CHUA CHIN LENG: Ho Kwon Ping delivered his first Nathan Series lecture under the roof of the Institute of Policy Studies in a much unexpected tone. He was a young rebel turned business tycoon and many people were wondering what his thoughts were over the years and the changing role and lifestyle he has taken on. How much of the rebel is still in him or left of his youthful idealism of the past.
His lecture was on the next 50 years of the PAP. I could not see any trace of a rebel left in the man but so much deference to the PAP, and, saying all the right things. Maybe he was trying to be polite, after all he was giving a lecture as a fellow of S R Nathan lectures. Anyone expecting some flashes of fire and some unwitting snipes must be disappointed. It was all so tame and so familiar.
First, he expects the PAP to be still a dominant force and still be in charge in the next 15 years, untouchable. Of course it was only his opinion and gazing at his own crystal ball. No one is wiser what tomorrow shall hold for the PAP. But this is a pleasant note to the establishment.
His second point, no opposition party would want to wake up the next morning winning 80 seats in Parliament, even if in a freak election. This is a strange thought in my view. This is a moment that all opposition will relish and has been waiting for these years. And why should a winning by the opposition party be called a freak election? Are the people all freaks when they choose the opposition and all sane when they choose the PAP? Of course this is classic establishment rationale. The people are smart when voting for the ruling party but mad if they vote otherwise.
And more, the opposition party would be booted out duly in the next election. The assumption of course is that the opposition is not ready or did not have able leaders to run the country and cannot do good for the people. Only the PAP can. This is also very establishment thinking and very condescending. Only the PAP is able to run the country. Opposition leaders are half bakes and can only drum and make a lot of noise, no substance really. Even after winning an election they would fail miserably and would be kicked out by the people summarily in the next election, as sure as the sun will rise. Really?
And the PAP will play by the democratic rule. The soldiers will not be marched out of their camps to seize power in the event of a freak election. Smell the deference stench? Of course not. This is a democratic country and everyone will play the democratic game, no cheating, no abuse of power, no gerrymandering, no fixing of opposition. And the soldiers will stay out of politics, and a new party will be welcomed to rule by the will of the people.
We cannot be worse off than the Indonesians can we? Yudhoyono is the perfect gentle of a politician. He has shown all the 3rd world leaders how to hand over power gracefully in a democratic system. Are we up to it to learn from the Indonesians, to admit defeat when the people have decided? Or we can be the scoundrels of a 3rd world pretending to be 1st world polity but behave with the predictability of 3rd world thugs when the time comes.
And, this is classic PAP mantra. No one wants to change the govt. Really, really, really? Ho Kwon Ping said he has spoken to many people and no one really wants a change of govt but everyone wants to vote the opposition. What does he mean by that?
There is no trace of rebellious blood left in this senior citizen. Maybe he was just trying to be nice and saying all the right things that people want to hear. Let’s forget about Ho Kwon Ping the young rebel. Everyone grows old with time, very few exceptions. Rebels grow old too.
This commentary was written by Chua Chin Leng.
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