Imagining electoral calamity

Since elections are a zero-sum game, calamity for one side is victory for the other. Hence, I should explain here whose calamity I am referring to. It is  the People’s Action Party’s.

I should also state here that the scenario I am sketching is, going by past electoral record, very unlikely. Yet, precisely because nothing like this has ever happened within living memory of most voters, the scenario is terribly scary, so scary that for most, it is unthinkable. The fear of walking into the unknown quickly settles the voting choice for them: Vote PAP.

Play safe because the risks are incalculable.

Actually, the risks are knowable, and the purpose of this post is to walk you through them. At the end of that, I hope you will agree that nothing much will have changed except for one big thing. One very big thing.

If you don’t want that big thing to happen, then fine, vote PAP. If you do want that big thing, then don’t vote PAP. The cost of doing so is not great, as I shall argue here.

* * * * *

Imagine you wake up on 8 May 2011, the day after the votes have been counted, to find that five group representation constituencies have gone to  opposition parties. You can imagine whichever opposition party/parties you like to be the gainers; it does not matter a lot for the purposes of this post. Of the single-member constituencies, another four have also gone to the opposition. That makes a total of 28 or 29 opposition members in the new parliament. The PAP will have the rest, i.e. 58 or 59 members.

There will be no non-constituency members, since the total opposition wins exceed nine.

What effect will this have? Let me touch on three:

Ministers

Since the People’s Action Party has placed at least one minister in each group representation constituency, in this scenario, five, six or seven ministers will lose their seats. Under Singapore’s constitutional principles, if they are no longer members of parliament, they cannot continue as ministers.

Is it so bad? Can you think of a handful of ministers we could do without? I most surely can. As the Workers’ Party argued last night at their rally in Serangoon Stadium, if we’re so relaxed about Lim Boon Heng, Jayakumar and Lee Boon Yang retiring, why should we be so worried if a few more followed?

The PAP says they have plenty of talented new candidates. They may be inexperienced in managing affairs of state, but no minister, however experienced, acts alone. He’s just one person atop a large, professional civil service in his ministry that is always going to be more experienced and familiar with matters under its purview than any minister can ever be. As Kenneth Jeyaretnam, leader of the Reform Party, has said many times: ministers may change but the civil service stays and will remain there to keep things running.

Civil Service

Not only will the civil service stay, I think their voice will be better heard. It’s like this: after 50 years of having the same party in office, the balance between the party and the professional civil service is now badly unbalanced. With no risk of change in the political seat, ministers have unconsciously lost their willingness to listen to advice. Civil servants, however good their ideas, have learnt it is better to shut up and just take  orders than to argue an alternative point of view with their bosses.

Putting ministers on notice that if they do not listen carefully to popular opinion and to professional advice, they can be voted out, will engender a more open mindset at the top of each ministry. This in turn creates a climate where good, alternative ideas within the civil service can bubble up.

Investment

There is the argument that any rocking of the boat will scare off investors, and with that, jobs. That is way too simplistic. No investor makes an investment decision on the basis of a government retaining monopoly of power when he is looking at a relatively open society like Singapore.

In any case, the scenario we are discussing does not involve the PAP losing power; they will still have a comfortable majority in parliament.

And if the opposition members that do get elected are of the calibre we have seen among the best candidates of the Workers’ Party, the Singapore Democratic Party and the National Solidarity Party — top lawyers, entrepreneurs, Ph.D holders and other scholars, including those who have been part of the top-tier Administrative Service — no investor is going to lose sleep over the outcome.

Upgrading

This is one of those truly shallow political promises that leave many of us who desire a more mature political culture shaking our heads, yet it has to be conceded that it is probably a vote-getter for the PAP.

Singaporeans need to look at this with more common sense. Upgrading of housing estates’ common areas (walkways, landscaping, ornamentation of blocks’ facades) does not come free. It costs money that comes from our taxes. And like all money in a government’s budget, deliberate decisions are made what to spend it on, or even whether to collect this much in taxes to begin with.

If you look beyond the spending on upgrading, you see these issues:

(a) Should all that money have been taken out of us via taxes in the first place?

(b) If yes, should it best be spent on estate beautification and ornamentation? Might it not be better to spend it on public transport infrastructure or more polyclinics (cut down waiting time) or more schools (decrease class size)?

You might say you’re in a contest of selfishness against other constituencies. The PAP is anyway going to form the next government. It’s not as if upgrading will go away, it’s just a matter of which constituency will get it. If I don’t vote a PAP candidate in, I will lose out while other areas will gain.

But if you think of the larger interest — not the larger interest of other people, but the larger interest of yourself — it’s not so obvious that the PAP is the best choice for your vote. How so? It’s like this:

1. Yes, you may lose out on upgrading, but it’s only for five years. You will have a chance to reconsider at the next election.  In the meantime, opposition parties have proven themselves more than capable of keeping the basic maintenance going at the very least; in some areas they’ve even upgraded lifts and rescreeded common walkways.

2. Yes, the value of your property may appreciate a little more slowly than properties in other areas with lavish beautification programs. But is it in your larger interest to keep asset price inflation, particularly housing prices, going on the up and up? For the great majority of Singaporeans, the flat they live in is the only flat they own. They cannot just sell it and pocket the cash; they have to buy another place to live. As prices go up, it means more cash upfront for the next purchase and a larger mortgage (therefore riskier, relative to your income stream). Is it in your larger interest to have a government that obsessively feeds this price spiral madness with more upgrading programs that add no extra space to your own apartment?

3. Pulling away the rug of complacency under the PAP changes their psychology. They are more likely to rethink the vicious cycles they have created, one of which is that of housing prices. And here’s where I come to the one big thing.

Psychology

Almost every problem (other than the personal) that Singaporeans face today can be traced to the PAP’s immunity. They have come to believe that their overwhelming control of parliament and government is secure. This control is the result of many defences, including keeping a grip on mainstream media, a history of defamation suits that silences criticism, its capture of labour unions, its tentacles in the economy via government-linked companies, and not least, gerrymandering and group representation constituencies.

Having confidence in their immunity from ouster, more and more policies are crafted to benefit themselves and the privileged class they identify with. Less and less is attention paid to issues that affect the broader mass of citizenry, such as income gap, inadequacy of public transport and healthcare infrastructure, and safety nets for the poor, the aged and the disabled.

We see the trends in ministers rewarding themselves handsomely while refusing to attend to even their own backbenchers’ pleas for an increase in support for the poorest of the poor; in the total lack of accountability whether for ego projects like the Youth Olympics or for common, but massive-outlay projects like public housing — where after 50 years Singaporeans are still in the dark as to the breakdown of costs and pricing.

We see an obsession in shovelling more and more funds into reserves, even if it means pricing goods and services higher than they can be (to make profits that are then poured into the reserves).

Example: SMRT Corp has just released its financial results for FY 2011. Its train (excluding LRT) operations earned revenue of S$527.1 million, of which S$113.5 million (21.4 percent) percolated down to Operating Profit. Should public transport make profits like this? Could fares not be 10 – 15 percent lower?

