I quote myself from an earlier blog entry today, "The PAP wasn't populist? Come on. Grow up!"
Their populism isn't like the simplistic ones we see in other countries. There are many examples but let's just examine the one that is hotly discussed at the moment: The Foreign Domestic Worker or in short Maids.
Most advanced economies would welcome a government that allows maids to get in as easily as ours. When I was living in Dubai, there were many westerners. They loved their maids. They were so thoroughly spoilt they don't want to go back to their countries where only the uber rich can afford them. This isn't the place to go into the long details why those governments make it difficult for foreign maids to enter their countries, but allowing foreign maids into the country is populist. It would win them votes but it wasn't done. Why? Because there are long term consequences that are very painful to reverse. We are quickly becoming the example to them why it is a bad idea just as their state welfarism and buffet mentality is a bad example for us to avoid.
One man, one vote, how can you not be populist? Chin Shi Huang conscripting labor to build the Great Wall is not populist. NS is not populist, neither is New Water. All these were acts of a responsible and farseeing government However maids are; covered walkways are; lift and estate upgrading are; various bonuses...
The PAP pot calling the Western Democracies kettles black.
If the form of government is a democracy, it cannot avoid being populist. Why else do we opt for democracy?
Tomorrow if the WP forms the government they would also be populist. The question that begs an answer is which populist measures are sustainable or can be easily withdrawn (none actually).
Now who has the political courage to reverse unsustainable policies. All policies eventually become self defeating. It is only a matter of time. When those moments arrive will there be courageous men and women to take the painful decisions? The problem with this government is that instead of supplanting such policies, they try to brutally prolong them. As it is brutal, it therefore cannot be populist. This is silly.
People do not eat their children. The easiest way to reverse a populist and failing policy is when the Opposition forms the government. That is how nations with a long political history in practising democracy renew themselves. The other way is to have a new PAP that disavow itself of the old one.