Papsicles 1

Two People’s Action Party (PAP) members of parliament whose retirements were reported in the Straits Times, 2 April 2011, are notable for a simple, depressing fact: no citizen has ever cast a vote for them. They have reached the end of their parliamentary careers without ever having to face a contest at an election.

These two are the mugshots of Singapore’s broken democracy.

Ho Geok Choo served as Member of Parliament (MP) in West Coast GRC for two terms, being a candidate for the PAP in 2001 and 2006. This group representation constituency went uncontested through both general elections.

Koo Tsai Kee did even better (or worse, as you may wish). He went through four general elections without facing a contest, in Tanjong Pagar GRC: 1991, 1997, 2001 and 2006.

Ho Geok Choo also represents an emerging problem in Singapore: political dynasties. She is what in China would be called a “princeling”, being the daughter of another MP, Ho See Beng. I am not keeping tabs on this so I do not have an exhaustive list of who is the son or daughter of whom.  Perhaps an interested reader would take this on as his personal project and contribution to Singapore history and compile a list? Off the top of my head, I know that new PAP candidate Desmond Lee has been reported to be the son of former cabinet minister Lee Yock Suan, while the son of retiring MP Ong Ah Heng (PAP, Nee Soon Central) has been spotted doing the rounds of Sembawang Group Representation Constituency.

The candidates the PAP intends to field in the Sembawang and Nee Soon GRCs came into clear view on Sunday, with a surprise inclusion: current Nee Soon Central MP Ong Ah Heng’s son, Ong Teng Koon.

The 34-year-old commodities trader accompanied Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, the anchor minister for Sembawang GRC, on a walkabout in Woodlands on Sunday.

— Straits Times Breaking News, 7 March 2011. MP Ong Ah Heng’s son is potential PAP man

Not far from Ho Geok Choo’s Pioneer constituency, Grace Fu is the incumbent MP at Yuhua which she is expected to defend. Her father, James Fu, while not a PAP politician, was once the Press Secretary serving Lee Kuan Yew.

* * * * *

None of these names are causing as much tizzy as Tin Pei Ling right now. At 27, she is expected to be the youngest among PAP’s candidates. I’m not going to wade into the controversy (but you may want to read this analysis on The Online Citizen)  except to suggest that far from discomfitting the PAP, it may actually work to their advantage.  Firstly, it boosts her name recognition, but perhaps much more importantly, the controversy is a useful diversion. It deflects attention from one PAP candidate at the other end of the age scale, a full 60 years older than Tin.

In any real democracy, having an 87-year-old candidate would be an embarrassment.

One that comes to mind is Strom Thurmond (born 1902, died 2003), who stood for election (and won) as Senator from South Carolina to the US Senate in 1996 when he was 94 years old. Thurmond was best known for his unreconstructed views defending racial segregation long after American society abandoned the idea. I guess this is what one gets with gerontocratic candidates.

A Straits Times journalist thinks that the 87-year-old may well retire at this election, but I have seen no sign of it. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

* * * * *

Another Straits Times journalist almost got a tongue-lashing from me yesterday. He called, hoping for some comments for a piece he was writing about Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech at the National University of Singapore’s Ministerial Forum (4 April 2011). My first reaction to him was that I didn’t want to oblige with any comment. “You guys,” I told him, quite indignant, “devoted four full pages to that speech in today’s edition and you want to have more articles tomorrow?

“I am not going to help you generate more content.”

Eventually I relented and gave him some morsels; I tend to feel sorry for mainstream reporters.

Lee Hsien Loong’s chief point in his speech, which the mainstream media is now trying to whip up into towering Truth, was that Singapore does not have enough talent to afford a two-party system. What claptrap. How is it that Denmark (population 5.5 million), Finland (5.4 million — next door to nuclear-armed Russia), Norway (4.9 million), New Zealand (4.4 million) can afford to be multi-party democracies, when we boast like them to be a First World country?

