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Aftermath of GE2011

May 8, 2011 2 comments

As the tensions cooled down, let’s take a brief look at what are the areas oppositions can do better for GE2106:

Candidates Credibility: WP’s star catch Chen Show Mao definitely plays a part in candidacy credibility. Other opposition parties have been weak in pushing out candidates that could convince conservative Singaporeans that their candidates are worthy to be voted into Parliament. For NSP, the only candidate who’s name registered in most people’s minds is Nicole Seah. I think NSP should build up their profile and candidate awareness over the next 5 years. Then, we have the President’s scholar couple Tony Tan and Hazel Poa, but their ‘fickle’ merry go round jumping from WP to RP to NSP might have hurt their chance in gaining credibility despite their scholarly pedigree. I won’t comment too much on RP as I had made my stand in one of my earlier posts. Vincent Wijseysingha is a good speaker but he rallied too much around emotions instead of supporting his speech with factual arguments.

If we strip away the ministers and PAP logo, all new candidates from the ruling party fares not much better. The only PAP candidate that I think is worthy to look upon is ex-general Tan Chuan-Jin, who came across as another George Yeo, sincere and willing to listen, while the rest hardly registers. Among the disappointed PAP catch includes:

  1. Janil Puthucheary, a new citizen who’s poor attempt at equating NS to his job as a doctor to children shows insincerity and not understanding the Singaporean male population.
  2. Chan Chun Sing, another ex-general but whose character spells loud, crude, unkempt and gangsterism. Manners that are simply unthinkable for a top ranking military official who had studied at renowned institutions.
  3. Tin Pei Ling. I don’t have to illustrate too much on this figure. It’s unbelievable the PAP had gone down to such a stage.

The PAP brand is strong. And many Singaporeans tend to ask: “Just look at the lousy standard of the opposition parties” without looking into the qualifications of the opposition parties and the new PAP candidates. All these conservative and, pardon my strong words, myopic Singaporeans can see is the prominence of the ministers in each GRC. Unless an opposition candidate’s background is stellar like Chen Show Mao which is highlighted in local media and an extremely rare commodity, Singaporeans don’t even bother to research and compare the opposition and new PAP candidate qualification. They simply equate PAP brand = good, and Opposition brand = lousy. Put Tin Pei Ling into NSP and she totally fits into the typical stereotype of oppositions.

WP’s star power is gaining momentum and the party should leverage on their brand to attract more stellar candidates for the coming GE. The next 5 years will be tough. They have to work doubly hard to convince Aljunied voters that voting them into Parliament is the right choice. They have to work even harder now that the PAP will, hopefully, descend from their high grounds and get more in touch with the ground.With a GRC win, the turn of tide is in their favor. If WP can leverage on this well, I see more wins around the East such as Marine Parade GRC, East Coast GRC, Tampines GRC and Joo Chiat SMC for GE2016 as highly probable given the poor results of the PAP in these areas.

The opposition should also start to scrutinize the actions of the new PAP candidates especially the weak ones (such as the ones I had highlighted above) for the next 5 years. Not only will this pressurize all these new candidates who had ride on the coat tails of many heavy-weight ministers to really perform, concentrating and highlighting short-comings on the weakest links over the next 5 years will only be advantageous to the opposition camp. If the opposition camp is unable to recruit high caliber candidates, which is a recognized uphill task, the strategy they should choose is to discredit their opponents. While this may sound scheming, it is perfectly rational to do so as even the ruling party had chose to poke at every weak link they can find in this GE.

Correcting perspective of 2-party or multi-party government: The WP needs to correct the notion that only one ruling party is good for Singapore. There are still a lot of Singaporeans, young and old, that bought into PAP’s claim that a single party is better in leading Singapore’s progress. They should educate the citizens, that while all systems are not perfect, a democratic system had brought first world nations such as the United States, France and Canada to where they are today, and have many merits such as suppressing group think, corruption and providing alternative government should PAP fails. This education should be built over the next 5 years to strengthen their main message for this GE for the GE in 2016.

