My post-GE2015 thoughts: The aftermath

GE2015

Although I had been expecting the RULING PARTY to retain dominance, but I wasn’t expecting that their overall popularity would bumped up to 69.9%.

With the benefit of looking from the GE trend from 2011 and now, it is more clear that the people wants the PAP as long as they are listening and are for the people.

This tells me that majority of Singaporeans would stick to the one-party rule system as long as it’s the PAP and it’s working. They aren’t looking for change in terms of a more democratic system as most of us thought so from GE2011.

After GE2011, PAP responded in an effective and timely manner before GE2015 and they made sure we knew they listened. And I must add that their move to take full advantage of SG50 and NDR to appeal to our hearts look to have paid off.

PAP went all out

It’s interesting to note that Vivian Balakrishnan and Lim Swee Say were singled out and praised by PM Lee during NDR before the elections and they were both in the hotly contested GRCs. So that shows PAP was well ahead in preparation for the elections.

This GE, the PAP did not just go for the minds and hearts of the people, but also went all out against their contest. A stark contrast to last GE2011 where they displayed complacency. A good example is how they have used social media to engage voters. A lesson they learnt from GE2011.

So despite the gerrymandering, that already gives them an advantage, I fully commend them for the great effort poured in to earn our mandate. Congrats!

Reflect and regroup for the opposition 

For the OPPOSITION, there’s a lot more work needed to be done in becoming a credible party. For a start, do not position yourself as an anti-PAP party. Please la… Winning by hatred votes won’t get you far. Work harder on finding credible reasons for Singaporeans to want to trust you.

Also please be more strategic when you field candidates. It has to be more than just credentials and heart. Study and understand the demographics of the voters in the area you are contesting, and put candidates that voters can easily build affinity to.

If you lack candidates, please aim small la… Focus on winning on a SMC first then gradually work your way up. Get a seat first better than no seat right?

We know the political conditions are not favourable for the opposition. Hence, there’s an extra need to do more and show more substance in how and what the party can contribute in a tangible manner to Singapore. No more lofty ideas and hot air talk.

The trend and results show that Singaporeans won’t vote for the opposition for the sake of opposing.

Thirdly, please harness the power of the social media to engage more with voters to discuss and sell your ideas. Do capitalise on this platform to gain credibility by showing what you are doing on the ground. Learn from LHL and his team.

They learnt from GE 2011, but some how (with the exception of SDP) you did not.

Moving forward as a people

To us VOTERS, PAP is not = Singapore. No party is bigger than Singapore and we cannot keep looking at our past and not aspire for a better future. Playing safe does not keep us safe.

On the contrary, it is more dangerous to play safe as we won’t evolve and become relevant (while retaining our values) in an ever changing world. But of cos, if the incumbent party is able to produce progressive leadership, then that’s alright.

Also do know that “opposition” does not mean anti establishment or anti PAP. But I understand this notion is further reinforced by the sort of opposition candidates that are borderline crazy or psycho.

Standing on the opposition camp means having an alternative view or philosophy. However, the goal is the same of that to make Singapore better and stronger.

So it would do well for us if we respect a diversity of views and move to a collaborative stance where we do not leave any Singaporean behind.

Majulah Singapura!

Lastly, its easy to forget that Singapore is considered young as a sovereign nation at 50 years old. There’s still a long way for us to grow.

Borrowing a line from Deputy PM Tharman, one thing is for sure we are growing and building from a place of strength and not weakness. There is hope for our future!

So let’s continue onwards and United as one people. Majulah Singapura!

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My Read of the Month:

Title: A Nation Cheated
Author: Chee Soon Juan
Published: 2008
Genre: Singapore Politics
Ratings: 3.7 out of 5 stars

Without a doubt Dr Chee Soon Juan cuts a very controversial figure in Singapore politics. Some respect him while some or most loathe him, especially for his confrontational antics with civil disobedience.

However, we cannot deny that this man’s fortitude in standing for his democratic beliefs in spite of the constant hammering dished out by our PAP leaders baffles many of us. And it did provoke me to consider about this man’s intentions and aspirations for Singapore and to read this book.

This book surmises Singapore’s political history (based on historical records) and how the PAP came into absolute power that it is today. And unlike what we were mostly told by the media and in schools, Dr Chee attempts to present the untold version of the PAP’s unscrupulous mannerism in usurping power using the ISA to detain political opponents.

Many of these political opponents were imprisoned without trial as long as 25 years. One notable character whom should have been Singapore’s first prime minister was the late Lim Chin Siong. He was a respected leader of the masses who valiantly fought for the rights of Singaporeans and their desire for independence from the British rule.

Interestingly, he was against the meager with Malaysia. That allegedly led him to be detained by the ISA on grounds that he was a communist. He was locked up twice on accusations for his communist links but was never trialed and convicted. He was subsequently banished to London in 1969 and only allowed to return 10 years later.

With Lim and an opposition out of the way, Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP took control of the independent press and active trade union movement. And they say the rest is history. In 1996, Lim passed away unceremoniously.

Not everything in this book is about the late Lim, but his story and his fate is pivotal in how the tide turned in favour for the PAP to reign. The rest of the book recounts the history of the degenerating of our labour laws; the dependency of MNCs and use of GLCs; and the transparency of our sovereign wealth funds with Temasek Holdings and GIC.

