Might Mexico’s general election give clues to Singapore’s future?

Few Singaporeans would have paid attention to the general election just held in Mexico. It’s on the other side of the world. But perhaps it might have been worth the while, for the party that had hegemonically dominated Mexican politics for 71 years (1929 – 2000), has returned to power. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had been thrown out of the presidency twelve years ago in 2000, in what was then seen as a huge democratic opening.

Here in Singapore, the People’s Action Party has not quite chalked up 71 years in power, but is coming close. This is its 53rd year.

Although no two countries follow the same historical path, there are several features of Mexico’s experience that may be interesting to note.

Coming out of the Mexican revolution (1910 – 1920) which erupted from great popular frustration over inequality and landlessness, the PRI was founded in 1929 by Plutarco Calles, who was president 1924 – 1928. After his term ended, he installed several successors who were largely his puppets. He himself was known as Jefe Máximo – political chief – for several years after his presidency, till 1934. The PRI’s original political leanings were socialist, calling for land reform and social justice. It was also a member of the Socialist International. But before long, it had become a hegemonic party, with super-majorities in the legislature and control of all state governments.

From Wikipedia:

From 1929 to 1982, the PRI won every presidential election by well over 70 percent of the vote—margins that were usually obtained by massive electoral fraud. Toward the end of his term, the incumbent president in consultation with party leaders, selected the PRI’s candidate in the next election in a procedure known as “the tap of the finger” (Spanish: el dedazo). In essence, given the PRI’s overwhelming dominance, the president chose his successor. The PRI’s dominance was near-absolute at all other levels as well. It held an overwhelming majority in the Chamber of Deputies, as well as every seat in the Senate and every state governorship.

Does the above sound familiar?

For a few decades, the PRI delivered economic growth, culminating in the prestigious hosting of the Olympics in 1968, but inflation, oil price fluctuations and a series of economic and monetary crises gradually damaged its reputation. It became better known for inefficient administration, corruption and cronyism, and the heavy-handed measures needed to defend its continuing grip on power. It had come a long way from its socialist beginnings.

From the 1980s on, two parties began to make inroads challenging the PRI. On the right was the National Action Party (PAN) founded in 1939, generally known for its conservative economic and social policies. On the left was the the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) founded 1989, championing social justice causes.

In the general election of 2000, Vincente Fox of PAN won the presidency, the first time since 1929 that PRI’s lock on the office was broken. When his six-year term expired (no re-election allowed under Mexico’s constitution) the PAN again won the 2006 election under Felipe Calderon. That gave them 12 years of rule, pushing the once-dominant PRI into opposition.

However, a closer look at the results do not reveal such a simple picture. In none of these three general elections did voters give any single party a clear majority in the legislature.

It should be added though that in the 2009 mid-term legislative elections (for Chamber of Deputies only) the PRI won 241 seats and its ally the Green Party won 17 seats, making a slim majority of 258 seats. This was while PAN held the presidency.

In other words, the end of the PRI’s dominance in 2000 did not lead to any single party having a clear majority. Even presidential election winners did not get more than 50 percent of the vote. If Mexico had a parliamentary system of government, there would have had to be a coalition government all these years.

A large part is because opposition to the PRI from the 1980s on came from both the conservative and the socialist/liberal sides.

* * * * *

In this connection, a Facebook comment by Xu Si Han is pertinent:

I don’t necessarily share the prediction, but it nonetheless suggests that the popular hope of supplanting the People’s Action Party (PAP) completely may need to be reexamined.

Even if popular support for the PAP diminishes, it is more likely to do so gradually than collapse altogether. Short of a huge scandal, the PAP’s store of goodwill and track record will ensure that a significant number of voters will continue to support it. The experience of Mexico’s PRI is instructive.

Whether those voting against the PAP will predominantly vote for the same opposition party, or split themselves across several parties is yet to be seen. But two things suggest that it is more likely to be split:

(a) opposition parties are ideologically different, each with its own supporters;

(b) no single opposition party has (yet) the capacity to field candidates in all (or nearly all) constituencies.

Therefore, the chance of one opposition party doing so well in a general election as to capture a clear majority in parliament is, frankly, remote.

Should a day come when the PAP loses a parliamentary majority, we are more likely to see it going into coalition with one of the opposition parties, than have all opposition parties come together in a non-PAP coalition. Xu Si Han’s point about opposition parties being spread across an ideological spectrum has to be borne in mind.

This means we’re likely to see PAP in power, either solely or in coalition, for decades to come.

And even if they should lose power altogether, the PAP can come back, just as the PRI has done in Mexico. In large part it’s because PAN’s record in power 2000 – 2012 has been mixed, but also because PRI continued to have a grip on many state governorships and several corporate and administrative bodies. Add to the fact that PAN never had a clear majority in the legislature, it was hard for any PAN president, however willing, to take a broom to Mexico’s institutions.

