written by: Gilbert Goh

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One Response to “Why PAP won in every election despite a suffering population?”

  1. Mike says:

    Poverty is a powerful tool to be used by those in power. A cycle of handing-out cash freebies are both addictive to the one receiving and the one providing.

    Do not get me wrong as I believe people in need of help need that moment to survive though and I am all supportive that they be given the help they need. On the other hand something is wrong when those received help can no longer survive on their own when help cease… this thus creates opportunities for politicians to explore towards the polling box. Especially true when our civil services (are they servant or slaves?) do not act independently from political power influences as their chiefs are directly associated to political party and has the need to protect their position and income.

    We Singaporean complains a lot but is even more afraid of the unknown beasts created by the devil standing right before our face. We are so educated and yet so ignorant. In fact, this world has becoming more the same to one another among the advanced nation than yesteryear. Policies and decision made in Singapore by politicians are similar to those made in somewhere else. Main differences is our workers are much less protected.

    When I say protected, it is not about how much Singaporean should be better or advantaged in working condition or preferences than foreigners but foreigners should have the same working condition as ours. Why would we allow low wage foreign workers in shipping/construction industry just to make Singaporean look stupid by saying we don’t want to work in that condition/industry? If we made them get the same pay and not allowing foreign workers to live in dormitory as they have to settle their own accommodation that will give us a “fairer” share and better integration with our society.

    But alas, by not seeing them we think is better. Having them hiding at one corner of the island and earn unfair wages in unfair living condition made us feel more “Atas”? We are simply paying the price for our naive and illusions through our ignorance.

    Malaysia is evolving. We are not (yet). Perhaps some of us can only be red with envy of what they can do with their votes in hand. And perhaps Trump will teach us a hefty lesson if trade war should show us that without our own industry, people, we will be nothing. If foreigners left tomorrow, we won’t be able to build HDB and construct ships, then something is very wrong with us. We are to be blamed as we are democratic nation that our government is voted in by us in peaceful elections.

    Strange breed we are but not strange if we came across this phrase known as “Stockholm Syndrome”.

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