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Thursday 9 May 2013

The PAP and Unfair Elections: Is the ruling party guilty as charged?

On the morning after the Malaysian General Elections, I posted a status update on my Facebook Page saying “I hope people who say the PAP is unfair now have a better reference point. Today you know what unfair is”. This elicited a flurry of rebuttals, many indignant that I was trying to excuse the PAP just because the Malaysian elections are allegedly more unfair; some used all sorts of inappropriate analogies of crime to basically argue that one greater crime should not absolve a lesser one. 

This would be true if I thought the PAP was unfair or even worse, complicit in fraudulent electoral behaviour.

I believe no such thing.

My point was the contrary - if the allegations of electoral fraud in Malaysia were true, then we have a clear example of what political unfairness is, because in my opinion, much of the allegations of electoral fraud or unfairness towards the PAP are completely unjustified.

One shining light amidst all the usual nasty comments, personal attacks and fake FB accounts were rebuttals from a group of young undergraduates, in particular a Mr. Lim Jialiang who was upset enough to post a full, well-written FB rebuttal note that can be found here:

I am extremely happy that we have in our youth today people who have a strong sense of idealism and fairness. In fact, having lived in several countries, I think that our young people have some of the strongest notions of equity and fair play in the world, which ironically may put them at a disadvantage in the wider world where such high standards are seldom adhered to. But I digress.

The point is that most of the sense of unfairness is to me completely misplaced.

Take GRCs for example. This is one bugbear that I have never ever understood. One can question the motives behind the GRCs – whether it is to ensure minority representation as the PAP says, or to introduce weaker MPs on the coattails of Ministers as their opponents allege. But regardless, the rule to contesting a GRC remains that one has to put together a team of 3 to 6 candidates, including an ethnic minority person.

I do not see for the life of me how this rule could possibly be unfair to the opposition, unless one further assumes that the opposition is too weak to put a good team together to compete with the PAP.

There is absolute nothing to stop the opposition from forming a team of good candidates and take down a GRC, including heavyweight ministers, as the Workers Party has shown in 2011 in Aljunied GRC.

More, it is my opinion that the experience of 2011 has shown the PAP that running as a team means you either win as a team or lose as a team, and you could win 5 seats in one fell swoop but also lose everything. Further, even if some argue that heavyweight ministers make it harder to compete (which may not be a bad thing as in order to take them down, the Opposition team also needs to be stellar), I believe that a chain is as strong as its weakest link.

It is my contention that if the weakest member of the GRC team is sub-par, the whole team should be voted out, even if the anchor minister is none other than the Prime Minister. If the anchor Minister makes a bad judgement in choosing his teammates, and the opposition team is stronger, then the electorate should vote for the latter, regardless if the PAP team is helmed by an important Cabinet Minister.

Absolutely nothing unfair about that.

People should really stop complaining about GRCs being unfair, because there is nothing inherently unfair about requiring each party to field a team of 5 or 6 strong candidates to compete together – the same rule applies to both the PAP and the opposition. In fact, Aljunied 2011 has taught the PAP enough of a lesson that I predict there will be smaller GRCs in 2016, purely because the PAP does not want to risk losing more Ministers to an opposition A-team.

Electoral deposits are widely accepted in many established democracies. What varies is the amount and the percentage of votes needed to take the deposits back. On the most basic level, this rule is fair given that it equally applies to the PAP as well as the Opposition – we do not have the PAP paying a lower tariff or needing a lower vote count to get their deposit back. Therefore, one can only argue that it is unfair if we make two further suppositions: firstly, that the Opposition is too poorly funded to corral the requisite deposits. Second, the Opposition should somehow play with a handicap such that they should be held to LOWER standards than the PAP, such that their vote-count hurdle should be lower than the PAPs.

I find such arguments to be absolutely insulting to the current major Oppositions parties in Singapore. Firstly, what I consider to be the two major Opposition parties, the SDP and the WP have an established enough membership base to be well-funded enough to raise the deposits required. More importantly, these deposits are returned once the candidate(s) receive above 12.5%, a level that is quite in line with other democracies such as the UK. For a major opposition party to lose its deposit, whatever the amount, is considered an embarrassment in most countries, and something I do not see happening to the SDP and especially the WP in 2016.

