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4/13/2006

ge round 29: the youth factor

The engaging forum between LKY and the 10 young people from the media reflects the importance of the new generation in the politics of Singapore. There were 10 young people, opinionated, aware and informed of the political issues in the country, unlike the school kids that were featured before. Now, this group of people know what they were talking about. And for LKY to take them on in an open forum shows how serious he and the PAP is about the votes of the young. They are going make an impact in this general election, like it or not. And LKY was there to convince these young people and to convert and win them over to the PAP camp. Did he succeed in what he sets out to do? In the first place the 10 people were all of the same mind. That's what I perceived from their questions, body language and expression. They all have similar thoughts of what was wrong with the present systems and where the fault lies. Their questions were direct and unrestrained. Unlevel playing field, no mandate, restriction of expression, unfair upgrading, relevance of GRCs, a bullying govt, arrogance etc. LKY's response was to play hardball. Nobody plays fair in politics. These are the realities. The ruling party will not help the opposition. And when one of them made a general statement, he was mowed down by a clinical and precise argument on facts. It was a clever argument that will destroy and win a judgement in court. The young man could not substantiate his statement with empirical facts about the fear factor. He misquoted. But does winning that argument on technical ground win the ground? It will win a legal case or an argument. period. The listeners were not convinced, from their expression and rumbling. In fact that kind of statements, that people vote out of fear, can never be substantiated even if a proper survey is done. Not many will tell the truth, especially when they perceived the stakes were high. What ended up is the winning of an argument but losing the audience. This is politics. The explanations by LKY on the necessity for GRC did not address the question that GRC can be smaller. Neither was it convincing to say that GRCs were set up to test the ability of the opposition to run the country. The argument that because the opposition was weak or the walkovers, so the people are contented and there was a mandate for the PAP to rule did not cut any ice. It came across as winning by default, and supported the young people's point that it was due to the uneven playing field, apathy and restrictions placed on the opposition. As for the lack of good opposition, LKY said that all the good candidates were with the PAP. It is true that the opposition could not attract good quality candidates. But there are many excellent candidates that are not contesting for many reasons. What was not answered is why are good people not joining the opposition? But the answer was there. Did LKY manage to wind over the young people to his side? There were some reverence shown. But as to winning them over with hardball politics, the answer was obvious.

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