This is the title of a magnificant article by David Chan in the Straits Times on 28 September. This is no doubt for the edification of Singaporeans for the enhancement of their political discernment, and in particular to the disoriented PAP leadership under PM Lee Hsien Loong in coming to terms with their predicament in GE 2016.
With due respect to the author David Chan, his treatise has been very carefully crafted with a view to admonishing the PAP that it is heading toward a political disaster in GE 2016. Only that being an invitee of the Straits Times to write, it would not be very civilised of him to be too explicit in his admonishment. But discerning Singaporeans reading the article will be left with no doubt of its oblique reference to the PAP.
David Chan has identified three major dimensions of trust which affect how citizens think, feel and behave and which may shed light on how and why the public trusts or distrusts the Government. They are competence, integrity and benevolence. Trust in competence is about people's confidence in the Government's ability to perform and solve problems. It involves the ability to address issues affecting quality of life and also effectiveness in managing crises. Issues of infrastructure such as public transport lagging behind population growth raise doubts relating to trust in competence.
Trust in integrity is about people's assessment of the Government's character or extent to which they think it is not corrupt and is impartial. Trust in benevolence is about people's belief in the Government's intentions and motivations. Trust in benevolence increases when people believe that the intention of policy and government action is to serve their interests and is motivated by a genuine concern for citizen well-being, as opposed to being influenced by vested private or partisan interests. It gets eroded when people think that policies are formulated by an elite which is disconnected from ground sentiments, is unable to empathise, or does not care enough for the less fortunate or ordinary folk.
Let's examine the three major dimensions of trust identified by David Chan and see how the PAP leadership under PM Lee fare in measuring up to their strict standards. PAP ministers, including the prime minister, are more concerned with their astronomical salaries running into millions of dollars from taxpayers' money than with serving the people and would this not affect the Government's ability to perform and solve problems? It is a well-known fact that the transport problem, especially the SMRT, is in a dreadful mess with frequent breakdowns and overcrowding and would not this raise doubts relating to trust in competence? And the rational PAP Government is planning to increase the population to 6.9 million in 2030 as their clever way of solving the overcrowding.
As for trust in integrity, we know that corruption is illegal but with the prime minister and his ministers paying themselves astronomically from taxpayers' money, is this what one would describe as trust in integrity? As for trust in benevolence, Singaporeans are branded as daft by the former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and it is precisely that because Singaporeans are daft that they believe that the intention of policy and government action is to serve their interests and is motivated by genuine concern for citizen well-being, as opposed to being influenced by vested or partisan interests.
We leave it to the discerning Singaporeans to form their opinion whether the PAP leadership under PM Lee deserve the trust in competence, trust in integrity and trust in benevolence identified by David Chan in his magnificent article.