Votker series: Introduction and Poll No. 1

[For flash updates as the poll progresses, scroll to bottom of this post.]

Starting today, I am launching a series of opinion polls in the lead-up to the general election that is widely expected over the next 6 to 9 months. I’m giving them the arbitrary name “Votker Series” — don’t ask.

No  anonymous internet poll can possibly mean very much, of that I am well aware, and I will never claim that any results we obtain will be representative. Not even close!

All it will tell us is, very roughly, what Yawning Bread readers think about the various issues asked. But then, I have a rather high regard for my readers. If I may flatter myself for a moment, judging from the quality of the comments this site gets, you’re a thinking lot, which,  erm, well, yes. . .  only suggests that this survey is going to be a thousand miles from being representative of Singaporeans generally.

Never mind about the rest; we want to know what WE think of the issues, don’t we?

* * * * *

All the polls will pivot on political parties — the two new parties formed only this year (United Singapore Democrats and Socialist Front) are not included, being too new.

Poll No. 2 onwards will take a basket of issues at a time, ranging from economic policies to social issues. How each subsequent poll is crafted depends on what results we get from the preceding poll. It’s going to b e a work in progress.

The plan is to let each poll stand for 10 days, after which I will post a report about results. Unless there is some major interruption, there will be three polls a month.

I thought about the risk of astroturfing, i.e. where a group of people try to skew the results by voting repeatedly. However, my questions are such that I don’t think it will be worth the trouble, especially when no claim is being made that it is representative of Singaporeans as a whole. Nonetheless, if I see responses accelerate suspiciously, I will close the poll prematurely. Basically, in my mind, alarm bells will ring when we get close to 500 responses, which is about ten times the number of comments I get for a controversial article. More than that, I will consider suspicious.

So here goes. Please take the trouble to do the survey (only 7 questions) [Poll closed at 00:30h, 11 Sept 2010, link removed.]

* * * * *

Flash update 4 September 2010, 23:00h

The initial responses are very unrepresentative of Singaporeans in general. Up to this point, some 73 percent said they are “very unlikely” to vote for the PAP, compared to 66.6 percent who actually did vote for them in the last general election!

Even so, respondents are quite discriminating about the various opposition parties — looks like an interesting pattern may emerge.

Somewhat disappointing to me is that only about one in three readers (based on hit count for this post) are taking the trouble to do the poll. Hey people, please vote, so we get better results. [Poll closed at 00:30h, 11 Sept 2010, link removed.]. It’s anonymous.

* * * * *

Flash update 6 September 2010, 00:35h

I wondered whether there was going to be a stark distinction between those supporting the SDP and those supporting the Workers’ Party. By this I mean the possibility that those who supported one would resist supporting the other, given the very different operating styles of the two parties. Turns out from a quick spreadsheet analysis that it isn’t so.

Those who indicate support for one often indicate support for the other, not necessarily at the same level, but not far apart. Hmmm…

24 Responses to “Votker series: Introduction and Poll No. 1”

  1. 1 Sg Victim 4 September 2010 at 15:04

    Even if party, such as PAP, might have clear ideology they are nothing more than rhetorics and any dreams they painted were not felt. Not forgetting alternative parties have unfair restriction and obstacles of bringing their ideology known to the public due to censorship, unfair laws and bars…. I completed Poll 1 under such restrictions and may not deemed fair to the alternative parties.

  2. 2 patrick 4 September 2010 at 15:13

    this is very interesting alex, looking forward to the results!

    and i’m sorry but i have to ask – Votker series? 😛

  3. 3 ~autolycus 4 September 2010 at 20:03

    Errm, isn’t the NSP part of the SDA? Or so I seem to think… 😦

  4. 4 TTY 4 September 2010 at 21:08

    Don’t be surprise with the numbers Alex. I’m one who rarely or hardly comment in blog but I read a lot, and I participated in the poll. Very interesting.