Perhaps you remain sceptical. Will any of these things change just because we vote in more opposition members of parliament? After all, the PAP will still form the next government. Won’t they carry on as before?

No they won’t. Because if suddenly they realise that they have no more immunity, the psychology changes. They realise they have been put on notice by voters that the old ways of carrying on will not be tolerated, and going forward, they will have to pay more attention to the people, rather than to their own skewed priorities and self-interest.

That is the big, big thing we will all gain if the opposition gets a breakthrough at this election.

This is in addition to the fact that more opposition members of parliament means more brain power to question ministers and debate issues in the legislature. One or two opposition members can only do so much, especially as the number of questions a member can ask is limited by parliamentary rules.

However, if once again, the PAP ends up with 86:1 or even 87:0, their belief in their own immunity will only be reinforced. They will have every reason to tell themselves that even with widespread grouses, even with an opposition slate of high calibre, they will never be ousted from power.

Lee Hsien Loong says this election is a watershed. He is right.

77 Responses to “Imagining electoral calamity”


  1. 1 Alex 30 April 2011 at 18:53

    Brilliant and persuasive.

  2. 3 Anonymous 30 April 2011 at 19:18

    This is as succinct an argument as I can frame for the reason why I think change is imperative. With LKY delivering his first real threatening salvo of this election, it is more and more important your messages in this essay need to get out to the masses. Let’s take back our country, it’s the only one we’ve got.

  3. 4 pwct321 30 April 2011 at 19:25

    Well written and I hope many people have a chance to read it. Hope this election has big breakthrough by the opposition parties.

  4. 5 ThePasserby 30 April 2011 at 20:53

    If the PAP’s belief that their hold on power is so deeply entrenched that they cannot be unseated is vindicated on 8 May, they will only continue doing what they’ve been doing now – do the barest minimum for the electorate to keep them just below the threshold of open revolt.

    Even if you do not believe that the Opposition parties have a viable alternative solution, but if they are suitably qualified, capable and trustworthy enough to maintain an estate, vote them in, because their mere presence in parliament serves as a wake-up call for the PAP to work out better solutions for the Opposition to scrutinize.

  5. 6 Lawliet 30 April 2011 at 21:42

    Hi Mr Alex,

    Thanks for the great article. I can perfectly resonate with what you have written but I still feel that I am currently in a conundrum over who to vote for.

    In an ideal case, one will vote for candidates whom you feel is “good” enough to speak for you and help you out in times of need and whose party has a credo you can identify with. But I feel like I am stuck in a dilemma: on the one hand I don’t find the candidates “good enough” but I can identify with the party’s views and directions; on the other hand I don’t agree with the party’s views and directions but I find the candidates “still okay”. In this case, how do you think one should proceed? Should I vote for the party or the candidates? I mean, the candidates are not really what the media term as “A-Team” calibre but should I vote for them because they will also (hopefully) have the same views and direction of their comrades in other GRC?

    I fully understand what you meant in the article. I, too, would like to see more voices in the parliament and reduce the complacency and the lack of accountability that the incumbent currently has. But I do not want to wake up and find a situation (albeit a remote probability) where the only Opposition MPs are the ones from my GRC. In that case, I will feel like I have simply wasted my vote.

    I understand that at this point some might be pointing out that I could, perhaps, void the vote but I think in the “first-past-the-post” system, the message that I would send out rings a little hollow.

    Hopefully I didn’t sound too incoherent. Nice articles by the way – I always like reading them for a balance view that the mainstream media does not provide. Thanks.

    • 7 ThePasserby 30 April 2011 at 23:31

      Why would you feel that you’d have wasted your vote if the only Opposition party members who get into parliament were from your GRC? Winning any GRC means a Minister is voted out along with some older MPs and at least one coattail rider. Losing a Minister will be the wake-up call for the rest of the party. You’d have dealt a crucial psychological blow to the rest.

      • 8 Anonymous 1 May 2011 at 00:42

        This guy is KIASU. And worried about how he and he alone had to make the sacrifice. Sigh.

      • 9 Lawliet 1 May 2011 at 06:25

        How is this “kiasu”? What “sacrifice” did I have to make?

        I’m sorry, I’m trying to ask something. Please keep your assumptions.

      • 10 Al 1 May 2011 at 06:47

        To pro-Opposition (Anonymous)

        Do not bash people who express uncertainty, especially if they take the time to shape their thoughts. These people are fence-sitters, and the fact that they are here – reading this, taking time to participate in dialogue – means they are open to change. Change that if not today, maybe tomorrow, maybe in 5 years.

        If you take the time to cultivate them, and actually bother to find out their concerns, you might be able to convince them. Resorting to name-calling and dismissing them is unproductive and only hurts the opposition.

        Please take time to consider your responses and actions, and to maintain an open field for all walks of people to discuss issues.

        cheers.

    • 11 AL 1 May 2011 at 01:31

      Dear Lawliet,

      Think of your own larger self-interest.

      Are there national policies that are hurting you and your family? If so, why would you vote for the incumbent, even if the local rep is a “nice” guy? The local rep will obey the party whip, and continue to implement the policies that hurt you and your family.

      With an outsider, there is a chance some ornamentation in your estate will disappear, or not be put in – but at least this outsider is not going to blindly continue with the policies that hurt you.

      You must decide which hurts you less – giving up on ornamentation or having someone fight for you in parliament.

      To me there is no dilemma.

      All the best in your deliberations.

    • 12 Doublespeak 1 May 2011 at 03:31

      I had the same dilemma as you, as in I feel that the opposition party’s candidates aren’t what I like to see. But I have come out of that dilemma when I ask myself what is it ultimately, that I like to see results from this election?

      I like to see more opposition parties and more debate in parliament. I like to see more alternatives proposed, more ideas researched. Most importantly, I like to see the end of the almost monopoly of power by one party.

      I also ask myself: Which action is likely to lead to the worst scenario? Voting for the opposition and “risking it”? Or voiding my vote/voting for the incumbent and likely seeing Singapore go down the same path as of now?

      And then, the choice becomes clear to me.

    • 13 midtnitecowboy@gmail.com 4 May 2011 at 00:17

      I had the same dilemma last election, my first chance to vote after 38 years. I was dissatisfied with the PAP, but not super impressed with the opposition candidates.

      After some thought, I decided. Vote for the opposition. Because Singapore does NOT have too little talent. The talent is NOT only with the PAP. The PAP does NOT have all the right answers, and with not enough opposition to question them, they will continue on their own path, implementing policy after policy with no input from anyone who disagrees with them.

      And I voted for the Opposition, because I am a man and not a sheep. I do not accept that I can be bought with with selfish comforts, and leave all civil thought to the ‘talented’.

      So make your own decision. As for me, if I woke up and the only Opposition MPs were from my GRC, I would give thanks that I had a chance to contribute.

