In the recent general election, the majority of us did not vote for an MP. The GRC system meant that most of us actually chose between teams of MPs offered by the PAP and opposition parties.
The dilemma was that in some cases, to cast a vote for someone we wanted as an MP, we inevitably also had to support someone we would prefer not to see in Parliament. On the other hand, this could also drag his/her team down.
With the official nomination of the 4 Tans as presidential candidates, voters face a different dilemma at our upcoming presidential election.
Say you are firmly of the view that the president should be not be a former PAP MP or Minister, and would be happy to have either Tan Kin Lian or Tan Jee Say as president. You believe that a slight majority of Singaporeans share your view, and that the ideal outcome would be that either one of them wins the election.
But who would you vote for? As with the Prisoners’ Dilemma, you might want to take a stab at guessing how your like-minded citizens might vote. If the votes are split down the middle, it is unlikely that either candidate will win.
In a curious case of divine impartiality, the same applies to those on the pro-PAP camp.
Someone has suggested having two rounds of elections, the second being between the top two candidates in the first. While the proposal has its merits, it is clearly not going to happen on 27 August 2011.
To “neutralise” the huge difference in country audience sizes, SMS voters in the Asian Idol competition had to name two countries; it has been argued that Singapore’s Hadi Mirza won the title of Asian Idol not because he was the best singer, but because he was the “safe choice”.
It is not a close parallel, since voters for the Asian Idol were required to select two choices. Nonetheless, the “safe choice” theory suggests that the candidate who wins may not be the most-loved, but simply the least despised.
But this is not an ideal outcome for Asian Idol, and even less so for a presidential election.