Singapore Election 2011

Latest news and updates about Singapore's 14th GE

Archive for the ‘Commentaries’ Category

PAP’s distastrous election campaign hits rock bottom

Posted by singaporege2011 on May 5, 2011

The PAP’s campaign for the 2011 election is a castastrophe right from the very beginning, plagued by incoherent messages to the voters, contradicting statements made by leaders and an outright dissociation from the reality on the ground amidst fast rising public disgruntlement at opprobrium.

For the last one week, the PAP’s disjointed campaign was dominated by two former prime ministers instead of the incumbent. PAP ‘walkover’ MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC Lee Kuan Yew used his trade-mark ‘knuckle-duster’ style to intimidate Singaporeans from voting for the opposition, in particular residents of Aljunied GRC who were told to ‘repent for five years’ if they voted for WP. Then Goh Chok Tong, who had earlier promised not to comment on candidates from other constituencies shot his own foot by making disparaging remarks about his former subordinate and now SDP candidate for Holland-Bukit Timah Tan Jee Say.

The PAP has adopted the same modus operandi it employed so successfully in previous elections by harping constantly on its ‘track record’, handing out goodies like ‘Grow and Share’ package to woo voters and using the state media to smear and fix the opposition.

It appeared to have panicked when it realized that the same old tactics aren’t working on Singaporeans anymore, especially the young who are widely read and have no affiliations to the PAP.

The oft-repeated message of ‘good governance, political stability and economic growth’ now sounds like a stale old record repeating itself to a wall especially when life is indeed getting tougher for ordinary Singaporeans facing increasing competition from the relentless influx of foreigners.

The hundreds of dollars handed out to Singaporeans are too little to help them cope with the rampant inflation while the usua  smear tactics which have worked so well in the past now backfired one by one in the age of Facebook and Youtube.

Like an over-confident student who did not bother to study hard for his exams only to realize in the last minute that the format of the papers have changed and doing last-minute revision now, the PAP is changing gear with only three days to go to salvage a disastrous campaign so far.

The format of this election has indeed changed, revolutionized by the new media which the PAP has failed to incorporate into it campaign.

All of sudden, Lee Kuan Yew who had dominated the headlines for the last few days has all but disappeared from public view altogether with Goh Chok Tong whose infamous last words were – “The majority of Singaporeans are not concerned by the high ministerial pay.”

Like an abusive husband saying sorry to a battered wife and promising to change, PM Lee went through a face-life in a day: he apologized to Singaporeans for the mistakes his government have made despite the many opportunities they were given in the last five years, tried to embrace the online community by holding a ‘Live’ webchat through Facebook when he should have done so earlier and pretending to be humble, empathetic and caring when all along he had been lecturing Singaporeans and asking them to take the ‘bitter pills.’

PAP leaders suddenly remember to engage Singaporeans instead of talking down to them. George Yeo made a desperate appeal on a Facebook video to young Singaporeans to support the PAP, promising to “change and improve” when he said in 1995 that ordinary Singaporeans have no right to discuss about policies with the government.

Khaw Boon Wan cried to win sympathy votes during a rally while conveniently forgetting his callous call for Singaporeans to send their parents to retire in Johor Bahru in 2007. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan now promises to “care for” and “look after” Singaporeans when he deliberated for months before raising the monthly allowance of Public Assistance recipients.

Unfortunately, these feeble last-ditch attempts aren’t going to convince many Singaporeans who have already made up their minds to teach the PAP a lesson it will never forget on 7 May.

Despite controlling the mainstream media, the PAP has clearly lost out to a highly motivated, tightly-knitted and nimble opposition which has clearly played its cards right this time with strong support from the new media.

In fact, the state media may turn out to be the PAP’s undoing as its blatant one-sided propaganda has lulled PAP leaders into a state of complacency for a long time.

Like domesticated dogs which have grown too fat and lazy to guard the house, the present batch of PAP leaders are so sheltered from the humps and bumps of politics that they have lost the instinct, capability and competitiveness necessary to survive in the harsh world of politics.

Though the PAP will still win the coming election with an overwhelming majority, it will be a useful wake-up call for its leader to change their usual strategy to appeal to the younger generation of voters in future elections.

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SDP will lose crucial votes due to misreporting by TNP

Posted by singaporege2011 on May 5, 2011

The Singapore Democratic Party is going to lose crucial votes in the coming polls on 7 May as a result of the misleading article by The New Paper (TNP) on 1 May which falsely insinuated, among other things that Dr Chee Soon Juan had attempted to lead a ‘protest march.’ The same lie was reported in the two Chinese tabloids.

