Many thoughts run through my mind on this upcoming parliamentary elections (or as some say, general elections).
The system we have does not have a fixed time to hold it, but has to be done before the end of the 5 years from the last elections. That would make it by February 2012 I believe.
Now, what will most likely happen, as I have alluded to, is that the presidential and parliamentary elections will both be held at the same time (all in the interest of efficiencies not about democracy and accountability).
As the elections approach, it is interesting to see the amount of overt and disgusting coverage the local MSM is giving to the ruling party’s “newbie introductions” especially in the print MSM. As I rarely watch local TV, I cannot comment, yet, on what they are doing.
When the Singapore budget was announced in February, there were some amounts of cash that would be provided to the citizens by way of refunds from cancelled home radio and tv tax (aka license) and car radio licenses as well as other rebates based on the type of housing. All of this is well and good – the radio and tv tax was just ridiculous. The cynical amongst us would think that these monies are being given to the electorate as a ruse to buy (some say coerce) the votes so that the PAP will win. This vote buying has been a regular feature with the same tactics undertaken in 2006. Although the PAP will deny that it is vote buying (and “robustly” defend it), perhaps this time, the real truth slipped out. I was surprised to see a qoute in none other than the local MSM daily
which printed a “notable quotes” blurb on Sunday March 27, 2011 that quoted a PAP MP saying “The election should be after they get the cash, and before they finish spending it all!” (since that MSM is behind a stupid paywall, here’s a photo image of that part).
They, the PAP, have no shame. Really. Watch this ribbing by NCMP Sylvia Lim (Worker’s Party) and watch the ministers squirm in their seats.
They bulldozed through Parliament the pay hike for the Singapore president with zero debate and all they can do is to handwave the justification.
There are significant abuses of the system the incumbent government and political party has done.
We have no independent elections commission (we do not even have a constitutional court). The entity that runs the elections is the Elections Department which reports to the Prime Minister’s office. There is NO transparency on that. The ED is tasked with reviewing the electoral boundaries and in true gerrymandering traditions (which will being a tear to the eyes of Elbridge Gerry), they’ve done their re-drawing, presented it to the PMO and promptly accepted – no debate, no questions asked, no review.
- Who comprises the electoral boundaries committee?
- Why is the deliberations done in secret?
- Why were about 20K people moved out of Hougang and a new set of about 20K moved in? Classic 101 gerrymandering.
Of course the government will have their justifications for all of this but they have shown to be afraid to share the real reasons (obviously). These are no different from many other countries whose incumbents resist a fair fight. It is just that the PAP takes it to new levels of unaccountability.
Harish, this is a sad state of affairs and I see no hope. Wait for the mother of all gerrymandering and threats — the HDB upgrading issue. I do my fair share of ranting and criticizing them in a sg forum with a different moniker since 1998. Over the last 10 years, the sense of apathy has grown, not diminished. I am convinced that unless there’s a Black Swan moment, the practices of PAP will perpetuate.
By the nature of a Black Swan event, it is hard to predict. I do know that there are quite a bit of scenario planning that is done at the government level, but to what extent it is about regime change (involving the removal of the PAP) is hard to tell.
“Of course the government will have their justifications” which they do not even deign/dare to publish.
“Wait for the mother of all gerrymandering and threats — the HDB upgrading issue”
Colleagues and I were joking that it comes to pass that the PAP states that if we don’t vote for them, then it implies that we are against growth dividend and thus we would not get the money
Now that’s a thought. But since the PAP MP has dropped hints that the rebates/refunds/bribe-money was in return for votes for the PAP, I think they will find ways to increase the tax burden etc on the areas that went away from the PAP.
In any case, I suspect that there will be a big swing away from the PAP.
If you look at the superficial analysis I’ve done with the voting records from the previous elections (see http://harishpillay.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/data-analysis-sought/ and https://spreadsheets0.google.com/ccc?hl=en&key=tGMW6zVHPZm58Nt3YmFVKpg&hl=en#gid=12) the biggest disservice the PAP has done to the country was in continuing to neuter the existence of alternative views and ideas by amazing GerrymandeRed Constituencies (GRC) leading to administrative castration of voting rights via the walkover mechanism.
If you look at the 2006 record above, the amazing manipulation is very clear.
With 2,158,704 voting citizens, only 1123273 could vote of which 739822 voted for the PAP. Once again, 34.2 % of all voters voted for the PAP who got 97.6% of all seats. What an amazing multiple!
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