25 Jan 2006

Singapore elections: tiny party criticizes government

News From Russia...

13:58 2006-01-25
A tiny Singapore opposition party has drawn sharp criticism from the prime minister and other government leaders for challenging long-running policies in the run-up to expected parliamentary elections. One minister described the proposals of the Workers' Party as "time bombs," and local media on Wednesday quoted another as saying they were "poison in a concoction of medicine."

The group holds just one of the 84 elected seats in Singapore's Parliament. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong must hold parliamentary elections by mid-2007. Some political analysts expect the elections to be announced sooner, possibly in the weeks after Lee presents a new budget in Parliament on Feb. 17, so that the government can benefit at the polls from Singapore's current economic health.

The ruling People's Action Party, which holds all but two of Parliament's 84 contested seats, has won every election since splitting from Malaysia in 1965. It is expected to retain its overwhelming dominance.

Opposition leaders say tight political controls make it difficult to get their word out, but the government says Singaporeans are free to voice their ideas. The government acknowledges that it does not seek a Western-style democracy or unfettered political debate, which it says could disrupt public order or undermine economic growth in the affluent city-state.

The government has been particularly critical of the Workers' Party's call for an end to ethnic quotas in public housing complexes, saying it could undermine racial integration in Singapore, which is made up of about 80 percent ethnic Chinese, along with large Malay and Indian communities.

"You leave it laissez faire and choose their freedom, then you go to the expression, 'birds of the same feather flock together,' and you have Indian town, Chinese town, Malay town," television news station Channel NewsAsia quoted Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan as saying Wednesday.

"I'll put it as poison in a concoction of medicine," Khaw said of the opposition proposal. Singapore experienced deadly race riots in the mid-1960s, but has remained calm since then amid vigorous economic growth.

The government has also criticized a Workers' Party proposal to dismantle government-backed grass-roots committees and allow citizens to organize themselves in times of crisis, such as the spread of SARSб or severe acute respiratory syndromeб in 2003.

"It seems that the government perceives Singaporeans to be a docile lot with no initiative who need to depend on" the committees, Sylvia Lim, chairman of the opposition party, said in a statement. The Workers' Party, whose symbol is a yellow hammer, also wants to raise subsidies for the poor. The government, which has its own proposals for helping low-income workers, says the idea is vague, reports the AP.


sigh.. said...

Obviously the WP has made a real bummer of a mianifesto. Just because SG appears to be integrated now doesn't mean it will remain the same in the future, and apparently they appear to favour segregation.. Even my father, never the most gregarious PAP supporter, agree with them on this.

What if next time Block A's residents meet at, say, the soccer field to fight Block B's residents. How, woot ah? Ohh the WP President can be the referee.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with the word 'time bombs' & 'poison in a concoction of medicine'. It assumes that the minorities must always be viewed with suspicions. Why is there a need for racial integration only in HDB flats? There is no such bias in private estates. Is that because those living in the private estates are more socially integrated than the hdb dwellers?

Wormie said...

It is sad that the government usually refers to the minority as 'minority problem' etc. As the largest ethnic group would not it be easier for us to try to incorporate the minority than to ask the minority to try to integrate into the majority? Human nature is such that you feel secure when you are with your own kind. Therefore it is always easier for the majority to integrate the minority than the other way round.

Calvin aka Yamada Shun 山田駿 said...

I like your blogs, you share my sentiments.

Anonymous said...

Is poison really a poison?

Morphine, if consumed by a healthy person, is harmful and will destroy one's life. However, it can be used to relieve the pain and sufferings of the cancer patients, which is normally prescribed by the patients' doctor at the advanced stage of the illness.

So, wouldn't this so-called "poisonous" drug has turned into a "medicinal drug" when it is deemed appropriate at times?

Anonymous said...

The WP has hit the nail right in
the head of the PAP with its manefesto, thats why the PAP are
behaving so defensive.

rench00 said...

Why is there a need for racial integration only in HDB flats? There is no such bias in private estates.

precisely cos these estates are private. of course, in a completely totalitarian nation, the PAP can still come up with laws that say that there should be ethnic quotas for private estates too. oh. and we should have ethnic quotas for businesses too. and schools. and research institutions. so even if you aren't cut out for that business, or that school or research institution, but you are of a certain race, we will take you anyways cos we need to meet that ethnic quota. because we need racial integration.

of course that is plain stupid.

however, does that mean that we do away with ethnic quotas for HDB flats?

i think let's not. because while it is not going to solve the problem, at least it is a logical and fairly reasonable step in preventing the problem from getting worse.