Though the Straits Times carried an article the next day clarifying the matter in a way, it was inadequate as TNP editor Dominic Nathan said the paper ‘stand by the story’ which may cause lingering doubts in the minds of fence-sitters who have not made up their minds yet.

The loss in a few hundred votes is likely to affect results in closely fought contests like in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC where SDP is fielding arguably its strongest team.

The TNP article was skewed deliberately to portray the entire SDP in a negative light by linking it with Dr Chee’s ‘chequered past’. Singaporeans have been conditioned over the years by the PAP and state media to have a less than favorable perception of politicians who engage in ‘civil disobedience.

While Dr Chee has certainly toned down alot, the constant rehashing of his ‘misdeeds’ in the state media is likely to have an influence on the older generation of voters who are more conservative.

Some may be inclined to vote for the SDP, but may back out in the last minute out of irrational fear that the SDP may conduct ‘protest marches’ in the streets if elected to destabilize the country.

The PAP knows the innermost fears and insecurity of Singaporeans pretty well and have no qualms playing them up in order to serve its partisan interests.

The SDP team has done remarkably well in keeping a cool head and ignoring the baiting by TNP which will drag them into a meaningless slugfest only to benefit the PAP. However, the unfounded allegations cannot be allowed to go unrebutted just like that.

The online community has been most vocal in their support of SDP and Dr Chee with even neutrals joining in to lambast TNP for its unethical gutter journalism.

A Facebook page set up calling for the boycott of TNP has garnered more than 4,400 “likes” so far, an indication of how hated the tabloid has become. (read here)

Despite sparking a massive backlash and growing pressure to apologize, TNP has still refused to retract its story and apologize as it knows that doing so will only win sympathy votes for the SDP. Its real motive is simply to discredit the opposition in order to sway public opinion to the side of the PAP.

It’s time Singaporeans come together to send a strong deterrent message to SPH that such irresponsible misreporting is not tolerated and hit it at its pockets by boycotting not only TNP, but its major advertisers as well.

In the meantime, Singaporeans reading this can do their part by sharing with your neighbors, especially those who only rely on the mainstream media for news on what really happen. That’s the very least we can do for a party which is risking so much to speak up for us.

As for TNP, it’s time we consign it to the rubbish chute where it should long belong to.

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How the PAP has been ‘engaging’ the opposition in this election

Posted by singaporege2011 on May 2, 2011

Old habits die hard. It appears that the PAP has not change its standard modus operandi of indulging in smear tactics and gutter politics to destroy its political opponents despite recent attempts by the state media to rebrand its image.

PAP candidate for Ang Mo Kio GRC Lee Hsien Loong said a strong opposition in the coming election helps to focus the minds of voters on issues.

SM Goh Chok Tong called for a ‘clean contest’ and urged the opposition to refrain from personal attacks.

Straits Times journalist Chua Mui Hoong proclaimed that Mr Lee Hsien Loong’s approach is different from his father and he has fought a ‘clean campaign’ so far.

Indeed, this election has been relatively ‘quiet’ by PAP standards as compared to previous ones when it would single out an opposition candidate for demolition such as Francis Seow in 1988, Jufrie Mahmood in 1991, Tang Liang Hong in 1997, Dr Chee Soon Juan in 2001 and Dr James Gomez in 2006.

History did not rear its ugly head again this time not because the PAP leaders have ‘repented’ and change their distasteful ways, but simply because of the presence of the new media to counter the blatant disinformation, half-truths and lies the PAP-controlled media is churning out daily to sway public opinion towards the PAP by discrediting the opposition at every available opportunity.

Let us look at how the PAP has ‘engaged’ the opposition so far.

1. Ignore them completely and indulge in shameless self-promotion:

PAP leaders never bother to read the opposition’s proposals and to ponder over their merits. Instead, they will give sweeping motherhood statements like ‘The PAP has a proven ‘track record’ for fifty years’, ‘The PAP is a first class government’ and ‘The PAP will take care of Singaporeans’ which are broadcast repeatedly by the state media daily without ever substantiating them.

The Nazi Minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels once said: “A lie when repeated often enough, will eventually become the truth.”

