Written by Ng E-Jay
01 February 2010
After National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan came to know of opposition parties wishing to contest Tampines GRC with the aim of raising the issue of escalating HDB flat prices, he tried to pour cold water on the opposition, saying they should focus on how they can best serve the people rather than making him the focus of their campaign.
In his own words as quoted by the Sunday Times: “A General Election is not about me, an individual minister or an individual MP. It’s really about the residents themselves … … I offer myself up for election because I believe that I can do the best and the most for them. But ultimately it’s for the residents, the people to decide.”
According to the same article, while the minister acknowledged some people may be adversely affected by the housing policies, he pointed out: “There’s no question that our policies are designed for the good of the people.” (ST, “Mah blasts opposition’s GE strategy” 31 Jan 2010.)
Firstly, how can Mr Mah claim that the Government’s housing policies are designed for the good of the people when he has admitted that some have been adversely affected by them? What kind of logic and accountability is he displaying?
Secondly, Mr Mah Bow Tan appears to have missed the point altogether. The opposition has never made him personally the focus of its campaign, but the Government’s housing policies which he directly oversees, which have driven Singapore citizens almost to the point of despair and desperation.
NSP’s Secretary General Goh Meng Seng clarified in a Channel News Asia article that the party intends to contest the General Election in Tampines over Mr Mah’s policy decisions and not over personalities.
It is unthinkable how Mr Mah could have missed the point so completely. Is this the same wool he pulled over his own eyes when he failed to forecast demand for public housing and indirectly allowed prices to skyrocket way beyond demographic and economic fundamentals?
When asked about Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s remarks made earlier last week that Mr Mah deserved to lose if he could not defend his housing policies, the latter replied: “That’s MM speaking, very frank and very blunt … … But it’s a fact. If I’m not able to prove or convince a majority of my residents that I am able to do a better job than the opposition, then I will not be their MP. It’s as simple as that.”
Mr Goh Meng Seng also positioned the NSP likewise: “It’s up to us to convince constituents that Mr Mah’s decisions are not good … … If we fail to do that, we deserve to lose. Nobody owes us anything.”
As Mr Goh further elaborated to Sgpolitics.net, it would be good for politics in Singapore to be conducted based on informed choice drawn from open and thorough debate. This will result in greater accountability.
I agree with this sentiment. Currently, it is PAP’s monopoly on political discourse in the mainstream media that leaves a huge void and results in complacency and lack of accountability on the part of ministers. The flaws in PAP’s policies are not given a free and fair airing in the public arena. Faults are allowed to fester and misguided policy actions accumulate over time, resulting in an avalanche that buries the masses. This is precisely what has happened to our housing policies which have buried many existing home owners in a pile of lifelong debt.
I urge opposition parties to unite on this matter and conduct a vigorous campaign to put political pressure on the PAP to take urgent and drastic measures to correct the housing malaise that has infected Singapore.