An important question now is whether the PRI that has regained power is the same PRI as before. There is tension within the party between its dinosaurs and its reformers, and how things play out in the new president Enrique Peña Nieto’s term will be interesting to watch.

62 Responses to “Might Mexico’s general election give clues to Singapore’s future?”


  1. 1 nick 9 July 2012 at 20:45

    3 parties balancing each other like Romance of the 3 Kingdom should be the most stable form of government. Is there such a parlimentary system based on proportional representation instead of majority representation?

    • 2 BG 10 July 2012 at 17:03

      The New Zealand parliament used to be proportional representation, but I’m not sure if that has changed.

  2. 3 Chow 10 July 2012 at 00:29

    I wouldn’t be surprised. After all two-party dominant systems are to be seen in the USA and elsewhere like the UK.

    Like what you said, what’s more important is how the party evolves especially when there is a need to form a political alliance with another party to govern. Given the way things are going I don’t think the PAP will lose any much more votes and I don’t see the opposition parties making much more headway unless the PAP does something really stupid publicly.

  3. 4 JPG 10 July 2012 at 02:32

    Alex, I believe that we should not look too much into Mexico’s electoral results and compare that too much with Singapore’s.

    Mexico’s Upper House is basis on: a) 75% of the seats decided by relative majority basis for the party (i.e. largest party winner of the state gets 2 vote, next largest get 1 vote); b) and the remainder 25% selected by a countrywide proportional representation.

    Mexico’s Lower House is basis on: A) 60% of the seats decided by relative majority for each of the electoral seats (total 300 seats); b) and the remainder 40% decided by countrywide proportional representation. Additional restrictions are placed to ensure that not one party gets more than 300 seats for (a) + (b), or that the number of seats won not exceed more than 8% of the nationwide vote proportion.

    In essence, Mexico’s electoral rule tries to ensure proportional representation.

    Singapore’s electoral rule of simple majority + GRC will ensure a greatly imbalanced electoral seats’ proportion when compared with the nationwide vote proportion. Coupled with that, housing restrictions for >80% of the population ensures that no single district have a congregation of single type interest (majority Malay/Indian district). As such, PAP will likely hold on to a huge majority of the seats in parliament for a long time.

    However, when the tipping point comes (PAP finds themselves 80% opposition party basis on the number of constituency they contested in.

    Given PAP’s history of maintaining their hegemony, I believe that they may change the electoral rules and dismantle the GRC structure once their nationwide votes ever falls below the 55% threshold.

    • 5 octopi 10 July 2012 at 13:42

      I don’t believe that three factions make for a stable political system. A historian once mentioned that three factions is the most unstable political system of all, which is why there was so much fighting in the “Romance”. An example of Sukarno’s government, which had Islamists, Nationalists and Communists in one large tent. It eventually imploded in the 1960s.

      Singaporeans will not vote out PAP based on how dictatorial it is, otherwise it would have voted PAP out a long time ago. What matters is the real impact of its policies. And given that sometimes policies take a long time to reveal their full impact, the fate of the PAP in 2016 is already partially sealed.

      First past the post will usually result in two party systems forming. This is because voters aren’t inclined to care about parties which have almost no chance of winning the elections. (Usually this is the third party onwards). You only hear from the Lib Dems in the UK because the last election was a hung parliament, and the Lib Dems decided to gang up with Conservative. Under proportional representation, it is possible to have more than two parties. But it is difficult to reform the system. Even UK tried to reform first past the post through a referendum but they failed.

      Mexico’s example is illustrative: they are in big trouble now because the drug gangs expelled from South America have settled there. That place is going downhill. Mexico ought to be like Brazil, Russia India China – upcoming but it’s not happening. Not entirely the fault of the government but there are the perils of the opposition taking over the government. First, it’s likely to be a slim majority. Second, they will have to change the civil service, whose upper echelons are full of people who still are loyal to PAP. It might work, but it will be messy.

      That is why I think for the time being we should just turn the screws on the PAP slowly and see how they can change for the better, instead of outright getting rid of them too quickly. Even though realistically nobody really has any control over when the change will take place if ever.

      • 6 yawningbread 10 July 2012 at 13:56

        You wrote: “First past the post will usually result in two party systems forming.”

        It’s not as simple as that. I would agree that FPTP electoral systems are brutal towards smaller parties, but whether it’s from the third party on, or the second party on depends much on the nature/strengths of those parties. FPTP tends to produce a legislative supermajority for the first party if the second party is not strong. Arguably in Singapore’s case the supermajority is produced from the first party’s changing the rules of the game to suit itself (using its supermajority to write new rules).

        On the other hand, we have the huge example of India which also applies FPTP, yet has not produced a majority by any single party in Parliament for a long time….

      • 7 octopi 10 July 2012 at 15:06

        There’s a reason for the number two. First past the post makes it really undesirable for three cornered fights to happen because the two parties that are most similar to each other will suffer. Then under the grossly simplified scenario where there are no three cornered fights, if there are more than two parties, then not all of them will be putting up significant candidates in all the constituencies.

