Papsicles 3

Has the People’s Action Party (PAP) no sense of shame? Right after the Workers’ Party released its manifesto,

Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng called on voters yesterday to look beyond attractive proposals in the Workers’ Party’s (WP) manifesto and ask the opposition party for a detailed explanation of how it plans to implement the ideas.

‘Like in all brochures that companies put out, you have to drill down to the details,’ he said on the sidelines of a community event in Bishan. ‘What do they mean by the specific recommendations?’

— Straits Times,  11 April 2011, ‘Dig deeper, ask WP for details’

Wong must have known what would be in his own party’s manifesto. It must have been ready even as he took potshots at the Workers’ Party’s, for the PAP themselves released theirs only a week later on 17 April 2011. As far as specific proposals go, the Workers’ Party’s 17,440-word tome  (excluding the table of contents) was chockful of them. The PAP’s — a mere 1,688 words (including Lee Hsien Loong’s foreword) — had none.

Instead we find line after line of feel-good statements, such as:

  • Deepen R&D and innovation in every industry, so that companies can come up with new products and services to grow their businesses
  • Reward work and the spirit of self-reliance, by enhancing incomes through Workfare
  • Offer more support for children with learning difficulties and special needs
  • Enhance our green spaces and blue waters, and expand opportunities for recreation around the island, including building the new Sports Hub
  • Encourage our youth to pursue causes they believe in and take the initiative to build a green and sustainable society

Surely, citizens should scrutinise the PAP’s manifesto too? Perhaps we can compare the two? Let’s just take one example, say, the third bullet point above. What does the Workers’ Party have to say on the same subject?

A. People with Disabilities:
1. The government should ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and take a whole-of-government approach to ensure that its key provisions are implemented in Singapore.
2. More resources should be developed to cater to the education needs of people with disabilities, including lifelong learning for adults. This includes more resources to adequately equip them with necessary life-skills. The Ministry of Education should take the lead in providing special education.
3. Better infrastructure must be put in place for the public transport needs of people with disabilities. Barrier-free access should continuously be reviewed for improvement.
4. Early intervention programmes for children with disabilities should be better resourced to reduce waiting time.
5. More incentives should be given to employers to encourage them to employ those capable of work. Public education is also necessary to eradicate any misconceptions and prejudice against them and their ability to contribute to society. The government, as the largest employer, should lead by example.

Why does Wong Kan Seng not hang his head in shame? Or do the standards applicable to mere mortals not apply to those who consider themselves gods?

* * * * *

Instead of engaging with voters’ intelligence by presenting policy proposals for consideration, the PAP prefers to go with the politics of kiasuism. ‘Kiasu’ is a Singapore colloquialism for being afraid to lose out.

The PAP has been busy rolling out — with the mainstream media beating the drum for them — glitzy plans for “upgrading” whole constituencies.

Holland-Bukit Timah will get a new food market, a few neighbourhood parks and a new metro line — never mind that this metro line was announced years ago and is already under construction. To drive the point home that this constituency will be “beautiful” , the current PAP members of parliament organised a photo op wherein they held up toy watering cans to water what looks like plastic sunflowers.

Similarly grand-sounding plans have also been announced for Aljunied, Jurong and elsewhere, with the less-than-subtle hint that if voters do not return PAP candidates to parliament, they can kiss all these “brilliant” ideas good-bye. I’m curious though:  What are they going to do with the metro line if Holland-Bukit Timah falls to the opposition — stop work and the leave giant holes in the ground?

* * * * *

Just in case the politics of kiasuism does not work, there’s also the politics of insecurity. Expressions like “uncertain world”, “closely watched by foreign investors” and “you will be left behind” are played up. Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, speaking to the Straits Times,

said an important consideration is the uncertain world that Singapore faces.

The country needs to prepare for that with policies, programmes and a leadership that can meet the challenges ahead, he said when asked about the manifesto during a block visit in the Punggol South ward of his Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

[snip]

Mr Teo, who is also Defence Minister, said the outcome of the coming polls is also being closely watched by foreign investors.

‘They tell me that they want to see a continuation of long-term stable policies.’

[snip]

But he stressed the importance of needing to maintain a good and stable government ‘so that once we decide what we are going to do, we can proceed’.

‘Otherwise we have a situation where we will continually be blocked… because some groups will not agree. Then you cannot start, and year after year, plans… have to be stopped and put aside,’ he said.

