According to this public intellectual, there are 3 kinds of political critics in S'pore

Here is a truncated version of Devadas Krishnadas' super long Facebook note, explaining why the PAP is tongue-tied.

Martino Tan| June 11, 06:47 PM

Devadas Krishnadas, a political pundit public intellectual formerly from the Ministry of Finance who declined to reveal his age when we asked how young he is, is known among some circles for his incisive commentaries in Today newspaper.

However, he has taken to Facebook to publish his latest hard-hitting commentary about the state of politics. And he even paid to advertise his post to a wider audience.



To give his piece a bit of a readership boost because tl;dr, here's the truncated version of The Making Of New Politics by the former civil servant and author of Sensing Singapore: Reflections In A Time Of Change:


The Making Of New Politics by Devadas Krishnadas:

The PAP has tried hard to reconnect with the ground since the 2011 General Election through Our Singapore Conversation and numerous policy adjustments but has not regained political traction as it has hoped.

Here are three main disconnects in the ruling party's engagement with Singaporeans.


1. Policies are over-complicated, don't breed trust

Policies to ensure the promotion of principles of self-reliance and family as the first line of support, while strengthening social security systems, are over-complicated.

There is a difficulty understanding long-running systems which have been periodically adjusted with new measures, for example, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme.

Other schemes that are difficult to understand include the Pioneer Generation Package and healthcare subsidies.

What people do not understand or relate to, they tend not to trust easily.


2. Singaporeans don't feel like they are put first

While the government emphasises policy thrusts, the public is focused on political trust.

The public reaction to the Population White Paper and the raising of the CPF minimum sum are examples of doubts on the government’s motives and reasoning behind policy decisions.

Both the Population White Paper and the raising of CPF minimum sums do not adequately address the emotional needs of the citizens even though they are complex public policies at the national level.

Singaporeans want the government to "do right" and not only "be right". This means putting Singaporeans' concerns at the centre of policy making, reassuring them that they are the ultimate beneficiaries.


3. The public still thinks the PAP is the same

There is considerable cognitive dissonance between what the PAP views as the ‘New PAP’ and the public perception of the same. There are three primary reasons.

First, Singaporeans want political leaders with empathy to lead Singapore and take care of the interests of Singaporeans.

Second, the moves to govern the social media and artistic spaces by the Media Development Authority give the public the impression that the PAP rule is still characterised by information control and censorship

Third, the use of the defamation law, however justified, is politically outdated as a mechanism for political leaders to safe guard their reputations. They should let their record be their reputation.


In conclusion, here is the real struggle...

Public discourse is in danger of being captured by critics at the margin who fall into three categories.

One category are the utterly ignorant who have not bothered to educate themselves on the facts or who are poorly equipped to understand the policy system, and hence, resort to erroneous simplifications or totally false analysis.

Another category are those with a political axe to grind. These individuals cast every policy into an alleged wide web of conspiracy of government against the interests of the people.

Then there is the conflation of the two categories into a new collection of political provocateurs bound together solely to attack the PAP by creating as much doubt, distrust, cynicism and anxiety as is possible in the citizenry.

The real struggle is not between the opposition or this new collection of political provocateurs and the PAP.

The real struggle is about whether Singaporeans will allow themselves to slide down the slope of anxiety, despair, fear and anger about our future or choose to have faith in themselves, work together, stay rational and commit to being invested in the Singapore project.

For the opposition this means stepping up their game to offer effective alternative ideas not to just be an alternative. It also means not free riding on the antics of extremist political provocateurs.

Most importantly there must be the recognition by the PAP and the opposition that both have a responsibility to ensure that Singaporeans take the harder road regardless of who gets, or loses, political points.

The real dooms-day scenario? We could lose all if we choose the easier path of national pessimism.


Here's the original 1,709-word behemoth of a post:


Top photo from here

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