6/16/2006 02:51:00 PM
PAP Vs WP
In the 2006 election, the opposition contested 47 out of the 84 seats in parliament, For the first time since 1988, with the Workers' Party contesting 20 seats.
The Workers' Party was in a better shape than before and carried out preparations earlier and was seen to be the most credible threat to the PAP. There were even talks of the party winning Aljunied GRC. (Note: The opposition have never won a GRC before since the GRC system was introduced in 1988) A rejuvenated WP, under the leadership of Secretary-general and sole WP MP Low Thia Khiang and WP's first woman chairman Sylvia Lim, released its manifesto ahead of PAP and introduced several well-qualified candidates.
What was even more surprising for the electorate was this: The Workers' Party with its limited resources and funds were able to put up 20 capable, honest, clean, credible candidates for the elections. Coming from all walks of lives, these candidates includes a political science graduate, financial controller, entreprenuer, lecturer, businessman, etc. Of the twenty candidates, 3 were woman candidates. This attracted pretty much attention and Singaporeans stood up and took noticed of this rising political force.
The Workers' Party underwent the renewal process of its 3rd generation leadership by appointing Miss Sylvia Lim, who joined the party in 2003, as its party chairman. Young and dynamic candidates who joined the party after the 2001 elections were also pushed to the forefront to lead the charge to gain more seats for the party. The Workers' Party began the renewal process even earlier than PAP and this goes to show the party's emphasis on continued self-renewal in order to stay in touch and valid with the electorate.Comparing the Workers' Party with the other opposition parties, the Workers' Party stood out with its dynamic personalities, better and systematic organisation, a more efficient application of resources.
More importantly, the Workers' Party did not engage in a tactic of tic-for-tat with the PAP. The party abandon a confrontational behaviour towards the PAP, focuses on its agenda and went about bringing their agenda to the electorate.
The Workers' Party realised that open confrontation will never ever bear fruit in Singapore and will not appeal to the electorate. This was something that the SDP fail to appreciate.
The Workers' Party was much more willing to renew and in the process, attracted a bigger talent pool than the SDA. It was clearly evident with the profiles and characters of the various candidates of the Workers' Party when measured up against those candidates from the SDA. The failure of the SDA to attract woman candidates will also be key to its credibility and image.What does all this mean for Singapore's political landscape:1. The various opposition parties will be unable to continue to stay relevant & will self-destruct from within and/or fade away into annoymity. 2. The most powerful and credible threat to the PAP's rule will be the Workers' Party, in the short-term and in the foreseeable future.In conclusion, the author's vision of a 2 party system of politics in Singapore is slowly but surely being realised. Internal factors within the Workers' Party, for instance, its continued emphasis of self-renewal, and the ability to attract good candidates, coupled with external factors like the sef-destruction of the other opposition parties, the electorate's desire to see a credible opposition, makes this vision a reality. The Workers' Party will thus be able to coordinate to opposition efforts against the PAP, and with greater economies of scale, comes greater financial funds and resources.However, the most significant aspect of this rising force is that the electorate, being much more educated and tenacious, do applaud the significant inroads that the Workers' Party is making in terms of image, publicity, renewal. For the first time in Singapore political history, the electorate sees the possibiity of a future alternative government coming from the Workers' Party.WP Vs PAP in all 84 seats: It's not that impossible after all ~
6/15/2006 02:40:00 PM
The Young & Restless
In the 2006 general elections, out of the 1.22 million eligible voters who fortunately had the chance to cast their votes, an approximate 40% of the electorate were made up of the young and were most probably voting for the first time.The young in this context refers to the 3rd generation of Singaporeans. Singaporeans who did not experienced the ardous process of nation building and were the main beneficaries of the PAP system. This group of people are usually born after 1975.
The young had the opportunity to study about Western values, history, culture and the system of government and most of the young do compared our model of government that we have in Singapore to the form of government they see in more established democracies. Slowly, but surely, major flaws in the system were inevitably noticed.The young were not only more daring to challenge the status quo and more willing to question the major flaws in the government, for instance, the government's habit of filing libel suits against the opposition to keep them out of the fray, the GRC system, the politial donations act, the attitudes of the PAP in Hougang and Potong Pasir, but this group of people are also able to come up with alternative ideas, policies that could potentially be much better than the policies of the current PAP government.
