April 8th, 2008


A Postmodern Dynasty


Looking For: The next Prime Minister

Perks: Election Walkover, Blame for mistakes made will be transferred to the people of Singapore

Requirements: Perfect academic and CCA records from pre-school to university (at least a 1st Class Honors degree), Must be willing to join the PAP and be co-opted despite current political stance. Proven leadership skills (ability to tell people to shut up and make people able your orders) proven by being a prefect in primary school. Thin-skinned enough to sue others for defamation; thick-skinned enough to praise yourself after a major fiasco (with the help of compliant media)

Strictly Optional: Intelligence, Creativity, Flexibility, Popularity

I read with interest Mr. Wang's blog post on the PAP's (supposed) search for political leaders, specifically the next Prime Minister. Mr. Wang has pointed out the silliness of looking at the academic records of potential leaders. Others have also joked about the fact that Singapore is the only democratic (so to speak) country in which the ruling party assumes with hardly any reservation (in fact, none at all) that it will be in power three and more elections down the road. (Such jokes, of course, do not arise out of a belief that the PAP is holding a shaky assumption. Rather people make such jokes precisely because the PAP is right to hold such an assumption.)

There's something about the way the PAP is announcing its own renewal concerns to Singaporeans and the rest of the world. Something that does not put one (me?) at ease.

Perhaps the problem has something to do with the question of what constitutes "renewal" in the world of the PAP. The PAP has an obsession with renewal. Everything and everyone--perhaps with the exception of MM Lee--can be, must be, will be replaced. But there is something paradoxical about renewing the PAP. Can the PAP renew itself in such a way that it is no longer the PAP except in name? More importantly, will it?

Or will the PAP obstinately pump new blood into an aging body headed towards inevitable death? There is only so much you can do to prolong the life of a withering flower.

Is it possible for the PAP to transcend its own blind spots or its own myopia in the process of controlled renewal?

On the one hand, the PAP is fervently (feverishly?) renewing itself. On the other hand, the very obsession with renewal arises from a survival instinct that seeks to preserve more than it seeks to change. Perhaps what we have is a postmodern dynasty where the heir is not necessarily a Lee in blood, but is still a Lee in essence, a subject in the image of LKY, tailor-made to suit the designer throne. A Lee descendant not by biology but by governmentality. A Leesecendant. Biology is obsolete.

Of course, no one other than the PAP itself really cares about what kind of renewal it goes through. What people might be concerned about is how its renewal will affect Singapore as a whole.

If we need an equation with which to work, perhaps it is this:

Singapore = LKY X Flux, where LKY is a constant > 0.

There will always be change in Singapore, but changes will always be only located within a locus permitted by the constant.

Can we ever change the constant? (Can Flux ever negate LKY or render it negligible?)

There is no point imagining spectacular changes to Singapore in the form of a female Prime Minister or a minority-race Prime Minister. Whoever it is is a Leescendant. And so any change is no change. Change is not 0 only because 0 change will negate the effects of LKY.

[OK, perhaps this is bad Mathematics. But, hey, since when did Molly claim to be good in Mathematics. She is not even remotely qualified to be a Leescendant.]

Maybe it all does not matter. Molly envisions that Singapore will eventually be renewed into a disturbing utopia where those who are unhappy with the LKY constant will either die off or leave Singapore, leaving it with only those who love the LKY constant and the highly acclimatized strugglers who are only against the constant to the degree permitted by the constant.

Which means that there will be no more errant bloggers.

Or perhaps, one day, long in the distant future lifetimes after many Mollys, the renewal will have hiccups and cell division in the aged body will finally develop a cancerous tumor. Perhaps the old body will die and the soul--if there is any--will find a new home. But meanwhile, let's not hope for anything. Let's lose hope so as not to fall into the trap of hoping.