The next three most common complaints are slightly more controversial.

Firstly, let’s look at the tying of upgrading and estate improvements to election results.

Such tactics are commonly known as pork-barrel politics. Wikipedia gives this definition: “Pork barrel is the appropriation of government spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative's district.”

In the context of the US, this would mean for example, a Republican federal government giving priority of federal funding to Republican states; in the context of the UK, this would mean, for example, a Labour Government giving priority of government funds to Labour town councils.

Why I think it is controversial is because there is no reason to think that just because everybody is doing it, it is okay.

However it is my contention that it is precisely democracies that practice pork barrel politics as politicians have to win votes (if you are a one party dictatorship you don’t), and it is reasonable to expect them to keep promises to the people who have supported them, rather than those who did not. Is it not a bit strange if, after a General Election, the winning party decides to spend money first on the constituencies who did NOT vote for them rather than on the people who agreed with their vision and voted for it? If they did this, what exactly is the incentive for its supporters to vote them in the next election? If I voted for you, because I agree with your vision, but you put me at the bottom of your priority list and instead decide to reward those who rejected you, why should I vote for you the next time?

The tying of upgrading and estate improvement is thus not only commonly practised in many developed democracies, it is fair – you make promises, and you keep them to people who support you. The PAP in this instance in my opinion is not guilty of unfairness, but rather of being overly vindictive. Pork-barrels only work for so long; the people who are denied the ‘pork’ after a while may grow so resentful that they may decide to reject you even if they go ‘hungry’. This I feel is what happened in Hougang and the resentment against the PAP there is so entrenched after years of being victim of petty and vindictive politics, they will vote against the PAP even if they ran against Mickey Mouse.

The final most common complaints are related: Gerrymandering and the lack of an independent election commission. Again, the same points apply as pork-barrel politics: Gerrymandering is common in systems where parliamentary seats are allocated by geographical areas, and Singapore is not the only developed country without an independent electoral commission. 

Gerrymandering was arguably invented in America when Governor Elbridge Gerry re-districted Massachusetts in 1812 to benefit his own Democratic Party. It is still a practise common in the US and the article on Gerrymandering on Wikipedia gives several good examples of Gerrymandered districts in the US still existent today.  

The most blatant examples of Gerrymandering in Singapore have been in my opinion firstly the re-drawing of Cheng San and Eunos GRCs, and the disproportionate sizes of Tanjong Pagar GRC (helmed by Lee Kuan Yew) and Ang Mo Kio GRC (helmed by Lee Hsien Loong). Arguably, if Eunos and Cheng San did not have their boundaries re-drawn, Aljunied (the successor GRC to these two) may have fallen faster. 

Yet, the PAP so far has resisted re-drawing the districts of constituencies they have lost, in particular Potong Pasir and Hougang. 

Gerrymandering may be however one of those things that can never be fully eradicated in any country that allocates seats according to geographical regions. This is because any electoral commission tasked to draw up electoral districts can never be fully independent of political interference.

The point is this: even if you remove the electoral commission from the control of the Executive, who appoints the members of the ‘independent’ commission? The answer: Politicians.

In the UK, the electoral commission has become a tragi-comedy with politicians vying to place their own preferred political appointees into the electoral commission. Gerrymandering still occurs but in a different form: bargaining between the political appointees happen behind closed doors.  Basically, you let me Gerrymander this district and I let you Gerrymander that other one. Even if this provides some form of check-and-balance, voters can still legitimately feel cheated as their choices become subjugated to opaque political bargaining.

What is therefore more important than the ‘independence’ of the electoral commission is the transparency of these institutions. No matter if electoral districts are drawn up by politicians or political appointees, they should make clear the reasons for re-districting. Gerrymandering through political appointees is no better than gerrymandering by the Executive. Instead, Singapore should make sure its Electoral Commission give clear reasoning for re-districting and justify these with statistics e.g. change in demographics. If these rules are not clearly implemented now, if the PAP should one day lose power, one should not expect the new ruling party to behave any differently. Better to establish clear rules for transparency now than suffer the same fates as Western democracies that pontificate fairness and democratic values, but subvert the same values with hypocrisy.