Given the endless generous self-praise PAP leaders have been lavishing on one another, it is not a surprise that they are beginning to buy into their own propaganda that they are the only ‘talents’ available to lead Singapore.

2. Shoot down their proposals:

The opposition parties have come up with a series of comprehensive manifestos to bring Singapore forward such as the impressive 46 page economic manifesto written by Mr Tan Jee Say which is endorsed by the former head of the British civil service Lord Butler himself. (read it here)

Even then, PAP leaders, some of whom with literally no experience in the field of economics found fit to shoot them down immediately with lame statements such as “minimum wage will increase unemployment”, “adopting SDP proposal will kill off manufacturing” and “the opposition candidates have no qualification to speak on the economy” when one of them, Mr Tan Jee Say had graduated with a degree in Politics, Economics and Philosophy and worked for 6 years in the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

3. Distort their message to confuse the public:

It seems that many PAP leaders have difficulties comprehending basic English or they are deliberately distorting the proposals of their opponents in order to discredit them.

For the past few days, PAP leaders, one after another have been accusing Mr Tan Jee Say’s proposal to ‘abandon’ the manufacturing sector which was reported widely by the state media.

In page 26 of Mr Tan’s economic manifesto, he wrote:

“In the new economy of services industries, existing entrepreneurs in the factories too have a place. They will not be abandoned. Those who want to shift into services will be helped with advice and funds if necessary and desired. Others who want to stay in manufacturing will be assisted to relocate outside Singapore.”

It is a shame that PAP leaders not only refuse to engage their opponents in a public debate as called by SDP, but chose to

4. Smear tactics and personal attacks:

We have already witnessed a few instances in which the PAP tried to smear its political opponents, but had to back out eventually due to a massive public backlash.

Dr Ng Eng Hen fired the first salvo by questioning the motives of WP candidate Chen Show Mao in returning to Singapore to contest in the election after being away for a number of years while ignoring the fact that Mr Chen has been visiting Singapore several times a year and his family is based here.

Then, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan tried to hit his opponent Dr Vincent Wijeysingha below the belt by sneakily hinting about a video taken last year involving the latter before getting the rest of his team to announce a joint public statement asking Dr Vincent to declare if he harbors any ‘gay agenda’. Unfortunately he mis-read the sentiment on the ground and eventually had to call for a ‘truce’ after netizens lampooned him for using ‘smear tactics’ to discredit Dr Vincent.

Lastly, when the smear doesn’t stick, dredge up the past and link everybody else to it. The Straits Times has been rehashing Dr Chee Soon Juan’s ‘chequered past’ such as his convictions for civil disobedience like an old broken tape recorder again, again and again though Dr Chee is not even taking part in the coming election.

There is one last tactic that the PAP has up its sleeve which it is likely to use as a last resort when forced into a corner: the use of the police and the Internal Security Act (ISA) to arrest and detain its opponents.

The PAP used the ISA to detain its former comrades who had left the party to form the Barisan Sosialist in 1962 and 1963 thereby effectively destroying its chances in the 1963 general election.

In 1987, 22 Catholic and social workers, some of whom would be contesting the election next year as candidates of the Workers’ Party were arrested and detained without trial for plotting a ‘Marxist conspiracy’ to overthrow the PAP regime when the Malayan Communist Party was about to sign a peace treaty with the Malaysian government.

One of them, the former Solicitor-General of Singapore Francis Seow was detained before the election and released in time to contest. By that time, the Income Revenue Authority (IRA) had already opened a case against him for tax evasion. Seow lost the election in Eunos GRC by a whisker and left for the United States soon after.

In 1997, Tang Liang Hong was hit by a series of defamation lawsuits and investigated by the police for criminal defamation before the election in Cheng San GRC. He eventually have to flee to Australia.

In 2006, Dr James Gomez was hauled up by the Singapore police for investigations for allegedly threatening a civil servant over a trivial misunderstanding at the Election Department. The police stopped him at the airport when he was about to leave for Sweden after the election and questioned him for hours before he was given a warning.

The only reason why such ugly incidents did not happen this time is because they were nipped quickly in the bud with the PAP realizing that it will cost them votes if it continues to badger and smear the opposition.

We have to stay extra vigilant and protect the opposition candidates who are risking everything in their lives to fight for our interests and speak up for us in parliament.

As SDP candidate for Holland-Bukit Timah declared at the SDP rally last night:

“We are not in for the money. We are here to serve you!”

