Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Preventing takeovers: Learn from the PAP

April 21, 2009

I REFER to last Saturday's article, 'How other groups build in safeguards'. Civil society groups should take a leaf from the People's Action Party (PAP) on how it safeguards itself against takeovers.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, in his book The Singapore Story: Memoirs Of Lee Kuan Yew, wrote about how the PAP had to safeguard itself against any left-wing capture and modelled elections to the PAP central executive committee (CEC) on the system to elect the Pope.

He wrote: 'The amended Constitution established two classes of party membership: ordinary members, who could join either directly through PAP headquarters or through the branches, and cadre members, a select few hundred who would be approved by the central executive committee. Only cadres who had been chosen by the CEC could in turn vote for candidates to the CEC, just as candidates nominated by a Pope could elect another Pope.

'This closed the circuit, and since the CEC controlled the core of the party, the party could not now be captured.'

This is a foolproof way to ensure that an organisation that has been built up over time is not suddenly overwhelmed and taken over by newcomers, albeit democratically.

Peter Teo Boon Haw

[Democracy. Can't live with it. Can't live without... Nope. Just can't live with it.]

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