Friday, August 07, 2015

Horse-trading and other fleshy image(rie)s : Pre-GE2015 #WWNW #butilovesingaporemore

Dear Friends,

This is the start of a long weekend where there is nothing to see nor do! Sigh!


The term “Horse-trading” used universally for events (almost always just before impending elections) when political parties come together to carve out territories that they are set on contesting. This immediately connotes an image of butchers carving out meat or worse of hyenas circling carcasses of animals before they lunge forward to grab pieces for themselves. All this imagery is very unfortunate as politics is serious business where all who were gathered only have the goodwill of the nation on their minds.

Hence, that being the case, my humble opinion is that all serious minded parties (and the 2 that most come to mind are the WP and SDP.  SingaporeFirst is really promising and I really wish SPP well) should really stop this “ thingy”.

WP and SDP are serious parties who really want to achieve something for the good of Singapore. If their mission is that their path towards Singapore attaining true mature democracy include winning ‘blah blah” constituencies during the GE ( which , may I remind you, only comes once half-decadely ) why should their plans be modified to accommodate some other party. I am by nature a very nice guy, who seldom pour cold water or be wet blanket ( or be slimeball ) etc.

I do not like to disparage any Singaporeans who are in opposition politics as this is already courage in itself. So if those other guys do not get the message already and come out GE after GE to try to win back their deposits,  then do they not deserve to get 3- or even 4 cornered!.  ( A really uncanny imagery comes to mind of someone who puts a 100 bucks on a bench and goes walkabout , then comes back 10 minutes later to see if it is still there). Phew! Lucky I got back my 100 bucks or damned it- some thief stole my money . Boo hoo hoo!  They try again 5 years later! Come on already!

In most mature countries (ok- some will argue that we are anything but this), each ward is contested by all the major parties. In the UK, we do not expect the Lib Dem to horse trade with Labour to rob the Tories of a win? Heck (I mean, well), the Greens are there , as are eccentrics like Looney Tune Party ( or whatever). Hence when the time is right (either due to economy cycle or strong leadership or even Falklands war etc), parties win or lose and the people's wishes are heard and the nation moves on. 

This come-together of strange bed-fellows (to me) is only defensible in tyrannical regimes , eg Syria or Nazi Germany , where your enemy’s enemy is your friend and your only aim is the overthrow of the despot and after that all bets are off? Are we there already? Look at Libya and Iraq… overthrow the tyrant, then what?

How did the PAP go from an opposition party to the ruling party it is today ( some say,  they played dirty and were ruthless etc) ? Did they go from GE to GE giving way to other parties each time? 

We need serious political parties who seriously have a serious plan: 

We need serious parties to become credible parties with fire in their bellies to be ready to rule at a moment’s notice. We need alternative policies ( not good enough to say, we like PAP policy but we will be better…). We need parties to come out of shadows and to have Shadow ministers for all portfolios so that Singaporeans can know where they stand on issues like economy, education, taxation, foreign affairs, ISD, press freedom, right to protest etc.

She is not Nicole! NS would not dress like this at this event! Duh! WWNW

On a more serious note, it has come to my notice that there is a comparison between Nicole Seah and a young lady named Kevryn. This is unfair… for Nicole. Nicole ( and to some her mother too, ) will forever remain etched in our collective memory of what we want from a young Singaporean. Articulate without being show-offish, glam without being crass. Gorgeous without needing to shorten her skirt! We really miss Nicole. Join PAP or whoever you want. Singapore needs you!

Kevryn Lim, on the other hand…

Most understand that many young people model ( for money or for any other reason that slips my mind now), and these Singaporeans may still rightly aspire to be our future leaders. But to turn up for a political event in an unparliamentary outfit , full knowing the presence of the press, is ( almost) political suicide. No need Long sleeve or cover ankle... just think WWNW ( What Would Nicole Wear?) 

Perhaps it’s just me, or it is also true to my very few readers who are (is) still reading this, that political parties always try to be politically correct ( which I actually think is so passé ) ? Someone from my daily coffee club says that actually what Kavryn wore was not revealing enough ( I think he was joking but I cannot be sure)!

So perhaps, I was expecting some words from Ms Lim to try to ameliorate with words what her dress could not, but apparently, she is feisty and is fighting on (there is hope in this young lady – perhaps I should just ignore what little cloth I see). 

Read these feisty words from Kevryn ( here)  Perhaps Kevryn is thinking " What does not kill me makes me stronger! " Nietzsche or Kelly Clarkson ( if you must).

Then let the voters decide- put her in Macpherson against the aunty killer PAP’s Tin Pei Ling! 

Anyway- congratulations to Tin Pei Ling (another very feisty politician) who is now proud mother of a bouncy baby boy! 


Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

Sunday, August 02, 2015

#butilovesingaporemore : EBRC needs to change to reduce gerrymandering stain

Dear Friends,

When the report of the ELECTORAL BOUNDARIES REVIEW COMMITTEE  (EBRC) was presented to parliament as a white paper on 24th July 2015, there was understandable skepticism from a sizable segment of the population.

For instance, in a Sunday Times article (The new GRC: Jalan Besar 2nd Aug 2015), it was noted that Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew’s Moulmein ward has all but disappeared into 3 different GRC’s ( Tanjong Pagar/Holland-Bt Timah/Bishan-TP). Of course all of us know Lui helms the ministry that is closely related to SMRT’s recent hiccups. I do not need to remind all about another ward ie Joo Chiat, as it will soon be a distant memory ( disappearing into Marine Parade GRC).
My previous post about Gerrymandering click here.

Whether this skepticism was justifiable is a point for further debate as the government did point out that the opposition was not obviously disadvantaged as Worker’s Party (WP) held wards were left intact as was Potong Pasir which Mrs Lina Chiam of the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) lost by the slimmest of margins in GE 2011.

That there was concern about the neutrality of the committee is not unexpected as the chairman was after all Mr. Tan Tee Yong, the Secretary to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, although the rest of the committee were experts who would generally be needed to provide professional input for such a report.

They were Dr Cheong Koon Hean – Chief Executive Officer, Housing Development Board (HDB), Mr Tan Boon Khai, – Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Land Authority (SLA)
, Ms Wong Wee Kim – Chief Statistician at Singapore Statistics and Secretary, Mr Lee Seng Lup – Head of Election Department.

A few clarifications would help reduce accusations of gerrymandering and to  preserve the good standing of Singapore:
  1. What were the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the EBRC report
  2. Other than the TOR, it would be wonderful if the EBRC could confirm that no other inputs eg which may benefit or vice versa any political parties, were considered.

I humbly suggest the following:
  1. As in the UK (Boundary Commissions)  and Hong Kong (Electoral Affairs Commission), such a committee should be headed by a judge. NB In the UK, allthough the Speaker of the House of Commons is the ex officio Chairman, he takes no part in the proceedings and the Deputy Chairman of the Commission, who presides over Commission meetings, is always a Justice.
  2. The minutes of the EBRC should be open for public scrutiny.
  3. EBRC should be convened at fixed intervals, eg 5 yearly

I also long for the day when the Elections department is run as an independent body ( unlike being under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) now). Should I be optimistic or follow some people’s advise who say I need to wait “long long” (Hokkien vernacular).

The processes of public affairs should not just be fair but also seen to be fair.

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

NB: #butilovesingaporemore : the reason why I speak up. It is not because i do not like the PAP . In fact there are many aspects of the PAP that resonates with me.