My extended family will be voting sometime today. My wife and I will be exercising our right to vote at Qifa Primary School. That was the same place we voted in 2011. The People’s Action Party and Reform Party are contesting in this West Coast GRC.
I just came across this Peanuts cartoon done many years ago (and I am not sure of the copyright status of it). It is very appropriate as we go to the polls.
Remember, Remember The Eleventh of September.
After all is said and done, we are all in this together to make our country thrive and flourish for generations to come.
This has been circulating in the chat groups on telegram.org and whatsapp.com and want it to be as widely read as possible. I did not wirte it, and I would love to give credit to the author. If you are the author or know who wrote it. please tell me so that I can give credit where credit is due.
A very well written article by a young Singaporean to be read before one votes this coming Friday:
I am a Singaporean voter. I want our policies to be thoroughly examined by different political parties in the Parliament.
I know all the candidates have different strengths, weaknesses and abilities but that is exactly the whole idea. A policy paper can be better scrutinized by different people with different perspectives, angles and insights. Ultimately, Singapore and Singaporeans benefit from better policies. Good policies can withstand scrutiny, no matter who came up with them.
I am a Singaporean voter. I want our anti-corruption department to be completely detached from the power of any government, regardless of political party
The department should be a checks-and-balances asset for the people of Singapore. The anti-corruption department should report directly to the people and conduct regular and random checks on every single branch of the state and government to ensure nobody plays under the table. Nobody.
I am a Singaporean voter. I want our civil service, army, police and judiciary systems to be independent from any politically-motivated decisions from any incumbent government.
I dislike the practice of parachuting newly-resigned civil servants, army or police officers or judges into the political sphere weeks or days before elections. This presents a serious conflict of interests because these newly-converted politicians still hold networks of influence within their old jobs and that may present dilemmas in crucial decision-making. Imagine if we go to war and our generals hesitate to act because they are considering military decisions based on answering to ex-colleagues-turned-ministers on which electoral constituency to defend or retreat from. Wouldn’t that be a disaster if they lost battle initiative due to such considerations?
I am a Singaporean voter. I understand all policies cost valuable taxpayers’ monies.
I am not a rabbit. I don’t eat carrots dangling in front of me. I am not a dog. I refuse to be tamed or intimidated by fear-mongering tactics. I am not a crazy person either. I don’t intend to bankrupt Singapore or Singaporeans over poorly-planned policies. I am, however, keeping an open mind to alternative suggestions to current policies. I don’t mind these alternatives be thoroughly debated in Parliament because there is always a chance to find moderation and suitability in them until these policies can meet the needs and wants of Singaporeans.
I am a Singaporean voter. I want my government to work for me, not against me and certainly not for themselves. I want my politicians to earn their keep, not sleep through in Parliament and just nod their heads in agreement to pass policies into bills which are not clearly understood by the people.
Governments are servants to the people. If they lord over their own voters, they are not governments. They are called tyrants. I understand the need for attractive pay to entice the best talents and minds into a government. However, I want such salaries to be pegged to real performance in their terms of office. This is called meritocracy. Any member of parliament who naps in parliamentary sessions should receive a pay cut for that month. No excuses. Any member of parliament who has contributed no constructive suggestions to any policies in a year should receive a pay cut for that year. Any member of parliament who broke the laws of Singapore should receive a demerit ceremony in public and serve the necessary sentence in whichever way deem fit by the people of Singapore.
I am a Singaporean voter. I want Singapore to survive longer than any political squabble or contest.
If any political party claims that Singapore will collapse or be in ruins if they are voted out of power, that means we have built the country in the wrong way. All political parties face the possibility of total dissolution but as a Singaporean, I want Singapore to possess a robust system where it can survive any change of power from any political party. This means the civil service, army, police and judiciary system must remain apolitical if they understand such a national need beyond political competition.
I am a Singaporean voter. Vote not for Singapore’s past. Vote not for Singapore’s present. Vote for Singapore’s future.
As voters we are all keen to know who the candidates are. The irony is that the majority voters don’t really know who their current member of parliament is to begin with. I know who mine is, but I have not met nor spoken to him ever. That being the reality, how would you go about making a considered and fair assessment of how you should be casting your vote.
Let me offer up a short checklist to help with the thinking:
Is your’s, your family’s and of Singapore’s future important to you?
If you said YES to 1, do you think the candidate(s) in your ballot paper will be able to deliver the future you want?
