To Be Or Not To Be Partisan

Should writers support a particular political party, or should they stay above the fray of partisan politics? The question may appear ridiculous to Americans, whose writers routinely identify themselves as Democrat, Republican, Progressive, or what have you. However, the question is not a non-controversial one in Singapore.

The People’s Action Party (PAP), which has led the country since independence in 1965 and which has just won another election last Friday with more than two-third majority of seats in Parliament, has so dominated the country’s institutions, economy, and culture that the line between party and state is blurred, if not erased. For many Singaporeans, Singapore is the PAP and vice versa. To be pro-PAP is to be pro-Singapore. To be against the PAP is to be partisan.

In such a situation, writers who are pro-PAP can hide the fact of their partisanship by claiming to work for the whole, and not a part, of Singapore. But their claim falls apart when they refuse to be associated with opposition parties, either through self-interest or wrongheadedness, since the constituencies that the Opposition serves are also a part of Singapore. Would such a writer participate in an Opposition-run program to provide tuition to children of low-income families residing in Sengkang, the constituency that the Workers’ Party won narrowly, to the surprise and joy of Singaporean progressives? If not, why not?

Analysts argue that in the recent election the Workers’ Party won a historic victory, 10 seats in the 91-seat parliament, because of their progressive and inclusive agenda, and because of their strong track record in serving their constituents. This heart-winning performance is achieved on a playing field made manifestly uneven by the ruling party, the PAP. Before the election, there is alleged gerrymandering, among other anti-democratic actions, and after the election, there is the partisan distribution of public resources. The PAP candidate who loses the popular vote, get this, is appointed to head the grassroots organization that determines how much funds the Workers’ Party MPs get for municipal improvements.

These blatant examples of unfairness should compel any writer with any sense of fair play to throw their weight on the other side of the scale. If any more inducement is needed, any writer with any capacity for original thought would be drawn to a party that calls us all to “imagine, envision, yearn for and dream” of a better future. Fairness and imagination, two qualities essential for good writing. Will we see more of them in Singapore? Good writing, will we see more of it, from Singapore?

Jee Leong Koh

 

 

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12 Responses to “To Be Or Not To Be Partisan”

  • Reality:

    Reality is the ground is more against the PAP this time.
    Much unhappiness with PAP performance and Policy and not so much the super performance of the WP.
    Frankly WP performance is not that fantastic so far…

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  • TUMASIK Patriot:

    “To be or NOT to be” depends on which side of your bread is BUTTERED for majority PAP supporters…

    Many Good Writers & Thinkers…but sadly Not Doers leh!!! Family Commitment??? Fear??? or Plain why Rock The Sampan???

    The 2020 GE shows that the Patriots are STANDING UP!!!

    Is it Not time for these “Writers & Thinkers” to “THINK” as a Patriot for the love of a Nation “The Republic of Singapore” and NOT a Corporation SingaporeINC the Corrupt State of Affairs???…

    “Think” and be in Sync with the Patriots…your Country NEEDS you NOW!!!…

    ” Be NOT selfish, Be generous ” and “Just Do It”

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  • Imagine a Republic ....:

    “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything…… He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career……. Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience.”

    George Bernard Shaw

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  • GE2024.PAP.GUARANTEE.WIN:

    Dear Jee,
    I can sense the fear in you… hahaha..
    WP now very scarce … be very afraid .. yes be very afraid..

    We PAP will withhold funding for Seng Kang upkeep and upgrading.

    There is nothing you Oppie could do except hide behind monikers to whine.

    WP will lose its Seng Kang bounty once our PAP police force proceed to charge
    “first to be convicted MP” Raeesah Khan for her remarks 2 years ago.

    We (PAP) shall be back to take over Seng Kang.

    Go get your pop corns, the show is starting.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.Again
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Singaporeans must? be Cheaper, Better, Faster.
    Workers must accept wage sacrifices to keep businesses going.

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  • C wong:

    Excellent article. Tks

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  • C wong:

    Democracy holds the belief that all men are equal. We must give full expression to it

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  • xoxo:

    Whats ina NAME,A TERMINOLOGY?
    THEORY,MY FREN,THEORETICAL ONLY!

    You get BILLIONAIRES BOTH IN MIGHTHY USA N IN CHINA!
    AND,WHILST NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES INCREASES TOGETHER WITH NET WORTH,THE REST OF THE WORLD ARE SUFFERRING JOBLESSNESS N POVERTY IN A MESSY ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN N INERTIA?

    You have SOCIALISTIC CAPITALISM IN USA AND YOU have CAPITALISTIC socialism in CHINA where the RICH GETS RICHER,on either perceived EXTREMES???

