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…

Political Leadership For a New Global Order

July 5, 2008 | The Straits Times

TABLE TALK: WITH FAREED ZAKARIA

How might Singapore deal with a world in which people are richer than ever before and many players are jostling for supremacy? The editor of Newsweek International, Dr Fareed Zakaria, proffers his thoughts

By Cheong Suk-Wai, Senior Writer

What Singapore has done very adroitly is to have moved up the value chain – to have said that ‘okay, we can’t compete with other countries in cheap labour, and so we’re going to do value-added products, we’re going to try services, we can compete (in) these areas, we’re going to move to the next level’.’

He applauds the Republic’s ‘very clever’ forays into such areas as tourism, film-making and software design. And all this, on top of managing good relations with both the United States and China, he notes admiringly.

But he adds that Singapore is the only rich country in the world without a fully functioning multi-party democracy. That will hobble its advance in the long run, he believes, because people ‘want not only economic rights, but also freedom of association, freedom of speech and freedom of thought’.

‘You may get lucky with a particular autocrat, but what happens after him?…If you could guarantee me in advance that you’ll get Lee Kuan Yew, that’s a whole different thing. But there’s no way beforehand to know that you’re going to get a leader like Lee Kuan Yew.’

He adds wryly, wondering whether this would get into print: ‘I think that the political system is rigged in favour of the People’s Action Party (PAP). Some of it is formal…Some of it is informal. But all of it is largely unnecessary.’

Singapore is already ‘a very open society in many ways’, he points out. ‘I often say this to people because they have an image of Singapore which is essentially incorrect…It is a place where you would certainly feel as if you had many, many freedoms and liberties…It has been lucky in having very wise leadership.’

But it has to widen its political outlook much more, he insists.

Read the full article here>>>