Ideological differences one reason for few private sector people in politics

Deputy political editor Elgin Toh recently wrote about the difficulty the People's Action Party faces in getting people from the private sector into politics (Keeping society - and Cabinet - open to all talent; May 17).

While this has often been attributed to issues on privacy and pay, there is another challenge that has not been addressed.

Anyone who joins a political party must agree with its ideology, doctrines and practices.

Does the PAP examine whether this poses a hurdle for potential candidates?

In the private sector, it is not uncommon for a company to be unable to get a good candidate, not because of pay but, rather, because of a difference in vision or beliefs between the candidate and the firm.

Given that the PAP remains the dominant political party today, this possibly translates to private sector people discriminating against PAP politics.

Adding the other disincentives for those in the private sector joining politics - taking a pay cut and giving up one's privacy - this makes a political career the more logical path for people from the public sector or the military.

And, as the PAP is able to secure candidates only from a restricted pool, then the party is limited to choosing the best leader from this narrow group as well.

Ang Miah Boon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2018, with the headline 'Ideological differences one reason for few private sector people in politics'. Print Edition | Subscribe