Monday, 28 April 2014

Honeymoon, Low Passing Mark and the Reality of Free Election

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?

[Still honeymoon period for the opposition
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.
    
#1
http://www.singapolitics.sg/news/ten-takeaways-st-half-time-survey-roundtable
#2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger's_law

Sunday, 20 April 2014

否极泰来 Piji Tailai: 一党专政终结,行动党何去何从。

否极泰来 Piji Tailai: 一党专政终结,行动党何去何从。: 新加坡总理李显龙走访一趟英国回来,给人的印象是行动党一党专政的时代,即将结束。不论是 40% 反对选票继续上升,还是联合政府的问题,总理在洋人面前,也只有无奈的承认这个事实 – 想要继续过去 50 年的一党专政,一党独大,似乎是不可能的任务。 因此,我们看到他在洋人面...

一党专政终结,行动党何去何从。

新加坡总理李显龙走访一趟英国回来,给人的印象是行动党一党专政的时代,即将结束。不论是40%反对选票继续上升,还是联合政府的问题,总理在洋人面前,也只有无奈的承认这个事实 – 想要继续过去50年的一党专政,一党独大,似乎是不可能的任务。

因此,我们看到他在洋人面前的狡辩,什么官委议员,什么非选区议员,什么一人一票制度造成一党独大,60%选票独占90%以上的议席等等,似是而非,丢人现眼的假民主言论。在洋人的逼问下,他只好说,有一天,行动党不再执政的可能,随后又补上联合政府的思路。回到新加坡后,又说联合政府是天真的想法,后果会很严重。

不论新加坡将来发生什么样的政治改变,一党专政是不可能的事情了。40%的不满反对票,即使不再上升,也已经是一股强大的力量。英国人也承认40%是有可能执政的。在欧洲的比例代表制国家,少过40%组成的联合政府的例子,比比皆是。因此,当总理在英国和欧洲时,他所面对的当地现实,使到他必须根据当地民情,制度做出现实的回答。当他回到新加坡后,想一想新加坡的现实,不是如此,依然是一党专政,因此,联合政府是天真,不可想象,又再他的脑海里浮现出来。

一个国外的现实,和一个新加坡的现实,在目前来说,的确不一样。在国外,如果高唱一党专政将是死路一条。但是,在新加坡,高唱一党专政,还是行动党的梦想,希望年年如此,50年如一日,每一届大选,都是,少数票胜出,就能独自拿下大多数议席。因此,联合政府是天真的,不可想象的。行动党可能没有想到,有一天你想联合,人家都不跟你联合,因为40%以上,也可以独立组成政府。
行动党可能太健忘了,1963年的大选,它的得票只有46.9%就做政府了。因此,风水轮流转,或许别人的运气比你好,根本就没有联合政府这回事。行动党想执政,连门都没有。所以,英国人也没有说错,40% 再加上另一个反对党,行动党总理部长全部可以下课去。

所以,总理在国外不适应国外的政治现实,国外的民主选举,因此一时之间,才会说出一人一票,联合政府的奇怪回答。但是,当他回到新加坡后,如果认可他在国外的言论,那么,他的支持者怎么办,行动党的支持者怎么办,何去何从? 有一天,行动党有可能失去政权,行动党不再一党专政,过去一切好办事的思维,要怎么才能改过来,总理想到这里,心理不能不说联合政府是天真,不可儿戏的大件事。不然,如何叫支持者安心。

这是政治的现实,过去能够利用各种方法,限制,管制在野党势力的扩张,不和西方的民主选举挂钩,一直脱轨,媒体垄断,一党专政的 管理新加坡,这对新加坡这个国际金融中心,国际城市,教育,医疗中心来说,这些动作简直是格格不入,不能成立。经济,教育,已经走到这步,接下来就只有政治的国际接轨,行动党如果不愿意,将是自己找坟墓,可能连联合政府的份儿都没有。

总理在国外扮演民主角色,解释新加坡独特的选举制度,这是很难说服洋人的。因为政党轮替,在西方民主世界里,是常见的政治现实。而一党专政,在他们看来就是独裁政治,因此·,每次在演讲中提问,或者访问新加坡领袖,都要提出这个民主选举的问题,如何能够像行动党那样顺风顺水,次次都可以高拿90%以上的议席。

不说西方世界,就连我们东南亚都出现大变化。纳吉以低于50%得票执政,印尼,菲律宾出现多党制,泰国已不是一党独大。因此,行动党这条一党独大的船,还能一党专政到几时?对于行动党来说,这是一个必须接受的事实,而总理在伦敦的演讲中,访问中,也不得不承认这个事实,一党专政的日子,可以拖多久就多久。当然,最好,就是他本身圈定的2020退休年,这是他的预算,也是一种政治的无奈。对他来说,最好的算盘是行动党不要在任秘书长时就下课了。

