Thursday, 14 July 2016

Sarawak, Japan Upper House, Taipei, Brexit and the Challenges of Singapore Oppositions


The political development outside Singapore pins a difficult ‘dao’ for oppositions in Singapore. Interestingly, in the eyes of Singapore voters, either a status quo of reject change in Sarawak or a change in doubt in Taipei will benefit the People’s Action Party. It is a win-win for the PAP.

These developments can be divided into two groups:

  1. Fear over hope/change and gift for vote
  2. Change with regrets

The Sarawak state election suggests a status quo despite huge controversies and problems for the ruling alliance (BN). Voters care little about these issues. The two by-elections in West Malaysia further prove that voters just prefer to maintain the status quo and fear to change.  Of course, they welcome free gifts and the political promises whether they can be materialised or not.

The just concluded Japan’s Upper House election also confirms voters prefer no change. This is a continuation of the Lower House election 2 years ago.  Japanese voters just refuse to give the oppositions a chance, including young voters whose voting preference is similar to the older generation.

These seems no different from Singapore voters. Voters here prefer old horse and still think and give high mark to the established brand name - the PAP. They also want to maintain a status quo and fear change.

On top of these negative and discouraging developments, the ‘change with regret’ development will add more salts to the oppositions injuries - doubling the fear factor.

Voters have found an excuse not to vote for change as they witness the happenings in Taiwan and United Kingdom.

This puts the e oppositions into an even more difficult situations. These challenges will cut into Singaporean ‘kiasu and kiasi’ mentality. The examples in Taipei and United Kingdom will remind voters, including liberal voters, to think twice before voting for a change.

In 2014, Taipei voters voted a non-party independent candidate, Ko Wen-je to be their mayor.

[There was a certain aura or charisma surrounding Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je when he took office in late 2014 as a self-styled "ordinary person outside of politics." His off-the-cuff remarks and way with words not only generated media talking points, but he was also bolstered by high approval ratings and quickly shot up as a rising star in Taiwanese politics.
Oh how times have changed now that Mayor Ko's approval ratings have reached a nadir in recent weeks. But does this really come as a surprise? Mayor Ko may be a skillful surgeon and possess a high IQ, but his EQ (emotional-quotient) on the other hand leaves one wanting. Not only this, his experience and recognition of the duties of a municipal leader are wholly lacking. Due to unpreparedness and his insufficient grasping of the bigger picture, Ko has been unable to craft a blueprint for administering Taipei.]

The performance of Mayor Ko Wen-je serves as a reminder to Singapore voters who read and watch Taiwan development. Change does not ensure a better future. Voters are also watching closely the performance of the new Taiwanese government led by President Tsai Ing-wen.  For example, when Taiwan accidentally fired supersonic missile towards China, the government, including the President and Prime Minister seemed not well informed and prepared to handle the situation.

Talking about Brexit, more than 4 million voters ask for a revote. It is a clear indication of regrets.

Singapore voters read international news. The examples of Sarawak, Japan, Taiwan and UK are good marketing advertisements for the PAP.  With kiasi and kiasu mentality, these developments will certainly increase the fear index.

On top of these, there are more uncertainties ahead, be it terrorism or economy.  Singapore voters are like voters in Japan, even they know Abenomics is not working, they still vote the LDP as there are no other alternatives. It is hard to think Singapore voters will do a Brexit when there is no B plan or other alternatives.

It seems to imply that even the PAP makes big mistakes, like losing billions in reserve, trains not running, crime and unemployment rate increase, more new poor, etc, it will return to power easily with two-thirds majority in the next general election.  

Are the challenges real? Or it it too pessimistic?

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