‘Other people will overtake you, and you will be left behind.’

[snip]

‘This vote is a very important vote, this is not something to play around with, this is about our future… This is the only country we have (and there’s) no margin for error.’

— Sunday Times, 17 April 2010, DPM Teo offers sneak peek at PAP manifesto

It’s getting very tired. And what the PAP does not realise is that this constant harping about the risk of failure has actually damaged Singapore. Far from making us a confident, innovative society willing to try new things and benefitting from experimentation, it has made us risk-averse and slightly paranoid. It’s hardly any wonder stress levels in Singapore are so high.

* * * * *

Also in the same edition of the Sunday Times (17 April 2011) was a feature article on Law Minister K Shanmugam’s role in spotting potential candidates for the PAP. He revealed that only one in ten potential candidates eventually make the cut after having to go through five or six “tea sessions” with a panel of PAP heavyweights and a final interview with PAP secretary-general and prime minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Shanmugam described this process as a rigourous one that finds the “best talent”, a claim made so often by all other PAP bigwigs, it’s sounding like groupthink.

They don’t seem to realise that multiple and sequential filtration is essentially a process of refinement that produces a purer filtrate that is completely unrepresentative of the starting mixture, and far more homogeneous. Is that why so many PAP candidates look like clones? And out of touch with real Singaporeans?

As it is, a reader emailed me recently to inform me that Zaobao publishes an info-box on each PAP candidate announced, and religion is stated in the info-box. According to the reader, a hugely disproportionate number of PAP candidates declare themselves to be Christian. (If any reader has access to Zaobao, could you look up all 24 new candidates and provide me with a table?)

I find this report from the reader quite plausible because religion came up in the Chinese-language version of Channel NewsAsia’s Question time with the Prime Minister, aired on 16 April 2011, and Lee Hsien Loong was compelled to give the pro-forma reply; I mean, what else could he say if he could not deny the disproportion? As reported the morning after,

Political issues took centrestage in the last 20 minutes, with issues such as the influence of  MPs’ religion on politics, whether a dominant one-party system here is a superior system, and how the Government can stay corruption-free.

[snip]

On religion, Mr Lee said Singapore is a secular state and the Government will not allow an individual’s religious values to affect policymaking.

— Sunday Times, 17 April 2011, MPs not out of touch with Singaporeans: PM

The unrepresentativeness of the filtrate from the starting sample may be that very “talent” the PAP leadership wants to find, but surely there are plenty of other qualities that are also filtered out. Especially as the process is filtration by a panel, the successful person is most likely to be the one who offends none of them. Potential candidates who offer innocuous replies to questions, challenges none of his interrogators, pleases them all by pandering to their prevailing worldviews, get through.

It’s almost as if the ideal candidate is something as unoffensive, but also as bland and characterless as white bread.

35 Responses to “Papsicles 3”


  1. 1 Luther Blissett 19 April 2011 at 21:04

    From Zaobao web site

    Christian/Catholic : 12
    Buddhist : 2
    Muslim : 2
    Free Thinker/No religion : 10

  2. 4 charlie 20 April 2011 at 00:16

    hi [foo],
    Thank you for the summary.

  3. 5 jim 20 April 2011 at 01:11

    presenting the best thing since sliced bread… a loaf of 24 slices. to get ministerial potential? just butter them up

  4. 6 wikigam 20 April 2011 at 03:10

    Christian/Catholic only form a 14% of singapore population. why they are majority in the parliament or other govt sector top management ?

  5. 7 pakcik 20 April 2011 at 05:43

    The feel good statements of PAP reminds me of having to sit around and come up with a mission stste for your employer. It looks good on paper , looks good on the web site. The bosses are happy and that is where it ends. Back to business as usual. Make as much money as possiable and so that the bonus are bigger for the bosses.

  6. 8 List 20 April 2011 at 05:54

    Compiled a list of the religions of all the PAP candidates.

    https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AtkVeVvJNydDdDhYM0JmdEd3OEdCMEZyV3VEQlFYX0E&hl=en&authkey=CIjh1i4

    For the new candidates who stated “无” in the ZaoBao website, and the not-so-new candidates who stated “Free Thinker” or “Nil” in the parliament’s website, I consider them as having no religion.

  7. 9 anony 20 April 2011 at 08:31

    If Holland BT GRC ends up in the hands of SDP which is impossible, then the MRT will remain shut even upon completion. It is PAP version of sour grapes.