We must not give the PAP even half a chance to employ ‘gutter politics’ again to destroy the lives of our candidates so as to divert public attention from its dismal track record in the last five years.

Enough is enough! It’s NOW or NEVER. Wake up from your slumber and grab at the last opportunity you have before we lose our country forever!

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Singapore’s Expat Surge Fuels Economic Fears

Posted by singaporege2011 on May 1, 2011

By Patrick Barta and Tom Wright from Wall Street Journal, 13 January 2010

For years, this rich city-state has marketed itself as one of the world’s most open economies.

But as Singapore recovers from recession, its residents are questioning a key part of the country’s economic model: its long-standing openness to foreigners.

Singapore has thrown open its doors to bankers and expatriates in recent years, making it easy in many cases to establish residency and hastening the country’s emergence as an Asian version of Dubai. It also welcomed low-skilled laborers from Bangladesh and other developing countries to help man construction sites and factories.

The goal was to capture more Asian wealth and offset Singapore’s low birth rate with immigrants, spurring economic growth. But the push has also fueled discontent, turning immigration into a red-hot political issue in a country where dissent is still tightly controlled by the government.

Between 2005 and 2009, Singapore’s population surged by roughly 150,000 people a year to 5 million—among the fastest rates ever there—with 75% or more of the increase coming from foreigners. In-migration continued in 2009 despite expectations it would collapse because of the global recession.

The influx helped boost Singapore’s economy in the short run by creating new demand for goods and services and helping manufacturers keep labor costs low. Developers built apartments and posh shopping centers for the new arrivals.

By some estimates, a third or more of Singapore’s 6.8% average annual growth from 2003 to 2008 came from the expansion of its labor force, primarily expatriates, allowing Singapore to post growth more commonly associated with poor developing nations.

At the same time, though, foreign workers have driven up real estate and other prices and made the city-state’s roads and subways more congested. Their arrival has kept local blue-collar wages lower than they would be otherwise, exacerbating Singapore’s gap between rich and poor.

Some economists say the most damaging effect of the immigration is that the influx appears to be putting a lid on productivity gains, as manufacturers rely on cheap imported labor instead of making their businesses more efficient. Labor productivity, or output per employee, fell 7.8% in 2008 and 0.8% in 207—a phenomenon that could eventually translate into lower standards of living.

Lee Ah Lee, a 58-year-old who makes 850 Singapore dollars a month (about US$600) clearing tables in a cafeteria, says the flood of immigrants has made it hard to make ends meet by pushing down blue-collar pay in Singapore, which has no legal minimum wage. Sitting nearby in a drab apartment block built by Singapore’s Housing Development Board, a state-owned body that constructs and sells subsidized housing, 79-year-old Lee Kwang Joo says low-skilled foreign workers are often housed in corporate dormitories, meaning they have no housing costs and can survive on lower pay.

On Temasek Review, a Web site dedicated to Singaporean affairs, one writer recently warned Singaporeans would be “replaced” as “3rd class citizens” by foreigners, while another said that immigration “will emerge as the single most important issue” in Singapore’s next general election, due by 2011.

Immigration “kept our economic growth high but, at a tremendous cost,” says Kenneth Jeyaretnam, the secretary-general of Singapore’s Reform Party, a small opposition party founded in 2008. Relying on foreign labor to help boost growth is unsustainable, adds Choy Keen Meng, an assistant professor of economics at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. He says a better model would involve the reining in immigration and accepting that Singapore is becoming a more mature economy like the U.S. or Europe, with a long-term growth rate of 3% to 5% a year.

Singapore, unlike many of its neighbors, has a reputation for reliable public services and minimal corruption. Its openness to foreign investment is one reason why gross domestic product is expected to rebound to 4.5% this year, according to the Asian Development Bank, from a contraction of 2.1% in 2009.

Still, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, speaking at a Singapore university in September, said there was a need to be “mindful of how quickly our society can absorb and integrate” new arrivals, and vowed to curb immigration.

The government is also studying immigration as part of a wide-ranging review of the city-state’s economic model launched in 2009. Results of the review, due this month,are expected to include steps to diversify Singapore’s economy and reduce its reliance on exports to the United States and Europe by boosting domestic consumption, among other things.

Yet people familiar with the government’s plans say it is unlikely to press for deep cuts in immigration, and will aim to find other ways to restore productivity growth. Singapore remains committed to a long-term goal of increasing the population to 6.5 million, though it would do so by prioritizing high-skilled residents as opposed to blue-collar workers.