Finally, on the matter of law-suits: I think this is a matter of what we want our political campaigning to be like. Personally, I think that if normally, rules of slander and libel prevent us from telling lies about people, then there is no reason that this should not apply during campaigning. Better this than to have a situation like in the US where somehow the law is suspended during political campaigns, and one can take out advertisements on TV blatantly lying about your opponents e.g. the Republicans taking ads to say that Obama was a Muslim and not born in the US. Much as I disagree with the Workers Party ideologically,  I have utmost respect for its candidates, especially Low Thia Kiang, for campaigning with integrity. If you go on stage and call someone corrupt without evidence, then you deserve to be sued, and politics is the better for it.

At the end of the day, it would take a radical to assert that the situation on Singapore is in any way comparable, even on a matter of scale, to the shenanigans that allegedly happened in Malaysia. There is a huge difference between gerrymandering, pork-barrel politics and rules against irresponsible campaign speech (which happens to varying degrees to all advanced democracies), and the stuffing of ballot boxes and phantom voters (which is outright electoral fraud). The electoral system in Singapore is not perfect, but in my opinion, not any more imperfect than in most advanced democracies. There is always room for improvement, but to compare Singapore to despotic regimes that commit outright fraud is not only inappropriate, it is very unfair.



    1. This is a quirk of first past the post systems. Al Gore lost to George W Bush even though he won the popular vote.

      Mathematically, if there are 100 seats, I could win 99 seats with 50.1 %, and lose 1 seat 99% to 1% and I would have 99% of the seats in parliament even though I have only 49.6% of the popular vote.

  2. Sorry, but I will have to disagree with you on your small comment on "unfairness of the GRC system". The GRC system was created in 1988 by PAP. And this form of unfairness started then. Do you think, at that time, the opposition parties have that many strong candidates to field together to form a GRC? From 1988 onwards till the past few GEs, you can see that there are not many opposition parties contesting against the PAP wards and most of them were walk-overs during this period of time. Why was this so? Simply because they did not have enough people, enough talent to form a team to fight against the GRCs. That was the unfairness.
    Until in the latest GE, you will notice that the opposition parties are contesting against more GRCs as they are now able to find more people on their team and thats when they show that the GRC system has "failed". PAP was hit by their "own child that they have nurtured over these years". Therefore, just by basing your comment on the recent GE in 2011 and saying that it is "fair" for the GRC system, it is quite a flawed argument as you will have to look at the period where the GRC system FIRST started, was it fair then?

    I look forward to your comments.

    1. Even when it first started, my point still stands: why does one need to favour the opposition when it comes to fielding teams of candidates? As I said, you have to say that the opposition is too weak to field a team of 5, so let's give them a chance and allow them to field more single candidates for your argument to work. You can't say it is unfair just because opposition can't field 5 good candidates. The same rule applies to PAP too!

      The walkovers were not so much the GRCs but the Opposition's By-election strategy to make every GE a by-election: return the PAP to government on nomination day and tell the people : hey you have a PAP government, now vote for us, you are not going to risk anything!

    2. And I think it was a good thing. In the end, when WP made electoral history, the WP's team was very strong, good enough to defeat even George Yeo and Lim Hwee Hua.

    3. Well this has been argued many times but I would say when coupled with the fact that when the elections department is under direct purview of the PMO then the GRC system multiplies the gerrymandering effect powerfully allowing allowing 60% popular vote but >90% of parliamentary representation. It would be disingenuous to says that's just due to first past the post.

      No one is asking for a system that favours the opposition but neither should we accept one that so lopsidedly favours incumbency. When it comes to something as fundamental as our electoral rights, the GRCs should have been put to a referendum.

    4. It works both ways. If I were the opposition, I woud relish the chance to take down the entire government by only targeting a small number of voters.

    5. Everyone is still working on the assumption of a shit opposition. If I were the PAP i'd be very afraid of the WP now. Maybe leave one or two of the Aljunied chaps in Aljunied, the other 3 venture out to helm another 3 GRC contests, in one fell swoop I take 15 seats more.

