Friday, August 29, 2008

No by-election no matter what! Politics Singapore Style!

What People of Bukit Batok say
By Arul John (The New Paper)
Aug 29,2008

THE majority of parliamentarians voted one way, and heartlanders the other.

Do Bukit Batok residents feel the need for a by-election to fill the seat vacated by the late Jurong GRC MP Dr Ong Chit Chung?

Yes, said the majority of 150 who had a clear opinion.

The New Paper asked 150 people in Bukit Batok what they thought. And their views, depending on which side of the parliamentary debate you were on, would either be a vindication or a surprise.

While less than 10 per cent of Parliament felt a by-election was necessary, more than two-thirds of those we polled who were clear in their opinion felt they wanted a by-election (70 out of 100).
The rest - 50 - were not concerned either way.

They were either undecided or did not care.

Retiree S K Koh, who is in his 60s, said: 'If Malaysia could have a by-election, why can't we? Besides, it would show the democratic process here.'

Lecturer David Koh, 48, was one of those who felt the need for someone to focus on the constituency's needs. 'In the coming years, the future will be uncertain.

'We need a dedicated MP for Bukit Batok.'

Engineering student Alvin Tan, 30, said: 'Currently, Parliament is short of one seat. And without Dr Ong, the other four MPs have to share the workload.

'It's better to have somebody take over properly, and it would be even better if it's someone who has been working closely with Dr Ong and knows the area better.'

Among those who felt they could do without a by-election was student Muhammad Afiq, 18. 'Having a by-election and all that campaigning will be a waste of time and resources.

'It would be better if Parliament or the Cabinet chooses a replacement for DrOng.'

Housewife Madam Jay Norman, 61, said: 'One of the other MPs in the GRC can be the MP for Bukit Batok as he or she knows the constituency well already.'

Entrepreneur David Foo, 58, summed up the views of those who felt it wasn't a priority. 'It does not matter whether we have a by-election or not. We lost a good MP when Dr Ong died and we miss him but life still goes on.

'What is important is that Bukit Batok is still well-managed.'

Housewife Madam S K Tan, 48, said: 'I did not know the late MP well, so I have no opinions about a by-election.'

Additional reporting by Melissa Tan, newsroom intern and Catherine Lim, teacher on attachment

My comments:

Hi Friends,

TOC (The has said it.

Now one of MSM’s papers, The New Paper has also said it too.

That a significant number of people in Bukit Batok think that it is in their best interest to have a by-election.

The point about the two polls is...

Of course, any student who has done Statistics 101 will know that these two simple polls will not stand the scrutiny of statistical analysis as the design of the surveys leaves much to be desired.

But the point is that it is not as cut and dry as suggested by Mdm Halimah (Jurong GRC MP) who said that she was assured by her grassroot leaders that no resident in Bukit Batok has asked about a by-election. Really?

Grassroot organizations not acting as credible “eyes and ears” of government?

Why am I not surprised by these grassroot leaders' reactions? If simple polls like these show up not insignificant (sorry to use statistics phraseology) proportions of populations wanting by-elections but grassroot leaders saying otherwise- does it not just show how far removed these “eyes and ears” of the government are from the ground? Or do they just tell the PAP MP's what the latter want to hear?

Persuasive PM does not move me..

PM managed to move a Nominated MP (Bannerjee) into changing his vote. PM’s argument is that Singapore’s election system has changed ( some say "bastardised") from the Westminster system – which according to PM is MP-centric , to ours which is party-centric.

If that is the case, what say him that we just change to a system of party list where parties just draw up lists (according to party seniority) and the number of seats won would be according to percentage of votes obtained This would be in effect the Proportional Representation (PR) which the PAP so dreaded.

The parties can then allocate number of MP’s according to their own internal agenda. ( eg PAP No. 1 MM Lee (I don't know who No.2 is) etc and WP No.1 LTK, No2. Sylvia Lim etc). Those constituencies who vote majority for a certain party will get that party’s MP(s) and the winning party then gets to decide who seats where. (Bukit Batok would not need an MP as the present situation has already proven that there is actually an excess to requirement!).

My deep concern

I am gravely concerned that even a very reasonable motion by NMP’s Prof Thio and Dr. Loo was categorically dismissed. Even if more than half of a GRC’s MP’s have quit or if the only minority GRC MP has left – the PAP “die die” also will not have a by-election? So minority representation is not a big deal after all?

So does being party-centric mean that as PAP had won the majority of votes for Singapore, it has heaven’s mandate to do as it pleases? Really?

Why do I get the impression that PAP just cares about control and power?

I am feeling more than a bit disgusted!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan


Anonymous said...

Citizen-poll's majority = hold by-election.
Parliament's majority = no by-election.
Conclusion = MPs represents Party, not citizens.

