WP could get 'A' with 60/100 marks

WP could get 'A' with 60/100 marks
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Because the People's Action Party's (PAP) legitimacy has rested on its ability to deliver the good life, it was correspondingly blamed for all the perceived hardships that have surfaced in the last decade.

I guess if it has taken much of the credit before, it is logical that Singaporeans would assign it much of the responsibility for the negative consequences as well.

What we have been seeing is that the Workers' Party (WP) can seemingly do no wrong, being in a sort of "honeymoon phase".

On the other hand, the PAP, to its critics, cannot do anything right, despite all its good intentions and efforts, because Singaporeans hold it to a far higher standard.

To illustrate, the WP could receive an "A" grade just by getting 60 per cent of the total marks, whereas the PAP needs at least 95 per cent to be given a "C" grade.

The question here is whether the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) saga has made a dent on the WP's image.

Thus far, I don't get the sense that the AHPETC saga is gaining any traction among the electorate.

It could be that many voters believe, rightly or wrongly, that the WP did no wrong, and that any mistakes made were merely the result of its inexperience, or that opposition town councils face an uneven playing field.

If so, then the AHPETC saga will turn out to be a "no big deal" issue in this election, or perhaps, it's too early to tell.

After all, we have nine days of campaigning to watch.

But note also that in an election season, one day can make a huge difference, even sinking a campaign.

Whatever the case may be, we can only hope that Singapore will continue to survive, even thrive in the choppy waters ahead.

For this to happen, we need competent and wise leadership working in close partnership with the people.

The people must also understand the dangers in our external environment, the trade-offs we need to consider, and support the difficult decisions that leaders have to make.

This is not to suggest that there is no room for opposition representation and voices, only that we must not end up in frequent stalemates, where every debate is an occasion to score points, thereby being unable to move forward in a fast-changing world.

The writer is Associate Professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore.

These are excepts from their full essays. To read them in full, please go to www.tnp.sg/ge2015

This article was first published on September 1, 2015.
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