Evolution of Political System or PAP?

September 13, 2008

“Our political system has to evolve to be in sync with the changes in the world, and in our society.”

Lee Kuan Yew, The Straits Times, 10 Sept 2008


There is nothing new in this message. Our political system has never stood still. From reversing by-election laws, raising deposits of candidates, boundary re-drawing, GRC scheme, the NMP scheme, “People’s Action Forum” (mooted by SM Goh in 2001 but never implemented), our political system has always evolved. 


The million dollar question is this: will our political system evolve to address the changing concerns and expectations in society, or to perpetuate the dominance of the PAP?


If one looks at the evolution of our political system since independence, every change has been to entrench the power and relevance of the PAP. The by-election law means that no PAP MP can cross over to the opposition without losing his seat. The Elections Boundaries Committee (under the PMO) carves up the country to break-up opposition voters. The GRC scheme brings into Parliament otherwise unelectable personalities. The NMP scheme ensures opposing voices in Parliament without strengthening the opposition parties, so on and so forth.


There is no doubt that, with the passage of time, the political-moral zeitgeist is shifting towards liberalism. Younger Singaporeans are more tolerant of alternative lifestyles, critical of authoritarian measures, and possess less blind faith in the PAP than their parents did. The political system will have to evolve to accommodate this socio-cultural fact. However, the PAP is also in the business of holding on to power. It would be the height of naivety to believe that it would allow the political system to evolve in such a way that siphons away its power and influence.  


Hence when MM Lee talks about evolving to be in sync with a younger electorate, we should not assume he has in mind liberal democracy as destination. Rather, it is the tweaking of the political system to accommodate and address the aspirations and demands of a more cosmopolitan electorate so as to ensure that the electorate does not vote opposition with any real purpose.


In essence, MM Lee was talking about the need for the PAP to evolve, and not the political system.



2 Responses to “Evolution of Political System or PAP?”

  1. sushibar Says:


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