Friday, June 1, 2012


By Mansor Puteh

…It is definitely not a case of not liking the PAP or liking the Workers Party (WP), but a swing by the Melayu voters in Singapore.

The People’s Action Party (PAP) which was once called the Parti Tindakan Rakyat or Petir lost in the recently-held Hougang by-elections to the Workers Party (WP).

It may not be a surprise for such a thing to happen. After all, in their last general elections the opposition managed to up the number of seats they had in parliament from two to six.

Now the number is seven.

They need nineteen more seats to gain a slight majority in parliament and take over the country from the PAP.

Can they do that?

They can.

But they must enlist their Melayu voters who represent fourteen percent of the total number of voters in the country.

If the PAP changes their rules barring female Muslim students from wearing the ‘tudung’ and offer them some goodies, then I am sure the party can get their votes.

After all, why must the Melayu in Singapore be enamored with the PAP if what they get from them is not being allowed to become better Muslims?

Worse, when many of the Muslim women were ‘forced’ to seek employment at places where they have to serve non-halal or haram food since jobs for them who are not so well-educated are few.

It was not a good move by the PAP government to distribute the Melayu so that they are not found in groups like they used to before when there were ‘kampung’ or villages.

And they are spread out evenly that in most of the fifty constituencies, they can determine which party wins and which one, loses.

The problem with the PAP is that they thought they could make the Melayu and Muslims in the country kowtow to their dictates.

For a while they could.

And the Melayu did not protest, except for a few who thought they were smart by taking the matters into their own hands to try and force the government to change their policies concerning the non-use of the ‘tudung’ by female students in public schools.

The PAP government must realize that such a small piece of cloth covering the heads of young and virile Melayu and Muslim schoolgirls could reshape their society, by making it backward.

They are wrong.

It is this small piece of cloth which is now covering the PAP’s future in the country, when one by one the seats they had held in parliament since the republic was formed in September, 1963 falls to the opposition.

And it is courtesy of the ‘useless’ fourteen percent votes from the Melayu electorate.

It is just sad that this has to happen when its so-called founder, Lee Kuan Yew is in his mid-eighties and not so physically virile anymore to physically exert himself; that more and more younger Singaporeans are not so enamored to embrace Kuan Yew-ism as did their parents and grandparents who embraced it wholeheartedly.

Things had changed in Singapore.

And the change may also include the change in government from the PAP to the WP.

It is just too bad that the former leader and founder of the WP, J. P. Jeyaratnam, who died in Johor Baru could not see the changes which are taking place in the country now, to savor the moment which.

Of course, what is happening in Singapore has got strong linkages to what has happened in Malaysia.

One which concerns the ‘grand plan’ of some Chinese who wanted to see Malaysia and Singapore merge to become a new entity which has a Chinese majority.

This can happen in theory, but not in practice.

But that does not mean that the Chinese especially who wanted to see it happen, cannot continue to lull themselves into complacency as well as insanity.

A merger between the two countries can never happen, unless if the scenario changes so drastically when the economy of Malaysia is in the hands of the majority Melayu, and if the population of the Melayu is so high that any merger with Singapore cannot change the demographics.

Even the Chinese in Singapore do not feel at ease with such a prospect, since they know they can and will become more vulnerable, and they might not be able to compete with the Melayu majority in the new merged entity, by not being able to speak or write in Melayu and for feeling lost in the new entity too.

The most that they can get is to be able to move about freely in the new entity without having to flash any passport, and to also be able to own properties and any number of vehicles which are cheaply available in the new country.

In any case, the matter at hand is on how the power of the ‘tudung’ has finally become a new reality in the new politics in Singapore.

No one has ever mentioned this before.

But the truth is that even the WP officials do not realize how they had got to become what they are by virtue of the fact, with the help of a mere piece of small cloth.

The Melayu in Singapore are the unlikely ‘kingmakers’ in the politics of the country.

If the PAP continues to be aloof to this, chances are they will lose big in their next general election, which is due to happen in four years’ time, when Kuan Yew may not be running in his Pasir Panjang constituency anymore, when it becomes too impossible for him to do so, even if he can admit that he could do it.

What is the PAP without Kuan Yew in the picture? What is Singapore without Kuan Yew in the picture?

It will cause more and more Singaporeans, to think that they could do without him altogether; that Singapore could be on its own, with or without him and ‘his PAP’.

So it won’t be wrong if more and more Singaporeans and the others now refer to the PAP government of Singapore instead of just the government of Singapore as there is now a strong demarcation line that had been drawn to distinguish between them to denote that the history of Singapore can be rewritten.

So Kuan Yew and Singapore may not go in the same way as those countries which experienced the Arab Spring, where physical and emotional exertions are strongly expressed and exhibited, but they are feeling the same sort of heat, no less.

In Singapore, we do it our way, which seems to be the motto or policy of the PAP government of Singapore, therefore, may still be true…that the Singaporean voters, particularly the Melayu ones can attest. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you for an interesting article. Have you read LKY's National Geographic interview where he talks of, " wearing headdresses for no rhyme nor reason? "

My father JB JeyarEtnam was actually living in Singapore when he died. I had moved him from JB to live with me in his final years as his health was deteriorating.
My brother and I paid off his bankruptcy at that point, gambling that he was at an age where he was safe from further law suits. This allowed him to practice law again and with his Singaporean residence registered he was eligible to set up a new political Party.

Although he had been leader of WP he felt that they were supporting the Status Quo ( his words). He was also frustrated that all the Parties in Singapore have a select Committee/ Cadre system in a closed circle. To this end their leaders are not elected but selected by a group of 'elites'. In the last year of his life he registered The Reform Party, Singapore's first new Party in 20 years, and still the only one that is fully democratic in structure.

Pre 2011 there had been 2 opposition MPs. In GE 2011, the SPP MP lost his long held seat and WP increased from 1 to 6. Therefore there are 6 Opposition MPs now not 7. More MPs less diversity. With 87 seats an Opposition would need 44 seats to gain a majority and form the government. I think the number you are referring to is what would be required to block the PAP 2/3 majority which allows them to change the constitution at will and push through bills with no opposition. In any event WP routinely vote in agreement with the PAP. All 6 recently approved PAP's budget. My blog is at You may enjoy it. Kenneth Jeyaretnam, SG The Reform Party of Singapore.