    6. Before the GRC system was introduced the opposition was having some chances with the single seats posts. BUT with the introduction of the GRC many of the opposition are kept out of the playing field because they do not have the money and the manpower to fight with the one big party. So instead of dying from many pin pricks the one big party changed the game.
      Now the opposition are better financed and have more manpower after all these years of GRC battles and starting to show results I foresee the one big party will try to change the game play again.
      If I were to play a game with your good self and I keep changing the rules to place you at a disadvantage would it be fair? Legally speaking it is fair because I am the game master I set the rules I can change it anytime if you want to beat me at my game you must play within my rules which can change and will always put you in the most disadvantageous position. But is this really fair ? Should it not be called bullying?
      By the way your comparison with the different countries is not fair. If an underperforming child is compared to a retard the underperforming child is the best. This method of comparison is not only unfair but also misleading.
      There are countries which have systems that the people want that do not drive the country to hell but it seems we are only being compared to problematic countries to highlight how good the one big party is.

    7. The thinking that the entire opposition should fight united as one big party is a pipe dream. Every individual opposition party has its own ideology, it's own creed. Opposition unity is an illusion.

      The Workers Party, especially after it absorbed the Barisan Socialis always had enough financing and manpower to field GRC teams.

      My comparison to the Western developed countries, especially the US and UK are the most common ones. They are also 2 of the most mature democracies in this world, hardly retarded.

      It is also especially to the US I compare since it is the great evangelist of 'democratic' values 'freedom' and all that. :)

    8. "It works both ways. If I were the opposition, I woud relish the chance to take down the entire government by only targeting a small number of voters. "

      "Everyone is still working on the assumption of a shit opposition. If I were the PAP i'd be very afraid of the WP now. Maybe leave one or two of the Aljunied chaps in Aljunied, the other 3 venture out to helm another 3 GRC contests, in one fell swoop I take 15 seats more."

      this is exactly why the grc system is flawed and unhealthy.

    9. Why flawed? It's just fielding teams vs teams. Nothing wrong with choosing between teams of people.

  3. I must say that i agree with Calvin's basic thesis - both parties are subjected to the same rule and the current requirements are not necessarily so stringent that it fundamentally disadvantages the opposition.

    Although one would probably concede that the the incumbent does have more the first-mover advantage to demonstrate their talents and implement popular policies (just like any other democracy).

    Personally, i feel that we are falling into what i called "limit of Governance" trap. Ideologically and theoretically we have been educated to expect the highest standard of morality, fairness and equality. We have grown to taken for granted the perfect democracy, together with the seamless transition and fully equal and transparent election. But in reality, it is painfully clear that such vision remains a political theory and no country ,not even mature democracies such as USA, UK or any other countries, can claim to be so.

    Nonetheless, we continue to dream. The disjuncture between what we want and what is the reality are often so strikingly disturbing that we blame the first organisation that we think shouldsolve it - the government. Often neglecting that maybe we ourselves are not ready for these changes. perfect democracy, comes with the burden of potential riots, social schism and messiness that we would not want?

  4. "I believe that a chain is as strong as its weakest link."
    Its too simplistic.

    Because if it were, Adjunied WP would have lost, even Punggol East too.
    Whereas on the other hand even if u take the sum of the quality of MPs, WP Adjunied should have won by a much larger margin.

    Things are just not as simple as ur assumptions, which should invalidate most of the others reasonings too.

    1. Wow. So just because you do not think a chain is as strong as its weakest link, it invalidates most of my other reasonings. Amazing.

  5. Generally I agree with what you share, just seeking one point of your opinion here, it appears to me that now they are pumping up the number of foreign born voters by bringing in more foreigners at an even higher taste to make our population to 6.9M within 3 elections, what do you think?

    1. Only Citizens can vote. Out of the 6.9, still only half of those are citizens. The White Paper does not say put of those half how many are new Citizens.

      But I do not think that a new citizen of the sort the government is attracting will definitely vote for the PAP. If you are a serious, long term immigrant, you will have the same worries as other Singapore citizens: Overcrowding, infrastructure etc. I have had anecdotal evidence that some new PRC born Singapore citizens are also voting the opposition - their aspirations, and their kid's dreams are no different from us once they give up their original citizenship and take Singapore's.

  6. Just because all parties were put and work under same rules, you call it fair. Who set the rule? What if PAP put the whole singapore under one BIG GRC, you think this is fair to the others other than PAP? You call this fair?

    1. If the whole of Singapore were to be put under one GRC, then the PAP is saying you either vote us all in or none at all. If you think the Opposition can be form the government, vote them all in, overthrow us. What's unfair about that?

