Vote for the opposition: PAP will not lose

Posted on 13 April 2011

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong needs to have more faith in the political system his dad built.

By Fang Shihan

Like it or not, PM Lee has plenty of supporters. Photo: SINGAPORE YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES / Creative Commons

IN HIS dialogue with 12 Singaporeans who supposedly represent various sections of the population, PM Lee remarked, as a reply to a question about having a level political playing field, that it cannot be equal.

He also noted: “If you ask the people in Potong Pasir, whom do they want to make the government of Singapore? I think they’ll say they want a PAP government, so too in Hougang. But then you ask them who do they want to vote for, they’ll say Mr Chiam or Mr Low. In other words, they’re counting on someone else to vote for the PAP, so they can get the luxury to vote for Mr Chiam or Mr Low….”

Replying to a question of why opposition wards get bumped down the upgrading queue even though opposition voters are Singaporeans too, he replied that this is to incentivise residents in opposition-held wards to vote for the PAP.

Quite frankly, PM Lee has nothing to worry about. Wearing a pink shirt as a lucky charm all the time is actually quite unnecessary.

While there are plenty of keyboard warriors and TV critics out there who will make a song and dance about voting the opposition (and some have their minds made up, judging by the comments posted online), the PAP is in no serious danger of losing just yet.

Opposition supporters, go ahead. Enjoy your luxury of ticking the box under “Worker’s Party” or “Singapore People’s Party” because MM Lee has put in place a robust system to ensure the continued longevity of his son’s party.

We have the lazy voter to thank. Not just your usual ‘politically apathetic youth’, but also the contented Malay welfare recipients, the uncles and aunties who’ve lived in walkover wards their whole life and couldn’t give two hoots about the new opposition candidates, and the white-collar baby boomers who’re too busy keeping their salary in step with rising COE prices. People who wouldn’t bother reading political information, and consider the elections only marginally more important than the season finale of a soap opera.

But one has to applaud PM Lee for his honesty. He does not resist taking jibes at the opposition and their inability to provide upgrading services, simply by being the opposition. This time, at least, he has more tact and no longer claims to ‘fix’ the opposition, unlike 2006.

Political constructs built with the purpose of keeping the incumbent authoritarian party in power do not disappear overnight. Lazy voters especially, only take the path of least mental resistance, towards the only party they’ve been familiar with their whole lives.

If you’re the biggest bully in the playground, and your father happens to be the contractor who built the playground, there’s no point pretending to be humble.

Each and every fixture in the playground has a purpose, and this is for the good of all who have a stake in it. Non-Constituency Member-of-Parliament schemes? A good transition for opposition politicians to break into ‘real’ politics. Nominated Member-of-Parliament provide more substantive debate than NCMPs?

But of course! That was by design. Using public infrastructure as incentives for the public to vote for the incumbent? Ah-bor-den? Without the PAP, you wouldn’t even have public infrastructure because politicians would be too busy tearing each other apart to take care of you.

The PAP system was built so well that the best losing and nominated opposition MPs can speak but not vote on budget and constitutional matters. This results in a wayang for public entertainment, without the government policies being actually affected. Lacklustre entertainment as it may be, with MPs falling asleep in parliament, this wayang provides fodder for political conversation yet spares the lazy voter from thinking too much, or taking time off from more important matters.

Why? Because it’s only talk, no action. Don’t need to worry.

Unlike our neighbours up north, so frequently cited as an example of freedom gone wrong, Singapore has little chance of becoming an actual democracy even though PM Lee might actually have a chance of losing. Political constructs built with the purpose of keeping the incumbent authoritarian party in power do not disappear overnight. Lazy voters especially, only take the path of least mental resistance, towards the only party they’ve been familiar with their whole lives.

So why fret? Root for the quiet kid building his sandcastle in the corner. He doesn’t have that many friends, and the bully doesn’t need you anyway.

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  • cicada

    eh.. very cynical leh.. why call our master a bully? he is still the master you know~

  • koh ah too

    why make so much noise, whoever wins, common people like u n me still got to work like mad to put food into my stomach,
    why u fellas cry father n cry mother!

    • seriously?

      erm because whoever wins, some things might change such as HDB things or GST things which common people like us can save some money and put more food into our stomach.

      in the end u still vote for pap right? then dont blame anyone if only their money get more and ur money still so little.

  • mackinder

    I opine there is a fine line between apathy and taking ownership of issues, in a more connected age. We shall see, it might be an interesting election.

    • Belmont Lay

      I agree…

  • seriously?

    perhaps even by a freak election PAP did not manage to get majority of the votes, there is still a possibility that before the opposition is sworn in some laws will change to ensure that pap still hold power.

    • Belmont Lay

      now you’re just being paranoid…

      • seriously?

        with a party that does gerrymandering, what else can be impossible when it comes to staying in power?

        • Shihan

          gerrymandering is quite common. But I suppose for a country as tiny as ours, every little shift in the constituency boundaries could make or break the chances for a party win.
          I’d also add that our electoral laws are pretty sane (and predictable, despite the kelong-ness) in comparison with the rest of Asia.

          • seriously?

            i have to agree gerrymandering is common however for a small country like us, shifting a few areas to the neighboring constituency is akin to shifting a huge percentage of the votes. It will severely affect me as a voter to know if i am represented well in the parliament.

            according to our standard of living and the efficiency of our government as proclaimed by PAP, i wouldn’t compare our country to those in Southeast Asia. it will be better if we compare our system to that with economic strength that are closer to us, eg. Hong Kong (we share similar history) or Taiwan which still have some sort of democracy. that way we will really find out if our system are acceptable or not.

            but for now i am not satisfied with our biased media and oppressed view on political matters

  • Sloo

    “Malay welfare recipients”? That smacks of unintentional racism? Is it a fact that Malays the biggest welfare recipients to justify such a statement?

    • Shihan

      Yep. Plenty of stats to back it up. You can go to the statistics department website to get the reports. There’s a ton of information in there though, so you’d have to trawl quite a bit to find what you want.

  • Lin

    OK. That comment about ‘Malay welfare recipients’ was out of line. Even if it does bear out that Malays are over-represented (and I’m not saying they are, I haven’t done any research into this) among welfare recipients – isn’t it just an intellectually lazy, not to mention racist, way to stereotype a group?

    • Shihan

      Let me pose this to you: if it is a fact that Malays are the most underprivileged among all the races, the poorest, have the least proportion of university graduates, is it stereotyping?
      What would you consider a more intellectually rigorous way of representing this phenomenon?

  • Something to consider

    There are also poor Chinese and Indians too. However, it is also true that the Malays, as a larger proportion, face the most socioeconomic problems.

  • Hardworking voter

    No!! Cannot tick!! Must CROSS!!!!