Apr 29, 2011

GE 2011 Rally Venues

View on a larger map Singapore GE 2011 Rally Venues

I've combined the list of Election Meeting Sites published by the Singapore Police Force, with the opposition parties and candidates contesting for the 2011 GE. Hopefully this will be a useful guide for all of you wanting to check out an opposition rally near you.

Update: Added nearest MRT station and bus services for all venues.
Update 2: Added Youtube links to rally speeches and photos. If you'd like me to remove any photos, please leave a comment.
Update 3: Added placeholders for rally dates

Apr 26, 2011

Vivian Balakrishnan : How low can you go?

The Limbo must be the dance of choice among the PAP recently, as each candidate tries to outdo each other's attempts to attack the opposition candidates personally, instead of focusing on the real issues at hand. How low can you go?

Ignoring SM Goh's call to "have a clean fight", Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Vivian Balakrishnan stooped to unprecedented lows by making a personal attack on WP candidate Vincent Wijeysingha's sexual orientation, and even venomously hinting that he was a paedophile for extra measure.

This opened a very large can of worms with the Internet community and the response from netizens was fast and very furious. Scathing criticisms from blogs and Twitter feeds notwithstanding, Vivian Balakrishnan's own Facebook page saw a wave of criticism and disappointment that such a low punch had been pulled by an MP like VB, who enjoyed a decent image among Singaporeans until the incident.

The response from netizens was so unprecedented, that VB and his "internet caretakers" must have been taken aback, and within minutes all negative comments were deleted and errant posters (like yours truly) were banned from commenting. A little while later, they probably decided to save the effort and disabled Wall posting from fans all together (although the last time I checked you can still leave comments).

Fortunately, I've managed to do several screen captures of one particularly interesting post, with an ardent supporter "John Tan" vehemently defending his MP, albeit with quite controversial views. Happy reading!

Only weaklings suffer no criticism

I really like Audible, the grand-dame of audiobooks on the Internet, because it helps me get my reading done on the go, listening to them on my iPhone while driving. Best of all, it allows me even try to tackle such monumental works as William Shirer's "The Rise And Fall of the Third Reich"- which weighs in at more than 1200 pages in print - without having to lug around a brick all the time.

A few chapters into the book, the author recounts the famous Marburg speech made by then Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen, which is said to be the last speech made publicly in Germany against Nazism. Although what von Papen was describing in 1934 was essentially Hitler's Nazi party, he might as well be referring to the PAP in 2011.

"Open manly discussions would be of more service to the German people than, for instance, the present state of the German press. The government [must be] mindful of the old maxim, ”Only weaklings suffer no criticism. . .

Substitute "The Straits Times" for the "German press" and you'll have the state of the media in Singapore today. It is no secret that the paper is a mouthpiece for the ruling party especially during election season (although they have somewhat expanded their coverage for the opposition candidates).

The media landscape is as is today, because the powers that be have deliberately constructed it be so, because give their glorious "track record", they are saintly and even god-like, and cannot be criticized in any way or form. So letters to the ST forum either disappear into thin air, or are edited so much that they resemble a botched nose job.

The men-in-white (MIW) are so accustomed to having ST, Today and CNA covering their media backsides that the recent onslaught of criticism and opposition support from social media such Facebook and Twitter has taken them totally off guard. And they're still struggling to "get it".

Try to piggyback Tin Pei Ling on Goh Chok Tong's back for easy ride into parliament? The online public tore her to pieces and liked Nicole Seah very much instead. Instead of just reading about him in the mainstream media, Singaporeans actually got to see and hear from the man who was slated by the PAP to be the next PM, and judge for themselves if he indeed deserves the job.

"Great men are not created by propaganda"

The PAP propaganda machine is like an antique car. So like an antique car, to keep it in mint condition, you have to take it out for a short drive from time to time to make sure everything is running smoothly. Then once in a while, say every five years, you give it a gleaming polish job, tune the engine, rev it up and parade it in all its glory in an antique car show.

Also like an antique car, the rhetoric we hear in every election is only a rehash of past glories, achieved by a PAP that now longer exists, replaced by a newer generation of leaders piggybacking on the "track record" of the party, protected by the gentle hand of the GRC for safe passage into the hallowed ranks of MP-hood. Not needing to really walk the ground to win elections, do these people really know what's happening on the ground level? We even have MPs who have retired without having ever contested for their constituencies.

PM Lee Hsien Loong once said: "Right now we have Low Thia Khiang, Chiam See Tong, Steve Chia. We can deal with them. Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I'm going to spend all my time thinking what's the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters votes, how can I solve this week's problem and forget about next year's challenges?"

It is precisely this kind of mindset, of not needing to consider how to win your supporters votes, that results in the serious disconnect between PAP MPs and constituents today.