  5. 5 yawningbread 4 September 2010 at 22:58

    The NSP was part of the SDA for the 2006 general election, but they went separately after that. The SDA now comprises Chiam See Tong’s Singapore People’s Party, the Singapore Justice Party and PKMS (sort of the Malay party).

  6. 7 yawningbread 4 September 2010 at 23:34

    Patrick – it’s something I remembered from a few years back. I was in a coffeeshop and at the next table were 4 ah bengs, and unusually for ah bengs, they were talking politics. At some point, it emerged that only one of them had ever voted – the one with hair dyed blond. He asserted his claim to fully-fledged citizenship by saying something like this: “At least I got vote, not like you. Respect, OK? I voker, OK?”

    He repeated it a few times, which was when I realised his mispronunciation. At least one of this friends noticed too: “What talk you? What vodka? Voter, lah. Vodka, vodka.”

  7. 8 KiWeTO 5 September 2010 at 00:35


    if one has no idea about what the political party’s ideological position, then, any response to many of your other questions other than “not-applicable/no opinion” will only muddy the quality of the final data even more.

    eg: what the NSP etc are up to, nor their ideological position are known to me – would I vote for them today if I hadn’t heard it? The fair position would be that I cannot vote until I have a least heard their position. Would that then fall into the “very unlikely” column or “neutral” column?

    [i put it under neutral.]

  8. 9 yawningbread 5 September 2010 at 01:36

    KiWeTo – not everybody decides on their vote the way you do. There are responses where the respondent says he does not know Party A’s ideology, but he still expects credible candidates from them and then marks it as “somewhat likely” to vote for them. Perhaps he/she believes that ideology is unnecessary so long as competent people are on offer?

    Another would say he knows Party B’s ideology well enough, but absolutely will not vote for them.

    It’s quite amazing, the different responses.

  9. 10 Tan Ah Kow 5 September 2010 at 01:43

    I participated in your survey. With the exception of one question, I felt I could respond honestly.

    The exceptional one is this:

    “For each party, please indicate whether you expect them to present credible candidates at election time? *”

    Since you have not presented a clear definition of “credible”, I found it difficult to find a respond category. My view is that all candidates for the up coming elections are probably, for want of term, of the same ilk in my book — academic qualification notwithstanding. But then I personally have no regards for academic qualification when it comes to politics. And personally, I don’t have too much regard for Lee Kuan Yew for his intellect but I do credit him for his political ruthlessness. So that is my mindset when responding to that question.

    However, in terms of the respond categories, I only had a choice of either no expectation or three possible expectation categories. So you can see my dilemma when it comes to responding.

    I choose “No Expectation” but in my mind it does not really reflect my real attitude towards that question. Basically, since my premise is that all parties are most probably likely to present candidates that are more or less of the same ilk by that I suppose you could say I expect all to be equally credible. In which case, I suppose my respond should be High expectation. But then how is my “High” expectation different from the “medium” or “low”?

    But my no expectation would suggest I don’t expect “credible” candidates. And yet in my mind I feel all candidates are likely to be of equal “credibility” — by my definition, so I cannot not have no expectation right?

    • 11 Jafri Basron 6 September 2010 at 18:47

      The term “credible” is a very subjective notion as mere educational qualification alone will not be sufficient. The candidate’s past social background and work related experience is also quite important as Member of Parliament will be managing the affair of at least 100,000 residents. Knowledge about Estate management right to the familiarity of Government rules and regulations should be part of his portfolio.

  10. 12 AhTo 5 September 2010 at 11:41

    Good effort but your blog is not likely to be read by mainstream Singaporeans (both in demographic terms, education and political inclination) hence your results will always be heavily biased towards opposition party voters.

  11. 13 yawningbread 5 September 2010 at 12:44

    Tan Ah Kow – Choosing neutral is fine, because you’ve waited all parties the same way. But do you also mean that PAP’s candidates also of the same ilk as those from various opposition parties? Others might say they’re a very different lot.

