Firstly, it is the lifeboat that legitimises the PAP’s losing candidates in any constituency by anointing them “grassroots advisors”. Secondly, it crowds out independent civil society, particularly cause-driven groups, by denying space to them. It squats like an elephant in the town square, disenfranchising citizens from forming their own groupings — which the PAP tends to see as threats to its dominance.
The People’s Association, I am arguing here, is a political creature, designed to serve as the mass mobilisation arm of the PAP. It has failed abysmally in that mission, but it has remained useful for the party’s dud candidates and for denying physical and opportunity space to alternative social mobilisation.And it is handsomely rewarded for it. Its annual report for Financial Year 2012 shows that it received a grant from the government of $434 million (see http://www.pa.gov.sg/about-us/annual-reports.html). Full story