        The two party rule could then manifest itself under a different guise: maybe like Malaysia’s two coalition system. And maybe that’s where Singapore will head: PAP vs opposition coalition. But what could happen in the near future would be: PAP gets 48% of the seats, WP gets 40%, and SDP / NSP becomes kingmaker and joins the PAP for a coalition. Then a history of bad blood would prevent an all-opposition coalition from ever taking place.

        I’m not sure what the situation in India is. But I think that there is maybe no long term stable system yet. Because the long term stable behaviour of this system is two. It probably won’t be like, say Switzerland, where a long term stable behaviour involving 5 or even more parties takes place.

        Because when I look at the American system and I hear people complaining, “the two parties always dominate everything”, it is only slightly less bad than “the PAP always dominates everything”.

    • 8 octopi 10 July 2012 at 19:33

      On second thoughts, forget it. Even if it were true that “most of the time you’d get two major parties or two major coalitions” this is such a large range of possible situations that it’s almost a meaningless statement.

  4. 9 dolphin81 10 July 2012 at 09:22

    Good article

    The main problem is not whether PAP will lose power.

    Everyone agrees that so long PAP does not make silly errors, it can rule for a very long time.

    The problem is that after 1991, PAP increasingly became paranoid about a 2 party system. GCT resorted to all kinds of quick-result policies in order to show voters how “clever ” PAP was.

    He hoped that by doing so, voters would stop thinking about a 2 party system.

    Unfortunately, these policies created a big mess which ironically resulted in more people calling for an alternative government.

    Unlike the Mexicans, PAP is not even comfortable with a few more non-PAP MPs. Therefore should PAP lose its dominance, the party may just implode
    with the youngsters deciding to cut & run.

  5. 10 Robox 10 July 2012 at 12:03

    PART 1

    For sure, Mexico’s isn’t the only political landscape that Singapore’s can be compared to; Singapore’s ruling regime definitely shares characteristics with so many other equally ignominous ones, such as Russia’s to name just one.

    This article has correctly identified some of those characteristics:

    1) one party dominant rule, in spite of the fact of the legal status, in all cases only nominally, of other political parties; and,

    2) very importantly, the above in combination with what may be best decribed as “electoral fraud”.

    Kenneth Jeyaratnam quoted Dr Judith Kelley as saying, ““Electoral fraud, however, must be recognised as a much broader concept. Obstructing the development of political parties and competitive candidates is as fraudulent as stuffing ballot boxes. Buying votes with state resources is as fraudulent as stealing them outright during the tally. Dominating the media or stacking the electoral commission with friends is as fraudulent as violating the secrecy of the vote.”

    http://www.tremeritus.com/2012/03/10/responding-to-pm%e2%80%99s-statement-about-hougang-by-election/

    I happen to agree with Dr Kelley’s – actually many schools of Political Sciences’s – broad definition of electoral fraud, and it is that sense of the term that I shall be using here.

    This then leads me to the Singapore context: How should a Singapore so dominated by one party, and at the same time, experiencing a situation of an array of so many opposition parties. all too small to ever contest the ruling one – a reslt of electoral fraud – to respond?

    I reply to my own queries above by considering:

    1) historical facts, drawn from the experience of countries in similar situations; and,

    2) current realities, involving countries in the same situation as Singapore is today, as well as current realities in Singapore today.

    (More to come later.)

    • 11 Robox 12 July 2012 at 02:45

      PART 2

      To reiterate my conclusion from PART 1, I will propose here a possible solution to the circumstances forced upon the opposition parties, based on historical facts from other countries, as well as current realties both international as well as domestic.

      I might as well state at the outset what the gist of that solution is: opposition unity, though, one that I feel is a more realistic and achievable one. (I will also state that I don’t think that a multi-party landscape is undesirable; my proposal is one that purely take out of consideration of realities.)

      Historically, in countries that practise FTFP, and are today widely considered mature democracies, the modern state began with the dominance of two parties, one from the left and another from the right. It was only when greater political maturity – and the resulting demographic diversity – was attained in those countries that other smaller parties started sprouting. (I acknowledge here that what is considered “left” and what is considered “right” does evolve over time and space, though I will return shortly to why this might not be relevant in Singapore today.)

      Even today, and again only in the countries that practise FTFP and are considered mature democracies, two party dominance is more the norm than the exception.

      However, the most compelling reason for “opposition unity” that exists in Singapore today is the Singapore demographic itself, one that has entrenched the idea – not unreasonably – of an opposition that is PAP-sized, so to speak. It’s an opposition that both comprises sufficient numbers of candidates of acceptable calibre, as well one that is able to contest all seats, just as the PAP is able to do.

      To sum up, I see (at least) three prerequisites necessary to form such an opposition alliance/coalition/merger. (As one who feels wedded to the SDP name and its polcy direction for Singapore, I say this with a lot of reservation.)