If Lee still holds fast to his view, then he should examine his definition of talent. Maybe he finds very little because his definition is highly restrictive. Maybe “talent” by Lee’s reckoning is actually little more than willingness to toe the Lee line, working hard at increasing income inequity, institutionalising racial divides and breeding elitism. If that is the case then I am rather glad we do not have enough of such “talent”.

Oddly, Goh Chok Tong suggested to the media the day before that the PAP had too much talent and might face difficulty finding enough executive positions for them all.

Limiting ministers’ Cabinet terms to two on average so as to facilitate leadership renewal. That’s a possible future scenario painted by Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong for the People’s Action Party when it tackles the issue of new blood in the leadership.

[snip]

“If [PM Lee] has five new men who can make it as a minister, then he must decide where to post them … That’s a real problem. We must have vacancies for people,” said Mr Goh

— Today newspaper, 4 April 2011, Shorter Cabinet terms for ministers?

In his university speech, Lee said he disagreed with his cabinet colleague and predecessor as prime minister. “Over the weekend, SM Goh expressed his personal view that perhaps in future, ministers should serve only two terms. But I think that’s not possible, simply because of the numbers. We are not able to generate the talent. . . ”

Isn’t it interesting to see the PAP chiefs disagreeing even before the campaign has officially begun? Does it not suggest that whether they have enough talent is less a statement of honest appraisal than a tactical stump-speech device to either impress voters (as Goh seemed out to do), or scare voters into voting for the PAP (as Lee preferred to do)?

Possibly, just possibly, by a wild shot, perhaps Lee had to quickly quash Goh’s remarks because he spotted a comment I posted on Facebook the afternoon before his speech. I wrote (4 April 2011, 2:25 p.m.):

PAP wants its minister-quality candidates pruned

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong told Straits Times that the PAP has too many candidates with ministerial calibre, and will need to start pruning them. What does this mean? It means voters can happily vote out some PAP teams in GRCs, chucking out some ministers in the process, and still be confident of having enough “talent” in the administration.

As reported by the Straits Times, 4 April 2011,  Goh said the days of cabinet ministers serving several terms may be numbered, because in the interest of self-renewal, space is needed for new blood. “You want to bring in new people who can be given responsibilities, (then) you have to create space in the Cabinet for new people coming in. So a time will come, when ministers will not serve more than two terms, generally speaking, so we can have new blood coming in.”

Great, so the PAP has more “ministerial talent” than they know what to do with. Then let voters decide which candidate deserves to hold cabinet portfolios. Voters shouldn’t lose sleep over voting out the PAP in your constituency and chucking out a minister or two in the process; after all, the PAP themselves said they’ve got plenty more at hand.

I think I’ll go along with what Goh said. They’ve got plenty and I’m sure an even longer queue waiting for a their turn at million-dollar salaries. Time to vote some out.

* * * * *

The name Papsicles is one that I’m going to use in the run-up to Polling Day, for articles about the PAP. As for the photo beside, although I referred to two PAP biggies above, it is purely coincidental that there are two monkeys in it.

40 Responses to “Papsicles 1”


  1. 1 ape 7 April 2011 at 19:26

    The impression I get from PM and SM is that the cabinet is use to groom ministers.

    • 2 yawningbread 7 April 2011 at 19:33

      Eh? If you’re admitted into the cabinet, you’re already a minister.

      • 3 ape 8 April 2011 at 13:19

        That’s my point. Shouldn’t the ruling party place the best among them into the cabinet? But the way they talk, I can’t help imagining their thought bubbles go something like this ‘Hmmm, I have too few/many suitable candidates to be minister. Let’s rotate them and see who is better’

  2. 4 sgcynic 7 April 2011 at 19:30

    “As for the photo beside, although I referred to two PAP biggies above, it is purely coincidental that there are two monkeys in it”

    It doesn’t matter whether it is intentional or coincidental, as long as it is fitting.🙂

  3. 5 Russell 7 April 2011 at 19:52

    Your assessment is totally spot on! I too believe there’s a disagreement between Goh & Lee’s messages to the public. And I’m inclined to think is yet another freudian slip from the senior. Perhaps even out of good intention as possibly a last service to the nation, to infer that not all MPs are created equal, and some should just serve no more than two terms.