Anonymous said...

Good equation !
The PAP have no respect for the people !
No point having 82 PAP MPs in parliament if they do not represent the people. The citizens who have blindly voted for the PAP in the past must redeem themselves. Stay focus and vote them out in 2011. Anything less is not acceptable. They have betrayed the peoples' trust.

Anonymous said...

The Opposition Political Parties and Politicians appear to me to be not in the least interested in this By-election Matter. It is like total silence from them. Why???


Kaffein said...

In response to patroit,

What can the opposition do? There is only 2 of them effectively, with NMP Sylvia who is not able to cast a vote.

All of which boils down to the 66.6% who gave the mandate power to the PAP. So there is little or no checks in place and very little representation of the MPs.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kaffein;

66.6% was years ago, but a By-election in Jurong GRC, if any, is an opening, an opportunity created by heaven for active political parties and politicians.

Now that Singapore has a latest Reform Party which appears to hold hands with the rest of other opposition parties, there seems no reformasi action at all to a heaven given opening.
Opposition Politicians in the Cabinet were/are less active than NMPs in the Current Parliament Debate, it's baffling to me.

Maybe, being a non-politician myself, political matters are too intricate for me to understand. But inaction by opposition parties and politicians certainly disappoint me. Even theonlinecitizen did polls to ask the Jurong Constituents.


Anonymous said...

To add to my above post.

Now, I just got to know at least one opposition party has never accepted the GRC System. Yet it contested in GRC Constituencies!

Pardon me, I am lost.


nofearSingapore said...

Hi patriot,
You are not the only one.
I am just as lost on WP's stand.
There were also against NCMP yet they took up the seat.
I think they should recognise reality and know that they have to win enough seats, get into a position so that they can undo PAP's controversy policies.

For this particular motion, they should have supported the NMP's motion with a caveat that they would have preferred not to have GRC system if they had a choice.

With the no by-election vote last week, it seems that only NMP's wanted to change it ( or funetune it) and everyone including WP opposed any change to status quo!

Eat money said...

The opposition either contest the GRC or let the PAP have a walkover. There are so many despicable practices the PAP have put in place. Elections dept in the PM's office, redrawing of boundaries, GRCs , upgrading benefits as coercion , changes to number of GRCs participants, short notice given for elections date. No opposition will accept these rules but do they have a choice other than surrendering ? It is similar to our justice system. Our politicians were sued in the Singapore courts and it takes IBAHRI to tell the world they never stood a chance. We are dealing with a govt in power that is severely lacking in integrity and sense of fairplay !

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Huang;

there is no doubt at all that that the Ruling Party have had all kind of unfair tactics to obstruct opposition parties. Having said this, the Opposition Parties have to show the citizens their mettles to fight, struggle and reason against the unfairness. Silence here simply means total defeat!

There were wind, lightning and thunder when Reform Party was inaugurated. But, the rain never come and now it seems dormant.

Personally, I thought the Socio-political Bloggers and fellow netizens are giving Opposition Political Parties and Politicians much support. However, despite this being the case, the Oppositions seem to lack the impetus to reciprocate. How are they to give the people confidence in them?

When I say I hate(dislike) durian, but eat them time and again, I cannot blame anyone for calling me a hypocrite! How can one 'NEVER ACCEPTED GRC SYSTEM' and yet participated in it?

Political Parties and their members have to pull up their socks. With their present showings, the Ruling Party can afford to relax and take it easy. It can see clearly for itself that the Oppositions are never a threat. It is obvious too to the Electorates now.


Anonymous said...

My apologies to readers, Dr Huang and Poster eat money. The Last Comment above from me is in response to eat money.


Anonymous said...

the WP have to stand in it and prove it to PAP that, look your GRC system is not invincible!

So im in favour of contesting in GRC even if u are for the idea of abolishing it.

Anonymous said...

Dr Huang;

if WP had never accepted the GRC System, it could have easily put their candidates to Single Seat Constituencies.

In the Last Election WP did not contest every Single Seat Constitueny. In fact, I rather wished they had put their GRC Contestants to more constituencies.

Maybe, I should apologize to WP Party for not knowing their stand against GRC. BUT, WP should also enlighten us(citizens), why they were in GRC Contests though it had 'never accepted' the System. And I hope they will be convincing.


eat money said...

Patriot, it is noble to believe in principles but not when you deal with a party which is basically cheating. I believe the WP must take the fight to the PAP on all fronts and should do it as an alliance with other political parties. This means the opposition alliance contesting every single seat and GRC. No BUTS and no walkovers! I agree with one netizen's view that the opposition must show the PAP their GRC is not invincible. They almost pulled it off in Aljunied.
At this moment, public sentiments are very much against the PAP and I believe the PAP leadership is feeling insecure. In the past, the PAP would have got away with many blunders using the MSM to spin a nice story. They still own the MSM but they do not own cyberspace. The opposition must step up their efforts to engage citizens in cyberspace. The objective should be more ambitious, even replacing the PAP as govt, because only a govt in power can change the laws, like having a referendum to settle certain issues.

