Singapore Election 2011

Latest news and updates about Singapore's 14th GE

Lee Hsien Loong: Singapore is not a one-party state

Posted by singaporege2011 on May 4, 2011

Faced with prospect of losing support from young IT-savvy voters, PAP candidate for Ang Mo Kio GRC Lee Hsien Loong has now tailored the PAP’s election message to win them over.

Besides making a half-hearted apology on the many mistakes made by the PAP ministers in the last few years, Lee also seek to appease young Singaporeans by proclaiming that Singapore is ‘not a one-party state’ based on the regular elections it holds.

Holding elections which are contested by other parties alone does not qualify Singapore to be a democracy. Autocratic states like Russia, Belarus and Kazakstan have regular elections as well. Even communist China has eight ‘opposition’ parties which are sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party and are given ‘seats’ in the National People’s Congress.

“One party may be dominant, but there are six opposition parties challenging the People’s Action Party (PAP) at the May 7 polls and another 10 or 20 that are ‘for the time being sleeping, resting’.does not have a one-party system, as is evident by how open the electoral set-up is to contests from other parties,” Mr Lee was quoted as saying in the Straits Times.

According to U.S. NGO Freedom House which classifies Singapore as a ‘hybrid regime’, there are other integral components of a functioning democracy such as an independent media, vibrant civil society and effective opposition to check on the government.

Singapore does not have an independent press which has been become the official propaganda mouthpiece of the PAP regime. All grassroots organizations are under the control of the PAP via the People’s Association. There are no independent trade unions to represent the rights of Singapore workers and the opposition has only two out of eight two seats in the last parliament.

Mr Lee then quoted the ‘negative’ examples of ‘divisive politics’ brought about by democracy such as Belgium, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Though Belgium has not formed a government for more than a year, it still managed to grow by 2 percent last year, one of the highest among European nations. It did not collapse and life goes not as usual for the Belgians because the civil service is running the nation while the politicians sort out their differences.

Taiwan may have boisterous politics in which lawmakers physically fought one another in the legislative Yuan, but it has a healthy, robust and functioning two-party system. Taiwanese economy grew at near double digits since President Ma Ying-Jeou came into power and normalizes relationship with China. As for the Philipines, the problems it faces are not due to its system of government but to internal structural weaknessnes such as rampant corruption, a weak civil service and instability in its southern Muslim islands.

It is too simplistic for Mr Lee to use a few isolated examples to dismiss the merits of a multi-party democracy. There is a correlation between economic prosperity and political openness. All the thirty most developed economies in the world are democracies with the exception of Singapore.

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