"If one desires close contact and unity with the people, one must not underestimate their understanding. One must not everlastingly keep them on leading strings."
"No organization, no propaganda, however excellent, can alone maintain confidence in the long run."
"It is not by incitement...and not by threats against the helpless part of the nation but only by talking things over with people that confidence and devotion can be maintained. People treated as morons, however, have no confidence to give away."

PM Lee said: "Never forget that we are servants of the people. Always maintain a sense of humility and service." Well spoken, but actions speak volumes louder than words.

Time and again, the PAP addresses Singaporeans in an arrogant and condescending manner, talking down to us as mere serfs to the magnificence of their benign autocratic rule. A Moulmein resident was utterly shocked by the way her MP Lui Tuck Yew handled a walkabout incident which she was involved in. It is really quite sad that most residents of Ang Mo Kio GRC only knew of their MP Wee Siew Kim through the uncaring, elite face of his daughter.

Singaporeans are not stupid, and nobody appreciates being taken for a fool. But come election time, we are still barraged by idle threats from the PAP about "freak election results", "parliamentary deadlock", "no more upgrading if you vote for opposition", etc. Even more insulting are the blatant pre-election sweets given out to the public. In Taiwan, election candidates can be fined and jailed if found guilty of distributing gifts or money to voters in excess of NT$30 (less than S$2). At least in Taiwan, the money comes out of the candidates pockets. Here, we are bribed with our own money.

Maybe it will take a "freak result" for the PAP to finally understand that really listening to what the people are saying really matters. Being a former Chief of Army or PSC scholar does not give you the right to talk down on anybody, especially to your voters. Just as the famous quote from Abraham Lincoln goes:

"You may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you cant fool all of the people all the time."

Apr 20, 2011

About the election deposit

So Parliament has been dissolved by the Grand Prata Man and polling day for the General Election set for May 7.

Looking at the press release from the Elections Department reveals several interesting points about the deposit that must be paid by each candidate standing for election:

According to the Parliamentary Elections Act, the deposit per candidate is 8% of the total allowances payable to an MP in the preceding year and rounded to the nearest $500.00. The deposit for a candidate shall, therefore, be $16,000.

The deposit this year is $16,000, up from $13,500 from the previous election. Since the deposit is pegged to 8% of the total allowance payed to an MP in the previous year, it follows that the average MPs pay has risen 18.5% in five years since the last election.

Given the way our world class MPs are apt to pat each other on the back and give themselves large raises for a "job well done", this increase should not be a surprise to anyone.

But the very idea of pegging the election deposit to 8% of an MP's pay means that each time they give themselves a raise, they are raising the bar of entry to opposition candidates at each election by increasing the deposit as well. $16k might be chump change for a PAP MP, but not so for your average opposition candidate. Smaller opposition parties will have to work hard to canvass funds to field say a 5 or 6 member GRC fight.

Devious, the lightning party.

Taiwanese press predicts a "landslide victory" for the PAP

A look at how the Taiwanese media views the coming Singapore GE. Ask any Taiwanese about Singapore and they envy our growth and prosperity. But few people are aware of what is going on in Singapore beyond its polished global image marketed to the rest of the world...

Original version here: http://news.chinatimes.com/world/50406039/112011042000163.html

5/7 Singapore election - Lee Hsien Loong expected to be reelected Prime Minister
  • 2011-04-20
  • China Times
  • 【Liang Dong Ping / Bangkok】
  • The Singapore Government announced on the 19th at 15:00, President Nathan, on the recommendation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has dissolved parliament, and announced that election day will be held on May 7, and nomination day on April 27 . It is believed that it will still be a landslide victory for the long-governing incumbent People's Action Party, with Lee Hsien Loong expected to continue as Prime Minister.

    The last Singapore general election was held in 2006, and the upcoming 12th parliamentary election will have three additional seats for a total of eighty-seven member seats. Significant changes have been made in the election constituencies, with single-seat constituencies increased from nine to twelve, and GRCs increased by one to fifteen, for a total of twenty-seven constituencies.

    With the exception the Potong Pasir and Hougang constituencies, the ruling PAP still controls eighty-two seats, forming the majority in parliament.

    As in previous elections, it is generally expected that the PAP will have a landslide victory. This is because under the leadership of the PAP, Singapore's performance has been brilliant in recent years. Although Singapore was also affected in the global financial crisis, the government took effective measures which resulted in an early recovery followed by a strong rebound, which was the envy of the world. Singapore reported an economic growth rate of 14.5% in 2009, and is expected to grow from four to six percent this year.

    In the face of various crises, the People's Action Party, is often also able to hit the nail on the head and propose and implement effective programs, the controlling of property prices is one example. Singapore's leadership is also not monolithic, and several years ago went out on a limb and approved the construction of casinos.

