Singapore: The PAP in the Next 50 Years??

Partyforumseasia: It is very hard to predict, especially the future” is a Danish saying or a quotation of Danish scientist Niels Bohr. Extrapolating political trends or the fate of a political party like Singapore’s People’s Action Party (PAP) over half a century seems to be somewhat daring, even if the party is already in power for 56 years. HoThe daring speaker in a recent event of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) was Ho Kwon Ping, one of Singapore’s most prominent businessmen (The Banyan Tree chain of luxury resorts among other ventures) with a string of important director- and chairmanships under his belt. Ho was suspected of communist ideas in his younger days, even imprisoned in Singapore under the Internal Security Act for two months.His wife, who has been a nominated member of parliament, described him as “a capitalist in his pocket and a socialist in his heart.”
The three possible scenarios described by Ho Kwon Ping are as follows: 1. Status quo, the PAP retains its 85 to 90 % of seats in parliament. 2. PAP loses some support but retains a two-thirds or at least absolute majority. 3. An opposition party or coalition wins power and takes over the government.
The third scenario could happen in the second half of the next 50 years says Ho. Given the success of continuous PAP rule, that is cautious enough a guess, especially in view of the imbalance between the ruling PAP and the few relevant opposition parties. There are sizable amounts of protest votes in Singapore and undercurrents of disagreement with government and PAP,  the social media showing the extent of dissent.
The main opposition Workers’ Party managed to win a group representation constituency with six mandates in the 2011 election and a seventh seat in a by-election in 2013. All the other parties are far from a realistic chance to make it into parliament because of internal problems, lack of funds and organization or credibility.
Mr. Ho’s presentation and the the public debate triggered by it may also be interpreted as a start to the election campaign 2016. There is no doubt that the PAP is determined to win again and continue to rule Singapore.
The underlying reasons and mechanism of the hegemonic imbalance have been analyzed in detail by Prof. Netina Tan: Institutional Sources of Hegemonic Party Stability in Singapore. This country chapter on Singapore is available in our book “Party Politics in Southeast Asia – Organization Money Influence” (2014) at the following links: Amazon or   Barnes and Noble and other internet book retailers.
B&N book

Leaders and Lovers: The “Alpha Male” in Politics

Partyforumseasia: In several European countries it is sometimes not easy to find candidates willing to step forward and expose themselves and their families to the public scrutiny and attention which come with a mandate. The material rewards are simply not attractive enough since any increase in politician’s salaries creates a storm in the media and the public. With the low image of politicians in many countries world-wide one wonders what motivates men and women to run. There is certainly a percentage of people with a sense of duty and mission to serve their country or community, even at a high price in terms of time and privacy. Estrada
In many parts of Southeast Asia politics is business in big style and the financial spoils of power justify the high stakes in ferocious power struggles. Another group is eaten up by ambition, they often come from a political family and go for status and recognition. Getting used to some privileges can create a certain addiction because they are being taken for granted after a while in office. When Churchill was asked what he missed most after being voted out as prime minister, his famous laconic answer was “transportation”… Everybody who has been closely watching elections could see the extremely emotional tension of incumbents and new candidates. A more or less narcissistic element is all too obvious in these existential situations: Do I get enough respect and recognition? Do the people love me?
Some politicians seem to exaggerate this urge to be loved, though. Since status and power are obviously increasing erotic attractiveness, admiration and sex may be another reward which compensates the sacrifices. Political history is full of examples, up to orgasmic mass hysteria when idolized leaders mesmerize crowds. And in many societies macho leaders easily get away with constant affairs, from John F. Kennedy or Mao Tse Dong and Silvio Berlusconi to certain prominent leaders in Southeast Asia.
Alpha male 5Though it is also a question of compliance of the media, whether personal affairs are being exempted from public scrutiny or not, the Philippines seem to be the regional champion in infidelity. Former president Joseph Estrada, now mayor of Manila,  admitted to have fathered at least eleven children with six different women. And former senator Ramon Revilla was proud of his 72 (!!) children with 16 women. “Alpha male” types of politicians with their natural leadership impact on fellow males seem to be extremely attractive for certain women, and their known infidelities obviously don’t affect their credibility as lovers and leaders alike.