If you said NO to 1, it does not matter who you vote for. So VOTE, PLEASE DON’T SPOIL THE VOTE EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO SPOIL IT.
If you said YES to 2, have you understood who the candidate(s) is(are) and where they stand on issues that is of concern to you? Have you done sufficient research to be able to be honest to yourself to come to a decision?
If you said NO to 2, are you prepared to find out why you think they cannot deliver the future you want?
If you said NO to 5, it does not matter who you vote for. So VOTE, PLEASE DON’T SPOIL THE VOTE EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO SPOIL IT.
If you said YES to 5, do spend time reading, talking to family, friends, colleagues or just about any other Singaporean voter. Do make sure that you get to hear from all sides not just one side.
See, it is quite easy to navigate the silly season.
Do be aware that what is called “Mainstream Media” (MSM), which especially in the Singapore context, has very low credibility in terms of being fair, balanced and critical. These MSM include the newspapers, TV and radio owned and operated by Singapore Press Holdings and MediaCorp. These entities are government-linked companies and have never been known to challenge or be critical of government policies. Investigative and critical reporting is NOT what they can ever do (or to be fair, allowed to do).
Having said all of that, do take about 10 minutes to listen to this TEDx talk that discusses how entities, like governments and political parties, would do all that they can to astroturf opinion and understanding of issues. Don’t be lulled by catchphrases, innuendoes, carrots, meat etc.
And, yes, this post could perhaps be also playing that game.
He says in that article that: “the check comes from the “integrity of the leadership in PAP.”
Let’s dissect the notion of checks and balances. I will draw reference to how the PAP-run town councils built-sold-then-leased-back the town council management system. This system was withdrawn from use by the Worker’s Party following their 2011 general election take over of the Aljunied GRC.The fact that a key piece of infrastructure needed to run the town council had to be replaced with something new, I would assert, contributed to the issues that the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol-East Town Council faced.
The town council management software was paid for from public funds, not party funds. The public funds also included funds from contributions made to the town councils that were under the PAP then. So, just because there was a “change” in the MPs running the GRC/town council, to then deny them a key infrastructure goes against all commonsense and fairness.
And to make things even worse, the “Coordinating Chairman” of the PAP town councils made statements that were totally wrong. In my post in 2013, I addressed his comments and you can read it there.
Coming back to what ESM Goh said a couple of days ago about checks and balance being a seductive lie, he probably is telling the truth. The PAP, it would appear, has been lying all along and seduced us all.
Let me share this info graphic which was sent to me. I am not sure of the origin of it or what licence is it made available (assuming CC). It seems to be from a facebook page of Temasek Review.
Update: August 29, 2015. The infographic above is incorrect and I have updated it to reflect that there indeed was a tender to sell the system.
I am reading the Candidate Handbook for Parliamentary Election 2015 for the first time. I don’t have any of the earlier versions so I cannot tell what the changes are (yes, no edit history/change log; here’s a local copy: Candidate Handbook for Parliamentary Election 2015_1 in case the ELD.gov.sg site goes down).
According to Section 4.1 of the handbook:
Candidates should conduct election campaigning in a responsible and dignified manner that befits the seriousness of the election process. Candidates should steer away from negative campaigning practices based on hate and denigration of opposing candidates, and should not make false statements that allege corruption or commission of criminal offences, or statements that may cause racial or religious tensions or affect social cohesion. Egregious acts of negative campaigning could also be in breach of the law.
As noted by Viswa Sadasivan in his IQ post, this paragraph has many issues. Who would be the adjudicators of this? How does one raise an infraction?
We could crowd source to tally up of the various transgressions on an hourly/daily basis on a wiki or Google doc. This will help, if nothing else for posterity, but more so for transparency, regardless what is done with “the list”.
Further reading of the Candidate Handbook gives more nuggets:
On page 30 (Section 4.5.4):
iv. no form of public entertainment (such as singing, dancing or showing a film) shall be provided, and no live-streaming of any event (including the election meeting itself) shall be shown before, during and after the election meeting;
I wonder what the “live streaming” is referred to here? I have to assume that it means that live streaming done by the candidate/party themselves is a no go. I cannot see how I, as a person in the audience at the rally, choosing to use Google Hangouts or Periscope to stream the rally is a no go. I have the right to do so.