In the 2006 elections, it was clearly evident that the PAP courted the interests of the young aggressively. This was clearly illustarted in the TV debate that MM Lee Kuan Yew had with a group of young journalists. The PAP do realised that this group of people is increasingly pivtol to the balance of power in Singapore in the years to come. Ignoring them is as good as political suicide.In the opinion of the author, the government faced an uphill challenge of striving to stay relevant to the young. Although there was no concrete evidence to show that the young tend to vote against the PAP, but if the PAP were to continue to adopt strategies and policies that were so effectively in pulling in the votes of the 1st and 2nd generation of Singaporeans, this new force in Singapore politics could be eventually become disillusioned with the government and would most probably expressed this at the ballot box in the 2011 elections.In short, the 2006 elections exposed the fact that the PAP is not in sync with the 3rd generation of Singapore and plenty needs to be done to bring them into the fold. What makes this group of Singaporeans different from their predecessors is this: They are not so easily taken in by the "hongbaos" given out by the government as they are able to better reason out and decide for themselves the underlying motives and intentions of the PAP and its policies. However, what is the most detrimental to the PAP about this group of young and restless Singaporeans, is that they possessed the ability to be the "informal" government is terms of policy-making and breeding of better ideas and concepts - policies and ideas that the PAP government sorely needs to bring the country forward.The inability to involved them in the the decision and policies making process could spark off an exodus of votes to the increasingly credible and appealing opposition who are increasingly been perceived as being able and equally as capable as the people in the PAP government, and who might be able to address the needs and demands of this group of young and restless Singaporeans better
6/10/2006 01:43:00 PM
Rise of the Internet Media
If one still remembered, 3 weeks before the last parliament was dissolved for the elections, the government banned the use of podcast and other relevant internet media during the 9 days of campaigning.
The official line was this:
1. To ensure responsible use of the internet during campaigning as the free-for all environment of the internet is open to abuse.
2. The government's view is that people can have diverse views, but should not hide behind the anonymity of the internet, to manipulate public opinion.
It was again stated clearly by the government that individual bloggers can discuss politics, but have to register with the Media Development Agency if they persistently promote political views and even when registered, they are not allowed to advertise for any political parties during the hustings - something only political parties, candidates and election agents are allowed to do only.
If this above regulation was to be forcefully enforced, many netizens, like the author himself, would have seen the authorities knocking on their doors, sharing a cup of coffee and toast at the icy-cold Cantonment Complex along New Bridge Road. It seems like all the netizens in the internet-sphere, other than the Singapore Democratic Party escaped unscathed.What account for this phenomenon and its significance for the PAP ruling party?The author strongly believes that more and more Singaporeans, especially the young(ages between 18 to 35) are becoming disillusioned with the arrogance, seemingly know-what-is-the-best-for-us attitude and more importantly, unfair politics; with regard to the GRC system, upgrading as a carrot and stick tactic, the political donations act and many more other issues that serve to undermine and disadvantage the opposition.This phenomenon further erupted in a stream of hot lava and volcanic gas, after the arrogant and persistent media mistreatment of James Gomez, one of the Workers' Party candidate for Aljunied GRC.
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew went on and asked that James Gomez sue him for his words said. (It worth noting the extent of arrogance of the PAP, and their disregard for the intergrity for a fellow political opponent.)Compare this kind of politics practised by a 1st world government to the Westminister form of electoral debate in Britain and we will get a glimpse of how 1st world the PAP government is.Thus, it was of little wonder that netizens was forced into action and used whatever available resources they could get their hands on to voice out their respectively viewpoints, opinions, perspectives on various election issues and other related bread-and-butter issues and more importantly to address the biasness and unfair reporting of the local mainstream media during the hustings.
Of course, given the strength of the PAP, its past track records, past achievements and its party machinery, there should be no need to fear the words of a few netizens out to discredit the government and lower the standing of the PAP in the eyes of voters, especially first-time voters.
However, right now, the government is changing stance and are looking to review the parliamentary elections of 2001 and loosen up on the ban on podcasting and videoasting on the internet during elections. You might ask why ?Ride this Net animalGovernment to review media policies for next GEThis is a significance coup for the all netizens, bloggers and political activists in Singapore.
