Archive for September, 2015

Never too early to be conned in politics

September 30, 2015

I refer to the 30 Sept 2015 Straits Times letter “Never too early to learn about politics” by 16 year old student Yeo Jen-Lin.

Jen-Lin wrote:

In the lead-up to the recent general election, my parents took me to rallies held by the People’s Action Party, Singapore Democratic Party, Singaporeans First and Workers’ Party.

They wanted me to hear and see for myself what policies and values the parties promoted and represented.

A month before going to the rallies, I accompanied my father and his friend to a few Meet-the-People sessions.

Again, my parents wanted me to experience being “on the ground”, to know the everyday problems faced by some of the middle- and working-class Singaporeans, and to develop empathy for others.

These were eye-opening experiences.

It was evident from the rallies that many people wished to listen to what the opposition had to say.

The large crowds at the opposition rallies, however, did not translate into votes in the end. This was an important takeaway for me, as social media did not seem to reflect that.

Having witnessed the everyday problems faced by Singaporeans, Jen-Lin should ask himself whether or not government policies are working fine and whether alternative policies might better address those problems.

Jen-Lin should not mistake large crowds at opposition rallies as indication that many people wish to listen to what the opposition has to say because the crowds never amount to anything more than 10,000 which is only a tiny fraction of the 1.2 million voting population.

The fact that social media doesn’t reflect overall voters’ choice doesn’t mean that social media is therefore wrong because history has shown that it is possible for the majority of the population to be wrong as had happened in wartime Germany and Japan.

Jen-Lin wrote:

It is vital that Singapore youth keep abreast of the local political scene, as it will soon be their turn to vote.

Having knowledge of local politics, and some awareness of regional and global current affairs, will help us make informed decisions based on balanced perspectives.

We cannot simply stay in our comfort zone and rely on social media for information and perspectives.

As far as possible, we should be involved with our community.

In this way, we can learn what is happening on the ground in Singapore.

How does Jen-Lin ensure that his understanding of regional and global current affairs would necessarily be balanced since most commentaries on such events come from traditional mass media which is controlled by the government?

Even something as innocuous as community involvement may subconsciously colour Jen-Lin’s political perspectives as government politics has infiltrated many community organisations. Even religious organisations and churches have openly declared support for PAP and are no longer neutral.

Against such odds, Jen-Lin should ask himself whether or not it is healthy for Singapore politics that opposition voice is largely confined to social media which is severely underfunded, limited in reach and cannot compete with traditional mass media. Does Jen-Lin ever wonder why would a government whose policies are so flawless and defensible have the need to exclude opposition criticisms from traditional mass media?

Reply to TR Emeritus post “My sister rapped me”

September 27, 2015

I refer to the 24 Sept 2015 TR Emeritus post “My sister rapped me” by Mr Patrick.

The 1.5 km covered walkway, community club, library, karaoke lounge and swimming pool are all built using public funds. Any political party that runs the government, not just the PAP, will have access to these public funds to construct these facilities and amenities. So there’s no reason why Sylvia Lim can’t build these amenities if she ever is in charge. In fact, it is the HDB, URA or the Ministry of Community Development, not the PAP that plans and builds these public amenities for the whole country and whose good work should continue regardless of which political party is in charge.

Every ministry is headed by a permanent secretary who should be of such high calibre that he does not need a minister to tell him what to do. The minister’s role is essentially not so much of a technocrat but that of a citizen elected representative who ensures that the ministry works for the interests of the people. Many ministers like Mr Tharman were former civil servants who would have performed just as effectively in a permanent secretary role.

We shouldn’t fault Ms Lim’s abilities simply because she failed to make eye contact. Not everyone who makes good eye contact will turn out to be true and honest. Similarly, we should appreciate that Chen Show Mao’s abilities are severely underutilized in an estate management role when he should be wheeling and dealing at the international level. There is no reason why 28 WP MPs would lead the country into trouble when there are more than 28 PAP MPs who contributes nothing, sleeps through or regularly absents themselves from parliament.