    AhTo – I have never wanted this blog to be read by “mainstream” whoever they are, and I am very sure it is not. I’ve been more concerned about quality than quantity, I’m not about to chase hits or pander to the masses. But even within this self-selected group of people who drop by here, it’d be interesting to see what they think of the various parties, and in coming polls, of the various issues.

    • 14 Tan Ah Kow 7 September 2010 at 03:00

      I have to confess, I have difficulty trying to fathom the term “credible”. When I hear others speak of “credibility” I still can’t tell what they mean.

      If credibility means believing that when someone say they plan to do something, he/she will do it, I have already stop believing in the pronouncement of PAP candidates. Time and again, you can see they don’t deliver on many promises — e.g. Vivian Balakrishna’s so call “rebel” left much to be desired? The only believable thing about the PAP is to perpetuate the same policy again and again. So are they credible?

      On the other hand, say, WP and SDA you can believe on the narrow issue of upgrading, they would stand by what they say — i.e. fight for funds to upgrade. So on that narrow issue and by the believable definition, you could say both WP and SDA are indeed credible. But beyond that, since they have yet to make a stand, so are they believable?

      For the SDP, they have gumption and I strongly believe that should they ever come to power they would stand-by their principles — which is relatively speaking clearer than other parties, you know where they stand and given what they have gone through. You could believe they would mostly be prepared on what they have preach! However, if you were to extend the concept of believable to whether they CAN — as opposed to would — actually deliver than things becomes complicated. Chances are even of the party would be prepared to stand by their principles, which for now chime with my believe, it may be hard to believe that they would necessary have the support of the people to carry out their policy — i.e. people might not be willing to stomach the pain of radical changes, which I personally but others may disagree, is necessary.

      So if you start devising what is meant by “credible”, you could swing with many permutation of expectation. If you do the plus and minus, you will find the sum of each party candidates would probably be the same in all cases. So much so that I can’t really make up my mind how I can honest answer that question!

  12. 15 Chew CHin Wee 5 September 2010 at 14:44


    the difficulty of any such survey is that the respondents are typically interested in the first place. Hence your responses are likely to be skewed….

    You mentioned abt the respondents have selected “not likely” to vote for PAP, well, it could be that your respondents are mostly in constituencies that are in walked over constituencies……

  13. 16 Used to be a PAP supporter! 5 September 2010 at 17:50

    Until there is enough oppositions in the cabinet to voice out, what the oppositions stand for and what the average singaporean think doesn’t matter. My personal view is to vote in as many oppositions as possible and than only they will start to listen.

    Freedom and a democratic society is about the governing power that is derived from the people.

    The question here is “CHOICE”.

    Do the present government give us a “CHOICE”?


    Do they make the decision for us and after that, like a unreasonable parent always quote: “I doing it for your own good! And if you are not “Happy”, you can always get out of the house.”

    REMEMBER: No one’s Life, Liberty, Property is safe when parliament is in session…. or should I say, when the government make an announcement!

  14. 17 yawningbread 6 September 2010 at 00:43

    Flash update #2:

    I wondered whether there was going to be a stark distinction between those supporting the SDP and those supporting the Workers’ Party. By this I mean the possibility that those who supported one would resist supporting the other, given the very different operating styles of the two parties. Turns out from a quick spreadsheet analysis of results so far that it isn’t so.

    Those who indicate support for one often indicate support for the other, not necessarily at the same level, but not far apart. Hmmm…

  15. 18 patrick 6 September 2010 at 02:20

    i’m concerned that your flash update comments may influence the responses to your survey as time goes on…

  16. 19 raph 6 September 2010 at 09:31

    whats the point of supporting the WP party? They appear to accept all the PAP’s fundamentals and are only interested in fine tuning PAP’s policies.

  17. 20 anony 6 September 2010 at 11:59

    I submitted the survey form today.

