Sunday, 8 June 2014

Gerrymandering, Big Data and Constructive Politics

Constructive politics mean gerrymandering and other dirty politics will be less effective or no effect at all in future elections.

Transparent, open and reliable Big Data is a necessary condition for constructive politics.

Gerrymandering needs no introduction in Singapore. The PAP has been happily using it for political gains for more than 50 years.

However, gerrymandering and changes in election rules (GRC, NCMP, NMP) will have little impact when the real constructive politics take place.  The magic of gerrymandering will disappear when there is no walkover. When every constituency is contested, how are you going to draw up, divide, or re-group different constituencies? For the PAP, there is no way/place to hide, especially for their weaker candidates. The coming election will be challenging for the PAP and it will be even more challenging in future.

This is the REAL beginning of constructive politics in Singapore. The so-called constructive politics by PAP definition is now under attack. Singaporeans don't trust the PAP as before. People don't trust the mass media anymore. Social media has become the increasing important tool for constructive politics.

Gerrymandering and other dirty political instruments like town council management, defamation suit, ISA, control of media etc are increasing to be seen as political liabilities for the PAP. Their effectiveness and usefulness have gone and any mention of them will anger the voters.

So, we are talking about a different kind of constructive politics in Singapore. It is definitely not the PAP version which excludes the participation of oppositions. Singaporeans want an inclusive constructive politics that is different from the SG Conversation, different from the SG 50 celebration. There you find the PAP and their members talk among themselves, celebrate within themselves and pay high salaries to themselves. They are so out of touch of modern-day Singapore .

What do Singaporeans really want? They want checks and balances, transparency, open and accountability. They want to know how the Big Data works, how the government interprets the Big Data. They don't want to see just a summary or a simple statement saying that you can trust the government and everything is fine.

Singaporeans want more information, more explanations and more details.  The teacher-student (PAP-citizens) relationship of the past has gone. And it is disappearing fast even the most conservative Singaporeans also want their CPF back as shown in Hong Lim park.  

Big Data for all

If our reserve's physical assets need more than 50 man-year to calculate, this must be a very big Big Data. Perhaps, we didn't have super computer then, maybe in the 1990s, the demand for open, transparency and accountability is not high. That was the period gerrymandering and other dirty politics still actively contributed to the election victories of the PAP. That was the period nobody was questioning the Swiss standard of living. Everybody was blinded by the economic growth or threatened to be grouped as troublemakers in the society.

The PAP government is now promoting Big Data. Big Data can be used to improve transport system and passengers' needs as in the case of LTA/IBM project. Big Data can also use to solve social, economic and commercial problems and improve efficiency and productivity.

What is the role of Big Data in constructive politics?

The PAP would like to keep the Big Data for themselves, exclusively for their version of constructive politics. They are willing to selectively releasing Big Data for commercial and economic use, not so willing to share Big Data for social analysis and certainly not disclosing information for political use. (for example, election statistics) So, what kind of constructive politics is the PAP talking about?

Big Data is to be shared, studied, and analysed for a better society economically and politically. Keeping important Big Data for political use is the usual practice of the PAP but how long can it last?  

If the PAP government can disclose more information about reserve, GIC, Temasek and CPF openly and transparently, then we can talk about constructive politics.

Singapore is now at the cross road.  People are rejecting the old way, PAP-style of constructive politics. They want to participate in the constructive politics in their own way, in their own style.  This is a new process of building Singapore and it will take place with or without the PAP.    

Even the PAP has all the Big Data in their hands, they still can’t guess the mood of voters. So, it is to the advantage of the PAP to share the Big Data openly. Better early than late, the PAP needs to act fast for a transparent presentation of Big Data in a constructive Singapore politics.      

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