    PAP manifesto is a reflection of deep seated complacency & supreme confidence that has set in. After us, it is us the voters who have given them the mandate to behave that way. They know for sure that they will dominate this coming polls with a winning majority so why bother to put in so much effort for the manifesto anyway?

    Is it time for voters to wake up or keep on assuming that there is no alternative to PAP?

  8. 10 Robox 20 April 2011 at 09:26

    Hi Alex,

    “If any reader has access to Zaobao, could you look up all 24 new candidates and provide me with a table?”

    I don’t know about the verifiability of this, but it may just be a starting point.

    http://forums.delphiforums.com/3in1kopitiam/messages?msg=48107.1

    Allow me to quote this portion – mine – of the above discussion:

    [Quote]

    10 out of 24 are non-Catholic Christians, and 12 or 50% are Christian if you include Catholics.

    No change in the number of Muslims but with the increased number of seats, that means a lowering of the proportion of Muslims.

    But there are now zero Hindus among the new candidates.

    Almost as bad as the record for Hindus are the 2 Buddhists or less than 10% of the candidates from a population base of 40%, the largest single religious group in Singapore even if they don’t constitute a majority.

    [Endquote]

  9. 11 OnlineShmonline 20 April 2011 at 09:52

    Just realized that there were no Hindus in our wonderful, minority incorporating new MP list. I suppose it’s more fashionable to declare oneself as free-thinker when you’re surrounded by pagan haters!!😀

    Actually, can anyone provide a breakdown of the entire PAP body. Am curious about overall breakup?

  10. 12 YCK 20 April 2011 at 10:01

    Nice read =)

    On DPM Wong’s double-standard criticism of the WP manifesto, we should give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, PAP is quite big. At times, the right hand may not know what the left is doing. He could be simply unaware of the PAP’s own publication being mere tenth of the WP’s, assuming of course lengthiness is a rough guide for content.

    On the failure of government, the message of the ruling party sounds a bit too simplistic. The government consists not just of elected MPs of the ruling party. There are the unelected officials of the civil service that way outnumber them. There is no immpending taking over of the reins of government from the ruling party by the opposition as far as we can see. And unless there is clear pressure for the new masters to change long-standing policies of any Ministry, it is likely that our excellent civil service can keep everything in the shape of medium term if not long term policies on track. Usually if something ain’t broke you don’t fix it. So the apocalyptic changes forcasted is just somewhat unlikely even if the opposition forms the next government. Anyway, when was thelast time the stock market was badly affected when support for the ruling party dipped?

    Lastly, on the point about the religious affilations of the new candidates being disproportionate, could that be anything to do with religion is tied with qualification through their socio-economic background? If so the better qualified just also happens to be from certain religious affiliations. It is also notable that there are a number of non-religious candidates. I wonder if YB could track if there has been an uptick in their numbers too?

    • 13 T 20 April 2011 at 17:57

      On your last point, there is some credence to the relationship between religion type and socioeconomic background/prospects in Singapore. One could analyse religions through several perspectives of which some may include:

      1) the location, prevalence and nature of religious sites
      2) the conduct of religious sessions
      3) the extent of emphasis on following a certain way of living and/or belief system

      and in the context of this article,
      4) the degree of compatibility between religious doctrine and governmental rhetoric. Correspondingly, this degree of compatibility influences how much prominence is given to a particular religion, relative to other religions.

      Coincidentally there are some statistics on education attainment for City Harvest Church, one of the few mega churches locally.
      http://www.chc.org.sg/_eng/church/church_stats_academic_2011.php

      Arguably, it can be said that religious sites such as City Harvest are fertile grounds for (political) recruitment based on the above-average capabilities of their congregations and by extension, their quality of social ties that are engendered through interaction.

      Overall, religion is one source for the homogeneity of the PAP. This is in addition to recruiting talent from the civil service, NTUC and the SAF. Not taking a position against any particular group or organization, I feel that the PAP will indeed become like white bread through its recruitment policies; one-dimensional and uni-directional.

      This not only means that the PAP will have a harder time convincing the general population (with diverse viewpoints) of its legitimacy outside the rhetoric of “general economic prosperity and security”. The PAP will also find it harder to get the best out of its members whom might not agree with all the values and positions of the party.