  6. 14 Gazebo 30 April 2011 at 22:25

    i have said this before, and i am saying it again. this is very certainly, the last “real” Singapore election. post this election, the demographics distribution is likely to shift so far towards new citizens, that original Singaporeans (those who were citizens pre 2001 when the floodgates opened) are no longer going to be the absolute majority.

    i am not xenophobic. but we have to give some serious thought to this. if we are really unhappy about the rate of immigration, and its related problems, this is really the only chance we have to make any changes. if you believe that the rate of immigration has been too rapid, and you believe it is an outrage against your citizenship, this is your only chance to speak up. if you believe that there is more to citizenship than accepting the immunity of the ruling party, you must make yourself heard now.

    the stakes are really that high. this is the only chance we have for our voices to be heard. take back the parliament. it should not be a feedback unit, in which the ruling party has made it to be. just for this once, stop caving into the wanton fear mongering and propaganda. making yourself heard will not induce calamity.

    • 15 M 1 May 2011 at 01:28

      Dear Gazebo,
      Absolultely brilliant. I couldn’t agree more with you.

    • 16 AL 1 May 2011 at 01:41

      Dear Gazebo,

      I don’t think it is fair to say that all new citizens are automatic drones who vote for the incumbents. They are also hurt by poorly planned govt policies.

      I have been in Singapore since 96, a citizen since 04 and I’m definitely not for the incumbents.

      • 17 Gazebo 1 May 2011 at 22:30

        Thanks Al. I agree I may have made a big assumption in my post. I like to apologize if I have offended you, its not my intentions. My point is that the demographic shift is something which the pre-2001 citizens need to be aware of, as the very dynamics of the elections are changing with it.

  7. 18 Ben 30 April 2011 at 22:42

    I would like to add that even if prices of the flats soften, its only a paper loss. Just as we are not able to cash out of a paper gain, we will not be impacted in a case of lower valuations so long as we can continue to pay the mortgage.

    I find Lui Tuck Yew’s comments that he made a gain of $300,000 (having bought his flat for $110k and selling it for about $400k) within a period of 10 years of little relevance. He would have to channel those gains into his next property. Also, is PAP saying that we will see 400% increases in asset value over 10 years if we have a stable government? I suspect those gains were possible then because CFP was allowed to be used to purchase homes. When credit becomes readily available, asset prices can be bid up further. This in fact is currently one of the property cooling measures – the tightening of credit (ie the lower LTV for the second property).

  8. 19 Seow 30 April 2011 at 22:48

    Why so many coincidences?

    1) [quote]That is why the National Wages Council (NWC) could recommend ‘quickly’ on Friday that firms reward their staff better as the economy had performed well last year.

    “This year, the negotiation is very smooth, because the economy has rebounded so strongly. Most companies are doing well. Employers….there’s no ground for them to disagree. So I suppose (after) one or two meetings, they reached agreement. So maybe that’s one of the reasons the recommendation came out earlier this year,” said Mr Lim.[/unquote]

    Did the NWC only just discover that the companies did well last year? Hello, it’s already May!

    2) [quote]Mr Goh also said Singapore has what he described as a “beautiful arrangement” – with an Indian as President, a Chinese as Prime Minister and a Malay, Mr Zainal Abidin Rasheed, as potential Speaker of Parliament.

    Mr Goh said: “On the basis of merit we ended up with this, a politically balanced, beautiful picture.[/unquote]

    Overnight, Mr Zainal Abidin Rasheed becomes the only person in the entire cabinet fit to become the next Speaker of Parliament.

    Why didn’t this take place on 27 October 2010 (just months ago), when PM Lee made changes to the cabinet (http://www.pmo.gov.sg/content/pmosite/mediacentre/pressreleases/2010/October/press_statement_fromtheprimeministeronchangestocabinetandotherap.html)?

  9. 20 This is Anfield 30 April 2011 at 22:58

    The best and closest example for us to make reference to has to the 2008 Malaysia GE, when the ruling BN lost its 2/3 majority to a hotchpotch PKR.

    Let’s remind ourselves what happened the day after.

    Did the country plunge into a cesspool? Did foreign investors pull their money out? Nothing of the sort. Life went on.

    And so must Singapore, if indeed the ruling party loses its 2/3 majority.

  10. 21 Tanky 30 April 2011 at 23:57

    I fear for Singapore and Singaporeans.
    Given what I have seen and read so far, many Singaporeans seem ready to vote in more non-PAP MPs. Should we wake up on 8 May to see a 86-1 score, will we see some opposition parties give up for good, and many Singaporeans so disappointed that they too give up? Will we see waves of middle income families leaving Singapore in search of a home that make sense to them?
    The risk of pushing the PAP just a little is that we get many low 50s wins by the PAP, and nothing for the oppositions. The oppositions winning 49.9% of votes per constituency has no meaning. There is a need to “overkill”.

  11. 22 miling 1 May 2011 at 00:09

    What if PAP loses majority in popular votes and seats ..and they refuse to form government?

    • 23 Anon 1 May 2011 at 07:36

      “What if PAP chooses not to form the govt?”
      Then it will really show up their true colors and that they do not have the nation’s interest at heart.
      A very unlikely scenario, if you asked me.

    • 24 Tanky 1 May 2011 at 08:27

      Hi Miling, firstly it is near zero chance that PAP does not get majority seats. Even if that happens, PAP will still be the party with most seats. Unless the PAP is willing to give up altogether it’s influence on policy making, it will be a cut own nose to spike own face tactic by refusing to form the government.

  12. 25 john.low39@gmail.com 1 May 2011 at 00:32

    When Lee Kuan Yew said we need another 900,000 foreigners, and his son LHL said foreigners create more jobs for us,I am dead sure they are going to speed up the pace of bringing in foreigners.

    The picture of 6.5 million people squeezing with me here gave me a chill.

    The influx of foreigners is the root cause of all other problems like housing, transport, healthcare and inflation.

    We should stop them. Yes we can if we vote in more oppositions.

    • 26 Sad case 1 May 2011 at 01:21

      It may be 7.5 million people. That’s the number of people the top guy of hdb said the island can contain. Do you believe that they will stop at 6.5 million and suffers from stagnated gdp growth thereafter? The chase of gdp figures will not stop as it has a direct relationship to their pay.

  13. 27 Henry 1 May 2011 at 00:33

    Dude,
    Your views are very insightful.

    Can you put a facebook share button or anything of share button to make it easier for us to share your wonderful views. People need to hear about this. I did my part🙂

    Henry

    • 28 Kusuriuri 1 May 2011 at 11:06

      Unfortunately, most people assume that the country will crumble the moment our ministers stop working. Ground sentiment is still overwhelmingly in favour of PAP. Recently, Low Yen Ling came to my condo for a tea reception and it was very disappointing that most of the questions were municipal in nature. If those questions are emblematic of the thinking of mainstream Singapore, chances are PAP will dominate once again.

      Low Yen Ling, in my opinion, was a politician through and through. It was amusing to see how she attempted to emphatise with the residents by throwing in pithy one liners like “I’ve taken the MRT as well” and “I know how you feel”.

      What is interesting about the reception was her comment that as a key member in the EDB, the policy directed to her by the ministers was GDP growth. She justified the import of FTs by arguing that new industries required skillsets that S’poreans do not possess. I decided to throw her a curve ball by asking her that if that is the case, then is it an indication that our much-vaunted education system has failed in its aim of preparing our citizens for the future?