We may detest those who scold the government but we should not forget that it was through their scolding that the Pioneer Package finally arrived after 50 years. Instead of faulting Jeyaratnam’s poor public speaking skills, we should take it upon ourselves to understand the words of wisdom he has taken the trouble to pen down. They are wise words you won’t hear from PAP or read in mainstream media.

Singaporeans like Mr Patrick’s sister should stop their obsession with comparing ourselves with our poorer neighbours because such comparisons are essentially misplaced because:

• Singapore was already the richest in Southeast Asia since colonial days. We had the third highest per capita GDP in the whole of Asia (Penn World Tables) back in 1965. We didn’t prevail over our neighbours only after independence, we have been prevailing over our neighbours since colonial times but this fact has largely been forgotten after 50 years of PAP indoctrination. The King of Siam wouldn’t have sent his sons to Singapore to study if we weren’t already superior to Thailand during colonial days.

• Culturally, Singapore is not so much Southeast Asian but East Asian instead. That is why economists have always grouped us together with Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea as one of Four East Asian tiger economies. We are never known as a Southeast Asian tiger economy. Israel is never compared with its Middle Eastern neighbours because it is understood that the Israeli society is essentially a Western one, not a Middle Eastern one. Similarly, Singapore should not be compared with our Southeast Asian neighbours because Singaporean society is essentially East Asian, not Southeast Asian.

• Singapore’s smallness allows us to prosper more quickly. The larger size of our Southeast Asian neighbours makes it more difficult for them to prosper quickly. What most people don’t realise is that the percentage of small nations that are prosperous is about twice that of large nations.

It is therefore more meaningful to compare ourselves with Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea than with Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. If we do that, we find ourselves not so out of the ordinary in terms of economy, law and order.

Patrick’s sister would most likely not appreciate these and would insist on comparing ourselves with Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia without realising that smallness is an advantage not a liability. Even if she chooses to do that, she should take note that our neighbours have progressed well and are no longer Third World countries. Thailand and Malaysia are now Upper Middle Income nations while Indonesia is now Lower Middle Income. It is also worth nothing that Indonesia’s homicide rate of 0.6 is amongst the lowest in the world (ours is 0.2). Does Patrick’s sister know it is cheaper to replace a stolen car in JB than to extend a Singapore car’s life for 10 years?

Patrick’s sister should ask herself how come she had to wait 50 years before she could finally get her teeth cleaned for free while Westerners have been enjoying this all along. Would she realise that without those pesky protestors whom she frowns on, it might have taken another 50 years before Singaporeans can enjoy such benefits?

PAP说笑

September 25, 2015

li zong li

李总理大胜就说选民的眼睛是雪亮的。可是四年前他输掉Aljunied时却没这么说。难道四年前选民的眼睛是贴stamp的?四年后如果成绩不理想他又会怎么说呢? 难道说人民把stamp贴回去了?

wei wen

阿文呀,你是不是屁股痒需要用刀插进去?还是多多向 Dr Thum Pin Tjin 学习什么是诚实吧 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXcJL7f0Mw8)!

shen yin

阿颖呀,听说你爷爷是卖国贼,你还好意思说人家往事不能回味。四年前你刚出道,就说反对党还没当家就想挥霍。你好意识说我们不好意识听leh。初出茅庐就大言不惭,你的pattern才多呢。

A gong gong Singaporean voice at the ballot box

September 24, 2015

I refer to the 22 Sept 2015 Straits Times letter “A pragmatic S’porean voice at the ballot box” by Mr Jervin Lim Teng Lai.

Mr Lim asks

Has Singapore retreated in its democratic values when the majority of its people chose the PAP to govern, thus preventing opposition parties from growing in our political landscape?

The more important question to ask is “Does Singapore have democracy when our media is ranked 153rd in the world?”

