Singapore has elected a new president in the form of Tony Tan…

Posted on 28 August 2011

…which 65% of the voting population didn’t vote for. Funny, no?

By Belmont Lay

Ok, so now that the presidential election is over and done with, what can we analyse at 6 a.m. in the morning?

Yes, the first-past-the-post election system is something we inherited. Yes, it is a system that baffles anyone who has ever questioned what sort of swivelling-eyed idiot came up with this idea of democracy where you can be a winner even when the majority of the population didn’t even vote for you.

No, fortunately, this article will not be about that. This article will be about four finer points. Here they are:

1. Is this presidential election a referendum on the PAP?

Well, there has been a lot of articles banging on about this point.

From what I’ve read so far, even the chairman of the Singapore Management University board of trustees warned that the presidential election should never degenerate into that sort of thing where voters cast a protest vote against the incumbent just because they want to prove a point about how unhappy they are.

However, either I’m a little thick or I’m a little stoned at this hour, but I think there is no need to read into whether Tony Tan’s 35 percent victory is a sign that PAP is losing its grip on power.

And I don’t care if the 500,000-member unions endorsed Tony Tan or if he secured the blessings from the prime minister, because it is no use insinuating that Tony Tan must win by a convincing margin or else it is a sign that the PAP is going to be finished pretty soon.

Look, the political structure of this country has created such a system whereby the two top-performing candidates were formerly part of the ruling party complex.

The fact of the matter is, going by the results of Tony Tan and Tan Cheng Bock, they secured 70% of votes between them. Remember, both of them used to wear white? Yes, this is the kind of candidates that appeal to the people of Singapore. The number of spoilt votes is surprisingly low.

And this is also really a matter of whether you’re seeing a cup that is half-full or half-empty.

So if you’re feeling optimistic that 35 percent of votes for Tony represents the beginning of the rot for the PAP, I’m telling you, you shouldn’t.

2.Did people vote according to political inclination?

Sure looks like it.

Tan Jee Say, an ex-civil servant and former opposition politician who did ride on a more rebellious wave compared to docile Tony and agreeable Cheng Bock, made a dent by registering 25 percent of the votes.

And by displaying a bit of hubris, Tan Kin Lian received 5 percent of votes from the deluded segment of this country too. And he was made $48,000 poorer. (Hey, we saw that coming, didn’t we?)

But the point is: If you put a cactus or a donkey up for election on an opposition ticket (perceived or actual, regardless), the likelihood is that the cactus or the donkey will still receive about 30 percent of votes because there will be a segment voting for the opposition no matter what.

(This was said by Nanyang Technological University associate professor Cherian George before and I’m just reiterating.)

Yes, if you consider the electorate as voting according to political inclination, I think the presidential election results only serves to strengthen the case.

All these talk about what the candidates stand for and what they hope to achieve have probably been played up a tad too much. The Singaporean world-view is still white or non-white.

Tony and Cheng Bock caters to the majority and both choices graduated from having sat in parliament in all-whites. That’s something to think about.

3. Do Singaporeans prefer moderate candidates?

Which brings me to this next point, the answer is a resounding “Hell yes”.

In my mind, there is no doubt that Tan Cheng Bock is an ultra moderate. He comes off as a harmless, happy-clappy, esteemed and genuine do-gooder, who is annoyingly overly earnest and well-meaning.

And the only nasty thing he has ever done was to stay up all night way past his bed time – by the time this morning’s recount was over.

Therefore, based on what this presidential election has revealed, I have this theory: The only way any political party can usurp PAP’s throne is to form an even more conservative, straight-laced, future-oriented and uber moderate party that will promise to deliver whatever the PAP can for the moral majority. And then some.

Mmmm… Sounds like the Workers’ Party for some strange reason…

4. Tan Jee Say played his cards really well

I don’t think Jee Say was ever in this fight to win it.

He just gave people that choice to cast the vote that would never go to Tony or Cheng Bock. No, no, Kin Lian just won’t do. That guy weirds people out.

I mentioned before that he managed to capture the imagination of the electorate? This is precisely what I meant: What would it be like if someone from the opposition camp ever ran for president?

He did just that. Will this bode well for future contests in any election? Definitely. This presidential election should be seen as the start of Jee Say’s political career. And it couldn’t have taken off in a more visible way.

Lastly, what about Tony Tan’s mandate of the people? He sure as hell didn’t get the approval of the majority of people.

Will his six years in office be riddled with people snubbing him? That would be pretty interesting to find out, no?

Which is why, we here at New Nation, will be keeping our eyes peeled.

This post was written by:

- who has written 231 posts on New Nation.


Contact the author

  • JustAnotherVoice

    Dr Tony Tan had 744,397 votes or 35.19% of the valid vote
    Dr Tan Cheng Bock garnered 737,128 votes or 34.85%
    Mr Tan Jee Say won 529,732 votes or 25.04%
    Mr Tan Kin Lian received 103,931 votes or 4.91%
    37,826 spoiled votes….
    could it have been 37,826 votes with crosses on Dr Tan Cheng Bock considered spoiled?
    what do they really mean by ‘spoiled’..

    we wouldn’t know..
    older..doesn’t mean you’re wiser..
    it just means you have experience….
    so Singaporeans..this is what your have vote.
    live with it for next few years yah…

    Dr Tan Cheng Bock has made changes..that we are still enjoying right now.
    What has Dr Tony Tan done? Promises…..

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TEJCAWAHDSCKBL5AASKU54LDUA H. S

    That “35.19” was made “president” simply because he was never made “the prime minister” when he served under his Leeness! OH, do you guys know the 35.19 guy is seeking medical treatment now in the US?