29 May 2012, 10.59AM
Sense of fairness and equity
For the PAP, it needs to radically relook its approach to Hougang.
In particular, the PAP government needs to address the deeply—felt sense of unfairness in some of its policies, such as estate upgrading and the electoral system.
The upgrading incentive, in its various guises ranging from being an explicit electoral threat to carrot to a subtle promise of change, has not worked at all.
Instead, it offends the sense of fairness and equity, and this has worked to the detriment of the PAP.
Similarly, there is also the need to rethink the current policy of not appointing Opposition MPs as the advisers to the grassroots organisations (GROs) of their constituencies.
The justifications proffered by the People’s Association are unpersuasive, and undermine the good work done by the GROs.
As it stands, the GROs’ adviser in an Opposition ward needs to endorse the upgrading plans prepared by the Opposition town council.
The current arrangement results in the PAP being accused of punishing Opposition wards through denying them estate rejuvenation.
Let the Opposition MPs be fully in charge. They will then be held responsible and will have to measure up to voters’ expectations.
Where the electoral system is concerned, a source of unhappiness relates to how electoral boundaries are drawn. The electoral boundaries are often redrawn without adequate explanation.
A maturing electorate will not accept such acts of fait accompli.
The "new normal" has become a powerful meme in local political discourse. But it must result in the PAP and the Opposition alike raising their game, resulting in better policymaking, a more engaged and committed citizenry and enhanced social cohesion.
What the PAP and the Opposition do between now and the next GE will provide a firmer indication of the direction and substance of political change in Singapore.
The next GE, which will have to be held by January 2017, might well be the real watershed election.