The Value of Checks and Balances

The Punggol East by-elections will be on Saturday, January 26 2013.

Let’s look at the choices Punggol East residents have:

a) PAP’s candidate. I think the good doctor probably has his heart in the right place, but the reality of the game is that he is beholden to the party in all parliamentary votes. He cannot vote what his constituents want him to because of the arcane manifestation of the party whip. Why have someone who you *think* is representing you and your views, only to be told by his party whip that any vote will be decided by the party regardless of what the constituents say. That, to me, is reason number one not to vote in a PAP person – he can only rubber stamp stuff.

b) WP candidate: WP also has the party whip and I am sure if the WP formed the government, they would exercise it. But since they are not, I think they have the singular advantage that the PAP candidate does not have in that they can vote based on what their constituents want. Never mind that it is likely that the PAP will get its way anyway, but it will be recorded in the Hansard and can be used in a checklist on the legislative actions of the MP.

c) RP candidate: I am sure Kenneth will be able to out debate the PM and the cabinet (provided they are willing to be in a debate), but I think he should not have thrown his hat into the ring this time around. But since he has, it is probably a good opportunity to gain experience. In the 2011 general elections he stood in the West Coast GRC and since that’s where I get to vote, I voted for the Reform Party. Alas, they did not win. But that’s OK.

d) SDA candidate: I believe that Desmond is sincere in wanting to serve. I do believe that he had spent many years with Chiam See Tong in Potong Pasir and has a sense of what happens on the ground. But, like RP, I think SDA should not have participated this time around.

If we all agree that it is important to have checks and balances, the only way it can be achieved is to have appropriately contrarian voices and not yes men. Any one of the candidates from WP, RP and SDA can be that voice, but my money would be on the WP as they are a group that is building ever so carefully a team to be able to form a shadow cabinet and in the future to form the government.

Unlike other areas, the PAP cannot just bribe the Punggol East voters with promises of HDB upgrading even though they did pull that MRT extension information out of the bag to sweeten the deal.  We need an embargo of these announcements during an election campaign period as this is clearly an abuse of the incumbent’s power to information not otherwise available. Just as there is a cooling off period before polling day, there has to be a moratorium of announcements during the campaign period. Of course the PAP will not accept this suggestion for it did not come from them and it will work against them, but I am hoping that the WP can bring this up in Parliament.

So the decision is simple. PAP lost all credibility in the way they have dealt with the AIM issue and we need to get to the bottom of that and the best way to send a message to the ruling party is by sending in a WP candidate.

Lee Li Lian for the seat of Punggol East!

Don’t spoil your vote.

Majulah Singapura.


  1. This is a very FAIR, OBJECTIVE & EXCELLENT article or perspective of the Punggol East By Election. If I were ignorant of the blunder after blunder and snow jobs the PAP had committed, I may believed that they are the same as the formative years of the gestation period of Nation building in the 60s to 80s until the removal of the Privy Council in Singapore Courts !!!

    • Thanks Arthur for your comment. The MSM today is all about praise of the ruling party and how their Secretary General spoke about Team Singapore etc. Team Singapore is not the same as Team PAP.

  2. Even if there is MCF, it pretty easy to tell who is the opposition frontrunner. just observe where PAP focus their firepower on. PAP has all the internal straw polls to know which opposition party is leading and it would be illogical to whack someone who is of little threat to them. By then PAP will just ignore the rest and focus on one party and so will the media. This reinforce the perception of a 2 horse race with the rest struggling to get their share of attention.

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