In the aftermath of Malaysia’s election, a blogger by the name of Lee Lilian asked in one of her posts (“A new Malaysia, when will it be our turn?“):
Will this election change Singaporeans’ perception/ mindset? Will it have a positive impact for the opposition in Singapore? Has it awaken our people and make them see that they too can say ‘NO’ through their votes?
Opposition politician J.B. Jeyaretnam once said that parliament is the “supreme seat of power” in the country because this is where bills introduced by the executive branch are debated and passed into laws. However, unlike in Malaysia, most Singaporeans view the Cabinet (comprising the prime minister, senior minister/minister mentor or whatever they call them these days, and other ministers) as the government. In the eyes of most Singaporeans, this government sits on top of parliament and the courts. Unfortunately for all of us, the ruling PAP and particularly Lee Kuan Yew have milked this illusion to their unfair advantage at the polls.
Although the Singapore parliament is apparently independent, most people perceive that it isn’t and that it is controlled by the government (a.k.a. PAP). As such, many people don’t give a shit about the importance of voting.
What Singaporeans don’t realise is that members of parliament (MPs), whether they are from the ruling PAP or opposition parties, are actually law-makers. The role of MPs is not, according to some misguided souls, to explain government’s policies to the people or to ensure that your neighbourhood precinct is the first to be upgraded.
Even worse is that Singaporeans don’t realise that parliament does not just debate (or pretend to debate) issues. More importantly, it debates bills that eventually become laws that dictate our lives.
Likewise with the courts. Singaporeans mistakenly view the courts as working for the government (i.e. PAP) when in actual fact the courts are there to ensure that the government rules without infringing upon the constitution of the country.
Singaporeans’ misconception of what parliament is and what the judiciary is, unfortunately, is self inflicting and self indicting. Sadly, their view of the world is so narrow, and so single-mindedly materialistic, that when they look into the future, all they can see is their reflections.
So the short answer is: No.
More of the same?
Wind of change?
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Great post! Seelan Palay here.