By: B Goode
I had a very interesting chat with an old friend of mine today. He is vulgar but politically astute, articulate and opinionated. So yeah, your typical kopitiam uncle.
So instead of saying `he said, I said’, this article will be an amalgamation of the ideas emanating from our talkcock session. If this article is controversial, it’s because that man is a lightning rod for controversies. I always joked with him that there were three places I could find him; the kopitiam, his home and if not those two, behind the blue gate.
There has been intense speculation that Heng Swee Kiat is the heir apparent to the PMship, although he looks more like a spare than an heir. Put him side-by-side with Tharman and you will see what I mean.
Remember when LKY was looking for his replacement? S Dhanabalan was touted as a potential candidate but LKY shot the idea down by saying that Singapore wasn’t ready for an Indian PM.
Fast forward to 2016. A lot have changed. Singaporeans’ attitude towards race in politics have matured somewhat. Generally Singaporeans don’t see race as a factor in governance.
Let’s put it this way, despite the fact that the Indians (kudos to them) are overly represented in certain sector of government, nobody bats an eyelid. The Minister for Law who is also the Minister for Home Affairs is an Indian. The AG, the Chief Justice and not to mention a lot of the DPPs and lawyers are from the same community. Because of this, the Indian community in fact has a very powerful voice in government. And I applaud them for their achievement.
But the Premiership is a different matter. It is difficult to be colour blind. And this is not exclusive to Singapore. There is a black President in the US. Had a Japanese President in Peru. An Indian PM in Fiji.
But not being colour blind does not necessarily mean not accepting. And perhaps this is where Murali comes in.
Could Murali be the litmus test to see if Singapore is ready for a non-Chinese PM?
Personally I don’t think so because way before the GRC scheme, we already had minority MPs. And of course the late JBJ won Anson constituency. The counter-argument nonetheless would be that those were from different eras and borne out of unique circumstances. And the fact that now we have the GRC scheme shows that race still plays an important part in Singapore politics.
Whatever it is, the outcome of the Bukit Batok by-election will be interesting to say the least.