Mr Lim asks

In our new political reality, will diversity and pluralism be compromised by the dominance of one political party?

He might as well ask if North Korean diversity and pluralism have flourished under one Kim family party?

Mr Lim claims

It is important to know that true democracy means that people get the freedom to choose their leaders based on the election candidates’ competency and values.

But North Koreans too have freedom to choose their leaders. Does that mean that North Korea has true democracy?

Mr Lim claims

In a democratic environment, political parties should have access to the required information, so as to offer criticism of the ruling party (or even other opposition parties) and its policies, and provide alternatives to the people, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to make an informed choice during an election.

But they don’t. If they do, why do they have to keep asking PAP for information in parliament that is not available online? Given our 153rd ranked media, what basis does Mr Lim have to say everyone can make an informed choice?

Mr Lim claims

It is clear that in our election rallies, the democratic process is functioning without hindrance.

We can give up the election rallies Mr Lim, just give us Mediacorp instead. Whatever we want to say in rallies we can say on prime time television instead. That will be democratic process without hindrance.

Mr Lim claims

On the other hand, it is not democratic to demand a strong opposition voice in Parliament, especially if the people did not vote for it.

We can humour you, Mr Lim. Just give us by-elections in Punggol East, Sengkang West and Fengshan. We can then vote in a strong opposition voice if that’s what you want.

Mr Lim claims

We should also not be worried that there has been a retreat in democratic values when the majority of people voted strongly for a single party.

What democratic values are there to retreat when the fundamental guardian of our democracy – a free press – is absent in our country?

Mr Lim claims

The election result did not reflect a devaluing of democratic values in our nation; instead, it reflected that opposition parties in Singapore have not been able to convince people of their competency and values as compared with the ruling party.

What must opposition do to convince you that they can be as good as the ruling party? Start another successful Singapore?

Mr Lim claims

It only reflected that Singaporeans are pragmatic, and that most do not vote for diversity and plurality in Parliament for its own sake to support an “ideal democracy”, but a democracy that can safeguard our nation’s future.

How can Singaporeans be pragmatic when they have voted to cull their only weapon – the opposition – with which to hold the PAP to ransom? Instead, Singaporeans are blissfully idealistic that there will be happiness ever after so the opposition can be safely discarded after use.

The election just reflected that in our democratic environment, we voted for a strong ruling party that has worked very hard for us for the past 50 years.

The ruling party worked very hard for us or for themselves? Shall we compare the average net worth of the ruling party and their lackeys with the average net worth of non-lackeys?

The opposition parties need to prove their competence and show that their values work for our young, small, vulnerable nation, if they want to swing the votes in their favour.

If we don’t vote the opposition in, how can they show their competence? If we allow the PAP to sabotage the opposition, how can we allow them to show their competence? If we are so vulnerable, isn’t it risky too to put all our eggs in the PAP basket?

Mr Lim says:

Thus, it would be very right to say that our democratic system has given us a monolithic government, governed by an entrenched elite aristocracy.

Ours is but a mockery of a democratic system that has given us an entrenched parasitic autocracy.

Suggestions for opposition movement 4

September 21, 2015

Before the elections, I told myself three things:

1. 2015 is not as bad as 2011, housing prices are under control, people have gotten used to the new normal
2. This could well be PM Lee’s last election as PM, he would want to go out with a bang
3. If the opposition pushes too hard, there could be backlash

Only the first of the three points is worrying because it shows that the opposition can only make inroads when there is a major PAP misstep. In the absence of missteps, there is actually no good reason for the middle ground to vote for the opposition.

Actually there is. Low Thia Khiang was correct to say that the opposition should be credited for the slew of policy changes that the government has made in recent years. National Conversation and Pioneer Package came out only after the opposition won a GRC in 2011. Not only should the people thank the opposition for championing their causes, they should also realise that it was the growing threat of the opposition that the PAP became more responsive. The opposition is the people’s only weapon to force the PAP to yield, they should therefore vote to increase their power of leverage. But this logic was sadly lost on the electorate.