    The “talent shortage” tactics is just one of Lee’s ploy to inject a dire sense of a “dying breed of leaders” among Singapore and that voters thus, should appreciate the opportunity and their hard efforts in securing and grooming this line up of candidates for the benefit of the people. Sadly, most have seen through the ploy, and do not buy that argument anymore.

  4. 6 cdp88 7 April 2011 at 20:09

    Their comments about talent are interesting. Sadly where I live, Queensland in Australia, there is a lack of talent in the main opposition party. But they recently appointed a new leader and they might win at the next election. Even though they might lack talent I wouldn’t necessarily be concerned if they took power because the business of government would continue to be carried out by the public service. They may make a few poor policy decisions but even experienced governments make bad decisions.

    Surely singapore would also have a skilled public service able to provide advice if there was a change of government. So if there was a change of government the incoming government would have access to all that advice and expertise.

    Perhaps the real risk is that if an opposition party won and got in they might upset the existing order that seems to favour the political class. With those million dollar salaries on offer I too would be setting up political dynasties.

  5. 7 allison 7 April 2011 at 20:40

    hahaha…i love your photo.

  6. 8 Paul 7 April 2011 at 20:47

    Monkeys on chains, mind you. Go figure.

  7. 9 stanley fong 7 April 2011 at 20:53

    RE: Tin Pei Ling

    So she has only been doing grassroot work since she was 21 years old —that doesn’t seems like a long track record.

    I’m still puzzled as to why she was fielded as a candidate.

    In terms of working experience, a lot of people would be dazzled by her title of senior consultant at Ernst & Young.

    Those in the know would tell you that Ernst & Young is not a top-tier consulting firm — the top-tier are firms such as Mckinsey, Bain Consulting, Boston Consulting Group. The top-tier pay entry level consultants $5,000-$6,000 per month and rarely hire graduates with 2nd class upper honors.

    So they field one of the youngest candidate and so far they have not offer anyting exceptional that is about the candidate

  8. 11 Roy 7 April 2011 at 21:56

    that PAP has a monopoly on talent and that their candidate selection process is meticulous and beyond reproach are but just myth. but it has, with the help of the MSM, so successfully propagated this myth that many Singaporeans actually believe it to be true.

    it is time for the myth to be debunked!

  9. 12 Gard 7 April 2011 at 22:21

    I wonder as you write this series of articles on PAP, would you change your mind about 3-corner contests, since you have given leave to PAP behaving undemocratically and expected opposition parties to play by ‘market rules’?

    Doesn’t the GRC system feel like the CDOs (Collateralized debt obligations) – and the mainstream media are the rating agencies that gave the incumbent CDOs ‘AAA’ rating? There is something not quite right with the marketplace, isn’t so? How competent is the median voter in decoding the ‘real’ value of electing a PAP-CDO of, say, “Goh CT, Tharman S, Teo Ser Luck, Tin Pei Ling and Tan Chuan Jin” vs Party K CDO vs Party M CDO?

  10. 13 Ghosts 7 April 2011 at 22:45

    //What about their special pension that starts paying them $179,000/year from age 55 till death? What about the huge benefits both pecuniary and in-kind our minister’s family members derive from him being in office? One just needs to check out the positions held by spouses and children of our senior civil servants and ministers.- From Tan Kin Lian Blog//

    Above are the shameful “Welfare” our MPs are milking from taxpayer monies. If they are so coveted and smart talents, one have to wonder why can’t they manage their own post-career jobs like everybody else on the street.