    2. "you make promises, and you keep them to people who support you." Fine., but not when you screw the people who don't support you.

    3. Just like PAP MP reserve seats at hawker centre for 2 hours, denying residents their use. Fair and square. Reserved.

    4. Sometimes it's a zero sum game. If I have $100 to give and I choose to give it to people who support me cos that's what I promised, then by definition I will have nothing to give people who rejected me.

    5. Sometimes, it's a matter of making sure I have nothing to give to people who do not support me. Just AIM to add a clause in the contract and we can screw them 'legally'.

  7. The issue is not forming the government. What about the proportionate representation? There won't be 100% of votes go to PAP. So who represent those that not voting for PAP? Is it fair to those who want other to represent them and have a voice in the government?

    1. Proportionate Representation is a possibility we should not dismiss. However, no system is perfect. European countries who have PR system have their own problems e.g. weak coalition governments, extremist parties gaining seats in parliament, race/religion based parties forming etc. But as I said, worth a look but probably difficult to overhaul the whole system.

  8. I think, unfortunately, that you are the kind of person who would take Anatole France's immortal quote at face value that "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."

    Of course, one side imposing standards upon another without holding itself up to the same is unfair, but that does not mean the reverse automatically holds: that exposing yourself to the same standards is fair.

    1. You are asking for affirmative action/'positive' discrimination. We are not talking about helping an underprivileged ethnic group. This is politics not social policy.

  9. The GRC violates one fundamental key issue about a general election which is that every candidate must be elected under his or her own steam and not get into parliament under the coat tails of veterans and ministers. This is bad because any tom, dick or harry can get into parliament because the party wants him in and NOT the voters whom he or she is to serve. Such MPs as has been demonstrated many times are remote and out of sync with the people of the constituency and vice versa since the voters did not directly vote the MP in.

    On the reason for the GRC - to ensure minority representation - this suggests that Singaporeans are immature racists and would only vote for someone of the skin colour. That is a dismal political point of view. In the minds of the PAP what happened in the US where a black person is elected President twice is an impossibility. How wrong can the PAP be? Even GCT has admitted that the GRC has been helping the party bring in people into parliament who would otherwise not stand a shadow of a chance on their ability. Whta kind of people representative is that?

    I am all for getting the most capable into govt, but you cannot eat the cake and still have it. Change it to an executive presidential system then, like in the US where the president can even cross party line to nominate people to be members of his govt.

    (By the way, if you still refuse to publish my this secend note, than I know what your game really is and would not stop to disseminate it to all and sundry on the net.)

    1. I travel a lot and don't have access to internet consistently. I publish where I can.

      1) GRC - works in same way for Opposition. WP's team in aljunied not uniformly stellar either. It's a team play.

      2) Minority - I am a cynic of human nature. The Black person in the US had to fight for decades of racism.

      3) Presidential system - worth considering. But probably difficult to overhaul system.

  10. Dear Clavin

    If I could summarise your views. " Its worse elsewhere" and everyone is doing it so it is OK for Singapore as well.

    Leaving aside the issue that everyone else is doing it. I would challenge you to say whether in the examples you have cited are the parties as Dominant as the PAP is in Singapore and is that not a relevant consideration. Does the equivalent ruling party in the countries you have cited control the a) economy b ) media c ) unions d) grassroots . There is a difference for politics between the two scenarios, where one is totally dominant and does pork barrelling and gerrymandering and where one is not.

    If you can cite an example , There will be a meal at any establishment of your choice waiting. Calvin by your logic, in a David and Gloliath fight, it would not only be fair for David to fight Goliath but it would also be equally fair for David to battle Goliath without a sling or a stone and for his hands to be tied behind his back.

    Pork Barrelling. Pork Barrelling as it is know is about directing federal benefits to a particular local project, a bridge hospital, more roads etc etc Lift upgrading is it a national necessity or is it pork barreling ? Lift and Upgrading projects are national projects which in IMHO should not be politicised. Can you imagine OBAMA and his administration declaring that the rules and amounts available for his National Insurance plan depends on whether the state voted Republican or Democrat ? I do accept a certain degree of Pork Barrelling, By that logic in extremes as other commentators have said where does it end ? Preference to Poly Clinics and Universities will be dependent on whether your constituency voted PAP or not ?