为了这个假定的退休年,总理一直不忘提起,行动党的接班人问题。并且,一直强调,行动党在积极物色接班人,上届大选的行动党议员,有些已经担任部长了。这是一厢情愿的说法,行动党的接班人在很大程度上,还要看选民的脸色。这和总理当年出任总理,没有异议,或者有异议也不敢出声的情形大不相同。今天,即使主流媒体没有出声,社交媒体也肯定会评论接班人的素质,能力,潜力,魅力等等。

40%反对票是很有资格对所谓的接班人说三道四的。如果反对票票数继续增加,就能完全否决行动党圈定的接班人。这是行动党的坏消息,却是在野党的好消息。有时真的看不懂,兜来兜去的谈论接班人,怎么说来说去,都是在行动党的小圈圈内讨论,忽视民情,忽视40%的反对声音。或许,这个人只是代表行动党,而不是代表新加坡,而当行动党不再是政府时,我们也就无需讨论这个人,讨论这个人就变成多此一举,浪费时间和气力。

接班人是要打拼出来的,不是圈定的。当然,一党专政,如果真的实行起来,像一些极权国家那样,真的是不需要取得人民的认可,谁被圈定,谁就出来做接班人,其他的人,包括党内的同僚,也就好认命。但是,西方的例子,东南亚的例子,已经告诉我们,这是不可能的。行动党推出的接班人,也不过是新加坡将来真正接班人的候选人之一。如果认为登上行动党接班人的大位,就是等于新加坡未来接班人的位子,这就是太过低看低估新加坡人了。


总理之后的新加坡接班人,将面对政治新局面的挑战。行动党的三位总理,在福过三代后,新加坡将出现一个不同的接班人。过去顺顺利利当总理的福气,不可能再出现。而以为本身拥有奖学金的光环,就具有出任新加坡第四任总理的资格,不需打拼,那才是天真,那才是总理说的不可能。

Monday, 14 April 2014

Gracious Society without Social Planning

Goh Chok Tong’s open suggestion of setting up a review committee on social policies is directly admitting that the PAP has no social planning in the past 50 years. They have no social planning of a cohesive society, not to mention a gracious society at all. So, what do they have? They have social engineering for economic planning, at the expense of social unity and cohesion.

During his time as Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong championed for a gracious society and a Swiss standard living for Singaporeans. What he was trying to do then was to promote economic growth without social planning. Otherwise, why did he suggest the social committee out of the blue?  Surely, he and his PAP leadership had not thought of it before, only until recently. 

The PAP is just using the big dream of gracious society as a mean to push for more growth.  Lee Hsien Loong, after Goh, shifts the economy to even higher gear to promote growth without any social consideration.  He admitted the infrastructure has failed to catch up. The truth is not the hardware had failed, the software, like social planning it totally absent or moving at the wrong direction.

So, would you be surprised to read news like: 
[ESM Goh calls for committee to review Singapore's social policies] #1

It proves that all along the PAP has forgotten the social planning. What they have is media control, propaganda and social engineering in support of economic growth and social injustice.

Goh calls for setting up a Social Review Committee that could help identify and provide solutions to the social challenges facing the country. These challenges will weigh more significantly on future governments. #1

Is he implying that when he was PM, there were no social challenges?  Or, even there were social challenges, the media and social engineering will help to neutralize them or ignore them at all.  It is just like Lee Hsien Loong’s attitude towards our very low ranking of press freedom:   
[Responding to a question on Singapore's relatively low ranking by global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, Mr Lee said: "I have given up that (Reporters Without Borders’ ranking)... I do not take them seriously."] #2  
The PAP not only underestimates the challenges.  They simply never take them seriously. So, we really don’t know what things the PAP is really serious about besides high economic growth.

Succession planning?  

Lee said the PAP has already put a lot of thought into succession planning, saying that they always make sure to have a new team ready to take charge and move ahead.

We also hear Temasek is looking for a replacement for Ho Ching.

Perhaps, according to Goh’s suggestion of social committee, the PAP will only seriously consider setting up a special committee for succession planning 50 years later.

How many Singaporeans are seriously thinking there is succession planning in the PAP and in Temesak?  

Fair and equitable society

In the interview, Mr Goh said that "what's needed is a coherent framework to pull all the different components together -- to make it a holistic, effective, and sustainable social compact to ensure Singapore remains a fair and equitable society." #1

The framework for a cohesive society in Singapore has already in place longer ago. Maybe the PAP is in power for too long, they have forgotten their own framework: 
[We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion,to build a democratic society based on justice and equality so as to achieve happiness, prosperity andprogress for our nation.]
Fair and equitable society as mentioned in Goh’s interview has already clearly highlighted in the National Pledge of Singapore. We pledge it every day when we are in schools.