      Another curve ball I threw in her direction was about the conflation of Singaporean and PR figures, especially those pertaining to employment figures. Someone asked this and I threw in my two cents by commenting that conflated figures obscures the true conditions of Singaporeans. It was disappointing to see LYL dismiss my comments by saying that she wouldn’t bother with my remarks. I left after that as there is little indication that LYL will become a Tan Cheng Bock. On the contrary, she struck me as a political opportunist, no different from the Foo Mee Hars and TPLs.

  14. 29 T 1 May 2011 at 00:53

    /// Imagine you wake up on 8 May 2011, the day after the votes have been counted, to find that five group representation constituencies have gone to opposition parties. You can imagine whichever opposition party/parties you like to be the gainers; it does not matter a lot for the purposes of this post. Of the single-member constituencies, another four have also gone to the opposition. ///

    This may be more than imagination. This is very much rooted in the reality of the ground and identical to my own analysis. My prediction for those constituencies that may be lost to the opposition:
    GRCs: Aljunied (5), Holland-Bukit Timah (4), Bishan-Toa Payoh (5), Tampines (5), Choa Chu Kang (5)
    SMCs: Hougang, Mounbatten, Potong Pasir, Joo Chiat.

  15. 30 rainnabe@gmail.com 1 May 2011 at 00:53

    Finally, an article tt speaks the hearts of most Civil Servants. It doesn’t matter who r the ministers. The 50 years of civil service had a set of system put in place & lives/ work will carry on. F1, NDP and other major events will continue to happen. I think it shouldn’t even be the voters’ concern whether which ministers will lose their jobs becos they won’t. MBT lost his Potong Pasir seat long ago but see where he is now? Besides, PAP has so many BGs and President scholars. They will just replace these empty minister seats with them. So as voters, just pick who you like to see in the parliament and stop trying to act “nice” and worry what these ministers will do after they step down.

  16. 31 CK 1 May 2011 at 01:25

    I have lived in Hougang ever since it becomes an opposition ward. I can tell you this:

    1) The place is very well maintained. The streets are clean and the lifts have been upgraded at least once in the estate. The flats are repainted every few years, the water tanks are regularly cleaned and the rubbish chute regularly smoked.

    2) We HAVE covered walkways. Might not be as extensive as other PAP wards, we have enough of them. And they are NOT transparent top like walkways in some PAP wards, which let the hot sun through. Ours are fully opaque, which means they shield you from both the rain AND THE SUN.

    3) We don’t have major upgrades, but we have fitness corners, walled in street soccer arena, lighted basketball courts, clean playgrounds, elderly corners. Just like any PAP wards.

    4) My MP is at Block 310 EVERY WEDNESDAY from 7-10 for the meet the people session. He will visit EVERY WAKE held in the ward. He appears at coffee shops and the market every now and then. I have seen my MP countless of times over the past ten years. How many times have you seen your MP in your area in the past ten years?

    • 32 Chang Fook Tin 3 May 2011 at 17:22

      I have never met my MP. I live in now Chuo Chu Kang GRC for nine years. You are indeed privileged.

    • 33 Anonymous 4 May 2011 at 21:56

      You serious? I live at Holland-Bukit Timah GRC(Ghim Moh) and the place is not very neat. You can sometimes even see dog fecal lying around. And the stench! Ugh…

      There are ants, houseflies, cockroaches running around all day. I even seen a freaking rat dancing around! Too bad rats live in utter filth or I’d have BBQed it. GRRR!

      It’s to be expected NOT because they hired foreign workers BUT because they seem to have maximised profits by cutting down on the amount of cleaning done. In the past 2 to 3 years, the condition of this place has gone from bad to worse to atrocious.

      I’ve not really seen much of Christopher de Souza at all. I’d rather watch Supernatural, True Blood, Vampire Diaries or something else than spend my time meeting him, though. It’d be like hearing the same old PAP stuff over and over. Also, the only times I encountered him were only at those cheesy dinners where he shook hands only.

    • 34 Sean 6 May 2011 at 00:33

      Hi I’m a young voter. Under which party and government did we create Singapore’s top class civil service after independence? Was it Barisan Socialis/Worker’s party?

  17. 35 peiying 1 May 2011 at 01:26

    I think you have summarized all the concerns of GE2011 in its entirety in this one post!

    Out of all these issues, I think the psychological change is the most misunderstood one. People don’t realize how important it is to change this mindset that is prevalent within our government.

    I really hope this elections will be a turning point in Singapore’s history – and that all the people’s hopes and efforts will not be gone to waste.

  18. 36 Eric 1 May 2011 at 01:48

    I hope they do lose majority…however unlikely. If not, they will keep pushing those self-enriching policies through without debate.

  19. 37 didkitty 1 May 2011 at 01:55

    Dear Mr Au,

    As always, your article shows much though, research and reasoning.

    I must say that I really fear for the future of Singapore – if the opposition makes no headway this election, the PAP be in power for a long time to come. Just today, I talked to a good friend who seriously thinks that not voting for the PAP will result in her being put on last priority when purchasing an HDB flat, being bypassed for promotion in civil service…in other words, that their lives and job depended on their vote. I was quite speechless and the truth is, this is the mindset of a lot of people who think that the PAP can keep track of who voted for which party. (I think it’s balderdash). I was also sad because my friend (and many others) agree with the strong opposition parties and would vote for them but are afraid.

    It will be great if you can address this irrational fear in an article? I am (very) fearful that people will vote for the PAP because of this irrational fear of PAP keeping track of votes and people being “penalised” for not voting for them!

    • 38 Doublespeak 2 May 2011 at 00:47

      didkitty, WP’s Sylvia Lim addressed this issue in her rally speeches. You can show this video to friends who are unsure and afraid of voting for the opposition parties. I think it’s made very clear that our votes aren’t traced. Here’s a link to it.

    • 39 vincentwongks 2 May 2011 at 02:36

      Hi didkitty,

      As a Singaporean who has voted in every election in former Nee Soon Central SMC (now Nee Soon GRC) since 1991, I understand this irrational fear of PAP being able to keep track of our votes. In fact, my parents were the first people who gave me this idea!
      I think the main reasons for this fear is because firstly, each ballot paper has a serial number. Secondly, the election official called out the name of the voter and his/her voter number at the polling station before giving him/her the ballot paper.
      As to the reasons why these are done, see the below link
      http://wp.sg/wpge/your-vote-is-secret-3/
      I fully agreed with what is written in the above link.
      I was in the civil service when I voted for the opposition, nothing happened to me because nobody knew how I voted unless I disclosed it myself.
      Hope my sharing dispel any fears regarding the secrecy of our vote to your good friend in civil service or to any other Singaporean.

      Vince

  20. 40 Jonno 1 May 2011 at 02:27

    Election 2011 will be a watershed. Why? The traditional PAP power base are those who existed during the pre-Independence era as well as those who were born during the early years of PAP rule. Voters put the PAP in power for the very reasons why the PAP were so successful – economic growth ensuring jobs for all; public housing policy that housed all Singaporeans and a serious academically rigorous educational policy that made Singaporeans well-grounded in the basics of reading, writing & comprehension.