Strategize and concentrate Firepower: This is something that WP had done. Very well in fact. They carefully selected wards they have presence and concentrate firepower on the weakest GRC in 2006. In terms of manpower and branding power, the PAP is king. But if you can concentrate your manpower and branding on a few selected wards, you increase your chance of winning. What would have happened if NSP, which field the most candidates in this GE, field Nicole Seah, Tony Tan and Hazel Poa in Marine Parade GRC?

Stretching the PAP’s immense resources: The Opposition camp had done extremely well by contesting in 82 out of 87 wards. If the opposition parties did not send out such a large competing team to keep other ministers busy, WP might not have won Aljunied. This should continue for GE2016. While I wish Lee Kwan Yew good health, I doubt he can stand for election in the next 5 years. After all, he would be 93 years old by then. With a missing 2 ministers and 1 grand master, the PAP needs to find new candidates to fill in the big shoes for GE2016. Should the opposition manage to repeat a feat in GE2016, we see a real crisis for PAP’s 4G leaders renewal as the current elected new PAP candidates won’t have enough time to rise to ministerial post in 5 years time going by PAP’s track records.

P.S.: There’s rumors going about in cyberspace that the induction of Tin Pei Ling is to smoother the ground for the incoming of the grandson of LKY into politics in GE2016. After all, you need a young sacrificial lamb to ensure another late 20 something can gain credence from the voters in 5 years time. But that is entirely speculative.

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Categories: Opposition candidates

A small step for Democracy in Singapore. 7th May 2011 is a date to remember.

May 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Finally, the results are out. Although the results are expected, I had mixed feelings about it. The respectable Chiam See Tong and his wife had lost both Bishan and the long served Potong Pasir. It is such a pity when 114 votes (or 0.36%) determined PAP’s win on SPP’s strong hold with 200+ votes disqualified. Mr Chiam’s old age and current health status might have some voters worried about how the party can continue to serve.

On the other side, I was happy that a GRC is finally won by the Workers’ Party. However, it came at a cost. A good minister was lost. Personally, I think George Yeo is one of the more sincere and capable ministers. Yes, to be fair, as a Foreign Affairs Minister, his policies do not impact Singaporeans directly. Transport and Housing ministers, who’s policies are so apparent to the public eyes, tend to attract more criticism. Now that Mr Low’s party had won, they have the uphill task of improving Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC to greater heights in order to continue attracting votes in year 2016.

In cyber space, hundreds and thousands are crying out for the unfairness in justice with the loss of a good minister while a seemingly incapable and childish Tin Pei Ling ride on SM Goh’s coat tail into Parliament. This GE perfectly illustrated the strengths and weaknesses of a GRC system. Because each GRC depends on a minister, who’s policy impacts are highly visible, citizens tend to vote for the ruling party unless a policy failed drastically. You win as a group and lose as a group. Because there is one minister guarding each GRC, when a GRC is lost, the loss of at least one minister is inevitable. Discount away a minister and the party logo, and do you think the new candidates of PAP is still more capable than the opposition parties? This shows how hard it is for opposition to gain credibility with a PAP minister in each GRC.

Aljunied is a special case. Workers’ Party A-team proved too popular and too convincing for the residents of Aljunied. The WP, I dare say the strongest opposition in Singapore, is wise to not only campaign on emotion but also on logic. Mr Low’s track records is also a good reference point for voters. Other opposition parties had been rather weak in presenting logical arguments and also do not enjoy a track record to show like WP. On the overall, it’s good that PAP is finally seeing the signs that their policy needs tweaking and they need to listen. Comparing the overall performance of the past 3 GEs, we have seen PAP’s overall votes going down from 70 over % in 2001 to 66.6% in 2006 and now only 60.17% in 2011.