Anonymous said...

There are only 9 single seats and if WP goes for all of them, it will clash with other opposition, maybe even make them lose deposit.

WP is not the only party, there are SDA and SDP. If they do that, pro-SDP people who are largely anti-WP will be the first to make noise because they have always been picking on WP on this. They also have to go Potong Pasir. Do you want WP to create a 3 corner fight with Chiam?

Anonymous said...

Dr Huang. Surely you are a doctor and would read that WP tried to amend the motion so that they can support it. But this was rejected by Parliament.

Anonymous said...

Tell me which opposition party supports GRC. Tell me which opposition party doesn't not support GRC and did not send candidates to GRCs.

Answer: NONE

Anonymous said...

"At this moment public sentiments are very much against the PAP and I believe the PAP is feeling insecure'. Unquote.

You are very right Sir! And this is where inaction by Oppositions are so very disppointing. An opportunity to ride on the Current Sentiments is heaven sent, but see the timidity! Where are their strategies and temerities(if I may call it)?

Any opportunity wasted this moment by the Oppositions means chances are given up and struggles abandoned.

Oppositions cannot afford to go into hibernations and only come to the fore when elections are announced. I do not know the plans and strategies of the Oppositions and I certainly look forward to them showing us, the voters their mettles.

Do wish the winning spirits are in them!


Anonymous said...

Not only did they nearly pull it off in Aljunied, they did so too in Eunos and Cheng San but only to find these two GRC GONE!!!!!!!

Continue to contest in GRC and show to MIW GRC is not invincible!

Eat money said...

I am just as puzzled by the lack of fire in the opposition because this is a good time to engage citizens in cyberspace and win hearts and minds. Did the PAP plead for time-out because of the recession and economic uncertainty ? Political cowards are capable of anything. lol
Netizens seem to be more active than the politicians and in itself is a positive thing.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi patriot, eat money and other readers ( anon),

We understand that the opposition operates under a great disadvantage and that it is as if the rule makers; referee & one of the teams are one and the same. We know it is not a level playing field.

But like patriot has so passionately said, the people want the opposition to speak louder. At this moment, the NMP’s esply Siew, the bloggers and even PAP MP’s like Lily Neo etc seem to be doing the opposition’s job. Does the WP want this to be the accepted norm?
The WP seem to be afraid of its own shadows and does not want to harness the internet for its purposes. What are you afraid of? Afraid of being charged by the PAP and thrown in jail or get disqualified from elections? That is part and parcel of politics.

Do you know that the recent softening of govt’s stand on demonstration at Speakers’ corner and political films is the result of action by Singaporeans other than the WP? I have to admit that much of the forcing opening of the door was by the SDP. They have taken the brunt of the hammering by the govt and will very soon face annihilation and if I am not wrong may be deregistered ( in no time). Once SDP’s activists are silenced, the govt can easily stop or even reverse the liberalization.

Now that it is legal to hold open demonstration and protests , will the WP increase their public exposure? Or will you wait for PAP’s invitation?

Anonymous said...

people, time will tell...

u dont want an opposition whereby the whole lot will be thrown into prison, do u?

by not seeing them, hearing them or knowing them, may not means they are not working.

besides engaging netizens, walking the ground is equally impt. Ppl like the auntie and uncle on the street who does not know how to use the internet.

they are our biggest bet apart from MIW :)

i really hope to see them winning a GRC and conquer PAP's GRC hahaha!

Anonymous said...

I recall that the freeing up of Speakers' Corner for protests came after the Myanmar episode. In that, an unprecedented number of S'porean youth tried to organise protests. So to say SDP is largely the factor for liberalisation is unfair to the rest. Without being disrespectful, I discerned moments when SDP tried to hijack the limelight from these other groups. If Dr Huang thinks SDP spearheaded protests then it shows their hijack was successful. Very few showed interested in their other protests.

But SDP has contrary to all said and done condemned this latest opening up rather than claim credit for it. And if it worries Dr Huang, I don't think they look like they will be silenced.

If WP were afraid of anything they wouldn't even step into politics. Why be real opposition or approved opposition when one can just be an ordinary citizen and spend more time with family. The opposition MPs are all doing well in career and probably earns more than what the MP allowance gives them. Esp the NCMP whose pay is pathetic. Surely Dr Huang who is a Dr and non-active (other than blogging) can understand that.