    The PAP Ministers during those era were ones that evoke the upmost respect from the electorate – Goh Keng Swee; Toh Chin Chye; S.Rajahratnam; EW Barker; Lim Kim San; Hon Sui Sen, Jek Yuen Thong & Ong Pang Boon. Today, the PAP candidates could barely hold a candle to those great & past leaders – the current ones evoke criticisms or even mocking from all Singaporeans.

    The current government is severely out of touch with the people. Those were picked from an elite bunch whom have very little empathy with the common people. They are an insulated lot – no common ground with bread-and-butter issues, just expensive parrots harping the stale party ideology – opening doors for foreign [sic]’talent’, don’t make political waves to scare away investors, be happy with what u got (declining incomes, increasing cost of living and increasing foreigners to take away your job & job insecurity, unaffordable housing) and an education policy that waste a lot of potential talent (bilingualism bias, increasingly poor english skills, out of touch curriculum, favourable bias towards foreign students).

    2011 Elections puts forward numerous unknowns – those born between the late 80s and 1990 whom enter an era where jobs are not so plentiful, pay miserable and jobs unfulfilling. Those in the 40s to 50s were a lost generation – too young to retire yet facing competition from 3rd world immigrants for jobs with so many experiencing serial retrenchments or job losses. The last decade we have seen PAP ministers rewarding themselves with unjustifiable salary hikes while common people were suffering. The present economy is designed to feed the top government echelon – COE, ERP, Utilities, Public transportation, Public housing, etc. – all geared to extract the maximum from people.

    This is one last chance for people to vent their unhappiness. If you maintain the Status Quo by voting PAP – you’ve got only yourself to blame!

  21. 41 Netina 1 May 2011 at 03:05

    It is a shame that Alex is not running for government. You will certainly have my vote.

  22. 42 Bewildered Foreigner 1 May 2011 at 03:23

    Excellent piece!!!

    It really sums it up well. I have made my personal decision that if nothing changers after this election, I will leave S’pore for good. I really can’t take all this anymore…LKY starting to rant before polling day already makes me feel nauseous.

  23. 43 Terence Tan 1 May 2011 at 03:59

    I read your post with interest.

    It was as persuasive as this – What’s so bad about another PAP-dominated Parliament?
    by Donald Low’s FC on Tuesday, 26 April 2011 at 12:32 that has circulated online…

    Seeing as to how you have higher traffic, the Loh Peiying article having a pervasive online reach, if you agree to the points I raise below, perhaps you can assist in spreading the word…

    My fear is that full PAP attention is now on Aljunied, what with the PM, MM, SM all chipping in and together with George Yeo, resorting to threats and you and I know maybe around 10% of the electorate will react accordingly to those threats..

    I really wish to play my part for Aljunied – and this is my piece – http://www.facebook.com/notes/terence-tan/i-am-an-aljunied-constituent-what-is-my-role-in-this-election-what-are-yours/10150176467157884

  24. 44 chaching 1 May 2011 at 09:58

    miling 1 May 2011 at 00:09,
    If PAP refuses to form government, they are taking Singapore for ransom! The more you should be convinced that Singaporeans had made the right decisions! The oppositions can form alliance and for the next government. I’m very sure the country will function and run smoothly as usual and better!

    Why better? Because we have a different government and believe me, they will change many things for Singaporeans eg. HDB flat prices.

    I for one, is willing to take reduction on my HDB flat price if the new HDB flat prices is determined by cost+ or median income because I know that my children will have an easier life in future where they do not need to be saddled with long term debt when buying a HDB flat.

  25. 45 Singaporeans need a burning platform 1 May 2011 at 11:33

    The fear gripping many Singaporeans is real. Much like an elephant beaten and trained from young to be tethered by a mere piece of rope, Singaporeans need a strong enough stimulus to break free.

    For the opposition to win, the swing votes must be substantial enough in their constituency. The voters must realise they have more to lose by voting the ruling party.

    Might I suggest highlighting what they could lose? Perhaps if you could put your analytical and persuasive powers to bear on a few scenarios where Singapore (and Singaporeans) will lose if the status quo remains, that might create a strong enough stimulus for the elephant to discover its power?

    I’d like to thank you for your insightful articles all along. It’s a pity the establishment has failed to recognise the talents out there. But then again, it has never been interested in true talents other than those talented enough to sing the same tune.

    Please keep writing.

  26. 46 A civil servant 1 May 2011 at 12:12

    Don’t be silly. The civil service is much more vibrant than you ever thought. We continuously debated with our superiors with our ideas and most of the time, they are accepted.

    The impression that the public gets of “submissive” civil servants comes from the fact that differences are kept within the house but we learnt to speak with one voice to the people, unlike the disorganised opposition powers.

  27. 47 Civil Serpant 1 May 2011 at 12:36

    I comcur with your point about public transport profits. It is indeed preposterous that public transport companies like SMRT & SBS Transit consistently make better profits (based on returns on capital employed) than SIA, arguably the most profitable airline on the world. Public transport my @$$….

  28. 48 John 1 May 2011 at 13:43

    First I would like to say that I indeed believe a greater presence of opposition in parliament will do good for our political environment in Singapore but I would just like to highlight that doing so blindly will be the ultimate cause of our own downfall. I sincerely do believe that there are only a handful of opposition candidates who are of succinct calibre to even provide thoughtful alternatives in parliament. Yet at the rate we seem to be going of the general feeling, it seems as though everyone wants to vote the opposition in general in, even those who just simply play along to popular ideologies like halving NS and promoting vast GST cuts. And it is with this belief that I am alarmed, not because the PAP may lose power, but because the people taking over might just be less competent than them.

    With regards to ministers and the civil service, let me draw a comparison to the corporate world to visualize the rocking of the boat scenario that could occur. (in context, i firmly believe that the PAP does have backup plan should certain ministers get voted out but in the scenario you have painted out, it’s could possibly be a turbulent ride ahead) Look at Apple, the moment Steve Jobs hinted at a possibility of stepping down due to illness, Apple shares took a plunge as the uncertainty of corporate leadership feared investors. Drawing a similarity to Singapore, I don’t entirely believe that no investor is going to lose sleep over the outcome. Given our population size of approximately 2.5-3 million Singaporeans, it is hard for us to achieve much without the presence of foreign talents in all the strata they come from. Sure the rate they are coming in is probably excessive but I would just like to point out that without them, it is unlikely that we would be able to achieve much. I really doubt many Singaporeans would be keen of taking to the idea of building their own house/HDB, earning such little money each month.

    And I would just like to point out, what exactly are the incumbents skewed priorities and self-interest? (apart from job stability and their high incomes that I personally disagree with too) They surely know that (as is happening now) we are a democracy and voters are given the very right to appraise their ministers. Sure many talk about gerrymandering but many also say we are not an uneducated electorate if and we really think that the PAP is failing us, where we stand on geographical boundaries should not deter us from making the right decision.