Dr Chee Soon Juan was correct to say there is an urgent need for the opposition to find a compelling reason for the people to vote for the opposition, not just to vote against the PAP. To depend on people voting against PAP would be to depend on the next major misstep which is too few and far between.

Outstanding policy proposals do not present for compelling reasons to vote for the opposition. The masses cannot be bothered to read proposals or manifestos. They vote based on what they see and feel – tangibles like HDB flats, jobs and the general prosperity and peace around them. No matter how outstanding their candidates are, the opposition will never be seen as credible providers to Singaporeans. Singaporean minds, especially those of PAP supporters and the middle ground will forever remain locked against the opposition. The opposition can shout all they want but they can forget about public mass media being opened up to help change minds.

The opposition is in a lose lose situation. It will never be given the chance to govern and without the chance to govern, it can never establish its credentials for being able to run a country. Forget about the town council. Even if the opposition successfully runs a GRC town council, the electorate mindset will still be closed to them. Over the next few decades, the opposition can be expected to win titbit constituencies here and there and that’s all they can expect for all the herculean efforts they put in.

There is a need for the opposition to lift themselves out of this lose lose situation. Wherever they operate in Singapore, the opposition will be subjected to tremendous amounts of sabotage by the PAP. Instead of fighting the odds for expectedly low outcomes, the opposition should instead venture out of Singapore and make their mark outside Singapore.

As a start, the opposition can form partnerships with the private sector to start successful businesses outside Singapore. A good place to start is Taiwan. Taiwan is prosperous like Singapore, is reasonably safe and is known to support democracy and can be expected to lend the Singapore opposition a helping hand. An opposition led business group can set up a theme park 30 minutes train ride from the airport. The project will involve building a metro system linking the airport to the resort, construction of the resort along with shops, hotels and staff public housing. These will be wonderful starting points for the opposition to learn how to create a business, plan and realise housing and transport systems as well as run a mini city. The city can gradually be expanded as more businesses are added in to it with concomitant increase in population, housing and amenities. There can be no greater endorsement for the opposition than the success of an alternative Singapore built and run by them. The alternative city will provide many opportunities for Singaporean workers displaced in our own country. It will provide alternative living space for the close to 1 million opposition supporters who are disillusioned with their country but who has nowhere else to go. Many business leaders who up till now are pro-PAP may through close working relationships with the opposition come to appreciate their strengths and qualities. That, would be the best contribution the opposition can achieve – realising a truly democratic alternative Singapore that is equally prosperous.

Having made their marks, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess the kind of welcome opposition politicians will receive when they come back to Singapore to contest – no welcome. That should be the final confirmation the opposition needs – that PAP supporters and the middle ground will never give them the chance to run Singapore. But by then, the opposition would have had no regrets. For they would have created what they had envisioned all their lives except in another city. But the seeds of their good work will lay a strong foundation for their successors to eventually win in Singapore.

Suggestions for opposition movement 3

September 18, 2015

The opposition should jointly commission a study to find out what voters really want from them. Being weak as they are, the opposition is not in a position to unilaterally push their agenda onto the people. Being weak means they have to listen and given in to what the electorate wants. Only by being relevant to the population at large can the opposition do better in the next election. Being relevant means finding out what the population wants. But different people want different things. It is dangerous to rely on online sentiments or the sentiments of those whom the opposition comes into contact with. In all likelihood, these will be the sentiments of the opposition but not the population at large. Academics should be engaged to conduct a rigorous survey of a random sample of the population to find out what the majority of Singaporeans want from the opposition.

There is a need to find out:

1. What is the comfortable opposition size they will accept in parliament?
2. What kind of candidate profiles they will not accept?
3. What are the issues they want the opposition to champion?
4. What are the values they hold dear that they do not want the opposition to disturb?
5. Which opposition parties they like or dislike and why?
6. Which PAP MP they don’t like and why?
7. Where do they get their information on national issues and which news channels do they trust or distrust and why?