      1. The emergence of a clear left of the political spectrum, to counter and balance – the predomination of the right.

      2. Quality candidates; and,

      3. The ability to contest all seats.

      As Tan Jee Say has said, it is these that will give Singaporeans greater confidence in the opposition. Indeed, my gut feeling tells me that these factors alone might be sufficient to swing a few percentage points to such an opposition.

      The WP has thus far amply demonstrated its disdain for the rest of the opposition parties; it is also the only opposition party that has actually stated that it could seriously consider being in a coalition with the PAP, with the dubious rationale that ‘there is only a limited number of parties that the *PAP* can work with. (Whether the WP itself can work with parties that it can be in a colaition with was conveniently left out.)

      Contrary to reports, they have never retracted the statement; they only denied ever having held any discussion, presumably a formal one, regarding this.

      Strike the WP out of any considerations of opposition unity, I say; they don’t fulfil the requirements to be regarded as belonging to the left, at any rate.

      The SDP’s liberal credentials are well established by now, and so too, increasingly, the RP’s, at least in social policy. After their CEC elections held immediately after GE2011, the NSP announced that it would pursue a liberal policy direction,

      It is these three parties that thus far better fulfil the requirements for a realistic opposition unity, one that can be achieved incrementally if necessary. Though this is by no means the only new strategic direction that I see needs consideration, I feel it would go a long way to increasing the chances that we don’t repeat the mistakes made in countrie like Mexico and Russia.

      And even Malaysia, though this last example is one that seems to demonstrate that they are willing to buck those trends that keep a moribund opposition stuck in the rut.

  6. 12 Daniel Lee 10 July 2012 at 12:44

    Winning the presidency is not enough if there are insufficient state governments aligned to the winning party. Having many state governments opposing the federal government makes governing tricky. Also, having to deal with opposing state governments mean drawing resources (party donations and volunteers) away from the Federal level.

    Perhaps we should look towards the Malaysian 2013 elections? That will be interesting. The opposition has not even formed a shadow cabinet, but the Malaysian people seem focused on pushing UMNO out.

    With that said, the PAP can only fall if another party builds up its capability (requiring more talented people stepping forward). At this stage, the PAP is going to be in power for at least another two or three terms, seeing it through to 2021-2025.

    It simply takes a lot of effort to get the right people to serve as MPs, and even more to assist with the policy research, running the party organisation, having the volunteers to knock on doors, etc…

    Regards,

  7. 13 yuen 10 July 2012 at 14:09

    23 years we witnessed the fall of Soviet East Europe and Tiananmen, more recently the Jasmin Revolution, now regime change in Mexico, but I doubt any of these foretells much about Singapore; the worrying precedent is actually much nearer home: Taiwan’s opposition DPP grew from an oppressed organization with meager resources, to government party in 2000, but the 12 years since then have not fostered democratic enlightenment, but saw a deterioration in the quality of government (including enterprises under government control) and worsening corruption; even the media and academia have grown worse, and have become mere factions in opposing camps rather than independent reflectors of public feelings and monitors of government (and opposition) misconduct

    the situation goes beyond the question “which party is better” since the KMT is now back in power but things have not improved; it reflects a general loss of social conscience and long term thinking, trends that are also visible in Singapore

    • 14 Poker Player 11 July 2012 at 09:54

      it reflects a general loss of social conscience

      Huh? Some things got worse. Some things got better. Things for marginalized groups have got better.

      and long term thinking

      It’s still there. It’s just that there are more people people who don’t accept things unquestioningly. And they find out earlier that “long term” doesn’t mean “not a lousy idea”.

      • 15 Poker Player 11 July 2012 at 10:02

        it reflects a general loss of social conscience

        Pink Dot (many were not gay). TWC2.

      • 16 octopi 11 July 2012 at 12:18

        So what’s the long term plan for Singapore?

      • 17 yuen 11 July 2012 at 12:23

        maybe, but YB’s article on public trashport indicates the opposite

      • 18 Poker Player 11 July 2012 at 15:27

        You are confusing long term planning and the political dominance needed to carry it to term.

      • 19 Poker Player 11 July 2012 at 15:30

        the long term plan for Singapore?

        ??

        Singapore is a country. Not a borg.

      • 20 octopi 12 July 2012 at 01:13

        So there’s no long term plan for Singapore?

        Because if everybody has a different long term plan for Singapore, there is no long term plan, and that fits in with what yuen is saying. If every small piece does their own thing, there is no plan, everybody’s just doing their own thing and hoping it all works out. There is no practical difference between not having long term planning and not being able to execute that plan.

        But a more fundamental issue is, what’s the plan, brother? If there’s no plan, then what makes you so clever to be questioning it all the time?

      • 21 Poker Player 12 July 2012 at 12:06

        “Long term planning” is not “the plan” unless we are all part of a borg.- you seem to have trouble with simple distinctions.