    Also, don’t get sidetracked by all the noise around Ms TPL. She’s nothing but just a convenient pawn placed at the “right place” “right time” to be talent spotted by the “right person”. And as they say the rest is history. If voters put TPL into the parliament on GRC coattail, it would signal 3 things to PM Lee –
    1) That voters are ok for young, inexperienced MP
    2) That voters are ok for uncontested MP via GRC fast track
    3) That voters are ok despite the nepotistic connections

    Once all the above 3 are approved or not rejected by electorates, Lee’s successor heir will be next in line, just in time for him to serve at 28yo in 2015.

    • 14 Patrick 8 April 2011 at 07:21

      Regarding 2) if the GRC is uncontested, there will not be “voters”. So even if residents are NOT OK with it, the MP gets in uncontested.

  11. 15 ~autolycus 7 April 2011 at 23:16

    I’m just amused that Lee Yock Suan’s last key speech as Education Minister was the launch of the MOE mission statement ‘Moulding the Future of Our Nation’ in 1996. Fifteen years have passed since then. But the gem of the era immediately following was the speech you can find at http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/speeches/1997/170597.htm. Draw your own conclusions. Enjoy.

  12. 16 HardTruth 8 April 2011 at 00:27

    There are 2 Desmonds, who are both ‘princelings’. Desmond Lee, as u said, is the son of former minister Lee Yock Suan. Desmond Choo is the nephew of former PAP MP Choo Wee Khiang, whom I heard was charged for a cheating offence and removed from office.

    • 17 Robox 8 April 2011 at 01:15

      Oh, and isn’t Arthur Fong the son of ex-PAP member Fomg Sip Chee? Also, how could we forget that Lee Hsien Loong is the son of Lee Kuan Yew?

      While not exactly relevant, I might add here that by inducting Janil Puthucheary, the PAP must feel that they have pulled off a coup. It’s supposed to be seen as a vindication of their draconian laws and administrative acts, as evidenced by Janil’s endorsement of the ISA.

    • 18 Robox 8 April 2011 at 01:18

      Oops, I didn’t completely read HardTruth’s post before I posted mine, especially his or her observation that ‘Desmond Choo is the nephew of former PAP MP Choo Wee Khiang’.

      It would be a damning indictment of the PAP’s nepotism to discover other family members inducted into the PAP besides sons and daughters.

    • 19 CK 8 April 2011 at 04:06

      And who was most notable for his observation that Serangoon is very dark.

  13. 20 warmhatch 8 April 2011 at 00:36

    Alex, this “not enough talent in Singapore for 2 parties” claptrap is similar to the “Singapore will be de-stabilized if the opposition comes to power” cry-wolf nonsense. When will we hear the end of these insults to our intelligence?

    • 21 Gazebo 8 April 2011 at 01:59

      well, the scandinavian examples might not work as counterpoints if what the PAP is implying, is that Singaporeans are not talented enough. in other words, we are a (genetically?) inferior lot of people to the Scandinavians, incapable of producing talents. i am not surprised if that is their true intention — we are after all in the words of MM, merely the descendants of coolies, people of inferior stock.

      http://www.littlespeck.com/content/people/CTrendsPeople-060423.htm

  14. 22 KV Han 8 April 2011 at 01:45

    @HardTruth,

    Well-spotted. Both Desmonds are offsprings of our fledgling crony system. And yes, Choo Wee Kiang was convicted of fraud and lost his MP seat in Jalan Besar GRC. Needless to say, there were no by-election.

  15. 23 Robox 8 April 2011 at 03:07

    (…cont)

    B. So What Was The PAP’s “No Two-Party” Bit About Then?

    The above, which I believe to be a description of the current realities, would pose a serious problem for the PAP’s own survival: if the opposition parties become increasingly staffed by talented politicians, they would then be able to attract more voters to their side. It is this fear that I believe that could have prompted the PAP to consider splitting into two parties; it’s a desperate bid to stem the flow of votes to the opposition parties by deluding Singaporeans that the split PAP are really two seperate entities.

    Why then would the PAP have abandoned such a brilliant idea if it could have turned out to be successful strategy to ensure their perpetual rule and financial enrichment?