    As such, I would just like to say that we must indeed make a balanced consideration based on the present strengths of the cadre of opposition candidates on an individual/group basis (SMC/GRC respectively) and not just ride on this entire swash of opposition mania, risking the chance of voting in candidates who are clearly weaker than some of the better minister’s in GRC’s they contest for. And we must remember that it was with the hard policies and restriction of certain freedoms in the past that we have arrived at where we are today, living in a harmonious society, not having to worry that much about the basic necessities of life unlike many of our neighbouring countries. The choice for change is clear but change should be slow and properly supported with the right candidates.

  29. 49 ThePasserby 1 May 2011 at 14:09

    It is troubling to see the front page of the Sunday Times and 6 whole pages inside devoted solely to MM’s views, including how Aljunied residents will regret voting against the PAP. 6 full pages versus about 2 pages of reports on what the Opposition say.

  30. 50 from amk grc 1 May 2011 at 16:05

    If everyone thinks the same way that we should vote opposition to keep the PAP in check, then opposition will win majority.

    I agree that I would like certain opposition members to be in parliament and to ask questions. I would like the psychological change as well. But that said, I do not think the opposition is good enough to form the government. So how do I cast my vote?

    To me, my vote is cast towards who I want to be my next government. And coming from AMK GRC, my choice is pretty clear. I do not wish to second guess everyone else’s votes and think PAP is going to win anyway.

    • 51 yawningbread 1 May 2011 at 17:23

      I usually don’t pick apart comments made to YBread, but in this case, I really have to deconstruct what you’re saying:

      “If everyone thinks the same way that we should vote opposition to keep the PAP in check, then opposition will win majority. ” — Use a highly implausible scenario to scare the daylights out of oneself. E.g. think about air crashes and decide never to go on any vacation.

      “I do not think the opposition is good enough to form the government. So how do I cast my vote?” — Dwell further on the extreme scenario, e.g. I do not think I will survive the air crash, so how can I possibly agree to flying?

      Please think about how you’re going about this process. What you’re doing is actually that of rationalising one’s own fears, not making a rational cost/benefit calculation.

  31. 52 Teo Soh Lung for Yuhua 1 May 2011 at 16:35

    I agreed totally with your article and that is exactly the reason why i am going for the oppositions. It is sad that some of the Singaporeans do not think the same way you and many of us did, mostly the older generations and even some of the younger people. They were afraid of rocking the boat, they think voting the opposition would destabilize Singapore and Singapore would be chaotic if opposition forms the govt, even though they recognize the problems Singapore is having now. Voting the few oppositions in may not give us immediate improvement but it definitely will for the future when people starts seeing the support for opposition. There will be more talented people joining the oppositions and people start donating more to help their cause. And also like you said, the PAP would pay more attention to the people if they see a significant support for the oppositions. I think that is a win-win situation. However, if PAP were allow to rule freely, it only gives them the mandate to rule however they liked, as we are telling them we dun mind all these problems like high cost living we are facing. We dun want to wait till our govt are filled with people like balakrishnan and TPL screwing up our country before we start regretting and want the oppositions in. By then it would already be far too late.

  32. 53 Elaine 1 May 2011 at 18:54

    Everyone forgets how many mins w/out portfolios the PAP has. Theyve already prepared bk ups.

  33. 54 Ger 1 May 2011 at 21:06

    U are just assuming conveniently here that the few people that form the WP are all competent and qualified to represent Singapore. If they turn out to be less so, ur arguments will be incorrect.

    Of course, u can hammer my comments because you are on an anti-PAP charge and will not stop to hear any different opinions. Then it wld be so-much-for-supporting-an-alternative-voice that you and the Opposition is so bent about. But if you are truly fair u will give a thought to what I said.

    • 55 CK 2 May 2011 at 01:13

      Likewise you are conveniently assuming that they will not be competent enough. What makes you so sure that the candidates that PAP fielded are more competent than those of the WP?

      Our fathers gave PAP a chance when they were the opposition. Unless we give our opposition a chance, we will never know whether they are better than PAP. If you are truly fair, u will give a thought to what I said.

  34. 56 jax 1 May 2011 at 21:46

    brilliant alex.

    thank u.

    i shall be sending this out to all those
    who i suspect r still caught in betw, in the
    hope it will convince them to vote for singapore.

  35. 57 pat 1 May 2011 at 22:33

    No need to analyse so hard. Even if PAP win by 87 to 0, PAP will surely get less than 66.6% of the valid votes. Most likely they will receive less than 60% of the valid votes. PAP will be forced to listen more. Otherwise in 5 years time…woe..woe..woe

    • 58 CK 2 May 2011 at 01:46

      PAP’s vote fell from 75.3% in 2001 to 66.6% in 2006. Were they forced to listen more because of the drop of 8.7%?

    • 59 Chang Fook Tin 3 May 2011 at 17:31

      Five years ? I hope I will still be around,if not, but then it does not matter much to me, my children are capable and will be able to migrate.Long Live Pay and Pay !

  36. 60 Anonymous 2 May 2011 at 01:39

    If PAP continues to rule with a sense of immunity and complacency, there is the other thing beside the “one big thing.” It is the more subtle reflection of the psychology of a significant number of Singaporeans who vote them against their own natural wish and free will. The two psychologies interbreed and perpetuate each other, leading to an unnatural and unhealthy outcome.

    No amount of power, fear and control can stop the will or determine the choice of the people forever. Singapore is what it is not because of the PAP. PAP is what it is because of the people. For better or worse, my dear fellow people, your choice matters more than an election.

  37. 61 Dphang 2 May 2011 at 02:09

    The typical scaremongering tactics of Pappies. Their newbies can be given opportunities to learn while others can’t?? An insult to the intelligence of the rest of the citizens, which means their education system has also failed. The ruling party will have to held responsible if the country fails within 5 years, as that would also mean they’ve not groomed or placed good people in the public service.

    Opposition making headway will be like what Neil Armstrong said:” That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

  38. 62 John 2 May 2011 at 02:31

    Hold on – why are you discussing this “calamity” with a seeming unshakable confidence that the PAP will, despite all of your strenuous efforts otherwise, “still have a comfortable majority in parliament”?

    If every reader agrees with your point (that is the aim of every writer, certainly yours, given the strong use of language and persuasion) and votes the opposition, the happy premise – that the greater opposition presence in parliament alongside an even stronger PAP – you have outlined completely collapses.

    the danger with, indeed nature of, elections is that no one is for certain (perhaps save for the octogenarian in our MM) of the elections outcome. if there any unpredictability and thus excitement can be associated to the political affairs of clinical singapore, GE 2011 has to be the one.

    hence, i strongly disagree with the appeals of opposition voices for voters to vote for opposition ASSUMING that the PAP will naturally still be in power. to simplify matters into an analogy, there might not even be a driver for the opposition to co-drive with come polling day because there is a REAL risk that the driver will be booted out!

    i am not pro-pap, or pro-opposition. i suppose i belong to what analysts have come to term “swing voters”. i strive to listen to both sides’ appeal and arguments (wholly different things). but when the opposition appeals to voters to vote boldly for them SIMPLY and SOLELY because they should have no fear about PAP losing power, then i cringe at their hypocrisy and self-indulgence: do they run and orchestra the elections? can they predict with unflinching conviction that the pap will remain in power?

    both sides will agitate for votes, rub voters the way they deem is most appealing. but i think we all should be aware of irresponsible appeals to “Dare” voters out of what they might deem is good for the larger interest of singapore, and that is, for all intents and purposes, to still have the PAP in power as of this GE. yes, more opposition voices – but only by merit, NOT by the lure of “vote for us because the pap will still be in power, come what may”. that was applicable in the elections when the opposition shrewdly allowed pap returned to power on nomination day, but for this GE2011, it is, as a matter of fact, simply not the case.

    to argue otherwise is disingenuous and an insult to the innate ability that voters have in their hands – to usher in or out a ruling party of power.

