Cycles Of Democracy: What Will Singapore Be In 30 Years Time?

by Patrick Liew on August 20, 2019

Cycles Of Democracy: What Will Singapore Be In 30 Years Time?

Democracy is not an absolute panacea for all of society’s problems.

Democracy works best if there is a matured electorate, comprising of people who take an objective, balanced and pragmatic approach to election of political leaders and running of a country.

In a perfect world, democracy works.

However, we don’t live in a perfect world.

Hence, democracy does not have a protracted record of success.

It is at best a lesser evil that probably provides temporary solutions.

Like many phenomena in the real world, democracy may go through different phases of a cycle.

In a simple nutshell, the phases are as follows:

Phase 1: Baggage and Bondage

At various points, many serve under the rule of a monarchy, a colonial master, or a strong leader.

Over time, many of those leaders lose touch with the ground and become dictators, giving rise to abuse, conflict and bloodshed.

Phase 2: Revolution and Liberalization

Soon, a leader or a team of leaders will rise up to free the people from their baggage and bondage.

Phase 3: Autocracy and Apathy

Very often, these new leaders will rule with a strong hand and drive the people to fulfil personal and collective visions.

Phase 4. Education and Enlightenment

Over time, many people become informed and enlightened about democracy.

They want to take back control of their lives and play a more active role in the running of their country.

Phase 5: Growth and Gain

The sense of pride in building a new nation unleashes potential and energy of the human spirit.

Phase 6: Contentment and Complacency

As the nation accumulates more wealth and becomes more economically stable, many become contented.
They may become complacent.

Phase 7: Self-Entitlement and Self-Gratification

Many increasingly rely on the country to look after them.

In some countries, the elected government spends money they can ill afford, and their debts are carried forward to future generations.

Phase 8: Dependence and Demand

Instead of providing a helping hand, many politicians choose to offer handouts to win more votes.

Many of the people may lose their sense of self-reliance and self-motivation to do more and do better with their lives.

They learn to abuse and exploit the country’s welfare system.

In summary, having a democratic system is no guarantee of a right decision or a positive outcome.

Voters may have good intentions and be intendedly rational.

However, having good intentions is not good enough.

The road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions.

What voters believe in theory may differ from what they practice in real life.

Political leaders are tempted to pander to popular desires of the masses.

They may compromise on socio-economic currency in exchange for political currency, and short term gains for long term growth.

This is especially true if the electorate is not willing to take bitter medicine to strengthen and sustain positive improvements and reinvent the country regularly.

That’s why democracy does not guarantee true freedom.

If left to abuse, democracy may even curb and restrict freedom.

Democracy only guarantees a voice in public affairs.

It institutionalizes voice – not effectiveness and efficiency.

What we are facing today in many countries is a breakdown of trust.

When that happens, all bets are off and voters may resort to extreme decisions and measures.

Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh was apparently quoted to have said, “A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.

“From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

Currently, there is no better system for running a country than democracy, except perhaps benevolent dictatorship.

Also, there are more good voters than bad and ugly ones.

Voters may make mistakes but democracy allows for corrections in due time, provided the damage is not systemic and thus irreparable.

Therefore, to ensure that Singapore is stable, secure and sustainable, education is our first and last defence.

We need to educate our people to do proper research, think critically, and make wise decisions.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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