Such intelligence is necessary before any plans can be made.

1. Question 1 tells the opposition roughly how many seats to contest
2. Question 2 helps weed out candidates who would otherwise bring down the opposition
3. Question 3 tells the opposition what to focus on in parliament as well as in debates elsewhere online or offline
4. Question 4 tells the opposition the landmines that must never be stepped on
5. Question 5 tells the less popular parties to merge with the more popular ones
6. Question 6 tells the opposition who to attack over the next 5 years
7. Question 7 tells the opposition how to reach out to the electorate

Everyone will have his or her answers to the above questions and may subconsciously assume that is what most people want. But unless we get solid data from a good random sample of the population at large, we will never know precisely. Once the needs of the electorate has been clearly established, a simple set of goals and objectives can be established that can then serve as the focal point of the opposition’s message to the electorate.

The drafting of alternative policies will have to start with such intelligence. It is with such intelligence that the opposition can be confident that its alternative policies will be supported, not ridiculed. Attacks and venting of anger and frustration will also have to start with such intelligence. Only then will the opposition be confident that its attacks will be well accepted not just amongst opposition supporters but amongst the middle ground as well.

When the efforts of the opposition are largely driven by the right intelligence about what the majority of the population wants, it will be able to focus on what matters most and reap the most out of its meagre resources.

Suggestions for opposition movement 2

September 18, 2015

LKY and SG50

Do not assume that it was a one off gratitude for LKY or SG50 that the middle ground swung to the PAP. The outpouring of gratitude or nationalistic fervour was also drummed up tremendously by reels and reels of slanted historical narratives from Mediacorp that swayed public mood towards the ruling party. It must be expected that PAP will continue to use the power of Mediacorp to sway citizens all the way to the next election and beyond. All they have to do is air the video clip of Lee Kuan Yew shouting Merdeka or shedding crocodile tears every election.

Mediacorp’s slanted historical narratives must be countered. Best person to do that is Dr Thum Pin Tjin. Narratives like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXcJL7f0Mw8 help bring Lee Kuan Yew down to hell as someone utterly conniving, unscrupulous and without morals. More importantly, the narrative of prosperous colonial Singapore, our true independence hero Lim Chin Siong and Dr Winsemius who authored our all important post independence economic strategy must be promulgated so that the middle ground can better understand the fuller truth and become less adulated with Lee Kuan Yew or the PAP. It will take time, but it must start somewhere.

Efforts must be made to connect with CNN, BBC and National Geographic to make these films on a grander scale and to also internationalise and legitimise these fuller narratives on Lee Kuan Yew. Gungho shops can be engaged to install large LCD TVs on their shop fronts to play these fuller historical narratives 24 by 7 in all four languages. Subsidise their electricity bills and install CCTV cameras in case LCD TVs get smashed.

Huge rally turnouts

Huge opposition rally turnouts and intensive social media outbursts do not represent overall voter sentiments. Having twice experienced it, we must never doubt it again. If all opposition voters went to the rallies, there would be 1/3 of 2.4 million = 800,000 rally goers. 800,000 rally goers give the false impression that opposition has strength in numbers. Unfortunately, another 800,000 middle ground voters were at home and couldn’t care less. Many of the 800,000 middle ground voters may even choose not to vote if voting weren’t compulsory. So save on the rallies and use the money elsewhere. They only rally the 800,000 opposition voters but not the middle ground.

Prompt, decisive response to PAP accusations

Most PAP accusations are downright silly. But time and again, middle ground fell for it. Opposition cannot let PAP accusations fester for a long time without decisive response.

All parties must pool their resources together to come up with domain experts in various fields that can readily and decisively reply to any PAP accusation. No need to be overly deliberate as that will take time. Bear in mind the target audience – the not so sophisticated and bor chap middle ground. As long as the response can cast serious doubt on the PAP message, good enough.

