get us wrong. A ''vibrant cosmopolis'' sounds like a wonderful
idea in principle, but the details are a bit hard to pin
down at this point.
we do know is this: Our future society will be a globally
connected and oriented one, and it will be built - with
a little help from foreign talent - for Singaporeans, not
can you expect workers with their jobs on the
line to look kindly on newcomers?
a brave vision, and a braver electoral platform - riding
on economic and historical necessity to make a pitch for
international standards, diversity and opportunity.
it works, Singapore will secure a place on the world map,
economically and culturally, for generations to come.
we've got the goal, now what's the gameplan?
pity the man in the street right now, confronted with all
this high falutin' vision stuff. What does it all mean in
why should he give a hoot?
clubs, shops and shows? Nice enough.
sophisticated media and civil society? Sure, if we can spare
in case you haven't noticed, we're in the middle of a downturn
this really an appropriate time to offer pragmatic Singaporeans
- by tradition a hard-nosed crowd not predisposed to rah-rah
manifestoes - yet another amorphous, grand-sounding slogan?
than ever, given the current economic climate, Singaporeans
are looking for straight answers to the bread-and-butter
questions yet to be addressed by the PAP's new platform:
COE prices, bus fares and jobs.
can keep the ambitious cosmopolis dream. But what the PAP's
manifesto needs are concrete plans to address the immediate
concerns of the electorate.
a strategy, that's hardly new: Pocketbook issues like HDB
upgrading and CPF top-ups helped carry the electorate in
the last election.
critical reassurances - that ordinary Singaporeans will
not be left behind as the more able dash ahead - are, after
all, enshrined in the other pillars of the PAP's working
we expect to see how the Ruling Party plans to help the
less-able and ensure each citizen's stake in the future.
again, call it what you like: Mention ''cosmopolis'' and
people think inevitably of ''foreign talent''.
PAP must have heard the coffeeshop talk and forum gripes
- signs of a population which has yet to fundamentally accept
the idea that we need to import more quality manpower to
even survive in the future.
they grudgingly buy the idea that we'll need to open up
to the world - eventually - to ensure the country's long-term
how can you expect workers with their jobs on the line to
look kindly on newcomers when, really, even in good times,
there were also rumblings?
this General Election (GE) is an excellent opportunity to
nail the foreign talent issue once and for all.
the solution is going to be tough. The bottom line? Bring
the issue out in the open; make foreign talent the lynchpin
of the PAP's electoral platform.
a fair call, after all the hard sell.
the PAP is convinced that foreign talent is the best way
forward, and is prepared to defy popular opinion to say
so, why not take the question to the people?
have to do its best to make sure every voter understands
the issues and its point of view.
the more likely for the electorate to accept the idea and
make it work.
process of persuasion, and the hard decisions it leads to,
is what politics is about. The Elected Presidency, a milestone
in our constitutional history, was similarly ratified at
the 1988 GE.
the results are positive, the PAP will finally have a firm
mandate to proceed with difficult policies, and disregard
any underground rumblings with a clear conscience.
the people would have spoken.