In brief, the PAP is telling us we need more of the same

So, the White Paper has been approved – overwhelmingly – by Parliament. No surprises there. There is rumour, however, that PAP MP Inderjit Singh, who spoke up against the White Paper, absented himself during the vote in the House. I should add that this is unsubstantiated and unconfirmed rumour.

UPDATE: The Straits Times of 9 February 2013 confirmed that Mr Singh did not cast his vote:

Straits Times 9 Feb 2013

Anyway, the sadness of this whole process this past week is that in spite of the huge and very heartfelt outcry from Singaporeans against the White Paper, there is really nothing anyone can do about it – not your opposition MPs, not your PAP MPs who have to vote according to the party whip no matter what they may think of the paper.

The Cabinet –  17 men and 1 woman – decides on it and PAP MPs, who make up the majority in the House, will have to toe the party line and vote according to what the Cabinet dictates.

Be that as it may, when I first read the White Paper, it came across as a piece of document bereft of any inspiring vision, devoid of any emotional connection, and a document which comes across as pretentious and trying its best to say all the politically correct things.

But the message it delivers is that the kind of society it envisions for Singapore in 2030 is one “with no heart”, as NMP Faizah Jamal put it.

The Paper speaks of the economic, of how the infrastructure will be kept up with the influx of another 1.5 million or so more people onto this tiny island of ours. It says this is necessary so that our welfare can be taken care of. It says Singaporeans are at the core of the Paper’s proposals.

But it is all a lot of words and nothing else.

All that sound and fury… signifying…

I shudder to think of how compact Singapore will be – literally. I cringe when I imagine how even our residential areas will become working places, and all its attending crowdedness.

The increase in vehicles, the traffic, the demolition and erasure of our natural surroundings, our environment, the senseless reclamation of land to feed the influx of people, the facilities and additional infrastructure needed to assuage and meet expectations.

One minister says life in Singapore will be like life in Punggol. But if you visit Punggol you see that it is increasingly becoming nothing more than another HDB estate – with monotonous rows and rows of mindnumbing HDB flats lined up side by side. Even the Punggol Waterway Park is presently being scarred by the encroaching blocks of HDB flats which are being constructed.

How is this “a very high quality living environment”?

So, what is solution to our ageing population, and our low birth rate?

I’ll leave that for another article, although I have written several articles about it already.

Here, I would just like to express several things:

  1. That we desperately need to quickly have more opposition MPs in Parliament. (I applaud the WP MPs who tried their best in Parliament on the debate on the White Paper. In particular, I feel Low Thia Khiang did an excellent job, personally and in marshalling his other MPs.)
  2. The skepticism about the National Conversation has been borne out with the approval by the PAP-dominated Parliament. The National Conversation is nothing more than a talk-shop. Singapore’s fate, as far as the PAP is concerned, has already been decided.

My final point is that the vision of Singapore in 2030 as laid out in the White Paper is one which fills me with an immense sense of dread. It is utterly depressing. If it were up to me, I would envision a Singapore where the less tangible – but arguably more important – development of our human talent and potential will be the focus of the White Paper, instead of focusing on the physical needs. Someone said that the White Paper reads more like a list of construction projects than anything else. He is not far off the mark.

There is nothing – nothing at all – in the White Paper about how our people will be given more space for free expression, how our media will be freed up, how our political system will change, how our SMEs will be the main focus of the government.

It would thus seem that the White Paper proposes that Singapore remains the same in everything, except the number of people it imbibes.

That is an entirely artificial society.

And it will be one without a heart.

And it is a vision (if you can call it that) which will indeed discourage Singaporeans from having children – compounding the very problem we are trying to solve.

It is, as Low Thia Khiang said, us kicking the can down the road for the next generation to solve, contrary to the claims of the PAP.

In brief, the PAP is telling us we need more of the same. More of the same of what we have been going through these last few years.

And that is scary, indeed.

For a paper which is suppose to speak of the future, it is ironic, isn’t it?