PM Lee just gave his concluding speech a while ago on national TV. He mentioned that some governments in Europe with multi-parties can forged and collaborate on good policy making, and then U-turn again to take a poke at WP by saying that a 2-party government might cause the government to stall due to politicizing aims. I am totally disgusted at this. I realized a lot of my older generation relatives also have this thinking. “It’s best to just let in a few of these opposition jokers to pressure the PAP but not too many. Haven’t you seen how the governments in other countries fight within themselves?”

I think the opposition parties should have addressed this accusations by the PAP to correct the citizens’ perspective. Democracy is chaotic because it demands arguments. Arguments are good because it forces better reasoning and justification for policy making. Yes, it might result in a stalled government. But that is part and parcel of an accountable democratic system! To put it simply, I have one quote to say, which you readers of my blog may wish to share:

“If a 2-party or multi-party government is bad, how does the United States, United Kingdom, France and so many other democratic nations achieve what they have today as powerful, modern, liberal and high-tech nations?”

Reality speaks for itself. Singapore is not so unique that it can only depend on one political party. Nor are our policies entirely unique. Having experience in a ministry, I spoke from my experience that our policies are usually referenced from many other countries.

I’m taking a rest from writing. I’ll follow up on a post on why I think the opposition parties had lost in this GE tomorrow.

After this GE, I decided to keep this blog ongoing, albeit of lower frequency, to illustrate my views on policies by the government.

Singapore Pride

May 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Workers’ Party connection with the citizens are obviously the strongest. Singaporeans used to cite their pledge with much pride back in the good old days, until the compulsory pledging every day in primary and secondary school dilutes the meaning of it. So much for national education…..And here, we see a video when the Lions roared again:

Categories: Opposition candidates

Why PAP wants Opposition to offer better ideas

May 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Some of my friends also said that if the opposition parties have nothing to offer, then they have no qualification to query the ruling party’s policy.

To me, it’s simply game theory. Will you tell your opposing party your solution before you take the test? After all, it’s the ruling party that is paid millions to offer policy solutions. Why would you offer your solution to them for free? I understand some might call it selfish. But let’s face it, it’s a political struggle for every election. Given the poor records of how PAP puts down the opposition (can simply google. There are so many examples online I don’t have to list it out), it is very likely the ruling party will give themselves credit after adopting solutions offered by the opposition party.

Call it bias, I am quoting an article by the Singapore Democratic Party’s website: Click here.

SDP’s Tan Jee Say, who had extensive experience in the civil service, is easily more experienced in policy modeling than all that ex-generals, 7-year grassroot leader who had husband whose current job is Mr Tan’s previous job, new citizen doctors and banking directors the PAP had pushed out in this election.

Do you think that the PAP is still the only capable ones around? Think again.

Fear in choosing ‘unqualified’ opposition? Rubbish!

May 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Some of my friends commented that although they would love to see more democracy, they are worried about the weaker opposition competing in their area and that their estate would deteriorate. Everyone seems to hope for a Workers’ Party Low Thia Kiang or Sylvia Lim to come to their estate instead. Then they will justify their voting choice by saying that there is a minister at their ward.

Such, is the way the GRC system works. But inserting a minister into every GRC, it makes people think that their ward will be better attended. The PAP also keep shouting about their track records. What track records to compare to? After monopolizing the government, country resources, country talent pool and politics experience, the opposition never got a chance to display track records of any kind. It is like how Singaporeans never know how lousy the Mediacorps (then called SBC) shows are back in the 80s until foreign TV shows entered the market. Since then, given the ‘new’ track records of the foreign TV shows, Singaporeans came to realize how much they have missed out. Going by the logic, if we keep looking to the past looking at PAP’s track records, there will never be any opposition that is qualified.