      • 22 Poker Player 12 July 2012 at 12:13

        then what makes you so clever to be questioning it all the time?

        Ermm .. this blog ..allows comments on articles…and comments on comments. When you question an article in your comment, your comment gets to be questioned too – it’s part of the deal – so what’s your problem?

      • 23 Poker Player 12 July 2012 at 12:38

        Example of unwavering long term planning that was never “lost”:

        Malay electoral power must never significantly increase from what they were since independence. Immigration and housing policies enforce this.

        This was never “lost” because of the tacit approval of the majority – loss of political dominance has far less impact because of this.

      • 24 octopi 12 July 2012 at 16:44

        Long term planning is “the” plan. There is one coherent vision. If there are 4 or 5 different plans or if there are 4 or 5 parts that don’t fit, it is not long term planning, is it? You can criticise the “long term plan” but I don’t think there is a long term plan, and that is why criticising the long term plan is pointless. But yes, should you criticise the govt for being short sighted and arbitrary, I have no problem with that.

        “Keeping the Malays down” is not the long term plan that yuen is talking about. It is way too small in scope. It doesn’t answer questions about sustainability, the economy, livelihood, stuff like that. And more importantly, it’s a part of a plan that sticks out like a sore thumb, ie having a population of 5M while we have a transport infrastructure that is designed for 4M.

        Your concern is that people aren’t rebellious enough to question the long term plan. My concern is a little deeper than that, and it is similar to yuen’s concern: It is that there is no long term plan. If the government want to follow market ideology, that is reacting. That is not having a long term plan. If they want to react to foreigners criticising Singapore, that is not having a long term plan. Or they may want to try 101 new things and hope that enough of them succeed. That is also not a long term plan. My other concern is that even if they want to come up with a proper long term plan that addresses our issues, it’s going to be tougher to do it because resistance from the ground is stronger – which is also yuen’s point. But to me that is moot.

        What was the long term plan before it was lost? Go to the library and look up this book published 20 years ago, “the next lap”. I haven’t seen that one in a while but you should dig it up and compare it with the Singapore we have today.

      • 25 Poker Player 13 July 2012 at 11:55

        Long term planning is “the” plan. There is one coherent vision.

        Again the borg. How can it be “the”. Unless you equate “vision” with “vision of the establishment”.

        If there are 4 or 5 different plans or if there are 4 or 5 parts that don’t fit, it is not long term planning, is it?

        There is a difference between “don’t fit” and “address different areas of life”.

        You can criticise the “long term plan” but I don’t think there is a long term plan, and that is why criticising the long term plan is pointless. But yes, should you criticise the govt for being short sighted and arbitrary, I have no problem with that.

        I was criticizing “long term plan” as used in Yuen’s comment. And you are debating me!

        “Keeping the Malays down” is not the long term plan that yuen is talking about. It is way too small in scope. It doesn’t answer questions about sustainability, the economy, livelihood, stuff like that. And more importantly, it’s a part of a plan that sticks out like a sore thumb, ie having a population of 5M while we have a transport infrastructure that is designed for 4M.

        You and yuen don’t get to decide the meaning of long term planning. If you want to use it in a way specific to your comments, then it has to be explained in the comment itself.

        Your concern is that people aren’t rebellious enough to question the long term plan. My concern is a little deeper than that, and it is similar to yuen’s concern: It is that there is no long term plan. If the government want to follow market ideology, that is reacting. That is not having a long term plan. If they want to react to foreigners criticising Singapore, that is not having a long term plan. Or they may want to try 101 new things and hope that enough of them succeed. That is also not a long term plan. My other concern is that even if they want to come up with a proper long term plan that addresses our issues, it’s going to be tougher to do it because resistance from the ground is stronger – which is also yuen’s point. But to me that is moot.

        This is another instance of creating an imagined opponent for scoring imagined debating points.

        What was the long term plan before it was lost? Go to the library and look up this book published 20 years ago, “the next lap”. I haven’t seen that one in a while but you should dig it up and compare it with the Singapore we have today.

        Don’t confuse rhetoric and propaganda for long term planning.

      • 26 octopi 13 July 2012 at 21:58

        Obviously we were talking about the long term vision of the establishment. Keep track of the conversation! What other interpretation of “long term vision” do you have? Who else does the planning in Singapore? Were we talking about planning in the context of anybody but the establishment?

        When I said, “If there are 4 or 5 different plans or if there are 4 or 5 parts that don’t fit, it is not long term planning, is it?” I meant “4 or 5 parts addressing different areas of life that don’t fit.” Because when you have 4 or 5 parts of the plan addressing different areas of life, you still have to check whether they are compatible with each other, don’t you? Unless I am talking to a harebrain who doesn’t understand planning?

        Yuen gets to decide the meaning of “long term planning” because he / she was the first to bring it up, you quibbled with him over it based on what you thought the term meant. And up till now, you still have not talked about what you meant by “long term planning”. It’s easy, very easy, to issue point by point rebuttals in order to detract from the main issue: what is your understanding of “long term planning”? What did you mean by “borg”?

