Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Does PAP really care about Rational and Informed Voters' Choices?

Prime Minister Lee took the trouble to announce the new electoral rule of "cooling off period" half a globe away recently. The main reason is that PAP is afraid that voters will vote irrationally after being emotionally charged in opposition rallies the day before.

PAP actually preempted questions about such act as self-serving by pointing out that there are other places who practice such cooling off period as well. However, Singapore is a rather unique political entity with its mass media being ranked side by side with many ill-democratic third world countries. How could it make comparisons to first world political entities in this instance? There are certain pre-requisites for such rule to be applied FAIRLY. Singapore will fail for the two conditions:

1) An independent Press. All local press is tightly controlled by the government via holding controlling management shares in these entities.

2) Independence of civil service and statutory boards. PAP has openly declared that PAP = government and government = PAP in the past. It would mean that it will not see itself differently from the civil service and statutory boards. Even the tax-payer financed People's Association has shamelessly declared that it has symbiotic ties with PAP as the ruling party.

It is only reasonable to expect PAP to utilize all the machineries under its control to do up last minute campaigning on its behalf. eg. getting grassroot organizations like RC and CCC to canvass for votes on their behalf. PAP candidates who are usually appointed as heads of such organizations could well attend all activities organized by these organizations during that cooling-off day to continue their campaigning under the guise of "grassroot activities". It has happened before in 2006 whereby PAP candidates have been attending various activities organized by PA grassroot organizations during election campaigning time.

Thus it is only reasonable to conclude that such electoral rules under such ill-democratic political system here in Singapore is only self serving for PAP.

If PAP is that serious about rational and informed voters' choice during polling time, it should have declared the election date 3 or even 6 months in advanced. This is to allow the mass media to give enough exposure to each political parties the opportunities to present their parties' positions on various political issues so to allow voters to have closer scrutiny on them.

Most modern democracies, even parliamentary democracies, have stipulated dates for elections well in advanced. The practice of announcing snap elections just less than 4 weeks before going to poll is not an act that augur well with the notion that the ruling party is concerned about "emotional" or even "irrational" voting.

Workers Party Chief MP Low Thia Khiang has it right on the dot that PAP could use its position as the government to make additional announcement on policies to counter opposition parties' attacks on its past policies failures in its effort to sway voters opinion. This will not be surprising as PAP has always put that arrogant view that Singapore government = PAP and vice versa. I mean it could only happen in Singapore that a ruling party could arrogantly announce that voters will only have priority in HDB upgrading as means pork barrel politicking even before the elections is being concluded!

I mean, slightly more than 50% of seats have been contested in GE 2006 but yet, PAP has been putting out such arrogant call to voters that they will only get priority in various government upgrading services if and only if they voted for them! Does PAP really care about "rational" and informed choices? Apparently not. They are only interested in "FEARED" and "SCARED" votes, that's all.

This is all evident with the track record of PAP's past campaigning, right from 1988 to 2006. Their only campaigning tactic is to take one opposition candidate as whipping boy and start to use all machineries available to go into gutter politics of painting them black, putting labels on them etc. 1988, Francis Seow targeted as "womanizer". 1991, Jufrie as "Malay Chauvinist". 1997, Tang Liang Hong as "Chinese Chauvinist". 2001 Dr Chee as "liar" and the "where is our money" saga. 2006, the all famous James Gomez saga.

They have never been interested to debate on important policy issues at all, except of throwing out pork barrel politicking threats of no HDB upgrading if Singaporeans do not vote for them. Does this track record speak well of PAP's concerns about "rational" and "informed" voters' choice? Apparently not. Their past actions and records for the past 20 years in electioneering is all about Scare Tactic, personal attacks on opponents and mudslinging. What "rationality" are we talking about here? There is no rational live TV debates on various issues because PAP has declined all challenges to live TV debates. PAP did not fight on the platform of debating on any policy issues raised by the opposition parties.

If PAP is really interested in "rational" voting, then I would suggest that the last day of campaigning should be reserved for national LIVE TV policy debates being carried out in replacement of mass rallies. That would be a last campaigning methodology that would be FAIR to everybody, including voters as well as contestants.

But I seriously doubt that PAP will take up this challenge because they are not really politicians that could argue and debate well in public places. They could only live in the comfort of their ivory towers making policies with a very narrow perspective without the need of the true baptism of political challenge by anyone else.

It seems to be a forgone conclusion that such self serving, unfair rule will set in for the next elections. One intriguing question is why now? Has the ground shifted to such dangerous zone that PAP needs such added mechanism to ensure that it will not lose more seats?