The monopolization of talent (look how many PAP candidates are government scholars) also means that it is extremely difficult to find good talents in the opposition camp. Chen Show Mao, despite his scholarly pedigree, is a rare find that did not take on government scholarships. If he did, he would have appeared on PAP’s search radar a long time ago. In any case, I find it a joke that the top A-level student be denied a place in NUS Medical faculty. Do you know that the number of Singaporeans admitted to the undergraduate program at Harvard College stands at single digit a year? How many scholars in government actually managed to gain a place in Harvard College? Do not equate Harvard College admission difficulty to Harvard University, which is the post-grad branch. It is relatively easier to enter a post-grad program at Harvard. If you have a good degree from another renown university, and belongs to the government’s elite, why would Harvard not accept you for post-grad?

“What if the opposition lead to Singapore’s fall??” some people might asked. Please, please, please use your brain dear Singaporeans. The government does not refer to the PAP alone. It also includes the Civil Service. Do you really think that all the planning of policies and executing is done by the ministers? Having more opposition does not affect the continuation of the hardworking and honest civil servants who will keep the government operations going. Lee Kwan Yew won’t be able to gain credit (overly credited, an overdraft if you ask me) as the founding father of modern Singapore if not for able lieutenants such as Dr Goh Keng Swee and Ngiam Tong Dow. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that the opposition (even with the win in Marine Parade GRC and Aljunied GRC) is big enough in numbers to vote against any new policy. What the larger number of opposition, while in no standing to influence policy changes, can ask for a clearer accountability and transparency. The opposition will also be there to prevent constitutional changes as and when the PAP government likes. There is only benefit, no harm to Singapore.

And why would opposition parties, who are also fellow Singaporeans, want to see their country’s downfall? It is a fallacy for the PAP to demonize the opposition as failures who is incapable of contributing to Singapore. Such statements only shows the arrogance and ignorance the PAP has towards the ground. They think they are the only smart ones in this entire world!

So dear readers, open your eyes and research more. Ignore all the fear-mongering the PAP is propagandizing. Why would the ruling party undertake such underhand tactics if they are indeed in their words, fair and square with nothing to hide? Your HDB value will not go down (please do a simple check at Hougang HDB resale prices), the absence of the PAP branch does not means that Singapore’s growth will brake immediately or will slow down over time. Give the opposition a chance to help contribute to our country’s democratic progress. We voters are smart enough to judge ourselves in 2016 on whether the opposition is doing a good job should they be elected in.

A message to the PAP:

At the end of the day, the main reason I am voting for the opposition instead of an ‘able’ ruling party is because I would want a party that is accountable, transparent, and honest. No matter how capable you are, if you are unaccountable, pushes responsibility away, and most importantly, hypocritical, dishonest, unscrupulous and engage in dirty tricks to discredit the opposition, I don’t see how good a leadership you can be. If you don’t display any moral leadership, what is there to prevent you from running from the country with all the country’s reserve leaving us citizens at lurch should there be a crisis? There is already not much moral authority you can command with that huge paycheck you are paying yourself and yet you are engaging in smearing tactics. How much more moral are you to begin with?

Categories: Opposition candidates

Haven’t felt so nationalistic in a long while

April 30, 2011 1 comment

Imagine a time where every where you turn is a Singaporean and speaks with a local accent. Imagine the nationalistic fervor that you once felt when you stood in the national stadium for National Day. I managed to reminisce that feeling when I attended the Workers’ Party rally at Serangoon stadium. For once in a long time, I felt like home.

Nationalism is a dirty word in an open society like Singapore. Somehow, it is linked with the word Protectionism. It insinuate unwillingness to be open to foreign elements. Yet, we see how important cohesiveness is in countries like Japan when the tsunami struck and Korea when it jumped back to an economic power a few years ahead of schedule after the Asian Financial Crisis. Do Singaporeaneans felt less nationalistic nowadays? I must say I do. There is so much resonance when a student in NUS told Goh Chok Tong that he doesn’t know what he is protecting nowadays as an NSmen.