      The generalized nature of the PAP manifesto might be a sign that the PAP cannot afford to go into details that could call into question the quality of its track record. This also signals an (ironic) over-reliance on “the track record” to excuse the PAP from further explaining its future plans, apart from primarily upgrading schemes around the island. In this regard, the PAP might believe that most people have already made up their minds on who to vote by now. Yes, even the NTU students who’s examination schedules will be affected by the date of Nomination Day. There is a slight sense that the PAP wants to get the GE over and done with.
      http://mandytann.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/it-is-finally-out/

      An ideal government takes into account diverse viewpoints to come to an informed decision that is as fair and compassionate as possible. On the other hand, the PAP government balances between anti-welfarism and giving out just enough benefits to placate the population. Moreover, it will ensure that Growth Dividends will reach all eligible residents by 1 May.
      http://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/budget_2011/key_initiatives/families.html

      One has to admit; the PAP is not only bland, it is also bold.

      • 14 YCK 21 April 2011 at 19:57

        Thanks for highlighting the tangled web of realtions that reulted in the rather unrepresenative representatives. I also agree your view that PAP is evolving in the direction suggested.

        I brought up the point about if qualifications could be linked with certain socieconomic factors including religion. I must clarify that I do not have anything against religion per se.

        Should “talent”, “abilities” or “qualifications” be linked to somethings that do not reflect social mobility, I get really worried that disadvantaged groups will never rise out of the abyss they are in.

        With the PAP emphasis on meritocracy, these unepowered group will not get represented fairly. Of course one can argue if that is something objectively measurable, but the effect is real.

  11. 15 Kelvin 20 April 2011 at 10:41

    From all the past election speeches PAP ministers have made. I noticed all of the time, PAP sound like nanny trying to enlighten others (to win votes) while living in their own darkness. After election, they will come out with another set of standard reply – to stop relying on PAP, PAP is not the cause of our problems and every damned thing ought to be blamed except blaming the ruling party. Situational speeches and actions cannot be trusted for its sincerity because there is no consistency to speak of.

  12. 16 Hades 20 April 2011 at 11:29

    Hey come on! That’s a totally unfair and baseless characterisation! I happen to like white bread! At least it’s nutritious and is rich in carbohydrates and vitamins (The enriched ones anyway). The only thing the PAPpies are rich in (apart from monetarily) is hot air and faeces from a male bovine animal.

  13. 17 Singaporean 20 April 2011 at 12:22

    The PAP originally refused to give the MRT station at Potong Pasir its rightful name, just to spite the residents for voting Mr Chiam See Tong.

    They wanted to call it “Sennett” station.

    After completion it was even held back from opening on time.

    That’s how the PAP “punishes” opposition voters, who are Singaporeans too. It’s not all carrots you know.

  14. 18 yawningbread 20 April 2011 at 12:28

    Thanks to those who compiled the table of religious affiliations and provided the Zaobao source.

    It is noteworthy that the PAP has separate categories for “Christian” and “Catholic”. The objective classification from a dispassionate point of view would be that Roman Catholicism is a branch of Christianity, and this is the way lots of international statistics are presented by secular organisations. The evangelical protestant churches, known to be the more militant ones, dispute such a classification, insisting that Catholics aren’t really Christian.

    It would be akin to situation where Sunni Muslims reserve the term “Muslim” for themselves and relegate Shi’a Muslims to a separate term “Shi’a”.

    What is shocking about the PAP is that the party has adopted the sectional, evangelical protestant classification system, and this alone belies claims that the PAP can be defenders of secularism. If they can’t even adhere to objective, secular terminology within the party, what hope of defending secularism against militant protestant encroachment in national policy?

    • 19 Gazebo 20 April 2011 at 14:07

      i think LKY needs to see the world along these fine stratified lines. it’s a hallmark of his governance style. he probably sees a need to differentiate between a catholic and a protestant, because it may inform him with regards to the person’s attitude towards contraception, or affinity to the Philippines, etc etc. i don’t know what the exact reasons are, but social stratification dominates his world view. everybody is sharply and finely divided by class, religion and race. that’s how he views things, that’s how he governs.

