Archive for the 'politics and government' Category



General election 2015: Huge win for PAP signals stasis

They prevailed in the end

They prevailed in the end

Securing almost 70% of valid votes cast, the huge win by the People’s Action Party (PAP) must have left nearly all observers stunned. During the campaign itself, no one I know seemed to have even imagined, let alone predicted, such a result.

This outcome should be highly revealing of the Singapore electorate. It may be too early to say exactly what it reveals, but it certainly is an important data-point. I shall make some guesses in this essay. Continue reading ‘General election 2015: Huge win for PAP signals stasis’

A mixed proportional and SMC electoral system

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While we wait for the general election results this evening, let me plug my ideas for reform of the electoral system. My proposals aim to address these present weaknesses:

One of the biggest bugbears of voters is that in many constituencies, they cannot stomach the idea of voting for one party, yet the alternative available to them in their constituency is nearly as unpalatable. This is the siamese twin to the fear that three-cornered fights are likely to give the advantage to the People’s Action Party. So pro-opposition people clamour for opposition parties to avoid three-cornered fights, but in so doing, it leads to the above, where in some constituencies, voters are faced with lousy choices.  Continue reading ‘A mixed proportional and SMC electoral system’

Why we need a larger opposition presence in parliament, part 2

After the close of the last SDP rally, a long queue forms , to buy a book by Chee Soon Juan and to have it autographed (at bottom left corner of photo)

After the close of the last SDP rally, a long snaking queue forms , to buy a book by Chee Soon Juan and to have it autographed (at bottom left corner of photo)

From Part 1.

Just before this election campaign began, a friend shared with me some thoughts about the performance of opposition MPs in the last parliament. He wasn’t criticising them, just voicing aloud his relative disappointment that through the last four years there had not been more in-depth debate about the issues. Continue reading ‘Why we need a larger opposition presence in parliament, part 2’

Why we need a larger opposition presence in parliament, part 1

One last photo of the rally stage as the election campaign comes to an end

One last photo of the rally stage as the election campaign comes to an end

The differences may be subtle because the general themes are similar, but the three opposition parties which have more than a sliver of a chance of winning a constituency (in other words, excluding the no-hopers) have distinct approaches to campaigning.

The Workers’ Party’s main angles we’re all familiar with by now. They’ve been very consistent in arguing that it is good for Singapore to have more opposition members of parliament for check and balance, and as insurance in case the PAP government takes a seriously wrong turn. In their speeches, they highlight the many areas where PAP policies have shown themselves to be troubling, as a reminder to voters that it would be unwise to give the PAP a blank cheque. Continue reading ‘Why we need a larger opposition presence in parliament, part 1’

Two rallies at the edge of civilisation

NSP rally at Admiralty

NSP rally at Admiralty

With eight parties competing — nine if one includes the Democratic Progressive Party whose members teamed up with the Singapore People’s Party in Bishan-Toa Payoh — there weren’t enough nights to cover all parties’ rallies. So, Tuesday night, despite hazy conditions, I decided to hop over to two. The two I chose were in pretty remote locations — a half-deliberate choice because I wanted to see if difficulty of access had a severe effect on crowd size. Continue reading ‘Two rallies at the edge of civilisation’

The general election campaign so far: demographic and media landscape

Checking his selfie while at a rally

Checking his selfie while at a rally

Since 2006, independent blogs and social media have become significant channels of information for voters. Video is now here as a major medium. In response, the mainstream media are having to give more (and fairer) coverage to opposition parties, but they are still notable for skewing. Continue reading ‘The general election campaign so far: demographic and media landscape’

The general election campaign so far: the talent balance

Four of five Workers'Party candidates in Marine Parade are new. L-R: Terence Tan and He Ting Ru are lawyers; Firuz Khan is a corporate manager; Yee Jenn Jong is an education entrepreneur, Dylan Foo is a banking professional.

Four of five Workers’ Party candidates in Marine Parade are new. L-R: Terence Tan and He Ting Ru are lawyers; Firuz Khan is a corporate manager; Yee Jenn Jong is an education entrepreneur, Dylan Foo is a banking professional.

The news cycle shortens very much during an election campaign. What was notice-worthy a few weeks ago is now taken for granted.

In the lead-up to Nomination Day, the Workers’ Party introduced a number of new candidates whose qualifications, careers and professional standing would be the kind that, as recently as ten years ago, one automatically associated with the People’s Action Party (PAP). This step-up in the quality of this party’s candidates is part of longer trend, having brought in Chen Show Mao and Pritam Singh in 2011. Continue reading ‘The general election campaign so far: the talent balance’

The general election campaign so far: the issues

Abdillah Zamzuri speaking at a rally in Bishan-Toa Payoh, where the Singapore People's Party and the Democratic Progressive Party are fielding a joint team

Abdillah Zamzuri speaking at a rally in Bishan-Toa Payoh, where the Singapore People’s Party and the Democratic Progressive Party are fielding a joint team

At about halfway through our extremely short election campaign period, there has been no major surprise. Perhaps more importantly, no major blunder by any politician yet. It is proving to be a hard slog of a contest for all parties. My initial sense of the likely outcome remains unchanged. I don’t think the vote share nation-wide will be much different this time from the general election of 2011, where the People’s Action Party (PAP) obtained 60.1% of valid votes. Continue reading ‘The general election campaign so far: the issues’

The choice between ‘Wear White’ and those dressed in white

The crowd at the SDP rally (3 Sep 2015) at its peak, while party Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan was speaking, approx 9:26pm

The crowd at the SDP rally (3 Sep 2015) at its peak, while party Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan was speaking, approx 9:26pm

Unless new information comes in that casts a whole new light on what information is currently at hand, voters in Marsiling-Yew Tee constituency who are keen on a progressive, tolerant Singapore may want to signal their views by voting against the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) team.

I know John Tan and Wong Souk Yee personally and I have a high regard for both. They too are standing in Marsiling-Yew Tee. It is not easy for me to take the position I am now taking, but it is a matter of deep principle. Such is the nature of the group representation system that we sometimes have to make hard choices. Continue reading ‘The choice between ‘Wear White’ and those dressed in white’

How Bukit Batok came to have three corners

Independent candidate Samir Salim Neji

Independent candidate Samir Salim Neji

Out of nowhere, an independent candidate popped up to contest the Bukit Batok single-member constituency (SMC). His presence greatly upset some Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) supporters who were expecting a straight fight between their candidate Sadasivam Veriyah and the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) David Ong. This made Bukit Batok one of three SMCs that will see three-cornered fights this general election. Continue reading ‘How Bukit Batok came to have three corners’


Later this year, Yawning Bread will mark its 20th anniversary

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