Archive Page 3

Singapore Solidarity: Constitutional reform to pave way for a better democracy

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Guest essay by Dasan

Singaporeans want a democracy. This is clearly seen in the enthusiasm that voters of Tanjong Pagar exhibited when they cast their votes. The large rally crowds are also a testament to this. But the results just don’t tally. Continue reading ‘Singapore Solidarity: Constitutional reform to pave way for a better democracy’

Musings from the general election campaign: race, language and religion

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At one of the election rallies, I met an American who moved to Singapore only a year earlier. Of course he didn’t have the vote, but he was curious what election rallies were like. I had met him before, and so went up to him to say, hi.

He was glad to see me as he had a question he didn’t know whom to ask. “Will they ever speak in English?” was the question.

I laughed. “Why do you ask? What’s been happening since you got here?” Continue reading ‘Musings from the general election campaign: race, language and religion’

General election 2015: Two opposition parties withstood the rout better than the rest

Feeling depressed by election results? Try retail therapy

Feeling depressed by election results? Try retail therapy

I came across a Facebook post that said quality candidates don’t mean a thing. It was probably written in frustration at the dismal results by opposition parties in this 2015 general election. The Workers’ Party had fielded several candidates whose credentials wouldn’t look out of place on the People’s Action Party (PAP) slate. The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) had Paul Tambyah, a professor of infectious diseases. Yet, neither party improved its position in this election, the argument went.

A closer analysis of the numbers would debunk this assertion. Continue reading ‘General election 2015: Two opposition parties withstood the rout better than the rest’

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’



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