There must also be a quick, well entrenched, vast, multi-tentacle communication channel via SMS, email, facebook that can quickly mass disseminate these responses out to counter PAP fear mongering.

Making opposition politics self sustaining

Online political education is hampered by the fact that it doesn’t reach many middle ground voters. Online Citizen and TR Emeritus can come up with a fortnightly or monthly newsletter that carries some of the best articles that resonate well with the middle ground in all four languages. With 800,000 opposition voters, there should be sufficient demand for such newsletters and hopefully that demand gradually spills over to the middle ground. It can even be sold for a token price of say 50 cents per copy to contribute to the livelihood of its editors. The business of political education should become self financing in order for it to last over the long run.

TR Emeritus should consider doing away with the more expensive part of its online offering to become more self sustaining in the long run.

Opposition political journey is going to be a long, arduous one that can easily stretch another 50 years. Political parties must strive to make businesses out of their activities so that they can become self sustaining. Outreach activities can include selling party merchandise so that funds can be raised while promoting the party at the same time. Opposition parties can also start tuition centres to provide good quality, affordable tuition to residents to endear themselves to their residents while raising what precious little income they can.

Converting new immigrants

Forget it. Opposition name has already stunk to the heavens as being anti-foreigner (fairly or unfairly). Only way is to get opposition supporters to marry foreigners who are ready to stand by the opposition and then convert them to citizens. But why go to that extreme? If we can’t even convert our mothers, fathers, relatives and friends to the opposition cause, how do we expect to convert new citizens?

So it all buoys down to point number 1. The narrative has to change. Until then, the minds of the middle ground will always be closed to the opposition. Any logical person when shown the full narrative will come to a new understanding. Not so for many of our middle ground. Sentiments nurtured since young through falsehood and propaganda have become so deeply etched into their hearts, not in their minds, they will never be erased until the day they die. Lies told often enough becomes truth for the many simple minded in our country.

Suggestions for opposition movement

September 13, 2015

1) Put aside differences and form an alliance. Self interests should be seconded to overall opposition interests. As it is, even Workers’ Party and Low Thia Khiang face real risks of being voted out of parliament. PAP is too strong and has demonstrated that it can sweep away the entire middle ground. No one can afford not to cooperate anymore.

2) The next campaign must start now. The alliance must decide soon, the candidates for the next election. The chosen candidate must start walking the ground today so that over the next five years he or she would have built a good rapport with the ground and stand a better chance at the polls. Each candidate will walk only an SMC sized ward so that whichever GRC the SMC eventually gets assigned to, the candidate simply joins that GRC.

3) Decisions will be made by an alliance council comprising the secretary generals of the various parties. Rightfully, decisions on who to field and where ought to be settled amicably either through negotiation or vote within the alliance council. But if that is not possible, a nomination election process can be conducted to choose the best candidate. An independent company that all parties agree on can be engaged to conduct the nomination election. A random sample electorate can be polled to see which opposition candidate is the most popular. He or she would then go on to represent the alliance in that constituency. Candidates from various parties can be mixed and matched to the same GRC for overall optimal performance.

4) Implement a carrot and stick system to nudge voters in the right direction. For example (just an example):

– Constituencies scoring less than 30% will have no contest for the next three elections
– Constituencies scoring less than 35% but more than 30% will have no contests for the next two elections
– Constituencies scoring less than 40% but more than 35% will have no contest for the next election
– Constituencies scoring less than 45% but more than 40% may have contest in the next election
– Constituencies scoring 45% or more will be guaranteed contest in the next election

Most Singaporeans treasure the sacred right to vote. The opposition has a power, the power to deny that right. Use that power wisely. This will only work if all opposition parties cooperate in an alliance. Don’t worry about the independents as they tend to lose their deposits.

Cut out the expensive rallies (more like seventh month getai). They generate excitement but not votes.

