The last time I posted the transcript of a political speech on my website was months ago, in August last year. Since then, I haven’t given any talks, taken part in any panel discussions, or written any commentaries.
Some of my friends and readers have asked: ‘Hey, why so quiet?’ A few have gone on to inquire, with gentle solicitousness, ‘Are you all right?’ (meaning, I suppose, that at my age, anything could have happened!)
Well, I owe it to my concerned friends and readers to give an explanation. I am being very quiet now because I have simply nothing more to say. It is an embarrassing admission. I have absolutely nothing that is new or worth saying. Indeed, I would only be regurgitating old stuff and wasting everybody’s time.
In the aftermath of the watershed General Election of 2011, I had plenty to say. I was speaking and writing with furious energy about a PAP government in disarray, about leaders who seemed too shocked about the party’s worst performance in its electoral history, to be clear about how they should learn from its very painful lessons. So they ended up sending mixed, confusing signals to the people.
Today, nearly three years after the election, there seems to be the same confusing ambivalence. For instance, while on the one hand they talk exuberantly about change and a new frank dialogue with the people, on the other, they are still intolerant of criticism, as shown in their recent curbs of the social media. But just in case the people think they have not learnt from GE 2011, they have cast off the old arrogance and can be all affability and charm……
It is certainly a most unsatisfactory neither-here-nor-there, smoke-and-mirrors situation that one can only watch closely to see how things clear up. My best guess is that this political limbo will begin to take on an identity only after the next General Election, as only then will the Lee Kuan era which has shaped Singapore politics for almost half a century, be truly over.
It will also likely be the time for the emergence of a line-up of new PAP leaders. For the first time, there will be leaders who are young enough not to have been under the influence of the powerful Mr Lee, and so are free to develop their own style of governance. Will they do an overhaul, a makeover of the PAP? Even small hints of such changes will merit a lot of attention from political commentators like myself. But right now, I don’t see these hints. It seems to be business as usual.
Fortunately, my inability to write any significant or relevant commentary during this period has not stopped me from continuing to meet up with those readers of my website who contact me to request interviews, ask advice or simply to chat on topics of common interest. It’s always such a pleasure exchanging views with them!
Here’s a picture of me with three Junior College students who met up for a chat just this month.