    The answer is an easy one: this is not such a brilliant idea after all.

    If the PAP did split, say into PAP(1) and PAP(2), I would assume that they would then proceed to compete with each other. But that would place both PAPs in an even riskier position because of that all important voter demographic called the Hard Core Opposition Voter estimated at 30% of the population, who would be very likely to see through this PAP conjob: they would be able to see that PAP(1) and PAP(2) are really cut from the same PAP cloth and voting for one or the other is a return to PAP rule either way. (It’s similar to what I think voting for the WP would result in.)

    It gets worse.

    If PAP(1) and PAP(2) were to contest in a ward against each other, we can also be sure that so will the existing opposition parties who can confidently continue banking on their minimum 30% Hard Core Opposition Voters; the remaining maximum of 70% of what used to be the PAP vote will then be split between PAP(1) and PAP(2). In exceptionally difficult elections years for the PAP, whether PAP(1) or PAP(2) since they are really expected to be one and the same thing, this would turn out to be even more advantageous to the opposition party contesting in the same ward as PAP(1) and PAP(2) because of the likely vote swing towards that opposition party.

    Many observers are pointing to the current elections as one such exceptionally difficult year for the PAP.

    Indeed it would not be far fetched to claim that, if what is currently an opposition party contests in a ward against a PAP(1) and PAP(2) candidate in an exceptionally difficult year for the PAPs, it can very likely win the ward even with a minority 40% vote share! We would be closer to achieving a level playing field for the opposition parties than ever before, except that a level playing field is a notion that is supremely distasteful to the PAP.

    I’m pretty sure that the PAP has already made all these calculations and that’s why they have abandoned the idea. However, it is important to reiterate that they did not abandon the idea because Singapore has a lack of talent but because they are witnessing only the opposite phenomenon taking place.

  16. 24 Robox 8 April 2011 at 03:08

    This is my deconstruction, in two parts, of Lee Hsien Loong’s statement that Singapore does not have enough talent to afford a two-party system.

    A. Is It Really About Talent Or The Lack Of It?

    If it is true that there is lack of political talent in Singapore today, then it only vindicates JB Jeyaratnam in death more than it did in life: “Lee Kuan Yew is like a banyan tree under which nothing will grow”?[Emphasis added]

    This then becomes a severe indictment on no one else but the PAP for deliberately inhibiting political talent in all the actions that they have taken in the past to ensure this outcome. Talent cannot be nurtured in an environment with as vast an array of strictures as there are in the PAP’s Singapore. And neither can talent be nurtured when the management quality, culture, style, and practises – all accruing to the PAP since we are really talking about talent development in politics with the PAP as the management of it – is inimical to talent development.

    However, I personally don’t believe that Lee Hsien Loong actually believes that this is a situation that Singapore will be faced with forever, hence the justification for the permanent entrenchment of one-party rule. On the contrary, I believe that Lee Hsien Loong and the rest of the PAP are witnessing what we in the opposition are: there is political talent in Singapore and there can be more of it, but they are being drawn to the opposition parties in numbers larger than ever before.

    This then leads to my other observations:

    1. that the PAP continues to insist on a narrow definition of what constitutes talent; political talent as defined by the PAP excludes real political talent if their thinking is not in line with the PAP’s; and,

    2. that this is only a cry of despair on the part of the PAP because we are now also witnessing the reversal of the effects of the PAP’s past and continuing actions: we are still not giving due recognition to a brand new phenomenon in Singapore politics, the internet-spawned politician, almost wholly opposition ones. Needless to say, the internet with its inherent openess has been instrumental in this development.

    We need instead to see Lee Hsien Loong’s statements for what it is: yet another insidious plot by the PAP to mislead Singaporeans about where there might be any concentration of true political talent really so that as a result, Singaporeans would vote the PAP back as the ‘home’ of true political talent in Singapore.

    It’s yet another PAP plot to cement one party rule in perpetuity.

