I really like Audible, the grand-dame of audiobooks on the Internet, because it helps me get my reading done on the go, listening to them on my iPhone while driving. Best of all, it allows me even try to tackle such monumental works as William Shirer's "The Rise And Fall of the Third Reich"- which weighs in at more than 1200 pages in print - without having to lug around a brick all the time.
A few chapters into the book, the author recounts the famous Marburg speech made by then Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen, which is said to be the last speech made publicly in Germany against Nazism. Although what von Papen was describing in 1934 was essentially Hitler's Nazi party, he might as well be referring to the PAP in 2011.
"Open manly discussions would be of more service to the German people than, for instance, the present state of the German press. The government [must be] mindful of the old maxim, ”Only weaklings suffer no criticism”. . .
Substitute "The Straits Times" for the "German press" and you'll have the state of the media in Singapore today. It is no secret that the paper is a mouthpiece for the ruling party especially during election season (although they have somewhat expanded their coverage for the opposition candidates).
The media landscape is as is today, because the powers that be have deliberately constructed it be so, because give their glorious "track record", they are saintly and even god-like, and cannot be criticized in any way or form. So letters to the ST forum either disappear into thin air, or are edited so much that they resemble a botched nose job.
The men-in-white (MIW) are so accustomed to having ST, Today and CNA covering their media backsides that the recent onslaught of criticism and opposition support from social media such Facebook and Twitter has taken them totally off guard. And they're still struggling to "get it".
Try to piggyback Tin Pei Ling on Goh Chok Tong's back for easy ride into parliament? The online public tore her to pieces and liked Nicole Seah very much instead. Instead of just reading about him in the mainstream media, Singaporeans actually got to see and hear from the man who was slated by the PAP to be the next PM, and judge for themselves if he indeed deserves the job.
"Great men are not created by propaganda"
The PAP propaganda machine is like an antique car. So like an antique car, to keep it in mint condition, you have to take it out for a short drive from time to time to make sure everything is running smoothly. Then once in a while, say every five years, you give it a gleaming polish job, tune the engine, rev it up and parade it in all its glory in an antique car show.
Also like an antique car, the rhetoric we hear in every election is only a rehash of past glories, achieved by a PAP that now longer exists, replaced by a newer generation of leaders piggybacking on the "track record" of the party, protected by the gentle hand of the GRC for safe passage into the hallowed ranks of MP-hood. Not needing to really walk the ground to win elections, do these people really know what's happening on the ground level? We even have MPs who have retired without having ever contested for their constituencies.
PM Lee Hsien Loong once said: "Right now we have Low Thia Khiang, Chiam See Tong, Steve Chia. We can deal with them. Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I'm going to spend all my time thinking what's the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters votes, how can I solve this week's problem and forget about next year's challenges?"
It is precisely this kind of mindset, of not needing to consider how to win your supporters votes, that results in the serious disconnect between PAP MPs and constituents today.
"If one desires close contact and unity with the people, one must not underestimate their understanding. One must not everlastingly keep them on leading strings."
"No organization, no propaganda, however excellent, can alone maintain confidence in the long run."
"It is not by incitement...and not by threats against the helpless part of the nation but only by talking things over with people that confidence and devotion can be maintained. People treated as morons, however, have no confidence to give away."
PM Lee said: "Never forget that we are servants of the people. Always maintain a sense of humility and service." Well spoken, but actions speak volumes louder than words.
Time and again, the PAP addresses Singaporeans in an arrogant and condescending manner, talking down to us as mere serfs to the magnificence of their benign autocratic rule. A Moulmein resident was utterly shocked by the way her MP Lui Tuck Yew handled a walkabout incident which she was involved in. It is really quite sad that most residents of Ang Mo Kio GRC only knew of their MP Wee Siew Kim through the uncaring, elite face of his daughter.
Singaporeans are not stupid, and nobody appreciates being taken for a fool. But come election time, we are still barraged by idle threats from the PAP about "freak election results", "parliamentary deadlock", "no more upgrading if you vote for opposition", etc. Even more insulting are the blatant pre-election sweets given out to the public. In Taiwan, election candidates can be fined and jailed if found guilty of distributing gifts or money to voters in excess of NT$30 (less than S$2). At least in Taiwan, the money comes out of the candidates pockets. Here, we are bribed with our own money.
Maybe it will take a "freak result" for the PAP to finally understand that really listening to what the people are saying really matters. Being a former Chief of Army or PSC scholar does not give you the right to talk down on anybody, especially to your voters. Just as the famous quote from Abraham Lincoln goes:
"You may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you cant fool all of the people all the time."