    EVEN IN SIN CITY,THE RICH ARE GETTING RICHER.
    EVEN AS THE GOVG LOOT MONEY FROM RESERVES TO SQUANDER ,THD BILLIONAIRES HERE ATE GETTING RICHER?

    WWHAT IS IMPORTANT IS NOT NAMES,NAME-CALLING,WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS THE REAL PRACTICE ,THE ACTUAL FORM OF GOVERNANCE.

    ELSE,ALL IS MERE HYPOCRISY!

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  • opposition dude:

    We won’t be hearing so much of the PAP is Singapore nonsense as time passes because the younger generations do not see it that way and they will be the majority in time to come. As well, it’s pure arrogance(something PAP are very, VERY well known for) to equate yourself to the country just because you are in charge.

    If goondu Loong is smart (and he isn’t trust me) what he will do is to conduct a review of what has gone wrong with how his party does things. Voters are far more educated now so we can see if a policy really does look after us or makes things even worse for us. If the PAP is sincere then start by making BTOs a lot cheaper so that couples can pay it off within 7 years instead of 25. We all know it doesn’t cost that much to build BTOs so be transparent and not wayang and add in the land cost since we can’t en bloc it to a private developer.

    Also, change the way on how policies are formulated. We don’t know if any one of us on the ground has been consulted on policies before some scholar determines so and it’s announced on tv.

    Stop with the “I know better than you” mentality, it only alienates voters. Look at what WP did and why people voted for them, otherwise you will be losing more in the next election.

    PAP has plenty to do to win the younger generation over but whether it will succeed remains to be seen. If they just continue doing things the same old way with the thinking that they have the supermajority then they will definitely pay for it in the long run.

    Keep doing what you do best WP, you are definitely winning the younger generations over because you know what is happening on the ground.

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  • lol u dreaming la:

    @GE2024.PAP.GUARANTEE.WIN

    Hello sunshine, first day in Singapore?

    The two strongholds of WP also face this money withholding schemes since LKY’s time (and given the ugly nature of the fearful incumbent, this is to be expected by cowards).f

    And yet… the OPPOs are still here, and stronger than ever. So.. I am not sure why you need popcorn for an encore. I didn’t know you like watching reruns of your defeats, what a masochist eh?

    Or perhaps… your encore is for the last stages of an empire/dynasty (aka the demise and falling out)? Eh? :D

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  • Zhenzidan:

    GE2024.PAP.GUARANTEE.WIN:
    Dear Jee,
    I can sense the fear in you… hahaha..
    WP now very scarce … be very afraid .. yes be very afraid..

    We PAP will withhold funding for Seng Kang upkeep and upgrading.

    There is nothing you Oppie could do except hide behind monikers to whine.

    WP will lose its Seng Kang bounty once our PAP police force proceed to charge
    “first to be convicted MP” Raeesah Khan for her remarks 2 years ago.

    We (PAP) shall be back to take over Seng Kang.

    Go get your pop corns, the show is starting.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.Again
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Singaporeans must? be Cheaper, Better, Faster.
    Workers must accept wage sacrifices to keep businesses going.

    ______________________________________________________________________

    Hiding behind monikers? Talking about yourself?

    Oi, BTW, your dream of a PAP clean sweep, winning back Aljunied has turned into a nightmare when they lost Aljunied by a bigger margin. Now dreaming of winning back Sengkang even before Parliament commences? Dream on.

    BTW, please thank PAP for me. The resilience package and the Solidarity Payout money I got were more than enough for me to spend on young women in their 20s to do BJ for me. The money not used up yet. What shall I do with the remaining amount?

    Em……Ah! Donate to WP! Their court case still pending appeal and they may need more money. So I will use the money given by PAP to help WP fight PAP! I no need to use my own money! Hahaha…I’m so smart!

    Learn from me, dude!

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  • PAP CLOSE DOWN:

    You need to make a choice. Don’t be fence sitters like those vote spoilers.

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  • PAP.GUARANTEE.FLOP.GE2024:

    60% is a lukewarm mandate.

    GE2024.PAP.GUARANTEE.WIN:
    Dear Jee,
    I can sense the fear in you… hahaha..
    WP now very scarce … be very afraid .. yes be very afraid..

    We PAP will withhold funding for Seng Kang upkeep and upgrading.

    There is nothing you Oppie could do except hide behind monikers to whine.

    WP will lose its Seng Kang bounty once our PAP police force proceed to charge
    “first to be convicted MP” Raeesah Khan for her remarks 2 years ago.

    We (PAP) shall be back to take over Seng Kang.

    Go get your pop corns, the show is starting.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.Again
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Singaporeans must? be Cheaper, Better, Faster.
    Workers must accept wage sacrifices to keep businesses going.

    GD Star Rating
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