Friday, 25 January 2013

PAP reform: A checklist for change

COMMENT (Part 1)


Now that the public is more assertive, it wouldn’t hurt to think about what exactly we expect from the PAP. (Yahoo! file photo)

It wouldn’t hurt for a more assertive public to think about what exactly we expect from the PAP. Here’s my own wish list.

For most of 2012, Punggol made national news mainly as a showcase for the government’s prowess in public housing. There were international accolades for the Punggol Waterway district and a healthy buzz around the recently completed Treelodge@Punggol, touted as HDB’s first build-to-order eco-project.

Since mid-December, though, any Google News search, keyword punggol, would yield a more scandalous set of headlines, attesting to the PAP’s human frailty. The town’s impressive development plans are still on track. But as much as government technocrats love being left alone to tinker with their policies, they must now contend with the prospect of a high-risk by-election in the Punggol East constituency. 

Cherian George is an associate professor at Nanyang Technological University. This article was originally published on his blog, www.airconditionednation.com

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COMMENT (Part 2)


The obstacles to internal reform are formidable, but citizens shouldn’t discount the possibility. (Photo by Cherian George)

The obstacles to internal reform are formidable, but citizens shouldn’t discount the possibility entirely.

Picture a PAP government that lets an independent election commission draw constituency boundaries, introduces freedom of information laws and fights for equality even when it’s unpopular. This would be a PAP that committed itself to democratic processes, open government and individual rights.

In my previous blog, I said that this was the kind of PAP that I could believe in and get behind. I can’t say if such changes would arrest the growth of the opposition – probably not, since the opposition’s Parliamentary presence has been unnaturally low and is bound to rise no matter how well the government performs. But such reforms could enhance the PAP’s moral legitimacy and reduce the kneejerk negativity that currently greets its every move. 

Cherian George is an associate professor at Nanyang Technological University. This article was originally published on his blog, www.airconditionednation.com

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