As it became confirmed that Malaysia’s Najib Razak dictatorship was brought down, Singapore’s very own PAP dictatorship under Lee Hsien Loong has been struck by the fear that the same could happen in Singapore. The two leaders have too many similarities to begin with, from spending tens of billions of state funds without accountability, to having their wife dipping a hand into the national coffers.
Both countries have similar censorship laws, propaganda and even employ similar oppression methods; prior to the election, the then-opposition Mahatir Mohammad was charged with fabricating fake news.
Both actively practice nepotism and abuse legislation to consolidate their power. Each has their own friends and subordinates as Attorney Generals and their preferred judge and police commissioner. It is hence no surprise that Lee Hsien Loong is now taken aback. The Singapore Prime Minister is now asking himself why after all these authoritarian measures in place, the people could not be conditioned to support him.
In the past one year, Lee Hsien Loong raised a number of taxes including the GST that has angered the population. To pour salt on the wound, the two sovereign wealth fund companies GIC and Temasek Holdings have in recent years been reporting losses amounting to tens of billions. When CPF funds were made harder to withdraw through raising the Minimum Sum and Withdrawal Age, Singaporeans started linking the dots and came to the conclusion that the government must have lost the CPF funds in overseas gambles.
The nail in the coffin came when Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat admitted that Singapore is now in debt. It needs to borrow and make interest rate payments to finance the country. After decades of boasting about Singapore’s fiscal strength, the island state is now in debt under Lee Hsien Loong’s charge.
Propaganda fake news is now in full force though, making absurd claims that the borrowing is for the funding of “infrastructural upgrading”. However, such infrastructural spending is incorporated as the national Budget for any government in the world, even Australia. For example, if there is a need to spend S$15 billion for a new airport terminal, this should be included in the Budget under the transport ministry.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also tried to sugarcoat the borrowing by claiming that the government is only borrowing from statutory boards and state-owned companies. This is however a fallacy because any surplus, unspent budget or profits from these entities naturally goes back to each year’s Budget. The fact remains that the government is debt-ridden, and now obligated to make interest rate payments. Furthermore, the borrowers – being state-owned – will have their earnings trimmed and return lesser to each year’s Budget. Just think of killing the goose that lay the golden eggs.
Some astute Singaporeans are clearly aware that Lee Hsien Loong has for years been putting Singapore on the wrong path and the country’s prosperity has been shortchanged by his policies. However, these people are still numbered as minorities, or at least 30%, based off the previous election result. The general foolish majority are contented being misinformed by propaganda.
Like Najib Razak, Lee Hsien Loong’s government thrived on the ignorance and fears of the people. Dumbing down Singaporeans is his election strategy, hence there is a need for a fake news law to establish the government as the arbiter of truth. How many of these 70% will start taking responsibility for the information they receive and come to their own conclusion? A good 20% is enough to unseat Lee Hsien Loong, and considering recent events there is no guarantee the PAP might rule again.