    Here is my 2 cents worth on the survey:

    1. What does credibility mean in the Spore politics context? As far as I am concerned it needs a good balance of both IQ & EQ. The PAP is seen as having the high IQ among all its serving MPs, unfortunately its very disappointing that not one of them possess an average EQ. The reason being that the ruling family likes to see clones reproducing themselves renewal after renewal of its ruling machinery from the ministers right down to the foot soldier ordinary MPs. The end result after successive rule by this family of hand picking its political elite is the void of empathy & sympathetic ear that the population would like to see, hear & be touched by it. The ruling gahment is too academic & lacks a pragmatic approach, it is only reactive after seeing countless mistakes made in HDB policies, education, health care, ponders on it for a long while before it swings into action.

    2. The internet only attracts the hardcore anti-PAP brigade, yes like me and you. So your results will be skewed no matter how you phrase your survey. The moderates which form the large majority of the Spore voting population will only read & watch the mainstream media controlled by the gahment & believe everything they say. So much for Spore’s education that strives to produce critical thinking if it ever had. A case in point during the 2006 GE, Aljunied GRC could have fallen into the hands of WP had it not been for the intervention of the non-stop character assasination on the Gomez fiasco. It was more than enough to sway the votes towards the PAP.

    3. What does voting mean to the Spore electorate? Do they understand the implications of voting someone to represent you so that your views can be heard or do they think its a rubber stamp every 4 years or so to let the PAP rubber stamp everything they can. My conclusion is that we do not have a matured electorate, they know nuts about politics, about voting & its implications.

    4. Do our political parties ever communicate to the Spore electorate? No to the PAP, theirs is didatic. As for rest of the political parties like WP, its no communication, not even a whimper. They have a website but there are hardly any updates. 4 years to keep the vibe going since their 2006 comeback but they did not maximize it. As for Reform Party, they are game on from the word go, excellent communication from Facebook, walkabouts & their wordpress site. The rest are in the same league as WP.

  18. 21 yawningbread 6 September 2010 at 12:28

    patrick – you may have a point there.

  19. 22 Ape 6 September 2010 at 18:29

    Thanks, YB.

    Ape did the survey on the first opportunity without even going into the comments.

    As in almost every survey/poll, there will be a certain level of subjectivity. A lot also depends on the person’s (doing the poll) understanding and interpretation of the questions and answers.

    Ape finds that the best way is always to answer according to what first comes into thought (and leave the rest to the person putting up the poll to figure out the results :p)

    All in all, ape finds this is one of the least bias and confusing surveys.

    Will look forward to the outcome and subsequent polls.

  20. 23 WR 7 September 2010 at 10:11

    Hi Alex,

    Please do not write off the polls if there are many voters, some people like to read your blog without commenting much.



  21. 24 Former Civil Servant 9 September 2010 at 11:45

    Singapore society is not in a good state. Behind the fanciful facade lies a simmering social tension that is just waiting to boil over.

    It would be nice if we can do a poll of Singaporeans (on the streets, in the heartlands etc) on whether they think that Singapore is heading in the right direction, as well as if they are optimistic about the future of our country.

    There will always be Singaporeans, who will continue to support the PAP, as long as their own welfare is well taken care of. The plight of the less well-off Singaporeans are, to them, “just facts of life”. The PAP plays on and encourages such sentiments.

    If things are not going well for the PAP, they would, in a knee-jerk fashion, point to other countries (be it other developing or developed countries) and say, “at least we ain’t THAT bad”, hoping that Singaporeans will feel “grateful” after seeing such comparisons. The compliant local media will also come up with reports of how things are much worse elsewhere to drive home the message.

    I’m not sure how long this can go on. If the ruling party continues to think that past performance is an indicator of future results, they are truly self-deluded. Sadly, the PAP has now become a parody of its former self, taking knee-jerk reactions to problems highlighted by Singaporeans, without clearly thinking through the consequences of these half-baked measures (as seen in recent events).

    Singapore is not the PAP. Singaporeans deserve better leadership than the current batch, who have evidently failed their own countrymen.

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