  39. 63 MayDay 2 May 2011 at 05:24

    The voters are in a prisoners’ dilemma, they cannot possibly predict that PAP will still turn up to be the majority in parliament. The opposition front has to hint more alignment for a coalition and if you have conviction in your economic plan, go all the way and make it happen with the existing government. As for whether there will be quitters after this – come what may.

  40. 64 Joe 2 May 2011 at 10:10

    Hi Lawliet and for those that may find themslves in a dilemna, if you are a couple of have more than 1 vote in the family, split your vote, 1 for the incumbent and 1 for the opposition.

    Doing so will i think cause an substantial increase in the votes for the opposition antionaly, and maybe a wake up call for the PAP??

  41. 65 anya77 2 May 2011 at 11:05

    The PAP has plenty of govt scholars from the admin service or military to choose from if Ministers need to be replaced. My greater concern is the apparent increasing difficulty that the PAP has in attracting top talent from the private sector. The best private and public sector minds think and operate quite differently. Singapore needs excellent strategic thinkers and policy makers recruited from both the private and public sectors, as well as strong grass roots leaders. Clearly the PAP priorities, seemingly focused heavily on economic indicators, does not resonate with top talent in the private sector. Singaporeans should vote for whomever they feel can do the best job of securing the future of the country, and the futures of their children. While it used to be that the best qualified candidates were almost invariably from the PAP, that is no longer the case. If increasing numbers of the most talented opt to join the opposition then the PAP should do some soul searching.

  42. 66 sktan7779@gmail.com 2 May 2011 at 12:39

    I salute the people of Hougang and Potong Pasir.
    In the last general election, SM Goh Chok Tong who had been given the special assignment to help the PAP win the two wards offered $100 Million to Hougang and $80 Million to Potong Pasir. However, they were not “bought over” by SM Goh Chok Tong. They were upright people with “backbone” (borrowing a phrase from the Chinese) when they rejected the offer and remained loyal to their MPs.
    But what SM Goh Chok Tong did was disappointing. With that offer, he insulted not only the people of the Hougang and Potong Pasir but all the people of Singapore because his was the Senior Minister.
    SM Goh Chok Tong talked about building a gracious society. But his action to offer $100 Million to Hougang and $80 Million to Potong Pasir is not only ungracious but unethical.

    In his book Human Cycle, Sri Aurobindo describes in detail what economic barbarians are. Their actions are not motivated by ethics but by economic gains.

    For their loyalty and ethical behaviour, I salute the people of Hougang and Potong Pasir again.

  43. 67 GABRIEL 2 May 2011 at 13:37

    In the 50s, my mother fretted over who she should vote for, the incumbent SPA led by Lim Yew Hock, who she knew about. Or for the PAP, which she felt were a bunch of leftists and ocmmunists. With her fear of the unknown, she cast her vote for the SPA, even though the SPA did not do much to ease her out of a life of poverty.
    The PAP won, and she lived in trepdiation for weeks. Nothing untoward happened to her. Nothing really changed in her life for the next 50 years, she lived a simple life with no great desire for upgrading and all that. Still, she was happy and lived to see her kids and grandkids grow up and do well.
    Today, the new generation – and some of the old as well – still seem to have a fear of the unknown. They find the PAP arrogant and uncaring towards their basic needs, and still they fear making a decision to bring about needed change. That fear of the unknown is mankind’s greatest hurdle to change. Isn’t it time we regain the courage of our convictions?

  44. 68 Joe 2 May 2011 at 16:32

    Politics in Singapore is based on the Zero-Sum Game philosophy. The evolution of the Singapore model, is apparently incomplete and that is why LKY is still in the cabinet. One obsession that developed was to make Singapore so rich and developed that it would have legitimacy equivalent to that of the Pope and the Catholic Church. So, an elite group working within a lifetime framework is vital. Lifetime means that there is a system to replenish clones of the elite group. All of this has been failing as technology zoomed ahead in the most unpredictable of ways, the concept of legitimacy of government again worldwide has been solely in the ballot box as USA and European countries went into economic nose dives. There are more factors. The PAP itself seems slow to understand this. So after 50 years, it is still them or chaos. For once the voter in Singapore have to think, and think very hard. It is important that politics move out of the zero-sum game platform.

  45. 69 Good citizen 2 May 2011 at 18:19

    I have nothing against pap because I have a job and a family. I am contented with what I have now. But I am not happy with what happened to my siblings who is still struggling to competit for a job with the foreigners. They have been out of jobs for years and there is nothing the mp could do.
    The mp only know how to give the reason as there is a gap to fill up for the blue collar position as Singaporean do not want to work as blue collars. What about the clerical and the service sector? Who said the Singaporean are not interested? By fillng up the gap in these job using foreign labour is not teaching singaporeans to be diligent It’s spoiling them And training them to be a bunch of complacent citizens. And we can see the effect now of spoiling these young people. They are now too conplacent that they are going against the government. I am not against pap but j have no choice now but to help my fellow citizens and my siblings to vote for the oppositions.

    Unless the pap can promise these changes otherwise there will be serious conseqences that they have to face:-

    1) stop the influx of foreign workers in the middle level and service level. Stop chinese woman from coming to be sex service workers or to accompany their children schooling here in name.

    2) lower the price of the Hdb for the first time buyer or newly wed couples, old retirees, lower income earners.

    These are the 2 things they have to promise now before the election day. Otherwise no vote from me.

    For the first time I felt my voice is been heard. I felt that my decision is so important that it will affect my next generation. For the first time, I felt like a human being or a human dwelling in this country and need to play a part.

  46. 70 konl 3 May 2011 at 01:40

    eloquent and moderate

  47. 71 YH 4 May 2011 at 04:05

    to yawning bread/Au Waiping – I’ve enjoyed reading this article. thank you.

    I think @John above has brought up a good point. why base things assuming the PAP still holds the majority? I would say the arguments would still hold even if PAP loses the majority.

    There is a strong civil service that would keep things going. The opposition members likely to serve as Ministers have the experience to do so, and they will be advised by the professional and very smart civil service.

    Investors may have some knee jerk reaction which would quickly correct when they realise that the (opposition) govt is still pro-business (look at manifestos and plans of WP,SDP,NSP), and that the PAP and their associates still hold enough financial and political clout so that the boat is not rocked too much. (it is in the interest of the GLCs (many helmed/directed by PAP’s associates) that they remain profitable even if PAP loses parliamentary power).

    As for efficiency and gridlocks and blocks – well the MPs will “waste” more time debating policies in parliament – but it is the MP’s time and not your time (unless you read parliamentary reports or watch ‘Parliament Tonight’)

    And for upgrading, opposition MPs will do upgrading as required once the funds are (finally) accessible to them.

