Sunday, March 26, 2006


Something to add to this.

Well, I think we need a parliament that is functional, that offers constructive views on policy decision-making. Certainly, the danger of having so many dissenting views is that the parliament becomes dysfunctional and operates as a mere debating shop. But hey, there are clear examples in the world that opposition parties provide viable shadow governments and constructive policy alternatives to those proposed by incumbent governments (eg. Australia's opposition Labor Party & UK's Conservative Party). To be fair, countries like UK and Australia have come a long way, both politically and socially.

IMHO, what really matters when it comes to elections is that the principle of (free & fair) contest be upheld. Surely, elections are about allowing the populace to exercise their choice (ie having alternatives) than making a deliberate attempt to ensure the presence of opposition politicians in parliament. Hey, this means that there must be alternatives for the people to choose from... No walkovers, pls!!! Just look at the recent political saga in Thailand. Well, Thai Premier Thaksin Shinawatra may have declared himself victor in snap polls held over the weekend, but the results will sadly bear the stain of the electoral boycott by Thailand's opposition parties, which has robbed the election of legitimacy...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Blogging & the GE.

Heres a thought on the GE and blogging in between the pit-stops of working schedules….i broke a sweat writing it too.

Since the first known radio news program was broadcast on 31 Aug 1920 by the UK station 8MK, political chatter began a life of its own. At once, political chatter was collectively received since all listened in. And as the voice of the leaders filtered into each home, home life, in the general and collective sense, became politicised. Previously confined to the public rally square or even a gathering at a park, radio lent the political voice a hand to come ‘a knocking on the door of the home and hearth. Radio was of political significance to the leaders.

But what of the radio today and the coming GEs? In a sense, it is true that the political significance of radio has diminished since the days of WWII political broadcasts and Castro’s fiery speeches. One hardly hears the whisper of political chatter on the radio anymore. And in a sense, it is true that the evolution of technology has produced an alternative to radio in the form of the internet. But with the current discussion on the profusion of blogging and the GEs, I cannot help but wonder if the political significance that was once dear to radio, has shifted and moved into the blog. It is no wonder then than some have called for regulation and accountability on blogging during the GE. And since the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore revealed this year that 2 in 3 Singapore households have internet access, home life, in a general and collective sense, stays politicized. Like the days of FM radio, political chatter begins a new lease of life.

The radio was of utmost importance to the leaders. They spoke and whoever tuned in listened, thought, discussed and then voted. It was also important for the other leaders and many other leaders who wanted to be leaders. They too spoke, and whoever tuned in listened, thought, discussed and voted. It is strange then, that while the radio was of so much political significance for the leaders and other leaders then, the internet in Singapore shys away from its political significance. Or is it that the internet is being refused a political significance.

Radio was and is uni-directional, some spoke and all listened. The internet, and specifically the blog, is not. Perhaps that is the difference and that is why the blog, unlike the radio, has become politically significant for both the leaders and the listener (user I mean). It is strange then that there is a tendency to worry about blogs and the internet being politicized when it always has been the case (2 in 3 Singaporeans have internet access). It is odd that it should not be. Afterall, when radio broadcasted the revolutionary speeches, or the push for tax reforms, other leaders broadcasted the anti-revolutionary speeches and the anti-tax reforms. Blogs may for the most part be nothing more than displaced kopitiam political chatter, inane rantings and surreptitious comments. But they are also opportunities to win ground and persuade minds. It is what is said on the radio and what is written on the blog that matters in debate. In getting caught up with accountability for every single person that makes up political chatter, one tends to lose sight of the forest for the tress and invariably ends up plucking weeds.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

PAP, let us have *some* opposition MPs please

MARCH 20, 2006 MON

He plans to give voters what they want, as PAP aims for a solid win at the polls

SENIOR Minister Goh Chok Tong has been given a special assignment this election: win back the opposition wards of Potong Pasir and Hougang for the People's Action Party.

The PAP is fighting this election not only to win, but to win well, across the country, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Asked for his feel of the ground during a walkabout in Ang Mo Kio GRC and neighbouring new single seat ward Yio Chu Kang, Mr Lee said: 'We're confident. But we must make sure we win well - not just in Ang Mo Kio or in Yio Chu Kang - but across the board. And we're working hard to do that.'

On the two opposition wards, he added: 'I've discussed with my colleagues and I've asked SM Goh to take a special interest in these two opposition wards and help them win.'

The PAP's Eric Low in Hougang and Mr Sitoh Yih Pin in Potong Pasir were both 'good fighters', confident of the ground, he said.

Still, Mr Goh can give additional backing, said Mr Lee, adding: 'We want to win. It's not 'masak masak'.' This is Malay for 'playing around'.

He identified three things that Mr Goh, who has been an MP for 30 years and was prime minister for 14, can do: contribute ideas, lend support to the candidates, and signal to voters 'that we're taking it seriously'.


Throwing SM Goh's weight behind the PAP candidates in Opposition wards will likely result in at least one (probably Potong Pasir, given the small margin there the last time) -- and possibly both -- falling to PAP's hands. Assuming PAP manages to hang on to all its other seats, there would be zero Opposition MPs (less NCMPs, NMPs etc) in Parliament. Is this a good idea?

For the foreseeable future, Singapore will be dominated by the PAP. Some blame the strong-arm tactics (using law suits etc) or gerrymandering by the PAP. IMHO, that is -- whether fair or otherwise -- the incumbent's advantage. Whether it is Malaysia, Indonesia or the US, the incumbent administration will use the electoral tools to its own advantage. To quote PM Lee, it's not "masak masak."

But it also because we have not had a strong group of opposition politicians to put up any significant challenge. And for almost two decades past, PAP's complete dominance is Parliament (again not counting NMPs and NCMPs) was only prevented by a few lone figures. Maybe that's not enough, but I take refuge in their presence as a checks and balance against a largely single party system.

As much as I would credit the PAP with much of the progress that Singapore has enjoyed, I'm not sure I want all constituencies to be represented by only PAP.