What WP have said for the last 10 or 30 years (depending on whether you want to start counting from LTK's or JBJ's leadership) affirms my belief that they will stand up for the political rights of people. They have a stand in almost every issue, the only problem to some is that they do not repeat it. A political party, they try to change the laws by getting into power and offering themselves as candidates. This is why one criticism of SDP is that they are confused on their roles as activists or politicians.

Anonymous said...

'Now that it is legal to hold open demonstration and protests , will the WP increase their public exposure? Or will you wait for PAP’s invitation?'

This statement is an oxymoron. PAP opened up the space for protest is itself an invitation. Anyone that does not do so means it does accept the invitation. Not the other way around as said by the author.

When people were asking why WP doesn't hold demonstrations, there are 2 possibilities. 1 - they are afraid of trouble 2 - they are afraid of poor perceptions. Now that protesting is legal and they do not do so, no. 1 doesn't count.

The truth is most S'poreans don't see a need to protest. Doesn't mean WP don't condone protests, just means they have the election process and will leave protesting to the activists who do not have the channel of standing for election.

Anonymous said...

Dr Huang and readers; good morning!

The recent situations in Thailand, Malaysia and those in the past such as Philippines' People Power Protests and Taiwan, Hongkong Demonstrations have made Singaporeans reaslized the freedoms enjoy by other countries. Singaporeans, largely affected by inflation and enterprises caused price increases are hardly able to bear the situation anymore.

Before emotions explode, our Rulers know allowing the release of anger by the citizens could reduce the mounting anger, it is indeed shrewd. But Singaporeans have to avoid giving opportunities for the Rulers to give up their powers and relinquish their leaderships to emmigrate abroad.

There may come a point when these Rulers can justifiably give up their powers, since the people are not happy and do not want them, to move abroad with their assets and live in abundance. Some may cite medical reasons too.

Though, it is calm and peaceful now, there is no guarantee that the people will bear with the hardships infinitely. Emotions may not be contained if situation deteriorates.

The Oppositions have hardly provided any consolation to the people all these years, neither will they be able to inspire the masses in the near future. I do not foresee them winning more than 10 seats for the next 15 years(three elections).

The above-mentioned are my personal understandings and views of local situations. The opinions could be very wrong and I beg for pardons if they differ too much with that of yours.


nofearSingapore said...

Hi all,

I am glad that the WP’s supporters ( and maybe the WP itself) are reading my blog and other blogs as well.

However, just reading blogs is not enough. They should at the least have a higher profile in not just coffee-shops but also in cyberspace.

Of course not seeing them or hearing them may not mean that they are not doing anything. But not seeing them and not hearing them could also mean that they are not doing anything or maybe nothing much. Singaporeans ( both English and Chinese-educated) are becoming more aware and many Chinese-cultured Singaporeans do access Chinese current affairs ( and political) articles via etc.

Even if I could just be a devil’s advocate and help wake WP from its inertia, I have done my part (even if I keep getting slammed by people who assume that I should know everything just because I am a Doctor. Haha).

If I feel frustrated, how does the WP think their young WP activists are feeling? I am sure they are restless and feel that as WP has laid the foundation for opposition politics ( through JBJ and LTK), they should be leading the charge to the further opening of Sg democracy and not just waiting for the PAP to do so.

WP is peeved that SDP seems to be successful in claiming credits but that is the perception of a significant portion of netizens.

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans are a pathetic lot.

They know the current ruling is not doing right.

They want the opposition to KPKB for them.

But they have never shown they are backing them at all (except those in the opp wards).

Why Singaporeans expect people like Chee Soon Juan and all to sacrifice their lives and future when not many will walk to the streets to show support for them?!

I can only conclude that Singaporeans are selfish. They want others to do the fighting while they enjoy the spoils of war.

Just like the silver medals. Let others win for us while we walk around convincing ourselves we did great.

Thoughts said...

Hi Dr Huang,

Here's from a WP member who's reading your blog article for the first time. Pardon me if I shall not place my genuine name as opinion is always divided on doing so.

Your opinions are interesting and deserving of both respect and pondering. You don't deserve any name-calling (although I didn't discern any, if I am not wrong). I also appreciate the presence of supporters of opposition parties, be it whichever party.

You know, I don't practise or relish correcting opinions :) Opinions are opinions but on relation to perhaps a subjective factual aspect. Personally, I do not know of any WP member who is "peeved" with any other opposition party, less so the WP party per se.

For me, I don't see the need to. It might sound odd but opposition parties in Singapore are all relatively about the same size and each chooses to do what they can within its resources. I would be glad that different opposition parties can complement wherever others are weak at. At the end of the day, I am only more interested in what the PAP does.

End of the day, I believe all parties, PAP or opposition, have overzealous supporters :)