        Oh, by the way, I did ask you this question some time ago: “what’s the plan?” And also related, “why is it so hard for you to answer a simple question like ‘what’s the plan?’ ”

        Somebody once gave that advice that you shouldn’t argue with stupid people because they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. I feel that I may be disregarding that advice here.

      • 27 octopi 13 July 2012 at 22:14

        Also, even though “rhetoric and propaganda” is not the same as long term planning, that book does tell you something about their intentions, and it is the first step to understanding exactly what it is that you want to criticise.

        Unless of course, I’m talking to somebody who doesn’t really want to know or understand what he’s criticising.

      • 28 Poker Player 14 July 2012 at 13:59

        So from “long term plans” to “intentions”. What a climbdown.

      • 29 Poker Player 14 July 2012 at 14:00

        “Unless of course, I’m talking to somebody who doesn’t really want to know or understand what he’s criticising.”

        Hey, you are the one confusing “long term planning” with “intentions”😉

      • 30 octopi 15 July 2012 at 14:50

        Plans and intentions are the same thing. When you look forward to the future, you call it a plan. When you look back at the plan from some point in the future, you call it an intention, because inevitably it never works out perfectly.

        I’m still very confused about your contention to yuen’s statement. Yuen said that in the past there was long term planning, and now we are losing this aspect. Looking back at what you have written, you seem to say at first that the government used to practice long term planning, and is still doing so. But later on you seem to say that it was never long term planning at all, but is instead “rhetoric and propaganda”.

      • 31 Poker Player 15 July 2012 at 15:16

        Plans and intentions are the same thing.

        LOL!!!!!!!!!!!

    • 32 Poker Player 12 July 2012 at 12:04

      Your problem is with Yuen.

      You say

      So there’s no long term plan for Singapore?

      Yuen says

      it reflects a general loss of social conscience and long term thinking, trends that are also visible in Singapore

      So what was it before it was “lost”?

      • 33 yuen 12 July 2012 at 17:20

        first, “lost” does not necessarily mean “all gone”, e.g., “I lost money in the stock market” means I have less money than before, not all money gone

        about “loss” of social conscience, I again refer you to YB’s article on public trashport – people used to litter less, now they little more

        about “loss” of long term thinking, I refer you to SMRT’s maintenance problem: the company got too wrapped up in making profits from retain space rental and neglected engineering aspects

        while these are individual examples, the phenomenon they represent is general

      • 34 Poker Player 13 July 2012 at 11:23

        A change in nature does not equate to loss.

      • 35 yuen 13 July 2012 at 12:09

        still quibbling for the sake of quibbling? I guess you actually enjoy doing this, and can afford the time to labour at obscure points with Octopi, YB, me, … during summer vacation

      • 36 octopi 13 July 2012 at 22:31

        Yah, labouring over obscure points. And the main point – “what exactly do you mean by long term planning” he refuses to answer.

        Well if “long term planning” changes in nature to “short term planning” we also say that there is a “loss in long term planning”, isn’t it? Unless you are using English that is different from us? Which I can’t tell unless you tell me what you mean by “long term planning”.

      • 37 Poker Player 14 July 2012 at 13:58

        It is not quibbling to at least these groups of people

        1) 13 year old boys discovering they are gay

        2) 13 year old girls with dreams knowing what was denied their mothers

        3) Young people brimming with ideas who know what was done in the name of long term planning

        4) People who suffered from “clandestine” “long term plans” – things that made it easy for the government’s publicly avowed “long term plans” also made it easy for their clandestine ones.

        It is quibbling for you and people like you. Not for others. I don’t see why your view that it is quibbling should be protected from claims that it is not for other by the “don’t pick on people” rule.

    • 38 octopi 12 July 2012 at 16:57

      By the way, you don’t really believe that “what makes you so clever to be questioning it all the time” means that I’m censoring you, do you? Or do you really look in the mirror before you criticise people for not distinguishing between different ideas?

      • 39 yuen 12 July 2012 at 17:25

        he has some kind of obsession here, for reasons obscure to me; YB has twice given him advice on this.

        (Alex: sorry I put my comment into the wrong box earlier; please delete that one)

      • 40 octopi 12 July 2012 at 20:49

        I don’t understand that guy at all. I’m a liberal, he’s a liberal, but I can’t stand him. I sense that you are a little more conservative than me but I still find you reasonable even though I don’t agree with everything you say.

        He should go back to playing cards!

      • 41 Poker Player 13 July 2012 at 11:29

        By the way, you don’t really believe that “what makes you so clever to be questioning it all the time” means that I’m censoring you, do you?

        Do you notice something.

        Both

        “what makes you so clever to be questioning it all the time”

        and

        means that I’m censoring you

        both came from you.

        Who are you responding to?

      • 42 Poker Player 13 July 2012 at 11:31

        And what was the advice?