    (cont…)

  17. 25 khonsu 8 April 2011 at 03:11

    I totally agree, YB. In fact, if there truly isn’t enough talent in Singapore, the question is: Who is to blame? Has the PAP’s educational policies failed, turning out a bunch of merely competent technocrats with no vision or initiative? Has its attempts at depoliticising the population (so as to better control them) worked so well that the top talents just want to pursue their private careers and have no passion for politics?

    As a university student on exchange overseas, I can see the stark difference between Singaporean students and foreign students. Foreign students are passionate about various causes and interested in politics. Singaporeans, on the other hand, are mostly just interested in studying, food and entertainment. Who is to blame for the political apathy of Singaporeans?

  18. 26 anony 8 April 2011 at 08:33

    PM would not stop with his negative comments about the 2 party system cos he now has more fodder using USA’s example. As I write today, Obama is still at loggerheads with the Republicans on funding the federal budget, govt agencies may have to close, federal employees will have to forgo paychecks.

    I can feel it in my bones, PM would not let this go to waste. Watch out for it.

    • 27 Tanky 8 April 2011 at 14:25

      Loggerhead in debating the budget is to me much more desirable than a no-debate implementation. In the US, senators or congressmen seen by voters as not doing their job will be punished in the elections and some will lose their seats. In Singapore, we can kick and scream, but can’t really do much if the MP or Minister in question is hiding in a safe GRC. In Singapore, we have been pushing efficiency without regarding effectiveness. It is efficient to run a country if everyone thinks alike. No ifs and buts, just yes sir, yes sir, consider it done. When the PAP thinks they are the only party capable of governing and that they know best, then it is obvious that they will see those not with them as plain obstacles or nuisances.

      • 28 Gazebo 8 April 2011 at 22:45

        let us be clear on this. there ARE clear advantages in a one party system like Singapore. as a former civil servant involved in investment promotion work, i can tell you with CERTAINTY that the stability in our political system is a huge plus.

        however, i think we have become obsessed with this preservation of stability to secure investments, that we are ignoring the disadvantages that may have come with it. i believe that some instability is useful. It will actually shake Singapore and Singaporeans into action, that we cannot rely on this MNC investment economic development model for eternity. That we actually have to forge our own fates, and stop quite literally, whoring ourselves to the world.

  19. 29 hahaha 8 April 2011 at 11:02

    “How is it that Denmark (population 5.5 million), Finland (5.4 million — next door to nuclear-armed Russia), Norway (4.9 million), New Zealand (4.4 million) can afford to be multi-party democracies, when we boast like them to be a First World country?”

    To add on to this point, the scandinavian nations seem to have much happier citizens and a proper standard of living befitting the First World tag. So, the conclusion of this would be having multi party democracies must work better!

  20. 30 Chanel 8 April 2011 at 11:20

    PM Lee’s claim that “talent” are hard to come by is a HardTruth….because it is indeed difficult to get people who are equally highly obsessed with money AND power!!!

  21. 31 HardTruth 8 April 2011 at 16:36

    So this election we have
    – current MP Ong Ah Heng’s son, Ong Teng Koon
    – ex Minister Lee Yock Suan’s son, Desmond Lee
    – ex MP Choo Wee Khiang’s nephew, Desmond Choo
    – wife of current private secretary to PM, Tin Pei Ling

    Not to forget, in past elections, we have
    – Grace Fu, LKY’s former press secretary James Fu’s daughter
    – Wong Kan Seng, rumoured to be son-in-law of LKY’s brother / cousin-in-law of LHL.
    – Teo Chee Hean, rumoured to be relative of Kwa Geok Choo’s family
    – and of cos how can we forget LHL, princeling son of LKY.

    For those who are older than 40, this name should ring a bell,
    Former Perm Sec for Ministry of Health Dr Kwa Soon Bee (Ke Shun Mei). He is the brother of Kwa Geok Choo, and brother-in-law of LKY.

    Donkey years ago, there was a cabinet minister called Yong Nyuk Lin (1959 to 1976), he was the husband of Kwa Geok Choo’s sister.