These additional conditions are intriguing (page 30/31):
Other conditions that will be imposed are:
a. only persons named in the application for the permit and who are approved as speakers can speak at the election meeting;
b. members of the Central Executive Committee or an equivalent governing body of a political party as well as candidate(s) from the same political party who are nominated in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Elections Act (Cap 218) for election as a Member of Parliament for an electoral division shall only be permitted to speak at election meetings held by their own political party. They may not speak at election meetings held by an Independent Candidate or another political party even if they are concurrently members (of any type) of that other political party. The reference to a political party includes political alliances registered as a political party. An Independent candidate can only speak at election meetings for which a permit has been issued to him/her or his/her election agent. He/She will not be allowed to speak at election meetings held by political parties or other Independent candidates contesting in the elections. However, where a member of the Central Executive Committee member or an equivalent governing body of a political party has been nominated in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Elections Act for election as a Member of Parliament for an electoral division as a candidate for another political party or as part of a group of Independent candidates, he may be permitted to speak at all election meetings held by that other political party or at the election meeting held by that group of Independent candidates as the case may be;
Why would you DISALLOW a party or independent candidate from speaking at each other’s rally? While it would be strange for “opposing” candidates to speak at each other’s rally, stating it the way it is done smacks of being excessive and is curtailing one’s freedom to speak. Granted that no one would want to or accept an invitation to speak at a PAP rally, but denying it explicitly, seems rather draconian.
Why did I name this post “the need for an independent electoral commission”? The fact that these “guidelines” did not have any public consultation – it might have been there but I cannot find any references to such. Because the Elections Department reports to the Prime Minister, I doubt that they have any form of independence or opportunity to do things better that could be negative for the PAP but good for Singapore.
Oh, the classic off-by-one error. All of us who were expecting the polling day to be September 12, started counting from the day after the nomination day. Missed out the fact that nomination day itself is counted. Classic CS 101 error.
Now that the games have begun, it is not surprising to see the Elections Department (that reports to the Prime Minister who is also the secretary general of the current majority-in-parliament party) putting out new rules.
This is exactly what, many other Singaporeans and myself have advocated for: that the elections department should be stand alone, independent entity. The text from the PDF (linked above) is included here:
Advisory on Participation in Political Activities and Election Campaigning by Civic, Business and Professional Bodies
Under the Parliamentary Elections Act, any person who conducts activities to promote or procure the election of a candidate, must be individually authorised in writing by the candidate or his election agent on and from Nomination Day.
Individuals who are not citizens of Singapore are prohibited from taking part in any election activity and cannot be so authorised.
2 In addition, any civic, business or professional body that wishes to participate in any political activity or allow its funds and/or premises to be used for political purposes needs to ensure that its constitution allows it to do so, and ensure that this does not contravene any laws that the body is subject to.
3 Such political activities include endorsing certain candidates and publishing advertisements or issuing press statements to express its support for a candidate. If such advertisements or statements amount to election advertising, the relevant rules under the Parliamentary Elections Act and its regulations have to be complied with.
4 While such bodies should have their own processes to consult their members and consider the merits of supporting a candidate, it remains each individual’s right as a voter, regardless of his membership of any organisation, to freely decide whom to support and how to cast his vote.
PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE
26 August 2015
I think this document is pretty standard and has nothing new. What would be useful is if this document’s conditions are meant to be observed from August 26th onwards and not retroactive. This is being asked because the PAP did use a VWO facilities for a very clear political purpose – that of introducing their candidates.
I am not hopeful that the Elections Department would state if their new rules were violated.
Fair play and transparency is even more critical in this hustings. The world is watching.
Fifty years of being an independent country and having seen how we have evolved over the years with my fellow Singaporeans is just amazing. Yes, the political hand did play a significant part in the direction we took, but if we are to continue to thrive and get even better, we need to relook and reassess many things.
As the next general elections is looming (some say September 12 2015), here are my list of things I want to have a conversation around as well as action taken. These are in no particular order, except that these were listed over several weeks. I have diliberately left them unorganized/unsorted.
1. Withdrawal of the Internal Security Act. Failing which, a mandatory judicial review within 48 hours of anyone arrested. And they have to be presented in court within 30 days or be released.
2. Formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission: At fifty years of independence, we should be looking at reviewing al the dark days and getting a closure to all of them – no exception. Yes, it will hurt people along the process, but we need to clean and clear the deck.