        What do you call it when a comment is attacked not for its content but for its target😉

      • 43 Poker Player 13 July 2012 at 11:37

        Or do you really look in the mirror before you criticise people for not distinguishing between different ideas?

        I am different from you. You make a blanket claim here. Whereas when I criticize, it is specific to particular comments and I quote the part that I take issue with.

      • 44 Poker Player 13 July 2012 at 12:28

        he has some kind of obsession here, for reasons obscure to me;

        Why obscure? Anybody who reads blogs know that many are ignored and a handful attract readership and comments. Those that attract readership and comments do that because the content interests then either positively or negatively (as opposed to indifference) – and the comments reflect that. So is the readership and commentary of YB based on obsession?

      • 45 Poker Player 13 July 2012 at 12:48

        I sense that you are a little more conservative than me but I still find you reasonable even though I don’t agree with everything you say.

        Errmm … I am sure many people find YB reasonable but “don’t agree with everything” he says. One of the purposes of the comments section is for criticisms of the parts his readers disagree with.

      • 46 Poker Player 13 July 2012 at 12:49

        octopi to Yuen:

        I sense that you are a little more conservative than me but I still find you reasonable even though I don’t agree with everything you say.

        Errmm … I am sure many people find YB reasonable but “don’t agree with everything” he says. One of the purposes of the comments section is for criticisms of the parts his readers disagree with.

      • 47 octopi 13 July 2012 at 22:06

        No. “means that I am censoring you” came from you.

        When you take a part of the issue and criticise it, you always take it out of context without referring back to the original argument. That is why I never adopt your style of making many small comments. Because it is very cheap to wilfully misunderstand small portions and create a vague impression that there is something wrong here and there, without ever having to explain your exact position on the issue, or where you’re coming from. I seldom detect any coherent current behind your scatterbrained attacks.

      • 48 octopi 14 July 2012 at 03:57

        Poker player’s comment on:

        “I sense that you are a little more conservative than me but I still find you reasonable even though I don’t agree with everything you say.”

        Here’s a classic example of quoting somebody out of context. If you read the whole comment, you will realise that I’m not actually criticising yuen, I’m not actually barring him from saying what he thinks. Instead you will find that I am comparing poker player quite unfavourably with yuen.

        Quoting people out of context is something that you – for reasons best known to yourself – love to do.

      • 49 Poker Player 14 July 2012 at 13:47

        No. “means that I am censoring you” came from you.

        In which comment did I say that. Now you are just plain dishonest.

      • 50 Poker Player 14 July 2012 at 13:50

        Here’s a classic example of quoting somebody out of context. If you read the whole comment, you will realise that I’m not actually criticising yuen,

        Again imaginary opponents. I never said you were. It was to make the point:

        Errmm … I am sure many people find YB reasonable but “don’t agree with everything” he says. One of the purposes of the comments section is for criticisms of the parts his readers disagree with.

      • 51 Poker Player 14 July 2012 at 14:14

        but I can’t stand him.

        Can’t be helped. I am often the one who calls you out when you are obviously “winging it”.

      • 52 octopi 15 July 2012 at 15:02

        The censorship comment:

        https://yawningbread.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/might-mexicos-general-election-give-clues-to-singapores-future/#comment-16655

        I’m irritated with you because you make all sorts of conceptual errors, think you find a hole in my argument, and hop on it, and continue hopping on it long after it’s been shown that you’re wrong. Or you’re always quoting out of context.

        Regarding this non-sequitur:

        “Errmm … I am sure many people find YB reasonable but “don’t agree with everything” he says. One of the purposes of the comments section is for criticisms of the parts his readers disagree with.”

        I fail to see what that point you were trying to make is, unless you think that just because I disagree somewhat with a person, I’m going to write in and make a comment about it. If that were true I would have to write in and reply to every single comment. I don’t do that because I’m not a pain in the ass like poker player.

      • 53 Poker Player 15 July 2012 at 15:28

        You are saying

        The censorship comment:

        https://yawningbread.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/might-mexicos-general-election-give-clues-to-singapores-future/#comment-16655

        The actual text:

        Ermm .. this blog ..allows comments on articles…and comments on comments. When you question an article in your comment, your comment gets to be questioned too – it’s part of the deal – so what’s your problem?

        has the same meaning as this:

        means that I’m censoring you

        Wow!

        Notice that you yourself can’t bring yourself to believe it. Otherwise why didn’t you just quote the original but made up one instead?
        😉

        The word “censoring” appears first and no earlier than:

        https://yawningbread.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/might-mexicos-general-election-give-clues-to-singapores-future/#comment-16674

        Nice try. No amount of verbal acrobatics can hide your dishonesty.

      • 54 Poker Player 15 July 2012 at 15:36

        I fail to see what that point you were trying to make is, unless you think that just because I disagree somewhat with a person, I’m going to write in and make a comment about it. If that were true I would have to write in and reply to every single comment. I don’t do that because I’m not a pain in the ass like poker player.