I certainly agree with WP East Coast GRC candidate Eric Tan when he said we, as Singaporeans, are not anti-foreigners by nature. It’s the influx of foreigners that made us anti-foreigners. When I looked around in my office and see that less than 40% are Singaporeans, I felt like a minority back in the United States. Then we see news of how new citizens supported the PAP (reported in chinese newspaper zaobao: http://www.zaobao.com.sg/ge/pages/ge110428s.shtml) showing how much love the ruling oparty has for foreginers. The question we now wish to ask is: Why is the ruling party so much more welcoming of the foreigners, giving them more opportunities than their own citizens? Why is the ruling party making so much efforts to attract and kowtow to foreigners pushing away their own talents?

I looked around my office and think about the foreign classmates and colleagues I had. Are they really considered talents? In my opinion, I don’t think so. Then why are all of them allowed into Singapore? Aren’t we being too open? The PAP has lost it. After going to the rally and experiencing so much resonance with what the WP candidates had said, I conclude that the PAP had lost it.

Talk about Young candidates & Destruction of the Social Fabric

April 20, 2011 Leave a comment

And here we have another young female candidate. A contestant from NSP, Ms Nicole Seah is only 24 years old, barely out of university. Sharing almost similar educational background (both from NUS FASS and both from the USP program) as Tin Pei Ling, she will be competing in Marine Parade GRC according to her facebook to go heads on with Ms Tin. Despite her prettier face (Yes, I admit it’s a superficial point. But even looking good is an important factor in politics) I have to be fair in my criticism. She too does not reflect as much credentials as Ms Tin. The only thing working in her favor is she has yet to do much damage (unlike Ms Tin) since she hasn’t really come out to the media. She did managed to gain some points with a well written note on her facebook which carries a logical and straight-forward message, unlike the fluffy pointless note that Tin Pei Ling had wrote. While I can’t critic on Ms Nicole at the moment, at least she shows ability to present a more coherent and persuasive argument.

The ruling party always urge the opposition party to send out their candidates as soon as possible citing that the voters need time to assess the new candidates. While I agree that this is a fair statement, let us not forget that the ruling party controls as and when to call for election. There is asymmetric information and therefore gives the ruling party an unfair advantage. Introducing the candidates earlier allows voters to assess their capability earlier. Along with it comes not only a period of assessment but also a period of attack. The chinese has this saying: To understand the enemy is to our own advantage.

Once an opposition candidate is made known to PAP, the party will, in full rationality, study on the subject and find the weakest link to attack. It therefore only makes much sense for the opposition party to delay introducing their full candidates at the earliest date. In any case, as the ruling party, the PAP has only one strategy, and that is to lead the way in introducing their candidates for the elections.

When Chen Show Mao, a talent in WP came into foray, the only thing the PAP can pick on is his ’30 years away from Singapore’, choosing to ignore the reported fact that he came back to Singapore 4-5 times a year and had served NS despite being a non-naturalized citizen. However, the recent PAP attack on whether Mr Chen understands Singaporean’s aspirations carries a very huge backlash given that the PAP is contesting 2 new citizens. Asking a Singaporean to choose between a Singaporean who have served NS since young and a new citizen who just recently applied for citizenship after the NS-compulsory age of 35 is a no brainer. It is a fact that new citizen is just another term for ‘more permanent PR’ to Singaporeans who are born, bred, and lives in Singapore. 2 basic factors, National service and the ‘Singaporeaness’ differentiate a Singaporean and a new citizen.

National service forms a very unique, very important and very emotional part of all Singaporean males. We gave up 2.5 years of our precious youth and duty bound by law to serve reservists every year until the age of 45-50 years old. Youth that is given up for the nation, youth that can never be bought back no matter how much millions or billions you may have. It is something that connects all Singaporean males no matter what is your background (except maybe those white horses. Mah Bow Tan’s eldest son was the personal assistant to the commander of 1 PDF back in year 2005. Question is why is he the personal assistant to the highest power in the camp? And he drives in his expensive and exotic antique cars every day, in full view of all the NSFs, regulars and NSmen coming in for IPPT. Tell me that is not favoritism in play), something intangible and something that tug at our heart and soul. To put it simply, NS is something that connects Singaporeans.

