Raise the political barrier
Vivian Balakrishnan had a lively discussion with 100 young activists and an impressive 10 questions were asked. Not bad for Singapore standard of active participation in a dialogue. 3 questions is standard and 10 is excellent in a depoliticised citizenry. The key issue raised was the need for a high standard of integrity among political aspirants. Vivian mused that 'many people are asking us to dumb down our political system. Lower the hurdles, lower the standards, lower the penalties, lower the deposits, so that we can have apparently more contest.' He added that he 'would rather have a high political hurdles, so that anybody who seriously enters the contest is a good, strong, honest person, willing to pay the prices and able to withstand the scrutiny of the public.' In one mouthful he has said that the govt will set the rules and standards for entering politics. A hard fact that the people must live with. The power of the day sings the song. Also, no one will take issues with maintaining high standards of conduct and integrity. These must be the basic qualities expected of national leaders. What is questionable is to link ability to pay a high deposit, or rich people, as people of high integrity, is unacceptable. There are many good people with very high integrity but do not have the money for deposit and were out of the system, cut off by the system. The next point is that these people of high integrity must be prepared to pay a high price. Why should entering politics be equated to paying a high price? Who is exacting this high price and under what circumstances? When we expect good people of high integrity to come into politics, the assumption is that they will conduct themselves exemplarily and would not behave like clowns or hit people below the belt. The issue of paying a high political price is unnecessary and is a threat that our system can do without. Not that people going into politics can destroy another with impunity. Unjustified and unsubstantiated attacks on any opponent must be paid with a high price. But this high price must not be there as a criteria or condition in our political system if we are to open the net wide enough to really get the good people into politics. Yes, it is dangerous to lower the criteria to enter politics. But a good political system must not have unjustified high barriers to keep good people out. A lot of money and high political price as a threat are something we can do without.