13 thoughts on “In brief, the PAP is telling us we need more of the same

  1. I thought all 13 no votes and only 1 abstain – all are accounted for (Opposition + NMP) and none is Inderjit Singh. Not a single PAP MP abstain. In any case, I don’t know which is worse, abstaining and having no views or giving a yes to overpopulation.

      1. I think 1 of them is the Speaker, 1 is LKY, so it left just 1 more PAP MP to be accounted for.

  2. Through their social tinkering and vote gathering they have ruined it for our kids and probably our grand kids too. People should go read up and understand the hidden reasons behind it, since 2005. There should be an immediate call for Temasek + GIC to be accountable to us on the investments or Singaporeans will wake up to realize is all too late, thus the confession by PM LHL that 6million is not enough even by 2030.

    //…As we can see, Singapore’s projected net CPF contribution is rather substantial in the recent future (e.g., 2005). However, with an ageing population, the net contribution is projected to fall in an accelerating pace in the next twenty years. By 2025, the net contribution will be reversed to a net withdrawal. Thereafter, the net withdrawal will grow and reach its peak in 2035….Another possible measure is to increase the number of migrants at the working age and increase the (tax and non-tax) incentives for foreign workers to join the CPF scheme. This will alleviate the severity of the ageing population as well as the reduction in CPF contribution…//

    1. We should be told 6 million is not enough almost immediately after the next GE, if the PAP has a two-thirds majority. And yes, there will be tears again…
      Wake up Sleeping Singaporeans, we have that dreaded rogue govt in charge!

  3. We really really need to vote more oppostions MPs into Parliament. The ruling party doesn’t care what we Singaporeans want, they are more interested in what they want, and they will just get it through no matter how angry we are, how we cried out loud to say a big NO, they just don’t care. We must kick them out in the coming GE.

  4. If only the 66.6% have the balls to even make that little difference…I am so disappointed that our future is doomed 😦

  5. Reblogged this on That Oh Damn Dog and commented:
    A very heartfelt entry by Mr Andrew Loh who has taken the words right out of my mouth. The outcome of the toilet paper policy goes beyond the projected congested and claustrophobia-inducing city we are going to have, but perhaps the core of this is really about the citizens hoping and wishing that just for this ONCE…. the ruling party would listen to cries of the people.

    Perhaps like the old cliche saying of “living by love alone can’t put bread on the table” so in this case would be “living by ‘heart’ alone can”t put GDP on the table”. I get it that certain measures are necessary for the growth (it is not even about sustenance, it’s all about growth) of the country but it would be great to see even just one ounce of heart… to remind us all this is a country for humans and not some mechanical robots.

    May the force be with us…

  6. Andrew, you are right about Punggol. I live there for more than 10 years. It is just another HDB town. It is becoming very congested. Noise from motor-bikes is unbearable, day and night. There are now more foreigners and the estate is becoming dirty. The water-way and river-walk are congested, also full of litters. Public transport is not convenient. Have to have 3 transfers, and can take up to 2 hours to reach my destination. Cannot image what it is like in 2030.

  7. I don’t think we shd target our frustrations at the foreigners, as wat a lot of other bloggers and protesters hv echoed. Instead, it’s really the bad policies put in place by our doctor, lawyer, scholar MPs in Parliament. So let’s get this straight, foreigners r not always the cause of crimes or responsible for dirtying our neighbourhoods. Our own kind are very capable of such irresponsible acts too!

    PAP has indeed lost a lot of public confidence within these 2 years and it hasn’t done anything significant to salvage the situation. If anything at all, I think it has only been made worse by MORE of their policies and acts. Even haughty remarks fm ex PAP member on the recent protest. Instead of acknowledging the anger and concerns from the ground, he instead dismissed it as “one-sided” and “emotionally stirring”.

    Well, yes PAP that’s what people NEED….an EMOTIONALLY STIRRING speech which inspires us to WANT to STAY here in Singapore and live and contribute, that we share a dream and a common vision!!! Not some scripted speeches with nothing but numbers and SORELY lacking in emotions!

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