    • 20 tk 20 April 2011 at 16:39

      “…what hope of defending secularism against militant protestant encroachment in national policy?”

      i’d say the almost equal numbers of athiests, alex.

      look at the ‘great’ US of A. i bet 100% of congress would define themselves as being religious, and yet America (for the most part) is still defending itself pretty well from ‘militant christian encroachment’ – the odd texan schoolboard rewriting earth’s history and crazy australian/kansasian ark builder appropriating taxpayer funds notwithstanding😉

      as an aside, i did like the ST Interview’s headline today with the ex-magician now megachurch evangelist. What’s the difference in those two occupations? still deluding willing marks in exchange for money, right?

      • 21 twasher 20 April 2011 at 23:25

        The US is able to defend its public school system from religious encroachment only because of the strong conviction, deep in their culture, that the Constitution cannot be altered willy-nilly. I’m pretty sure many Congressmen would love to introduce creationism into science classes in public schools, but it is legally impossible because of the Establishment Clause.

        This attitude towards the Constitution DOES NOT apply in Singapore. Just look how many times our constitution has been altered. Even though it may be secular now, I have no conviction that this won’t be changed if evangelical Christians take over Parliament.

        As a secondary point, I also have no faith in our judges ruling correctly if someone affiliated with the ruling party is brought to court for violating secularism. While the US executive branch does have considerable power in appointing judges, their judiciary still has way more independence from their executive than ours does.

  15. 22 Kay 20 April 2011 at 13:52

    PAP policies and operations are widely known since they are in use. Perhaps you could help us summarize the details and specifics of WP manifesto since not many can be bothered to read a 17,440-word tome.

    Personally I’m interested in the specifics on how they intend to execute their policies, especially reducing school classroom size to 20 without increasing current commitment of teachers. This means needing to hire 50% more teachers (or more given the current shortage of them) without compromising quality and salary. This translates to an increase in the education budget having to pay for more teachers. So who is going to pay for all this? Are they going to increase school fees? Increase tax? Digging into savings as any unemployed person will know, is not a long term solution.

  16. 23 sure or not 20 April 2011 at 15:13

    Well, Dr Chee Soon Juan is a Christian too… So is Dr Lily Neo who fought for the poor.

  17. 24 Bewildered Foreigner 20 April 2011 at 16:20

    Been living here for 13 years. I simply cannot comprehend how a whole nation lets their leaders talk down to them, belittle them or treat them like little kids continuously without facing any backlash. Where I come from, people would have given such ‘ivory tower’, top down bureaucrats the boot long time ago and simply voted them out.

    I am following this election closely and give Singapore one last chance to wake up. If the balance of power doesn’t shift an inch, I will just give up and move on (I know some people will tell me to just get out as I am a foreigner anyway, but honestly, I would be more than happy to see a more democratic and civil society here).

    For the past ten years, I have been hearing glossy promises after promises and all I see is that life is getting more unpleasant for the majority of people. There seems to be a severe disconnect between ministries who all chase their own distinctive KPIs. This has led to quite a lot of distress at the ground level. Just one example: Somebody decided to fill this place with as many people as possible, but the development of housing and road/public transport structure has been left out (you could add number of doctors and much more as well). The result is the current shortage of appropriate housing as well as a near collapse of traffic every peak hour.

    A government that claims one of the advantages of having a one party system is ease of planning etc has, in my mind, completely failed in this regard.

    But, as I always say, every country gets the government it deserves. It seems Singaporeans actually want this sort of leadership. I hope I am wrong and we see the light at the end of the tunnel this time round. Am not too hopeful though.

  18. 25 List 20 April 2011 at 20:13

    It could be that the members listed their own religion specifically. Wee Siew Kim, for example, listed his religion as “Buddhism/ Taoism” (http://www.parliament.gov.sg/mp/wee-siew-kim?viewcv=Wee%20Siew%20Kim).

    The census 2010 report has separate groups – “Catholics” and “Other Christians” – but these are grouped together in summary under “Christianity.”

  19. 26 Mel 20 April 2011 at 20:57

    @ yawning bread:

    Good article highlighting the hypocrisy of the PAP. But whats the issue of “religion” being a sticking point?

    A hypocrite is a hypocrite no matter his/her religion..

    The belief system & traditions of Catholicism vs Christianity is different enough for it to be deemed as separate. Defining oneself as catholic or Christian is therefore a non issue.

    I think it is over assuming to Imply that the PAP is favoring one religion over the other.