    Gerrymandering. Constituencies stay the same for donkey years in the UK. Constituencies in SIngapore disappear and reappear like mushrooms after each electoral shower. Come to think of it they grow and shrink just as rapidly. How are they even the same between Singapore and the rest of the world accept that they use the same word.

    If I pinch myself I feel "pain" so likewise would I feel pain if I accidently burn or cut myself deeply. By your definition its all the same as its well all PAIN.


    1. I clearly said I do not endorse the view that just because everyone is doing it, it is ok.

      My point is not to have an idealistic view of politics.

      I agree with some of what you said but I also think that there should be no positive discrimination. Anyway, the internet has levelled the media playing field.

      Pork barrelling - Obama's govt does give priority funding to Democrat states. National policies such as CPF/National Insurance of course cannot be implemented discrimately.

      Gerrymandering - disagree. PLease look at how the electoral map has changed in UK between elections.

  11. Why can't we have an independent elections commission? Why can't the mainstream media give equal coverage to all political parties? Why does the PA have to appoint people rejected by the voters as the arbiters of community funding?

    1. Re independent election commission - never said we can't. Yes we can, but what I have argued is that in other countries it is still politicians who appoint the members of the commission. Otherwise who will? More important than independence (which does not actually exist) is transparency. Re mainstream media - the mainstream media has always functioned on proportion. On party political broadcasts, you are given proportional minutes to the number of candidates you field. I think this is fair. Otherwise, if I form some crazy party based on piracy (like in Sweden), I should get the same coverage as the WP and PAP? PA - Funding comes from the Government. The government gives funding through it's representatives, in this case its own party members working in the constituency. How can the Government be giving money through the opposition? Doesn't happen anywhere!

  12. Dear Calvin,

    It gives priorities to " Democratic States" , there is a world of difference between "Democratic States " and " Democratic Voters".

    So is HDB upgrading, lift upgrading when the population is ageing a National Policy or a local one considering 80% of the population stays in a HDB flat.

    There should not be "positive discrimination", as a saying basically we should cheer and applaud Goliath as it beats up David , and not exercise and think about how to level a very unequal playing field ?

    I would add that there are changes in the UK but a system when there is a change in power and substantive opposition presence means there is less Gerry Mandering then when there is none. None of my UK friends have ever experienced changing constituencies every GE because of political expediency whilst still staying in the same address.

    Tell you what if Joo Chiat is still around as an SMC in the next round , I will personally donate a 1,000 to a charity of your choice .


    EK Yap

    1. EK Yap - Democratic States as in States ruled by the Democratic Party in the US.

      HDB upgrading - is this national policy also a political policy? Is the policy of national housing an integral part of PAP's ideology? If you reject the PAP, do you reject this too?

      UK - Disagree. Please look at the electoral maps of UK yourself.

  13. Calvin you seem to have taken every bit of PAP propaganda and taken it at face value. The government has for nearly 50 years taken every opportunity to crush the opposition using some of the worst tactics known to politics. Locking people up without trial to instil fear, using libel laws way too enthusiastically, using a biased media to discredit them, giving job preferences to people who vote the right way and providing implicit threats to those who do not. Gerrymandering has been out of control. You claim the Internet has levelled the media playing field. It has done no such thing. At its best it has let a tiny light of truth be revealed. 95% of all media in Singapore remains under gov control. Singapore has one of the least free media in the entire world. It is hardly a coincidence that with a tiny bit of alternative media so much has been brought to light that is wrong with gov policy. Imagine how much more would be revealed if the press was actually free.

    The PAP has abused its dominant position to the point where it simply does not know where it's political party stops and the government begins. Pork barrelling is not even the right word when you are using government resources to so thoroughly execute your own party ( as opposed to govt) plans. There is zero excuse for Pork Barrelling. None. All citizens pay taxes and should be treated equally. That is a basic principle. There is no possible way to justify that sort of abuse.

    Are you naive enough to believe that the judiciary is truly independent in Singapore? It is entirely possible to have institutions that are independently managed if you have a truly free judiciary. i.e. you could have the electoral commission under judicial purview if only the courts were totally free. LKY made it clear in the 80s he expected the courts to toe the government line especially after the right of appeal to the Privy Council was abolished.