    It doesn’t seem very scary for the PAP to lose power after all.

    • 72 yawningbread 4 May 2011 at 12:03

      You wrote: “As for efficiency and gridlocks and blocks – well the MPs will “waste” more time debating policies in parliament – but it is the MP’s time and not your time”

      Developing a culture of more thorough parliamentary debates does not automatically mean gridlock. So long as a party has a majority in parliament and is not faction ridden, it will be able to get its legislation through. The problem at the present is that debate is perfunctory because there simply aren’t opposition voices in parliament in any meaningful number. Longer and more in-depth debate does not necessarily prolong decision-making either. We simply need to have parliament sit more frequently from the present 1 or 2 days a month.

      Why doesn’t our parliament sit more frequently? Because most of our MPs continue to hold big time jobs. We should be like several countries in the West, e.g. Sweden, where MPs have to be fulltime parliamentarians. They spend their full time researching subjects, discussing policies in depth in parliamentary committees, consulting with citizens in their constituencies and attending more sessions of parliament. We are paying our MPs $13,000 a month (or has this increased again?); surely they ought to give us value for money.

  48. 73 DieHard 5 May 2011 at 07:32

    Hi ppl,

    i am a Singaporean working in Shanghai China.

    In April this year, the Singapore Government organized a Singapore Day event in Shanghai for Singaporeans to gather for a day of fun and ‘propagandalistic brain-washing’. Election day was not fixed yet and Mr WKS did mentioned then that the elctions is around the corner then.

    However, he failed to mention that we overseas Singaporeans (many of us were new, or never had the chance to vote before) can register for overseas voting through the election.gv website which incidentally closed its registration portal near nomination so most of us who finally found out about it could not register at all. Sick! Some of us who could not come back due to work or other reasons are completely cut off. And from what i can see, the majority of Singaporeans overseas are not pro-PAP supporters.

    NVM that above, the best part was when the EDB fellows threw a glam recruitment event for some MNC’s in the Langham Hotel in Shanghai the immediate day after Singapore Day targeting Chinese, not trying to attract the Singaporeans who are working in China to come back to Singapore to contribute to our ecconomy. This after a couple of days when they announce they will slow down the influx of foreigners. From what we can see, the Langham recruitment is in absolute contrast to that particular statement and a direct slap on the face to us Singaporeans.

    Vote with your hearts, vote for the right people, vote for us who have been cut off. Thank you.

    • 74 twasher 5 May 2011 at 12:30

      I am sorry that you cannot vote, and I believe that overseas voting should be made much easier (in particular, we should implement postal voting), but there is nothing malicious about the Elections department’s closing of registration. They stated clearly on their website that registration is allowed up till the writ of election is issued. So they closed registration once the President issued the writ. I believe this rule is reasonable because the Elections department needs some time to do the administrative work for registered voters (including sending out the polling letter to your overseas address), so it’s reasonable to have them register in advance. I do not know if WKS deliberately failed to mention having to register.

    • 75 DT 7 May 2011 at 17:24

      hello,

      i share the same sentiments. i am a singaporean living in sweden and i wld hv gladly paid for my own airticket to london and taken a day off to vote at the high comm there, if i had known abt the elections earlier. word only got out on nominations day and then it was too late to register…

      it’s a combination of high-handedness in dealing with the concerns posed by common folk, underhand tactics to secure their party’s interests, and this sort of nonsense that i believe most of us are up against and which we hardly find endearing. won’t they ever realise that this spoils as many votes for them as all their efforts to better our economy. sigh. short-term profits for long-term losses

  49. 76 Robert L 5 May 2011 at 20:51

    Let me explain why Singaporeans need not fear the “freak election result”, however unlikely that may be.

    So what if the opposition wins the elections? The Opposition is made of different parties, so there’s no fear that they may change the constitution. And then, there will be the new opposition, formed by the mighty PAP. A PAP waiting to pounce at the 2016 elections to win back power. Don’t you agree that the PAP will be a formidable opposition serving to check the new govt?

    Or has anybody heard the MM or PM saying that they will leave Singapore instead of forming an Opposition? That’s not a valid argument, right?

    In fact, with the Opposition forming the next govt, and the PAP providing the check and balances to that govt, Singapore may yet have the better govt than what we have now.

    Yawningbread has already explained why the present civil service will continue to operate. Does anybody seriously imagine that members of the new govt do not have the cow sense to listen to advice from long-serving civil servants?

    Next, I’ll touch on a new fear that everybody has been silent on. I think it was some big shot who said that he would call up the army if there were a freak election result.

    Well, we have seen the results this year in many countries, so I think that it is proof enough. As soon as the army fire on their own citizens, the soldier will see it’s their own families and friends getting killed. Then the soldiers will turn against their masters. We have seen this happen in all the Middle East countries. We have also seen this at Tien An Men, except that in that incident, the authorities eventually call in soldiers from far-off province, who don’t have family and friends in the crowd.

    So that is ample proof that in Singapore, we don’t need to fear our soldiers shooting at our own citizens.

  50. 77 Married to a FT 6 May 2011 at 21:30

    I enjoyed this article and also John’s contribution in cautioning voters not to vote opposition just because of the “dare” mentality thrown by some opposition parties. We need to walk into this with our eyes wide open. Judging from the recent actions by PAP, I think the message is finally getting across to them – that they need to adjust and accommodate and fast-rising new generation of Singaporeans and what will cause us to embrace them (if they are still in power) as truly respected leaders. I believe that they have come to realize that with the tempo starting from this election, they could well lose the next election as 5 years is a lot of time for the opposition to recruit more Nicole Seahs and Sylvias. I have not decided yet who to vote for but I’m trying to listen to arguments from both sides of the fence with an objective head and not with my heart, as I believe an emotional election wouldn’t do any of us good in the end. Has the PAP treated us all so badly that despite all that we have achieved as a yound country, they deserve all this name-calling and (sometimes) very rude slammings? What do we really want? Do we want a totally new government simply because we think PAP is too arrogant (I somehow suspect that after this election, humility would probably be embraced) or are we actually happy with the way they have prospered our country and that we just want them to listen more and be reminded to be more in touch with the ground? Some Opposition candidates are brilliant at articulation and have the passion, but there hasn’t been any experience and what about their parties?
    Personally I am grateful to the LKY generation of politicians who, through raw grit and perseverance, have fought for the independence of our little island, and never lost their sight on their end-goal. It takes a lot of “balls” and an iron will to spur a little trading post to what Singapore is today. Perhaps they simply need a nudge in the ribs that times have changed and we are all educated enough (thanks to them as well) to make our minds up for ourselves instead of simply following, and that new challenges are ahead of us, compared to those that were faced by our parents’ generation 30 years ago. Singaporeans have all (majority) moved up the Maslow’s pyramid of needs, and there needs to be a different approach in the way our leaders lead and engage with us. The prior generation were pleading “lead us!”. This generation is crying out “Engage us!” I still doo believe that the heart is there in the PAP – they might need a big wake-up call that’s all.


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