Overall, this book appeals even to the average man on the street. It shares the other side of history which has been blacked out. So one ought to read with an open and discerning mind, and conclude for yourself the true Singapore story.

And the truth is important,  for history defines who we are as a people, and don’t we wonder why there is no true identity or true sense of belonging as a Singaporean?

Who should read it: All Singaporeans and anyone who’s interested in the making of Singapore’s success.

Thoughts on the Singapore GE 2011

Below is one of the best personal commentaries on Singapore’s politics and the elections that I’ve read. Best in terms of objectivity, humility, full knowledge (not half-truths) of history, Christian’s view, balanced and especially humanity. Please read on.

Even though I’m against the PAP, I do recognize that in the past the PAP has had to make hard decisions and they’ve had to pass unpopular policies for the benefit of the country.

Governing a country is certainly not easy. Some decisions are hard decisions, but they need to be made nevertheless. So I do think that in general the PAP has had the right intentions.

They are not out to enrich themselves and they have no intention to make the poor suffer. They are well-qualified people with our interests at heart.

As yet, I wouldn’t trust an opposition government to make the right decisions. I believe the opposition candidates have bigger hearts, but I don’t believe there are enough with the experience and knowledge to understand the complexity of decisions involved and to make the difficult “non-populist” decision when needed.

On the other hand, while the PAP have lots of talented people, that in no way means they always make the right decisions that are best for Singapore. And that is the great problem with a one-party dominated parliament. There may be debates within the party, but that’s not good enough.

We need more voices and alternatives to be discussed publicly, not just behind closed doors.

Read the full blog post here>>>

GE 2011: My reflections… part 1

For me, the General Elections’ results carry a mix of emotions- one of euphoric delight which is matched with indescribable sadness at the same time.

Not to mention the deep injustice of how the electoral process and contest are carried out.

Firstly, I’m delighted over the overall outcome of the elections. This GE finally marked a victory for the opposition and for Singaporeans who do not connect with an authoritarian-style government.

History was made when almost all constituencies (except one) were contested for the first time since independence. PAP didn’t win easily as it did in previous elections which was marked by massive walkovers.

More importantly, the opposition namely the Worker’s Party (WP) secured 6 seats in parliament with 81-6 with PAP the majority. Again, this is the record highest number of seats for the opposition since independence.

But the highlight has to be the historical breakthrough win of Aljunied GRC by WP. The first GRC ever to be won by the oppositon since the GRC system was introduced in 1988.

However the pursued of democracy in Singapore was dealt a heavy blow where Mr Chiam See Tong was ousted by the PAP team in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

This was further aggravated with the marginal defeat (by 114 votes) of the Potong Pasir SMC to the PAP after 27 years. Now Chiam, the longest serving oppositioon is out of parliament.

What is upsetting was the 242 spoilt votes that were made in Potong Pasir SMC. Though the votes if had been decided could have cut both ways. At least the results would have been undisputed.

I hope this can be a lesson for those who had spoilt their votes not to do so the next time. Be responsible and make a decision.

That said, the votes of 2011 for the future of Singapore speaks a lot about our voters. This is what I’ve learnt:

  1. Singaporeans are rationale and pragmatic voters. They do not vote for opposition for the sake of an opposition in the name of democracy at the expense of poltical or economic instability. (Observation: From election results of SPP in spite of the overwhelming support of oppositions at rallies and 27 years in Potong Pasir ward).
  2. Voters do want a credible opposition towards a first world parliament. If oppositions can field better quality candidates than the ruling party, chances are high to win their votes. (Observation: From the Aljunied win which I believe was helped by the introduction of Chen Show Mao).
  3. Most voters fall in the middle-income group. Hence, more educated and affluent. Therefore, they cannot be cowed by dangling ‘carrots’ of upgrading and etc… (Observation: From the defiance of dismissing Lee Kuan Yew’s threats).
  4.  The demographics of the voters have changed with the addition of Gen Y. Hence the chasm between the incumbent and voters has widened. No longer can the PAP use old tactics to engage and win seats. (Observation: From the online protests and swelling of support towards the opposition when smeared with media attacks).

To be continued…

A Door Cracks Open in the Little Red Dot

With Singapore in the midst of a historical elections, I would like to reproduce an interesting observation of our current political landscape made by a foreign expert.

The PAP is staring at the beginning of the end in this election.

The opposition has organized, mobilized and taken advantage of the limited political space afforded to it by the manipulated electoral system.

The PAP has reacted slowly and awkwardly to the opposition’s energetic display.

It therefore sits on the horns of a dilemma: accept that power sharing is inevitable over the short term and rotation in government office is quite possible within a few years (or at least much sooner than expected), or use its election victory to reassert its political supremacy, by force if necessary, over pretenders to its throne.

That will influence the context in which the power struggles following Lew Kuan Yew’s death will occur, which in turn will determine whether or not the slow process of authoritarian liberalization will continue or be halted.

At that point the moment of truth will have arrived for a country struggling with its identity as a modern bridge between East and West.

Read the full article here>>>