    Do you think it is fair that 40% of citizens vote against the gov and they receive less than 10% parliamentary representation? How can that possibly reflect the aspirations of the citizenry? Are you proud our government locks people away without trial instead of charging them with crimes? I am not. In fact it revolts me. Are you proud our government interferes with our universities so we are forced to learn only from professors who toe the government line. I am not.

    Are you proud our government thinks every bit of information it has should be secret until deemed otherwise or do you think everything should be transparent until proven it needs to be secret? Why so much secrecy? Why can't people be trusted to know how much money the gov has, for example? After all. It is our money!

    And please, spare me the "other countries do worse argument" - it is a non sequitur. We are in Singapore and the way our country is run is what we should care about.

    Also - why always use the USA as an example if you are comparing. America has a population of 300 million. Why not use Sweden as an example. Smaller population and totally different way of doing politics and certainly much fairer.

    40% of the country has woken up to the fact that the government has been treating people unfairly. At the next election it should be a whole lot higher and hopefully then we will start to see real reform.

    1. 1. Free Media - Which country would you like to use as a shining example of free media? In countries where media is 'free', it is the tycoons that own the media that get into bed into politicians. Don't be so naive. Grow up. When media is opened up, corporate interests come in.It becomes about making money,. You have this rose-tinted illusion of 'free' journalists going about uncovering the truth. Nothing could be further than the truth. Media is big business. Whoever has the money in 'free media markets' controls the truth.

      2. When you vote a party in to become the government, it is because you believe in their plans. Therefore, for the next 5 years the party plans ARE the government plans. That is democracy.

      3.We have first past the post system. That's the way it is. 50.1% of votes can win 100% of seats technically. Proportional representation is another alternative, but it also has its own problems.

      I don't have to discuss the merits of various voting systems here. You can read it up yourself.

      4. Pick up a book on international economics. No economy makes it totally transparent how much reserves one has otherwise you open yourself up to speculators who can attack your currency knowing exactly what your defences are.

      5. Sure. Sweden. No independent electoral commission. Happy? :)

    2. Re point 4:
      Refer to the SWF of Norway. It is totally at the other end of the spectrum compared to our 'transparent' Temasek.

    3. You mean the investment by Norway in surveillance equipment services for Syria, Burma and Iran?

    4. You really know how to twist facts. Amazing.

    5. No I mean Singapore's arms sales to Burma.

    6. Great. I guess we Temasek did well to learn from Norway, as you suggested :)

    7. Hey I thought Singapore had a longer track record of secretly selling arms to Burma? Our conversation really mirrors the AIM-FMSS one ah? :) is the party guilty as charged? Fairness and ethics are never considered. Everything legal mah. :)

  14. You know why GRCs are unfair:

    Supposed that now, we did a very extreme example of GRC: Whole Singapore is 1 big GIC.

    Now, it is either opposition win, or opposition dont have any seats. Not fair to the 40% who voted for them!

    1. Disagree. This wouldn't be very dissimilar to the US presidential elections where George W Bush won the Presidency whilst losing the popular vote. Given the turn out in US, less than 30% of people voted for George W Bush.

      This is the way First Past the Post system works - winner takes all.

      I actually think having the whole of Singapore as one GRC may not be such a bad idea. In other countries, the size of Singapore would actually be ONE constituency. Singapore is so small, yet we have so many constituencies

      If Singapore were on big GRC, voters have a simple choice. You either want PAP to be the government or you don't. Majority wins.

  15. I agree with Calvin here. The GRC system is unfair to the opposition only if we work with the assumption of a crap opposition. But the GE2011 has really shown us the following:

    1) An really good opposition team can in one fell swoop take control of a large area.

    2) The team does not even have to be solid on all fronts, though. More rookie WP members could ride on the coattails of Sylvia Lim and Low Thia Kiang to enter Parliament, rather than fight on their own. Ironically, this was what happened with how Tin Pei Ling got voted in as well.

    3) A PAP cabinet minister can actually be voted out. Unfortunately, at the time it was George Yeo, who probably was not the number one on who the people felt had undelivered.

    4) We push the opposition to get better. Its not just about one man fortresses like Low, Chiam, etc. If we are to move towards a first world parliament, we'll need the various teams to come up with first world personnel too.