Immigration “is not a weakness, it’s a strength,” said one person familiar with the long-term economic planning process. “People want to come here, why not make use of that strength?”

Serious cuts to immigration could also generate a backlash from other interests—notably the factory owners and real-estate developers who rely heavily on foreign arrivals. Many employers complain that local Singaporeans, accustomed to a higher standard of living than most other Southeast Asians, are unwilling to take on menial jobs, and are likely to resist further tightening of foreign labor supply. 

Source: WSJ

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Will the PAP win all 82 seats contested on 7 May?

Posted by singaporege2011 on May 1, 2011

Next week at this time of the night, the results of Singapore’s 14 general election will be known. Will we see the PAP making a clean sweep of all the 82 contested seats or the opposition making a breakthrough and deny the PAP its traditional two-thirds majority in parliament?

Both scenarios are considered ‘freak results’ at opposite ends of the spectrum, each with widespread ramifications for the future of Singapore. Do we want to progress towards a pluralistic democracy or regress back into a totalitarian state dominated by a single party?

PAP de facto leader Lee Kuan Yew proclaimed confidently that the PAP will win the coming election (hands down) as the only hotspot is Aljunied GRC.

Some may be quick to dismiss Lee’s predictions and slam him for being arrogance, but being an experienced politician who contested in 13 general elections, his words cannot be discounted lightly.

While many expect the PAP’s percentage of votes to fall below 60 percent and even 55 percent, we must not forget that the PAP need only win slightly more than 50 percent of the votes in each constituency to make a clean sweep of all of them.

Lee Kuan Yew is a lawyer and he used his legal knowledge to introduce all kinds of repressive laws to curtail the political rights of Singaporeans. His son is a mathematician – surely he will use statistics to predict his own chances before the election.

The PAP has a ‘research unit’ under the XXX department of a ministry which does the background research on the ground before every general election. It conduct opinion polls, assess public sentiments and analyze voting patterns in the last election.

Even before the election is called, the PAP already knows which are the constituencies they are likely to win easily as well as the potential ‘hotspots’ to take note.

That’s why the electoral boundaries are usually announced a month before the general election not only to throw the opposition’s preparations off guard, but to maximize the accuracy of the PAP’s own predictions. Please remember: The PAP is never known to take any chances, especially when its own political survival is at stake.

Lee Kuan Yew’s response to the strong challenge posed by the Workers’ Party in Aljunied GRC is completely out of his usual character. He appeared almost nonchalant when he said that losing Aljunied GRC does not ‘mean the end of the world’ for the PAP. Will he be still so relaxed if Aljunied is in real danger of falling to WP?

Going by Lee’s temperament, he is likely to fly into a rage if Aljunied GRC is in any danger of falling to the opposition. Let us recall his reaction in three previous elections:

1. 1988: Faced with a formidable challenge from former Solicitor-General Francis Seow in Eunos GRC, Lee attacked Seow relentlessly in the mainstream media and accused him of being a CIA agent. With his moral character demolished and reputation in tatters, the papers ran pages after pages about Seow’s extra-marital affair. PAP only managed to win Eunos GRC by 0.3 percent of the votes, the closest the opposition ever came to winning a GRC.

2. 1991: Eunos GRC was a hotspot again and this time round, it was contested by a WP team led by Jufrie Mahmood, a charismatic speaker who was highly regarded within the Malay community. As expected, the PAP and state media launched a smear campaign against Jufrie, painting him as a racist and ‘Malay chauvinist’. With the Chinese voters hoodwinked by the PAP’s racist rhetoric, the PAP did slightly better by winning 53 percent of the votes. Eunos GRC was subsequently ‘absorbed’ into Marine Parade and East Coast GRCs, disappearing from the electoral map altogether.

3. 1997: The contest in Cheng San GRC was one of the fiercest battle fought in recent history. The WP team led by Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam and Tang Liang Hong were able to win substantial support from the voters and there were rumors that Cheng San may fall to WP. For the entire nine days of campaigning, the PAP sent its heavy-weight ministers to Cheng San including Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Hsien Loong and Goh Chok Tong to lend support to the team led by the languid Lee Yoke Suan. Tang Liang Hong was mercilessly attacked in the press and accused of being a ‘Chinese chauvinist’. PAP eventually won by 55 percent of the votes. Jeyaretnam was sued for defamation and bankrupted while Tang fled to Australia where he is residing ever since.