        Which part was unclear? The comments section allows you to reply if you want to. Or don’t reply if you don’t want to reply.

        I choose to reply sometimes and not reply at other times. Which part was difficult to understand?

        Many comments do not get responses from me. What is your point again?

      • 55 octopi 16 July 2012 at 01:20

        “Which part was unclear? The comments section allows you to reply if you want to. Or don’t reply if you don’t want to reply.”

        In other words, the point you are trying to make is a banality?

      • 56 Poker Player 16 July 2012 at 12:48

        You quoted me:

        “Errmm … I am sure many people find YB reasonable but “don’t agree with everything” he says. One of the purposes of the comments section is for criticisms of the parts his readers disagree with.”

        This was the original banality – openly acknowledged by me as such – notice the – “Ermmm”.

        And you responded (!!!)


        I fail to see what that point you were trying to make is, unless you think that just because I disagree somewhat with a person, I’m going to write in and make a comment about it. If that were true I would have to write in and reply to every single comment. I don’t do that because I’m not a pain in the ass like poker player.

        So if what follows are all banalities – well – DUH!

  8. 57 Alternative 10 July 2012 at 17:17

    One possibility not discussed here about how a 2-party system could possibly come about here sooner rather than later, is through a split in the PAP. How much a reality this is, is anyone’s guess (though insiders might have a clearer picture), but it certainly cannot ruled out, especially after the former MM passes on.

    That said, I cynically believe that, regardless of who forms the govt here, we will get more or less the same.

  9. 58 Watch Mexico 11 July 2012 at 04:35

    http://lucas2012infos.wordpress.com/author/lucas2012infos/

    Ignored in the most mainstream media are the huge protests in the streets of Mexico. The people are robbed again from an elected president.

    The election campaign was full of protests and biased media attention for PRI ‘s presidential candidate Pena Nieto. The “President” Pena Nieto proclaimed himself winner before the election results where final. The voter fraud and buying votes have been not really researched yet, but the claims and evidence becomes even clearer. After massive protests and statements of fraud there was within one day a partial re-count. The irregularities were pronounced off the table after one day again the Pena Nieto proclaiming he was the one. This seems to be defying the power of the Mexican people. Whilst the real voting results and re-count can only be official after 6 september 2012 it is strange again that the re-count in full is not completed and the president proclaimed twice.

    The streets have seen masses of students protesting against this undemocratic election and behaviour. It becomes evident that issues of self-proclaimed leaders and politicians taken power without honouring their constitution and people is a recurring problem. Vote rigging and buying, media manipulation it is all to see even in so-called bastions of “democracy”. Therefore watch Mexico!

  10. 59 r0bT 12 July 2012 at 03:02

    I am a keen follower of your blog, Alex, but one very crucial distinction is that the political stakeholders are considerably more diverse and independent in Mexico. A few people mention the scandal involving Enrique Peña Neto and the Televisa network. It would be hard to envisage a scenario that involves the state broadcaster giving a hand to the non-establishment candidate.

  11. 60 JPG 12 July 2012 at 10:25

    @Watch Mexico:

    Please do not trust all that is reported in the news.

    The protest was only on one day, the day after the election has finished. There was only 50,000 students protesting (out of the 25 million population here in Mexico City). I think that hardly count as “massive”.

    Besides, the protests were from many different groups of students. There were groups of students waving the rainbow flags, and some students carrying their school flags. It felt more like a rag day than a protest.

    For your information, the protest was organised by the PRD losing candidate. The same candidate organised a similar protest after he lost the 2006 election. It feels more like history repeating itself more than anything else.

  12. 61 thexcuriousxwanderer 13 July 2012 at 05:03

    I’m really sorry I didn’t have enough time to read the above posts.

    But seriously if you truly followed Mexican politics you wouldn’t have even written this. Pena Nieto’s election was a joke. You can check out the videos on Pena Nieto visiting Ibero (and hiding in the toilet) and his umm lack of visit to other schools due to additional terms after the incident (which is really a joke). Google “atenco no se olvida” and you will find out why a lot of the educated people don’t like him. Apparently videos of people storming Soriano (a big supermarket chain in Mexico) with vouchers the next have been circulating around. It is no secret he has been buying votes and i just read AMLO has just launched a court appeal.

    Most of what I know was from my time discussing politics with locals there. A fair disclaimer would be that I am a supporter of AMLO and have his campaign sticker lol. But to compare their politics with Singapore is really quite bad.

    I am more interested to see Mexican politics as the influence of media over voter choices. Pena Nieto has very close connections with the media, and so despite his incompetence and lack of moral character he can still be elected president. Is democracy the way forward for countries like Mexico, or other less educated populations?

  13. 62 yawningbread 16 July 2012 at 17:45

    Enough. I am stopping the exchange between Poker Player and Octopi. No more comments on this thread from these two will be permitted here.


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