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  • Writer's pictureJulie O'Connor

Singapore's Political Merry-Go-Round: Will Lawrence Wong Remain Tethered to the PAP Script?

The significant development last week was Singapore's unveiling of its fourth Prime Minister in nearly 65 years. Nevertheless, the response from Singapore's Minister of Law to an article in The Economist regarding this event somewhat stole the limelight, prompting questions about the motives behind Minister Shanmugam's seemingly over reaction.

PAP, Singapore's ruling party, has held sway for what seems like an eternity, and now Lawrence Wong is poised to ascend to the throne! With his extensive political experience, one would assume he's heard the cries of conflicts, political manoeuvrings, persecutions, and abuses of power. Yet, unless I'm mistaken, here he is suddenly painting a picture of a future under his upcoming leadership of a utopian realm of democracy, justice, and equality. Colour me sceptical. After all, if the past 64 years under the PAP haven't exactly been a beacon of democracy and equality, why should Singaporeans suddenly rally behind Lawrence Wong as the caped hero they've long awaited to "build a future that shines brightly for ALL Singaporeans"?

Each time the political deck is reshuffled, like Tharman's move to the President's residence, there's a mix of amusement and frustration. Optimistic declarations about real change often ignore the reality that figures like President Tharman and Lawrence Wong are firmly rooted in the PAP establishment. History has shown that anyone daring to challenge the status quo risks metaphorically losing their head.

Time will quickly tell if Lawrence Wong is the harbinger of true change within the PAP, or just another cog in their well-oiled machine. Can Singaporeans realistically anticipate a sudden shift towards fairness in the electoral arena by the PAP? Will exiled individuals finally receive the heartfelt welcome they deserve to return home? Will there be a seismic shift in the government's mindset to any allegations of corruption and abuse of power among the highest ranks, from 'Ownself Check Ownself', to genuine independent investigations? And as for the courageous who dare to expose conflicts between ministers and controversial transactions like Nassim Jade and Ridout – will they now be hailed as heroes rather than targeted as villains?

Significant change in such entrenched political systems is like trying to turn a battleship on a dime—it takes time, effort, and often a lot of resistance. So, it might be wisest for Singaporeans to be sceptical of any leopards promising to quickly change their PAP spots!

Certainly, only time will reveal whether Singaporeans will continue to witness the familiar rotation of the PAP carousel and be left with the stark reality of yet another false dawn, or if Lawrence Wong can prove his mettle with tangible action, not mere words and a guitar!


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