    Everything falls into place, a great jigsaw puzzle called the Lee Dynasty of Singapore.

  22. 32 Gilded Cage 8 April 2011 at 19:17

    In EDB’s promotion of our work force they boast of having one of the most skilled work force in Asia. In the boasts of the Ministry of Education they herald the school system in Singapore producing the brightest student population in the world next to Finland. YET we do not have enough talent to have two parties?

  23. 33 small populations 9 April 2011 at 10:29

    Why are the Scandinavian countries able to have so much talent despite having small populations? I’d guess it has to do with the high literacy rate and education system among other things.

    With a highly educated populace who are capable of critical thinking, it is more likely to find the talent needed to run the country.

    What other important factors are there?

    • 34 MrsK 9 April 2011 at 15:25

      Can’t recall which MP said it, that the scandinavian is not a good country to emulate when it comes to reproduction (fertility) rates as they have a lot of (almost 60% or more) babies out of wedlock. And they have nobel prize laureates to claim. Now you can imagine what the pragmatic PAPs are afraid of – to sustain and support these children from single parent family! Just look at what or how they are treating single parents in SGP it will give you a taste of how backwards their thinking have been on this subject.

  24. 35 K Das 9 April 2011 at 20:10

    The representation of the minority in Parliament and in the political process is crucial. Theoritically (and I would say realistically) in single ward contests, where the electorate is 75% or more Chinese, every Malay, Indian or Eurasian candidate can be beaten hands down against Chinese candidates – unless he is a giant like David Marshal or J B Jeyaretnam. The PAP has identified the problem early and devised the GRC system to address it. We have to acknowledge this and credit the PAP for it.

    The GRC elected MPs should preferably reflect the minority-majority percentage nationally i.e 25% and 75% respectively.

    However it appears that the PAP is now using GRC scheme well beyond the original purpose, through gerrymandering to benefit them to win more seats effortlessly. They also opt for this route to get their key new candiates (potential office-holders) into Parliament through walk-overs and without risking them losing in single member constituencies. The challenge is how to re-structure the GRC system to ensure minority representation whilst putting in place some measures to prevent any ruling party from abusing or taking advantage of the scheme to serve its narrow interests, shortchanging the Opposition and the Public therby.

    One possibility is to subject MPs deemed to be elected from GRCs without contests (through walk overs ) to contest in single ward by-elections from constitueces constituting the GRC, within 3 months from the date of their earlier win.

    Perhaps Alex and readers may have other suggestions as to how to make GRC system tighter to serve public interests.

  25. 36 John 9 April 2011 at 23:38

    “In any real democracy, having an 87-year-old candidate would be an embarrassment… Thurmond was best known for his unreconstructed views defending racial segregation long after American society abandoned the idea. I guess this is what one gets with gerontocratic candidates.”

    What nonsense is this? He stood for election and won. Unless you believe that democracy means only candidates you approve of can stand.. and if the voters elect the wrong candidate then you can change their choice..

    • 37 yawningbread 10 April 2011 at 15:23

      Sarah Palin was elected governor of Alaska too, but that doesn’t mean her worldviews have passed any test of “fitness”. Hitler came to power via the electoral route. Do not confuse electoral victory with moral crowning.

    • 38 midknight 22 April 2011 at 11:24

      Dear John,

      Fact Check: MM has not faced an election since 1964, winning all contests by walkover due to a concerted and effective strategy to eliminate all and any challengers prior to an election, so as to ensure that there is no chance he would have to face the democratic reality of being displaced by citizens exercising their right to vote.

      Nonsense is equating a dictatorship to democracy.

  26. 39 Dead Poet 11 April 2011 at 08:32

    Did anyone realise that the so called leadership renewal of PAP. I believe some candidate is older that the once retiring.

  27. 40 RicePlate Reddy 5 January 2014 at 21:24

    Papsicles…. I like the sound of that. I would’ve gone with Poopsicles, tho….


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