His suggestion of a social review committee is an acknowledgment that the PAP is moving away from their own original framework – the very original pledge of Singapore independence.

This proves how far the PAP has deviated from the original aim of our independence. 

Will the setting up of social committee bring back the spirit, the commitment of social justice and equality? or it is just another social engineering.  


#1

#2

Monday, 7 April 2014

撒辣椒,在野党玩假的 -- 再论李显龙的饥饿论。

新加坡总理李显龙日前在伦敦大谈新加坡民主和在野党玩不做政府的策略,来获得更多的选票。对于投选在野党的人,到底是希望看到在野党在玩假球还是真球。我们在做出选择时,真的像总理说的希望在野党在玩假球,还是希望替代政府的出现。

如果我们希望看到假球继续,那么,我们什么都不用做。就让假球一直踢下去。但是,如果,我们希望看到替代政府出现,我们就有责任告诉朋友,告诉不认识的人,这是一场真球比赛,替代政府还未成功出现,大家要努力。同时,新加坡人不是总理说的那样,只要一个行动党版本的饥饿论。

总理高调的说,新加坡人认为行动党政府普遍上做了对的事。因此,他们投选在野党是一件让人不解的事情。他们这么做的原因,或许是希望看到有人在政府的尾巴上,洒了一些辣椒(粉),刺激一下行动党,认它不舒服而已。

(Well, the odd thing going on is that in Singapore people actually know that the government generally is doing the right thing. But they like somebody to be there to put a bit more chilli on the government’s tail.) #

新加坡40%选民是否真如总理说的,只是要行动党政府不舒服,刺激行动党,让它醒一醒,大家玩一下假球,娱乐一下,投假票的人,是否知道自己在做什么,行动党是否也认为大家在玩假球,而且也知道大家玩假球的目的。

因此,Chatham House 论坛的主持人Malcom Rifkind 爵士也认为这个发展有些莫名其妙,不可思议。40%反对票,如果继续下去,行动党难道不担心吗?因此,总理只能以玩假球来解释。大多数的新加坡选民还是要行动党做政府,因为,在野党说它们不要做政府,所以,选民才放心的投票给在野党。主持人觉得很纳闷,因为在英国,执政党只获得40%选票就做政府了。为何新加坡与众不同,而获得40%选票的在野党,在国会却获得少过10%的议席?

总理这个时候推出了新加坡式的民主论。他认为新加坡人只要,且只接受行动党的饥饿论,就是上一篇博文中说的:高经济成长,高物价房价,接受贫富不均的事实,提高生产力,没有免费午餐,低薪工友十年不加薪等等。因此,对行动党的不满,也只是洒一些辣椒粉罢了。而且,也只是在尾巴上而已,根本没有造成什么伤害,选民只是玩玩而已,不用认真。

最令人喷饭的是总理把40%选票=低于10%在野党议席的说法:绝对多数票制度,集选区制度,非选区议员,官委议员等等。主持人认为,英国也有绝对多数票制度,而官委议员也不民主,而40%反对票,如果一直没有足够的国会代表,是否会出现强大的不满情绪,而需要进行政治改革?

总理从头到尾,一直强调新加坡选民要行动党执政,不想改变政治现状,只要行动党版本的饥饿论。完全否定人民要求替代版本的饥饿论:公平民主社会,财富分配贫富差距比较公平,言论自由,照顾人民的起居生活,提供公平的教育工作机会等等。

因此,主持人提醒总理,50年一变的可能性。总理说,新加坡的政治环境是一个很平稳的过渡。
it’s a very flat political landscape

他不认为,政治环境会一下子做出改变。主持人说,这不是突变,而是渐进式的,(例如:选票一届比一届少)。因此,不能说50年的改变是一下到来。如果渐进式的说法比总理的假球说法和一个行动党的饥饿论说法更为合理的话,那么50年一变,SG50 一变也是有可能的。只要我们相信自己,在野党不是在玩假球,不是不想做政府,只是时机还未到来而已。

事实摆在我们面前,50年后的行动党,已经不是50年前的行动党,而50年后的在野党,也不是50年前的在野党。当然,总理很希望50年不变,50年不变多好,50年的假球论,在野党不想做政府的假设,官委议员的假民主可以一直走下去。

是时候推翻总理的50年不变的假设了。是时候认真看待替代政府出现的可能性的时候了。您准备好了吗? 还是给总理说中,大家都在玩假球,不希望改变,要行动党一直执政下去?

#
总理的问答,可以在下面的网站看到:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2X1jQJUFeNw&list=UUCW8a4CgTbBWzid3IJYomFQ