It is interesting to note that the oppositions is enjoying honeymoon and low passing mark in a roundtable discussion#1. To pass the election and being elected, the PAP will need 90 marks and while 60 marks for the oppositions. Ha! Ha! Where got such thing? Are you saying a neighborhood school student needs only 60 marks to get an A and the top school student needs 90 marks to get the same A? Perhaps, the Examination Board should consider this talented suggestion as an encouragement to weaker students and implement this to help to make 'every school is a good school'.
Honeymoon and low passing mark are indeed an insult to voters, to students, especially to voters in Aljunied GRC. This implies that low quality oppositions candidates are OK as voters only demand 60 marks from them. However, voters demand 90 marks from PAP candidates.
Ask yourself this question: Are the elected PAP candidates in GE2011 scored 90 and above marks? And the elected WP MPs only manage to score 61 marks. This is an insult to the intelligence of voters. This implies that voters in Aljunied, Hougang and Punggol East are double standard and have a very low intelligence in distinguish 60 and 90 marks.
Do you think Lee Hsien Loong score 90 marks in GE2011? If not, by this analogy, he will most likely to lose in the coming general election as no one expects any PAP candidate to score 90 marks.
The one who brings out this issue has failed to tell the history and background of the whole (and true) story. Why do we have this funny honeymoon situation of low passing mark?
[The PAP, as the incumbent ruling party, needs to do more to win votes, compared to the opposition. Voters are likely to hold the PAP to a higher standard, said Dr Tan.“I think the opposition will still have an advantage, at least for some time to come. I think they are still in the honeymoon period,” he said. “For now, the passing mark for the PAP is 90 and 60 for the Workers' Party and other opposition groups.”] #1
THIS IS A NEW REALITY AND ITS RESULT IS THE UNFAIR ELECTION AND COMPETITION OF THE PAST.
In basic economics, supply meets demand and then we have equilibrium price and quantity. However, we can intervene through different measures to influence the equilibrium price and quantity, for example, setting new entry requirement, new barriers, new control, even control of free information etc.
In the past 50 years, there are many examples that we see the changes in market (election) condition shifting the equilibrium price and quantity favoring the PAP.
1. Operations control:
The most famous one is of course the ISA, just names a few, in 1963, we have Operation Cold Storage and in 1987, Operation Spectrum. All these ISA operations result to a new equilibrium that gives honeymoon and low passing mark situation to the PAP. There is less supply of oppositions candidates, especially those capable to score 60 and above marks.
You may consider the legal and court cases against oppositions as another operations control.
2. Information control:
Information needs very little introduction. Our press ranking is one of the lowest in the world. In the past 50 years, oppositions rarely have the opportunity to make their messages pass through the newspapers and televisions.
To make things worse, the mainstream media intentionally mark down the oppositions. Those scored above 60 marks will be the target. So, the media acts like the teachers, just use their pens to deduce points for any oppositions candidates with a potential to score high marks. On the other hand, the media will add points to the PAP. Low and poor quality PAP candidates will receive addition marks from the teachers. As blue eyes boys, all PAP candidates will receive 90 marks and above from the media. This is the result of getting 60% votes and having 90% and more MP seats in the parliament for the PAP.
You may consider the short campaign period as another information control. Voters only receive PAP news and election messages from the mainstream media during election time.
3. System control:
Operations and information control are obvious targets for attacks in the world of western democracy. So, in order, to make the election looks more democratic, the PAP introduces system control to fine tune the election market. They introduce GRC, NCMP, NMP all kinds of sub-democratic measures.
You may consider higher election deposit, minority eligibility etc. as additional system controls. Remember the case of Tanjong Pagar GRC in GE2011; money does play a role in the walk-over.
4. Monopoly control
In a free market, in a free competition, there will always be winners and losers. In fact, a long-term equilibrium will bring in equal number of losers and winners for both the PAP and oppositions.
According to Duverger’s Law, our election system of one winner for a single constituency will result to a 2-party system.
[In political science, Duverger's law is a principle that asserts that plurality rule elections structured within single-member districts tend to favor a two-party system. This is one of two hypotheses proposed by Duverger, the second stating that "the double ballot majority system and proportional representation tend to multipartism.]#2
In the past 50 years, the PAP has implemented too many measures to make the election market a ‘monopoly’. It has the free will and free hand to decide the election system, the equilibrium point the PAP wants, and the market information they want voters to receive etc.
Voters in Singapore have realized the reality and we now call it the ‘new norm’. In a normal free market competition there is no honeymoon or low passing mark. The ‘norm’ is just back to market equilibrium with freer and more open competition. It is still a long way to go as the PAP is still a monopoly. (Please note that monopoly will not lose its honeymoon and low passing mark in basic economics).
The PAP has to acknowledge that voters want to deny them the monopoly status and demand a norm and real market equilibrium.
One should ask, despite operations, information and system controls, the PAP, according to Dr. Tan still needs to work harder as the PAP has lost their advantages. Why do the honeymoon and low passing mark now shift in favor of the oppositions? Is that because the PAP is enjoying above normal profit for too long in the past? Voters only want them to have normal profit and not 60 marks taking more 90% MP seats in the parliament.
Academics, professionals and many others responsible citizens have to tell the true story behind the ‘honeymoon and low passing mark’. We have to acknowledge the past elections were organized under a control situation with limited competition. Only knowing the past, then, Singapore can move forward.