I recall distantly having written several political posts at the start of this blog, but then that promptly gave way to reviews of movies, TV shows and anime. I feel like it’s time to go back to talking and ranting about politics just a little, before I turn into someone completely divested from the world around me.
— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) June 24, 2016
These Brexit voters think they have made a horrible mistake https://t.co/gJtgXxOqLO
— TIME.com (@TIME) June 24, 2016
— James Melville (@JamesMelville) June 24, 2016
These three tweets just about sum it up.
The time has come.
Well, everyone with half a brain knew it was going to happen this year, just not the exact date.
Billed as the biggest GE since forever, it really is one of the most important elections we’ll ever have. With Lee Kuan Yew gone and the results of GE2011 quite dismal for PAP’s standards, there will be no better time for the opposition to get a better foothold in the Parliament. There will be no better time for the people’s choices to make a difference, to tell the PAP that they cannot afford complacency, the same complacency that led them to lose Aljunied GRC in 2011 and continues to turn people away from them.
Or maybe not.
At least we aren’t stuck in gridlock. But moving ahead, I feel like there needs to be change, not just for the sake of it, but to rid government of any complacency that might be lurking around the corner. Because no matter how much we try to avoid it, complacency sets in oh-so-easily.
I can’t say I was unduly affected by his passing this morning. Then again, I’ve never been too deeply moved by the death of someone. Death is something everyone has to face. It’s the pain I see in others that really strikes at my heart.
But he’s a man that has had a immeasurable impact on life in Singapore and even beyond our tiny shores, and it feels only right that I pen my scattered thoughts on him.
I profess to being ambivalent about his ways. There are many things about the way Singapore is run that I disagree with on a personal level, but he stands by his ways and his thinking. He wanted the results to speak for him, and they did. We have an efficient government, a (relatively) clean city, a top-notch education system, superb healthcare and infrastructure, an economy that grows from strength to strength…I could go on and on.
I suppose he’s right in many ways. That the people are the most important, but not everyone will make the right decisions when voting. The shining example of democracy that is the US is also a paragon of inefficiency, often stuck in political deadlock due to its ridiculously petty bipartisanship. Singapore? We just do things, and citizens fall in line, complaining notwithstanding.
But then there are so many things we feel should change. Education is a rat race for grades. ERP hasn’t truly solved the traffic problem, and neither has the high COE prices. CPF continues to be a heavy point of contention, as is the high civil servant salary (but it has kept us corruption-free). The cost of living is rising, and the influx of foreign talent has everyone voicing their often negative opinions. The one-party rule that he has established has seen growing opposition in recent years.
I don’t agree with large portions of his legacy, yet I know that I can come to such conclusions only because I live in relative comfort, with an excellent education in a low-crime environment that has fostered me into a semi-independent thinker. For creating that safe bubble, he has my gratitude. For having the strength, the will, the brilliance to build Singapore from nothing into something, he has my admiration. For giving his life to Singapore and its people, he has my respect.
He left his mark on Singapore, on Asia, on the world, on us. Goodbye, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. You’ve played your part. Now it’s time we moved forward like you would want us to.
The Shinawatras have long divided the country in two. The poor peasantry love the Shinawatra family, who do their best to make the farmers’ lives easier. The richer people believe that they are corrupt, and there are question marks over the Shinawatra family’s wealth and acquisitions. Furthermore, the majority of the voting citizenry are poor, and they could well have targeted them as their voting base, hence creating programs to help the needy.
And while brother Thaksin is in exile, sister Yingluck is desperately fending off the opposition. Thailand’s political situation is a mess, and there’s no sign of improvement in the near future. The military could yet pull another coup d’etat at request (or for personal motives), and from what I know, the king has not spoken either. The capital is crippled by the long-running protests, which have erupted into sporadic violence.
Is there a solution? I’m not sure. Shinawatra’s influence in politics is immense. Even after Thaksin left the country and his party was disbanded, the new party formed under Yingluck won a huge majority of votes. The majority of the country loves the Shinawatras, and any democratic process will see them form the government. The opposition government formed after Thaksin was overthrown was just as corrupt, and ineffective; it’s unlikely they can ever win an election fairly.
Is a military coup the only way out? That’s not going to work long-term either, because people will revolt. That’s not to mention the military’s reluctance to intervene this time. If there’s no power to gain from getting involved, Thailand’s already significantly power military will probably avoid it. Can the king do anything? He can speak, and people will listen, but will they obey and let Yingluck continue in office? I doubt it.
Eventually, Thailand could collapse into a state of anarchy. There’s just no easy solution to fix the long-standing political issues that have plagued the country.
I’m lucky to live in a stable country, even if Singapore might not be the freest country in the world. Freedom is important, but freedom without growth? Is that desirable? Not to me. Am I a socialist then? I’m certainly more left-wing than right. Am I rambling now? I think so.
Maybe when the king speaks, Thailand can finally find unity via compromise. If not, then it’ll be a long while before the Shinawatra influence wanes enough for other parties to step up.
Ukraine was probably unknown to most people until recently, when the country was torn apart by violent revolution. It’s quite the terrible situation there, and while I don’t condone the use of violence to achieve things, sometimes it’s necessary to wrest control from the corrupt.
I don’t know too many details about Ukrainian politics, but I see those pictures of the opulent home that the deposed president Viktor Yanukovych, and it’s pretty clear that the upper echelons of the Ukrainian government have dirty hands. That they obeyed Russia and refused entry into the European Union implies that there may be some greasing of palms from their bigger neighbour.
The people revolted, and as terrible as the situation on the ground must be, I think it’ll probably do good overall. It won’t be easy to completely shake off the influence of Russia; but reducing it to manageable levels is possible, and joining the EU might provide some reprieve. A reliance on natural gas might also be weaned as trade doors open into the heart of Europe, and Ukraine could well blossom away from Russia’s overbearing presence.
Yulia Tymoshenko was released from prison, and that’s great news too. The revolution needs a figure to rally around, and she could be it (even if she has had her share of controversies). Maybe Vitali Klitschko will be a better rallying point than Tymoshenko; he’s built his fame as a boxer, and is probably popular in Ukraine. That he loves his country and is willing to lead it after a successful sporting career, instead of just retiring, could mean that he will run the country properly; for the people and not for personal gain. How well he does if he gains office is another matter.
The revolution could yet lead to more violence, however. Even though the government has been replaced, Ukraine is really split in half, with a pro-Russian south-east and pro-EU north-west. Russia could yet march on Kiev, and there are signs that this could really erupt into war. Russia’s never been afraid of invading neighbours on paper-thin excuses. Georgia was a victim of this, and the same thing could happen here, splitting the country in half.
Given the very distinct two halves of the country, it might not be a totally bad thing. But war is always bad, and that’s something I hope never occurs.