3. No walk overs. All seats will be contested. Even if there is only one candidate, that candidate must get at least 25% votes in favour or else the seat is vacant. Democracy has to be seen to happen and not be something that is manipulated via technicalities. This applies to the silly GRC system as well.
4. Full disclosure of all the assets of GIC and Temasek. No excuses.
5 Set up of an Independent Electoral Commission
6. Removing the pre-requisites for being a President – anyone born in Singapore and above the age of 40 can run for president.
7. Live and archived broadcast of all parliamentary proceedings – warts, sleepy heads, yawns and all.
8. Freedom of Information Act
9. Removal of GRCs
10. Release of all government records after 30 years.
11. MPs will focus only on municipal work and bringing up issues in parliament. This means that other than the Prime Minister and a Deputy Prime Minister (as elected MPs), every minister shall be nominated and qualified people who were NOT ELECTED into parliament. Such nominations will be done AFTER the elections and these nominees will be confirmed by parliamentary committees convened for this purpose. The term of a minister so chosen will be for the duration of the government. This is to give separation of executive from municipal issues.
12. No pensions for MPs
13. All government systems will be built using open source software and where they don’t exist, to fund technology to meet it. The code will be available for anyone to use.
14. Review Instruction Manual to bring it up to date.
15. Removal of 2nd language as a requirement. Languages such as Tamil, Malay and Mandarin shall be taught at levels that should encourage their usage but not to the extent that is being done today. Students can optionally decide to take on a full 2nd language load if they want to. PSLE to be reviewed to level the playing field to ensure that social mobility is achievable and elitism to be contained.
16. Removal of licensing of newspapers etc. No government oversight.
17. Fixed dates for elections. No longer at the whim and fancy of the government of the day.
18. Mayors to be abolished. No practical value. If Mayors have to be kept in place, they must be elected positions not held by MPs.
19. All town council software systems will be publicly funded and built using open source and available to anyone – not party specific.
20. People’s Association restructured to have NO political links. The MP of an area is the advisor to the local grassroots organizations and the People’s Association works with the elected MP at all times.
21. Review of all HDB designs to that the apartments are of a decent size and not shoebox sizes
22. Proper labelling of GMO foods
23. Giving the consumer advocacy more authority – from a legal perspective.
24. Review of ALL government scholarships with a view to reduce the “bond” period to no more than 3 years after graduation. This is to free up people for the private sector.
25. Proportional representation in parliament. This is the best way
26. No Trans Pacific Partnership without national referendum
27. Outlawing of software patents.
28. Residential use of down link satellite systems.
29. Singaporean astronauts by 2020.
30. Smart power generation via Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. This is critical is we are to achieve our Smart Nation vision which is power hungry.
31. During elections, the “party political broadcasts” will all be of the same duration of ten minutes per party contesting and ten minutes for each independent. Similarly for presidential elections – each candidate gets the same amount of time.
32. Exit polls encouraged – the best part of these polls is that, in most cases, these polls are completely wrong but by specifically not allowing for it, there is no empirical evidence.
33. Removal of death penalty
34. Removal of 3/4 tank rule
35. Allow dual/multiple citizenships
36. ASEAN Day, August 8th, to be officially observed – starting from 2017, the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN.
37. Introduce a National Thanksgiving Day starting in 2015.
38. SAF Day to be renamed National Service Day and to encourage donning of uniform by all NSmen (SAF, Police, SCDF) during that day.
39. Removal of election deposit (all elections).
40. All Singapore Standards documents (coming out of SPRING Singapore) should be make available in electronic format at no cost.
41. Reinstate sale of chewing gum – educate on how to dispose them and we will be just fine.
42. Remove REITs to mitigate the excessive rental rates. Or create a rent control scheme to manage the runaway rents.
43. Hawker center rentals to be controlled by NEA and have to always be affordable.
44. Introduce Pay-As-You-Bid for COE bidding. The base line for each category will continue to be what it is today and that is the number that will be used for all subsequent considerations regardless of what the PAYB paid.
45. Singaporeans living outside Singapore will be exempt from Medishield Life.
46. Automatic forgiveness of National Service defaulters after they reach age of 50.
47. Removal of censorship of Internet sites and films. Rating of films to continue.
48. Removal of no alcohol law (introduced after the Little India incident)
49. Review the ORBAT of the SAF and Police to reduce the number of BGs and ACs. There are too many of them.
50. All tax payer funded research (and code developed) must be made available on a GPL-like license for anyone to use at no cost.