“Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah said the priority system for children going through Primary One registration is not linked to the government.” – TODAY, 13 May 2013.
The Senior Minister was responding to a suggestion by Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP), Lina Chiam, to abolish the primary school registration priority scheme for community leaders which she says is linked with the government.
Ms Indranee added that community leaders who get priority include those serving the Residents’ Committee, Neighbourhood Committee, Citizen’s Consultative Committee, Community Club Management Committee and the Community Development Council.
Ms Indranee’s statement that this is not linked to the government is a curious one for several reasons.
All the organisations she mentioned fall under the purview of the People’s Association (PA). You can view them here on the PA website. The PA, in turn, falls under the purview of the Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), as mentioned here in the Straits Times in December 2012:
“THE board of management of the People’s Association (PA) has been reappointed for another three-year term, with Mr Lawrence Wong replacing Mr Chan Chun Sing following the restructuring of their ministries last month.
“Mr Wong is the Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, whose ministry oversees the organisation tasked to promote racial harmony and social cohesion in Singapore.”
The Board of the PA includes 5 ministers (including PM Lee as its chairman), one former minister as its advisor, and one current PAP MP. It is therefore hard to believe that the scheme which gives priority to community leaders of the PA’s grassroots organisations is not linked to the government.
To further confuse the matter, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew made statements which confirm the relationship between the PA and the Government and the PAP.
“I make no apologies that the PAP is the Government and the Government is the PAP,” Lee said in 1982.
In December 2009, Lee confirmed the relationship between the ruling PAP and the grassroots, when he spoke of how the Chinese had been studying Singapore, as reported by the Straits Times here:
“They discover that the People’s Action Party (PAP) has only a small office in Bedok. But everywhere they go, they see the PAP – in the RCs (residents’ committees), CCCs (citizens’ consultative committees), and the CCs (community clubs).”
So, to put it simply:
The PAP – which “is the Government” – permeates the grassroots organisations which fall under the PA. The PA has five ministers, including PM Lee Hsien Loong as chairman of its Board. The PA, in turn, falls under the MCCY. The MCCY is a ministry under the government.
Maybe Ms Indranee would like to explain how the priority scheme for community leaders of the grassroots organisations is not thus linked to the government.
UPDATE – 14 May 16:20hrs.
It seems that the original headline in the TODAY report has been changed – from “Phase 2B of P1 registration not government-linked: Indranee Rajah“, it has now become: “Phase 2B of P1 registration non-partisan: Indranee Rajah“.
The original article is also not available, click here (see screenshot below):
The original report has been replaced by this one:
Two different headlines meaning very different things:
This is a report from TODAY in May 2011, just after the General Election. Notice the part which says:
“He said community leaders and PAP activists played a crucial role in the run-up to the GE, with some even taking leave during the nine days of hustings.”
Now, it has often been said that many grassroots members are also PAP members, and they would help out during the hustings – a fact which seems to be confirmed by this report. The term “community leaders” refers to grassroots leaders, I imagine. In fact, it is the same exact term used by TODAY in its report of what Indranee said today in Parliament:
“Ms Rajah said community leaders who get priority include those serving the Residents’ Committee, Neighbourhood Committee, Citizen’s Consultative Committee, Community Club Management Committee and the Community Development Council.”
So, “community leaders” played “a crucial role in the run-up to the GE” – the same “community leaders” who would be given priority in the primary school registration scheme.
I leave readers to draw their own conclusions.
Here is the Straits Times report of May 2011 [emphasis mine].
Please note that PM Lee was making this speech to thank PAP activists for their work in the elections.
Don’t be discouraged, PM Lee tells activists
by S Ramesh (TODAY)
SINGAPORE – Citing the criticism levelled at grassroots activists in the aftermath of the recent General Election (GE), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday defended the work of the activists who had given “their honest feedback, which unfortunately we sometimes failed to interpret correctly”.
Speaking at a dinner to thank volunteers of his Teck Ghee division in Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency (GRC), Mr Lee also acknowledged that “clearly there were problems which were missed” and areas where the People’s Action Party (PAP) “can and must improve”.
But it would be unfair to blame the activists, said Mr Lee, as the majority have committed time and energy to community work and have done their best to serve residents.
He said community leaders and PAP activists played a crucial role in the run-up to the GE, with some even taking leave during the nine days of hustings.
“People say various things: They say that (the activists) stood between the Members of Parliament and residents, you shielded the MP, or you didn’t respond enough to the residents’ needs, or you didn’t speak candidly enough when the residents were giving feedback and the MP didn’t get a good sense of what was on the ground,” he said.
“Some grassroots leaders and party activists reading this have been discouraged. My response is, don’t be discouraged.”
The Prime Minister said that shortcomings in the PAP will be remedied and the party will strive to do better.