    Since the beginning of last year, casino operations has proven to be a major contributor to reverse the economic contraction. But Singapore government also implemented restrictive measures to prevent their own people from getting addicted to gambling, and these acts have gotten the support and recognition of their people.

    However, The Wall Street Journal also pointed out that the ruling party is likely to face the its biggest challenge so far (in the coming elections), due to too many foreign workers, wage stagnation, rising prices, the wealth gap and discontent over inflation. Opposition parties said it would field candidates in all constituencies, hence the opposition's seats are likely to increase.

    GE May 7, 2011. Don't forget to vote.

    Election day will be held on May 7, 2011 (Saturday). Don't forget to vote. At least do it on my behalf, ok? All the best to Singapore!

    Apr 18, 2011

    12 steps on the path to losing power

    I'm a great fan of This American Life and listen religiously to their weekly podcasts over iTunes. This week's episode "Know When To Fold 'Em" producer Nancy Updike observed the recent uprisings in the Middle East which resulted in the toppling of dictators in Egypt and Tunisia, and came up with a list of 12 steps that dictators take on the path to losing power.
    1. Shut down the Internet
    2. Send thugs (on foot or horseback)
    3. Attack and arrest journalists
    4. Shoot people
    5. Promise to investigate who shot people
    6. Do a meaningless political reshuffle
    7. Blame Al Jazeera
    8. Organise paid demonstrations in favor of your regime
    9. Make a condescending speech about how much you love the youth
    10. Threaten that the country will fall into chaos without you
    11. Blame foreign agitators
    12. Leave - get out
    She further points out that even though Mubarak and Ben Ali have been overthrown by their people, other dictators in the region are still following the same 12-step script which would likely lead them down the same path (see Syria, Libya and Yemen).

    Why? Because being dictators, they have been in power for so long - 20 to 30 years - that they are so accustomed to ignoring their people all these years that they've developed a "tin ear", and simply are unable to listen to what their people are saying when large scale dissent occurs. Hence, they continue to repeat past rhetoric and babble on, oblivious to the momentum developing from the people's unrest that may eventually become their undoing.

    Sound familiar?

    Faced with unprecedented criticism over their policies and choice of new candidates for the coming election, the PAP, while not a dictatorship (though it feels a tad like one), is starting to sound like a broken record, replaying tired party rhetoric and putting up a weak and unconvincing defense in response to the opposition.

    Is this the beginning of the end of the lightning party? Probably not in this election, but if the grand old party does not wake up and smell the scent of heartlander discontent, then perhaps they too are beginning their own 12-step process to their downfall.

    Apr 7, 2011

    A little grassroots incident

    As I'm not in Singapore most of the year, I've not had much experience with any grassroots activities going around my residential area (unlike my Mum who frequents the various Karaoke competitions and CNY dinners organized by the nearby CC).

    But during a recent trip back home for Chinese New Year, I became part of a little "grassroots incident", which, in a small way, reflected on how in touch the incumbent political party was with its constituents.

    Our family was having breakfast at a nearby hawker centre when a swarm of white shirts approached our table. Amid the swarm of bodyguards, photographers and lackeys grassroots leaders, Minister Mah Bow Tan appeared to chat and shake hands with us.

    Apparently, election time was drawing near.

    "So how are you?" MBT started.

    The Minister then took one look at my brother-in-law, who is from Hong Kong, and exclaimed excitedly: "Wait, I've seen you before right?"

    My brother-in-law, whom like me also spends 99% of the year overseas, contemplated the low possibility of this happening, and was about to correct the Minister when he interjected:

    "You're from Simei, right? Simei! You've got a Simei face! I can recognize it anywhere", the Minister exclaimed enthusiastically, to the broad smiles of the white cohort around him.

    "Actually, I'm from Hong Kong." my brother-in-law offered.

    The Minister looked a little taken aback by this and an embarrassing silence ensued for several seconds.

    Then dear mother broke the silence, saying:

    "Mr. Mah, my daughter and son-in-law are based in Hong Kong, and my son and daughter-in-law are living in Taiwan. They're coming back for Chinese New Year..."

    "Great", the Minister must be thinking to himself, "an entire family of quitters..."

    Apr 6, 2011

    Still can't vote, again.

    I observed with interest the online proceedings building up to this year's Singapore General Election, and upon doing some research found out that for the first time in my adult life, my constituency did not have an automatic walkover and I was eligible to vote!

    So imagine my excitement at finally being able to exercise my constitutional right as a Singapore citizen and vote for the better party/candidate, the power to leave my stamp to decide our nation's future, for better or for worse, to...

    That is, until I discovered one can't vote from Taiwan.