5) Recognise the middle ground sentiment. They have spoken in no uncertain terms that they simply do not want any opposition party to form the government. Whatever the opposition does, it must never trigger the fear that the PAP may fall. The sad reality is that most of us will probably never see an opposition party govern Singapore in our lifetime.

6) Recognise that all the issues raised so far have little or no effect on the middle ground. The middle ground profile is probably quite comfortable; they are not going to wake up in the middle of the night worried about CPF or the old folk collecting cardboards to supplement income. They probably have enough savings over and above CPF, have bought their homes already or have gotten used to high prices, have gotten used to MRT breakdowns every now and then, which is the new normal. Continue to raise issues but don’t expect any of them to have a knockout effect on the middle ground. Policy suggestions will have to cater primarily to the middle ground which probably means policies won’t be too different from those of the PAP. Yet, there must be differentiation in those policies to avoid PAP crying plagiarism.

7) Enlarge the personal network. There is anecdotal evidence that most of the fear mongering spread through personal contacts like SMS and email. The opposition must catch up in building that network.

8) Take it easy; don’t work too hard because most of your efforts will go down the drain. The middle ground wants you to make noise but doesn’t want you in parliament or at least not in large numbers. The middle ground is actually not so middle after all but favours the PAP instead. It can tolerate or even like the PAP for all its warts. Even though it is ever ready to teach PAP a lesson whenever it seriously steps out of line, but as long as PAP recovers well, it is always ready to welcome PAP back. It’s a no win situation compounded by the heavy influx of new citizens.

Do your best, but don’t expect victory.

Reply to ST letter “Winners and losers this GE”

September 13, 2015

I refer to the 13 Sept 2015 Straits Times letter “Winners and losers this GE”.

The PAP knows from the last election that when opposition candidates are delayed at the nomination centre leading them to be disqualified, it reflects badly on them because the election department is controlled by them. So it may not necessarily have been out of magnanimity but out of self-interest that they are making sure this doesn’t happen again. Their helping an independent candidate at nomination centre despite knowing that the opposition is adopting a one-on-one strategy says it all. The PAP wasn’t there to help the opposition.

How can we congratulate all candidates when many opposition candidates did not taste victory? For many of their families, the long suffering will continue. Many of them have toiled for years without pay, without recognition, often with ridicule and even at their own expenses. Time and again, the electorate has not given them their due reward, what is there to congratulate for getting nothing? Or are we congratulating ourselves for the marvellous fortnight of show once every 5 years?

It’s hard to say that PAP activists are sacrificing their lives since we don’t know what benefit or good they get out of their association with the PAP. On the other hand, being poor as they are, there is little if anything the opposition can offer to their activists other than a nice pat on their backs.

The majority of voters did not traverse Singapore to listen to rallies. Many swing voters for example, didn’t bother too much about the official messages out there, preferring to listen to the grapevine, rumours and hearsay.

We cannot thank the national television for broadcasting pro-government messages day after day ever since the death of Lee Kuan Yew. It’s an extremely unfair platform which the opposition must work against.

It was the PAP who resorted to questionable tactics and below-the-belt attacks while opposition candidates mostly conducted themselves with honour and integrity. If there is any party to blame for the division, it is primarily the PAP.

The anger wasn’t so much that friends and family members had different views but that they had so easily believed hearsay and scare mongering without so much as pause for a moment to think for themselves.

How does Ms Sng expect those who have borne the brunt of questionable tactics and below-the-belt attacks to put aside these grievances and pretend nothing has happened? For sure, without being held to account, these perpetrators of questionable tactics and below-the-belt attacks will once again use them 5 years later.

What cheek does the party that resorts to questionable tactics and below-the-belt attacks have to ask for unity for the country?

Straits Times, Winners and losers this GE, 12 Sept 2015

Congratulations to the People’s Action Party for winning 69.9 per cent of the vote.