The author hereby put forward this:1. The PAP government, having witnessed the marauding effect of the internet media during election 2006, is geniunely fearful that this might lead to a political-reawakening of Singaporeans, which have been consistently suppressed by the PAP's indifference to political education. This could very well in the future, break all boundaries and undermined its all encompassing hold on power.
2. Furthermore, the PAP government wants the internet media to grow and develop but at their own pace and discretion and within its sphere of control, so as to draw maximum political and social benefits for itself.In a nutshell, that pot of water which is the political awareness of Singaporeans, is boiling and the emergence of political netizens serves as firewood/charcoal, threatening the overflow of that pot of water, which could extinguish the raging fire below. The PAP, on the hand, seeks to control the influx of firewood/charcoal into the fire so as to boil its own eggs in the water, but at the same time, keeping the lid in its rightful place.
Election 2006 could very well be a watershed in the development of politics in Singapore, with the rise of the internet media being the main perpetrator.
6/08/2006 08:13:00 PM
Colossal Failure of the PAP's electoral tactics
Election 2006 saw a major, significant collapse of the PAP's electoral tactics in Hougang and Potong Pasir.Way before the election mechanism was set in place, the PAP saw it as a major election objective to re-capture Hougang and especially Potong Pasir.
They promised everything from upgrading to funds to "committed' PAP candidates to serve and reward the residents of the Hougang and Potong Pasir if the PAP gets voted into power. On the day before voting day, SM Goh Chok Tong even put everything on the line by promising S$100m and S$80m to Hougang SMC and Potong Pasir SMC respectively.
The difference between Election 2006 and the past elections is this: The PAP was so confident of victory in Potong Pasir that Mr Lim Boon Heng, Chairman of the People's Action PArty declared that winning 83 out of 84 will be a good showing for the Prime Minister way before voting day itself. SM Goh, who was tasked by the PM Lee to re-capture Potong Pasir and Hougang, commented that victory in Potong Pasir is highly likely
; Hougang might prove to be more of a challenge.
There's good reason for the top echleon of the PAP to feel this way. The winning margin of the incumbent Chiam See Tong had been diminishing with every passing election. The battle for Potong Pasir went as close as 52% to 48% in favour of the opposition in the 2001 general election. From the perspective of the PAP and the rest of Singapore, Mr Chiam See Tong have been the MP for the last 25 years and not much materials improvements was made to the living environment in Potong Pasir.
On top of that, Mr Chiam is ageing and the committment, energy and passio level was questioned repeatedly by the PAP. (If the Lee Kuan yew at the age of 83, is still very much involved in the government as the Minister Mentor, the author find the accusation of the PAP as rather baseless and illogical).
Fast forward to the night when the election results was announced. Not much surprises in the opposition camp. The opposition kept Hougang SMC and Potong Pasir SMC and lost every other seat contested across the island. The most stunning aspect of the results, however was this. Mr Low Thia Khiang and Mr Chiam See Tong improved on their winning margins by 7% and 3% respectively.
An interesting phenomenon indeed.Personally, the author believes that this result came as a total surprise to the entire leadership of the PAP.
The question of "what happens" was on the lips of the PAP and its supporters, but obviously it was made in a subtle manner. The PAP stayed cool in the face of the result and insisted that winning out of 84 seats was a very good result (Was that what they say before the election?)
and the focus in the maintream media was on the strong mandate that Singaporeans gave to the PAP leadership.The author put forward this argument. The PAP believes that the snatching of Potong Pasir from the opposition was within sight and major headways will be made in Hougang. In this instance, it is reasonable to argue that the PAP's election tactics and agenda in the opposition-controlled ward of Hougang and Potong Pasir was not in sync with the voters in Hougang and Potong Pasir and had thus failed on a substantial level. Basically, they couldn't find the appropriate wavelength to reach out to the residents in the Hougang and Potong Pasir.
Thus, it was not surprising to see the PAP reviewing its electoral tactics in Hougang and Potong Pasir in such a short span of time after the election, with SM Goh once again spearheading the review. The seriousness that the PAP placed on this issue further reinforced the author's argument.It signal a colossal setback to the PAP leadership and the PAP would find it even more diffcult to pry Hougang and Potong Pasir away from the opposition in the next election due in 2011. This could very well signal the first indication of a complete entrenchment of opposition power in Hougang and Potong Pasir.