    The statement abt singapore being secular & govt

    • 27 twasher 21 April 2011 at 03:36

      You’re missing the point. Deliberately defining Catholicism as separate from ‘Christianity’ is using a method of categorisation that is recognised only by a very specific group of Christians (namely, evangelical Protestants), and not other groups of Christians. It therefore suggests the disproportionate influence of that group of Christians on whatever committee was in charge of naming religious categories. This is an issue if one is worried about the influence of evangelical Protestants on the government.

  20. 28 Chen 20 April 2011 at 21:21

    Nothing new. They do that every election. Find something about the opposition (real or imagined) and harp on it. Not only does this have the effect of denting the opposition’s image, it also diverts people’s attention away from the real issues and their (the PAP’s) own shortcomings.

    Tried. Tested. Proven.

  21. 29 Anonymous 21 April 2011 at 01:54

    The statement abt singapore being secular & religion not affecting govt policies is simply being Politically Correct in multi-religious singapore. This statement is meant to not alarm or disenchant any one religious group. We are supposed to be a meritocratic society no?

    lets not kid ourselves that your upbringing & in large part your belief system & religion will have no effect on your ideals, character and there in how you behave & think. To say/think otherwise is in itself hypocrisy.

    In any case, i find it strange that the issue of religion is being harped on at the end of your article. You have made very valid points & highlighted the discrepancies of the PAP machine well… until the point of christianity is brought up.

    I do believe i get what you mean; That the governance of singapore shld be secular and always will be secular…

    But to worry abt “militant protestant encroachment”?

    In all honesty i am worried more abt “lukewarm christians” & “sunday catholics” affecting our national policy than “militant protestants” having a hold… Im baffled as to why suddenly the whole topic is pointing towards extremism.

    because if they are what they SAY they are; being catholic or christian, this is not their world. They are not working for this fleshly world ONLY. I do not know where you get your info, but christians are not here on this earth to overthrow governments, start revolutions or subvert national policy through insiduous means.

    It is the human element that has muddled the picture.

    I think since you did your homework on highlighting the PAP’s hypocrisy, it might do you some good to find out more abt what really is the christian belief before commenting further.

    There is too much to talk abt in this forum when it comes to the “world’s best selling book” & the whole history of human kind.

  22. 30 Aware Unaware 21 April 2011 at 12:39

    The latest stats show that Christians amount to 17.5% of Singaporeans.

    10 out of 24 PAP new faces are Christians. That means, collectively, they amount to 41% of the latest cohort, which will according to PM Lee from the future leadership of Singapore.

    If this trend continues, in time to come, the Singapore Government will be controlled by the Christians.

    Looking at the recent (last 10 years) Mega Churches’ uprising in terms of membership and outreach, it is scaring to think about what will happen to the majority of Singaporeans (non-Christians) in the future.

    Food for thought.

    Prevention is better than cure.

    Beware, be aware, even if one is unaware.

    • 31 yawningbread 21 April 2011 at 22:45

      Erm… Where did you get the 17.5 percent figure? The 2010 census results show 18.33 percent of Citizens+PRs aged 15 and above to be “Christian”. The break up is 7.06 percent Catholic and 10.27 percent “Other Christian” (unlike the PAP, our Stats Dept uses internationally recognised terms). As for the 24 new PAP candidates, they are 8.3 percent Catholic and 41.7 percent Other Christian.

      I wouldn’t make too big a deal out of this disproportion. But they are not insignificant either. Singaporeans’ response should be one of “trust but verify”. We should trust that all MPs including the Christian ones will put aside their religions when performing their public duties, but we should watch carefully.

      • 32 J 22 April 2011 at 22:17

        “We should trust that all MPs including the Christian ones will put aside their religions when performing their public duties”

        You only have to look back to the 377A debate in parliament to know that you are being extraordinarily optimistic.

      • 33 List 23 April 2011 at 01:55

        I fully agree with you on the point that “we should trust that all MPs including the Christian ones will put aside their religions when performing their public duties, but we should watch carefully.”

        But I do have a few questions with regard to the skewed religious representation of the candidates. I have no doubt that these candidates are selected based on their merits, whatever those merits may be. But given how underrepresented the Buddhists/ Taoists are, it leads me to wonder if they are not as capable as the Christians (in terms of the way the merits are defined), or if there is something that is stopping them from stepping forward?

        I am also interested in how the opposition candidates will fare in terms of religious diversity. Unfortunately, that information is not as readily available online. But a cursory glance does seem to point to a Christian majority as well. Again, I wonder why.