That the party helped ensure that opponents were not disqualified on technical grounds makes it an even more worthy winner.

But there are many other winners in this election, too.

Congratulations to all opposition parties which fielded candidates, thus contributing to a democratic electoral process by offering voters a choice.

Congratulations to all candidates, their long-suffering families and their dedicated activists who have sacrificed a huge part of their personal lives to make this election a well-contested one.

Voters traversed Singapore in the past week to listen to different political parties at their rallies, so that they could make an informed choice.

Other voters who remained true to their respective party of choice must be congratulated, too, for their conviction and loyalty, remaining firm in their views. The multitude of opinions can only benefit the democratic process.

Congratulations and sincere thanks to The Straits Times and some of the other media for their concerted efforts to give all parties as fair a coverage as possible, and for giving voters platforms to voice their thoughts. That contributed to voters having more information and viewpoints for consideration.

We are, therefore, all winners in General Election 2015, having benefited from a much more transparent electoral process.

But there were losers too: Civility was lost. Elections should be a contest, not a dogfight.

In their dogged push to win, some candidates and supporters of all parties lost their heads and resorted to questionable tactics, realising too late that in trying to demolish respect for their opponents, they lost the respect of voters for themselves instead.

Some of us also lost what we said we wanted in a democratic society: the ability to listen to others who have different opinions.

Many of us became angry with friends and family members who had different views. But what was most worrying was the loss of unity among Singaporeans.

Elections are divisive by nature because of the different points of view on offer. But the degeneration into below-the-belt attacks turned healthy arguments into hate for fellow Singaporeans.

Now that the election is over, I hope we can put away our cudgels and our different coloured T-shirts, and wear “I love SG” shirts instead.

Better yet, keep the latter always on, even as we put another party-affiliated coloured shirt over it during elections.

Agnes Sng (Ms)

Reflections on GE 2015

September 12, 2015

The opposition candidates can hold their heads high for conducting their campaigns gentlemanly and without resorting to under handed methods (putting aside careless remark by Cheo Chye Chen which he apologised for).

The same cannot be said of the PAP. It’s bewildering Teo Chee Hian could allege impropriety in Punggol East by referring to a supporting statement which would naturally be incomplete than refer to the main statement which we would contain the final consolidated figure (http://www.tremeritus.com/2015/09/07/teo-failed-to-consult-a-qualified-accountant-punggol-east/). It’s even more bewildering that the average man on the street believes him. That average man on the street cannot clearly explain what he believes but somehow believes it. He will even excuse politicians by saying its natural for them to lie and cheat. On one hand, we say the political office is the highest office in our country that demands the highest of integrity yet on the other hand we tolerate and even endorse such unethical behaviour.

Detailed online explanations somehow cannot get to them and they would rather believe the grapevine or the main stream media juggernaut. There are some who actually believe that without PAP, the country will lose its ability to defend itself or to respond to external threats like the ISIS. They can’t seem to pause for a moment and think whether our soldiers and generals would stop defending Singapore if PAP loses power. They believe that without PAP, the Singapore economy would be ruined despite so many First World examples pointing to the contrary.

I therefore agree with this article: http://www.tremeritus.com/2015/09/12/ge2015-what-went-wrong-for-the-opposition/. The biggest explanation for the PAP landslide is actually our naive electorate who is always ready to believe every silly threat and falsehood. The Singapore electorate’s level of sophistication is not there yet to endorse the opposition’s brand of clean politics based on fact, logic and argument. There is no point campaigning to people who tend to be illogical, self-contradictory and who would rather believe hearsay than think for themselves. Many outstanding opposition politicians are not born at the right time and their well considered messages will go on deaf ears. Even the appeal to compassion has not worked. Quite clearly, appeal to self-interest and greed works much better in Singapore than appeal to compassion.

There is nothing left except to give up hope on the Singapore electorate and to give up hope that opposition membership in parliament can one day reach a level significant enough to check on the PAP.