In an article by 154th-ranking propaganda mouthpiece Straits Times, the state media summed up 5 “hot potatoes” that ruling party supporters are anxious over in 2017, with many worried that the issues may erode trust in the ruling party regime. State media Straits Times listed the 5 issues as follow with an impact score upon an aggregate of 5:
1) GST tax increase (3.5/5)
Most notably GST, Straits Times quoted an academic from government university NUS saying that the ruling party might lose support from the middle class who, in his view, are the hardest hit by a GST increase. The government academic claimed that increasing taxes will help the poor more so the low income are not as much affected. In another quote from former PAP NMP Randolph Tan, Straits Times emphasised on the need for more propaganda at a longer time frame to offset “negative reaction”:
“While raising taxes is clearly an unpalatable idea, providing a longer runway before any hike is implemented would help prepare those who are affected, he says, adding: “If there is anything we can learn from the debate on the water price hikes, it is that the apparent speed with which the decision was imposed brought a very negative reaction.””
2) Who will be next Prime Minister? (3/5)
Like other PAP cronies and supporters who are unsure who to rally their support behind, Straits Times lamented that it is a bit late for the next Prime Minister to be appointed now. Straits Times pointed out that former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong was a Deputy Prime Minister for 5 years before being appointed Prime Minister. The current Prime Minister used to be Deputy Prime Minister for 14 years prior to being appointed indirectly by his father Lee Kuan Yew. Currently aged 65 and turning 66 in two month’s time, Lee Hsien Loong said that he intends to retire by 70 years old – leaving less than 4 years for the next Prime Minister by 2022.
There are currently 3 front runners for the PM role – Heng Swee Keat, Chan Chun Sing and Ong Ye Kung. According to Straits Times, Tan Chuan Jin has been eliminated following his demotion from the ministerial profile. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat is ideal in the eyes of the PAP supporters but his health is a major concern after he had a stroke and collapsed during a cabinet meeting in 2016. Minister of State Chan Chun Sing is of the right age at 48, but the former army general is an airhead. Chan Chun Sing was banished to be Minister of State without any portfolio after he messed up the Ministry of Social and Family Development. The former Major General is also notorious for his gaffes and lack of decorum, with many criticising him as unable to carry himself as a Minister. Education Minister Ong Ye Kung is considered a dark horse, but he is currently embroiled in a corruption case at Keppel which happened under his watch when he was Director of Strategy.
3) Controversy over Halimah Yacob’s Presidency (4/5)
Straits Times pointed out that many PAP supporters are unconvinced by the presidency of Halimah Yacob due to several government interventions in the election. First, Halimah Yacob is an Indian Singaporean, but she was “Malay-washed” and changed her race to Malay because she is a Muslim. Second, Halimah Yacob was given a walkover win by the Election Department after the Prime Minister gave a secret order to disqualify two of her opponent contestants. Many PAP supporters are not genuinely happy over the easy victory gained through legalised corruptions, with many still questioning the legitimacy of Singapore’s democracy (or lack of).
4) MRT worsening reliability (5/5)
Straits Times highlighted the worsening reliability of public transport the most pressing issue, giving it a full 5/5. Corruption at SMRT, failing pump system, increasing breakdown, signalling faults, “teething” issues of new systems, “political pressure” and a disastrous train collision sank the confidence of many PAP supporters who always believe Singapore is a first-world country above the likes of their neighbours Malaysia and Indonesia. Many PAP supporters also believe the government has been lax in their enforcement and did not punish SMRT hard enough.
5) 30% water price hike (3.5/5)
Despite posting hundreds of millions of profit every year, the Public Utility Board will be increasing water prices by 30%. PAP supporters are worried about the huge increase as this will spark off a series of inflation due to increase in business costs. However, Straits Times added that Singaporeans are only unhappy because they have not fully consumed the propaganda. Quoting a fake political “analyst”, Straits Times wrote:
“A much improved communication strategy – as well as rolling out programmes and schemes to cushion the impact for the lower income and most vulnerable in our society – could help to mitigate the unhappiness.”