      • 34 Aware Unaware 25 April 2011 at 23:37

        My figure of 17.5% is taken from the 2000 Population Census, from the Department of Statistics.

        Your figure of 18.33% is taken from the 2010 Census. Therefore your figure is the most up to date.

        That brings to mind that over a ten-year period (2000 to 2010), there has been an increase of the overall total of Christians in Singapore by 0.83%, which works out to about 250,000 people! That means, on an average, about 25,000 Singaporeans have been converted to Christianity every year. This is not a small figure, taking into consideration the dwindling birth-rate (1.2 ratio) in Singapore.

        Moreover, I understand some of the Mega Churches are targeting for a membership of 300,000 in double-quick time.

        As these churches increase their memberships, the other religions corresponding decrease their memberships because all are competing for memberships from the same limited source – i.e. the dwindling Singapore population.

        So, in time to come, what will happen to the non-Christians? And if Christians take control of the Singapore Government, will Indonesia and Malaysia simply stand by and watch, without taking any counter-measures?

        Therefore, I would rather advocate “Trust BUT Beware” instead of “Trust and Verify”.

        Beware conotes contingency plans being put in place just in case …..

        Food for thought.

  23. 35 richardwkc 22 April 2011 at 23:28

    I cannot agree more with the views expressed by twasher in his post of 20 Apr, in particular, concerning the point about the plausibility of judges “not ruling correctly if someone affiliated with the ruling party is brought to court for violating secularism.” But there is also the plausibility that our judges may become irrational in their judgment in any case involving a govt minister; for example, recall the defamation suit initiated by LHL and LKY against the Far Eastern Economic Review; when an application was made by the defense to employ a QC to represent them, the judge opined that the case was “not sufficiently complex” to warrant engagement of a QC. The judge had evidently and conveniently forgotten that whether a case is complex or not complex is, arguably, subjective, and acted irrationally when he rejected their request for a QC, based solely on his personal evaluation of the case not being complex or sufficiently complex. Was this a case of acting prejudicially or of being plainly irrational?

    I also agree with Aware/Unaware that the Singapore govt will one day be controlled by Christians if more and more Christians are inducted into the papy camp. This is definitely a real danger, considering that religion can play a pivotal role in a person’s life and notwithstanding LHL’s comment: “Singapore is a secular state and the Government will not allow an individual’s religious values to affect policymaking.” But LHL may not be aware that the National Library Board has taken a partisan attitude toward religion or religion-related literature. Can the NLB be justified in rejecting a book with an innocuous title as “Why God Hates Women” by claiming the book as being “unsuitable for their collections?” If nothing has been authored that can be said to be seditious or to incite violence, why should a book be considered unsuitable for public readership? Mind-boggling, to say the least. There is no discounting that some religious people may have no hesitation in subordinating their professional judgments to their religious beliefs or dogma. Look at the organization commonly known as the Christian Right in the US; has anyone read “Kingdom Coming” by Michelle Goldberg? This book gives a comprehensive account of how the “Christian nationalists” in the US have gained significant administrative and policy-making influence that is slowly changing the country’s life and government.

    Look at our neighboring countries, particularly Malaysia. Islam has been unabashedly declared as the official religion of the country, despite Malaysia being multi-cultural and multi-religious. Remember the still unresolved issue concerning use of the term “Allah” by non-Muslims? Many of the Malaysian states have passed laws prohibiting non-Muslims from using the term “Allah.” Can such a copyright be considered justified or legitimate? Answer: A resounding NO, where I am concerned. To give a particular religion special treatment over other religions, in a multi-religious society, is to create dissensions or dissatisfaction among some religious practitioners. In some Malaysian states, the state government has tried imposing Islamic or religious laws as the laws of the state. And in Indonesia, some extremist Muslims have openly declared a certain Islamic sect as apostate, resulting in an incident recently in which three people from this sect were killed or murdered by mobsters, despite the fact that the Indonesian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

    Christianity may seem meek today, but largely because it has surrendered certain of its powers following the Reformation Movement a few centuries ago. Christianity has a track-record that one may find revolting: the Crusader Wars, Spanish Inquisitions and witch-hunts are just principal examples; read the life stories of some of the popes of yesteryears and one may start wondering: Can this be true, with regard to papal infallibility? “Shocking” would be a more appropriate word, to discover and describe some of the unsavory activities of these popes.


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