The whole package of electoral changes is of great interests. I remember that the Prime Minister has mentioned in GE 2006 that he will have problem in finding time to deal (pardon his exact word "fix") with a parliament that has 10 or more opposition members. But now, we are seeing PAP increasing the number of NCMP, practically the number of opposition members to 9! Why?

The key lies with the so call P65 voters. PAP has shown its worry over those voters who are born after 1965. This group of voters have not gone through the political turmoil of the 1950s and most importantly, have not enjoyed full benefits from the economic success of the 1970s as well as cheap REAL SUBSIDIZED HDB flats.

By the time they are ready to buy a HDB flat to form up their family unit, they found themselves paying 6 or even 10 times more than their parents just for a decent, sometimes smaller, HDB flat. They are the ones who suffered the brunt of 1998 financial crisis, 2003 economic downturn due to SARS and the present financial crisis.

This group of voters are relatively well educated than their parents. They are more internet savvy and apparently, more demanding on the government of the day. They are more worldly traveled and well learned in what is happening overseas. Most importantly they will form more than 50% of the voters cohort by next elections and they will be the main force behind any "Swing Votes".

Although PAP understand the "potential danger" of this group of P65 voters swinging against them, but it seems that they do not really understand the fundamental needs of this group of voters. The PAP didn't understand what they desire to see in an elections.

This group of voters will not vote blindly for any opposition candidates, neither will they succumb to PAP's scare tactics and unfair electoral practices. Most importantly they value FAIR PLAY as well as a good balance of power. They are definitely not that kind of "irrational voters" that PAP wants to subdue by having that cooling off period. They are ready to take the chance of voting for opposition parties if they are convinced that the candidates are passionate and decent in pursuing their political cause. They are very rational voters who understand their priorities in making political choices.

PAP's change of the election rule may backfire on them as it would be regarded as an unfair practice as well as an insult to this group of voters' intelligence. Any pork barrel politicking will fail badly on this group of voters. This group of voters wanted to see more policy debates, not mudslinging during elections. This group of P65 voters wanted more FAIR rules and treatment to all political parties. If they cannot get fair reporting from the mainstream media, they will definitely turn to alternative sources of information which will include but not limited to the new media.

If there is a "cooling off period" without a balance of information feed, most likely this group of P65 voters will turn to the internet for information. This may not be a bad thing for opposition parties and will definitely backfire on PAP.

I am not really against the idea of cooling off period suggested by PM Lee basically because I think it is going to be advantageous to the opposition movement. Of course the PAP will make sure that they will have the last say in the whole campaigning by using all means to bombard the voters with all sorts of messages during the eve of polling day, but I have confident in our matured voters to be more sophisticated than what PAP think they are.

The only musing I have gained from this saga is to witness how naive and irrelevant PAP is. Action speaks for itself. PAP has never been concerned about "rationality" or keeping voters well "INFORMED" of all the choices they could have. Whoever is advising them on this scheme has totally missed the point about the potential P65 Swing voters. What they want is more policy debates, not some dubious "cooling off" period.

I always tell my little daughter that if she always insists in winning each and every games she plays by changing every rules favorable to her, she must well don't play any. Win and loss are just a norm for any game. It seems that PAP is behaving like a kid who only want to win in every political contests they participate in. Going to the extend of changing all boundaries and rules to maximize their chances of winning. Why do they need to be so burdened in doing all these things? No matter what they say, almost everyone in Singapore understand deep in their hearts that this is just another "Kiasu" (afraid to lose) rule that they are putting in to safe guard their own interests.

I will give the same advice to PAP as I did to my daughter. Just don't need to continue this silly contest since what perceived by PAP as "rational" is just, vote for PAP. Just turn this country's constitution into a Monarchy with all members being appointed by the Monarch. That will save a lot of trouble for the PM Lee in wasting his time trying to "fix" opposition. Save a lot of money and resources in conducting such an election with farce rules. Then maybe we will declare Singaporeans will live happily forever thereafter.

Goh Meng Seng


cy said...

football match, kampung boys against rich kids with biased referee and add to the fact that goalpost can move. lucky, no kelong own goal.

who want to watch such a match? fans will demand ticket refund or boycott match. but if forced to watch it, sensible fans will root for underdog.

Anonymous said...

Bravo. Well said.

Its a sad day for our incumbent political party if this bill is passed.

Goes to show what kind of morals and ethics our current leaders have to even propose such a rule. So fixated with securing their positions forever and neglecting the reason why they were even voted in , in the first place.

Well, I guess serving Singapore & its citizens are not their priority after all.


We need to vote in people who are passionate about serving the people and not our current leaders, who would otherwise have join the private sector if not for the $$mil $$ perks.

Anonymous said...

Gods mill grinds slow but sure........................................