Even female Singaporeans is connected by this factor. Females at the age of 18 or 19 who have male friends who served NS while they were studying in universities or were working will remember a period of their life when their male counterparts became almost bald, thin, tan and talk about nothing but NS stuff despite complaining so much about the sufferings and how much they hate it. Some females could also remember how they miss their boyfriends when their boyfriends got enlisted and the little precious hours per weekends they can be together a week. Wives will remember how they have to help their (generally pretty untidy and careless) husbands pack their reservist items when their husbands got called up to serve the nation. And lastly, mothers will remember the emotional moment in sending their sons for enlistment into Pulau Tekong and eventually became proud that their sons had grown into fine young men.

Then we talk about the Singaporeaness, the attitude, the behavior, the little things we did when we were young especially for the current young adults. The period when we had playgrounds with imported sand, the period when TCS is known as SBC, the period when our buses are non-air-conditioned, the kiasu-ism we so embrace, and so many other things that Singaporeans commonly share that is hard to put down in words. The link to the past when Singapore is still very Singapore with little foreigners, when people talk in Singlish and all kinds of dialects with the common accent. The connection then made us feel proud as Singaporeans. These are all quirky little stuff that may seem insignificant but when a Singaporean talks to another Singaporean, these are the things that connects. This connection is something new citizens can never see, learn and possess.

That is not to say that I am advocating anti-foreigners. I welcome foreigners as I believe in diversity and attracting talents. But I am against it when the influx starts to alters the social fabric of Singapore. Moreoever, experiences in the work place made me skeptical about whether all these foreigner talents are indeed talented. While some are definitely capable, I have seen a far larger share of incapable ‘talents’ that made you wonder why couldn’t other Singaporeans do this job (made worse when you happen to know some Singaporean that was not offered the same job). The top students in our local universities are usually Singaporeans, with a fair share of ‘scholars’ (such as those on Asean scholarship etc) from Malaysia, Indonesia, China and India not getting exceptional results that scholars are expected to deliver. That makes Singaporean undergraduates wonder why these ‘scholars’ deserve to be given a scholarship that could be given to Singaporeans instead. The question we should ask is whether we are really getting the talents we are asking for or are we simply admitting self-professed-talents with a blind eye? How did the government agencies determine who is or not a talent?

Nowadays, everywhere you go in this tiny little island, you see faces you are unfamiliar with when you are young, you see a fashion different from yours, you see a cultural behavior different from yours, you hear different accented languages any where and every where. The explosion in the influx exacerbated the problem as all these differences became magnified in all directions. I dare say the national identity, the Singaporeaness has weakened significantly over the past 10 years. And it is a very dangerous thing because once the cohesion is broken, it is very hard to rebuilt that patriotism a citizen has towards his or her own country.

We have seen how a strong national identity allowed the Japanese to be considerate towards one another, to continue social order despite the horrible earthquake and tsumani disaster and come together to make things better. We have seen how a strong national identity allowed the Koreans to bounce back from the Asian Financial Crisis and emerge as an even stronger economy. Our open door policy had brought in economic growth at the expense of destroying the national identity Singaporeans shared without organic growth. The question we should ask is, is it worth it?

Taking a leaf from the Japanese experience, should Singapore encounter a disaster like Japan, foreign MNCs, foreign talents and foreign workers will not hesitate to leave the country. It makes logical sense when they have an alternative to escape to, and we should expect them to do so. If I am to be in Japan when the quake happens, I too will leave Japan and fly back to my safer country. We Singaporeans have no where to go except this small rock that only has an area of almost 700 km square.

To Singaporeans who are reading this blog, are you feeling as Singaporean as you are when you are younger? To new citizens who are reading this blog, can you say, swear to God, that you can understand the Singaporeaness (which is more than just kiasu-ism) I am talking about?

Categories: Opposition candidates