29 April 2006

First World Country? Government? Opposition?

It seems like the First World thingy started by Lee Kuan Yew has caught on fire. Opposition parties fired back, and MM retaliated (lousily, in my opinion, for a man of his standard), then his son mocked the opposition for letting MM pick the theme of this election. That's a succinct summary of the First World developments in this election.

Now, "First World" is a categorisation on a country by the World Bank based on the level of industrialisation of that country. There are many criteria to fulfill... let's not go into it... but just take it that the World Bank's accurate in their judgement. So First World is a label on the country and not the government or opposition party. The World Bank doesn't walk around the globe and say which government is First World or not. There is no standard or formal definition for a First World government/opposition. So how do we define it? What does MM mean when he says "First World"?

Now, if we assume the straightforward definition, that a First World government is the government of a First World country, then we can say that the PAP (plus a miserably few opposition members) is a First World government. But arguing in that line of logic, shouldn't we define too a First World opposition as the opposition party of a First World country? Well, in that case, WP, SDA and SDP are all First World opposition parties! Hmm... MM's logic will KO if we assume this definition. Let's explore others.

Changing the definition a bit, if we define a First World government is one that brings a country to the First World standard, then of course, PAP is a First World government. Then we should also define an opposition that brings a country to the First World standard as a First World opposition too. That sounds flawed: how does an opposition (which by definition controls less than half of the parliament) steer a country in the first place? (Imagine the front passenger in a car helping the driver to turn the steering wheel!) If it does not control the parliament, it does not control the country, so it cannot "bring" the country at all. (Okay, maybe it can nudge it here and there once in a while, by we definitely cannot say "bring".) So by this definition, there is no such thing as a First World opposition. MM KO².

Or maybe the previous definition for a First World opposition is wrong; perhaps we should define it based on the contribution by the opposition that leads to a First World country. Okay, now we're on to something solid... indeed the contributions of the opposition to Singapore being a First World country is minimal. But let's put it into proportions. Of so many generations of parliament, the opposition took up, on average, about... what... a rough estimate: 1% of the seats? Probably less, considering that there is a long period of opposition drought before Jeyaretnam blasted himself into parliament. So the question is, did the opposition contribute their 1% to Singapore being First World? Well, frankly, I don't know, since I'm not born in the founding era and history textbooks never seem to talk about opposition anyway. I seek input here, but I believe it won't be hard to achieve 1%.

But we can also look at another alternative definition. A First World government/opposition is one that acts like how other First World government/opposition act. That is to say, their conduct, their rules, their laws and stuff like that. Very needless to say, the government failed in its job. But opposition? I don't deem them pass either, since which freaking opposition in other First World countries hold such miserable minority? Of course, you can argue that that's because of a non-First World government. But nonetheless, by that definition, the opposition are still not First World either.

So in many ways, MM is not making himself clear here. Yeah, I know... I don't have to understand what he means. I've just gotta keep quiet and sit down, and the government will run my life for me.

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