The Workers’ Party won only 43.7 percent of the valid votes in Aljunied GRC during the 2006 general election. George Yeo later revealed that he had expected to win more than 60 percent of the votes if not for the James Gomez fiasco which actually swayed the fence-sitters to the opposition.

With nearly 20,000 voters being transferred to Aljunied from the PAP strongholds of Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade, it will be an uphill task for WP to defeat the PAP.

Based on Lee’s cavalier attitude towards Aljunied GRC so far, we can safely assume that the PAP is never in real danger of losing Aljunied GRC as Lee did not even bother to visit Aljunied to speak to the voters. WP’s candidates in Aljunied were also ‘spared’ being wacked by Lee’s ‘knucle-dusters’ and none of them were singled out for attacks by the state media like in the past.

The truth is: Lee Kuan Yew probably received reports that the PAP is likely to win all the constituencies comfortably which explained his confidence when he predicted boldly that the PAP will not lose the election.

The expected drop in the percentage of votes from native Singaporeans disgruntled with the PAP’s economic and immigration policies are likely to be compensated at least partly by votes from the new citizens who are grateful to the PAP for giving them a second chance in life.  Together with votes from the senior citizens, civil servants and conservative voters worried about the values of their properties, the PAP will still be able to win most seats albeit with a lower percentage of votes.

On 7 May, the all too familiar scene is likely to repeat itself – the PAP wins all the 82 contested seats. Scenes of celebration erupt in the PAP headquarters. PM Lee gives a speech thanking Singaporeans for giving the PAP another ‘overwhelming’ mandate. The status quo will remain. For the first time since 1981, Singaporeans will have no elected opposition MPs in parliament to speak up for them.

What kind of future will we be expecting under another 5 years of PAP rule?

Lee Kuan Yew has already proclaimed that Singapore still needs 900,000 foreign workers on work permits and no PAP MP will dare to rebuke him. With no opposition in parliament, the PAP will be able to pass any bills and laws without having to account to anybody. Once Lee opens his mouth, 900,000 foreign workers will be shipped to our shore instantaneously and we will have to welcome them with an ‘open heart’ as exhorted by his son the Prime Minister.

The stakes are very high in the coming general election – it is the last window of opportunity for Singaporeans to reclaim ownership of their beloved nation. Only 57 percent of the population are Singaporeans now. The percentage is likely to drop below 50 percent by the election after the next. Our voices and votes will be diluted and we will be stuck with the PAP forever.

The odds are against the opposition. A freak election result may happen and Singaporeans will end up with 87 PAP MPs in parliament.

Time is running out. It’s NOW or NEVER. We only have one week left to make a difference, after which we will have to live with the consequences of our actions or non-action. Every one of us has a role to play. Think of your future and the future of your children. What kind of Singapore do you want them to live in? Do you want them to pay the price of your indecisiveness now?

The 14th general election will be a watershed election in the history of Singapore. If we lose, we will have absolutely no second chance of redeeming ourselves ever again. The PAP never gives its opponents a second chance. We should not be expecting any mercy from them.

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Transcript of Dr Vincent Wijeysingha’s speech @ SDP Rally 28th April, 2011

Posted by singaporege2011 on April 30, 2011

The government of our choice  

Why are you going to the polls on Saturday next?

Because the government of our country is our choice.

Not the choice of the PAP.

And don’t be fooled by these fears that the PAP has put into our hearts for 52 years.

That things will be bad.

My friends, things *are* bad.

The PAP pretends that everything is good.

The PAP pretends that the $800 you receive next week will pay for the entire GST that you will incur next year.

And my friends there is no doubt, there is absolutely no doubt, that the government will raise GST once again after the elections have finished. Just like they did after the 2006 election.

Getting our national priorities right

Yesterday, the Prime Minister raised the usual fears that the PAP throws at the people of Singapore. Your family is at stake. Your job is at stake. Your childrens’ future. Your parents’ care is at stake. If you vote for the opposing party, things will go bad. Well, I say again, things are already bad.

The prices of basic goods are so high and still rising. In the last week alone it went up by 0.5% again. On healthcare costs: Even if you have very, very good insurance, large MediSave reserves, a single catastrophic illness like renal failure can set you back in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. What more for those who haven’t earned enough to save for their old age?

While we spend so much on defence, we spend so much less on the education of our children. What are we saying? That preparing our children for the future is less important than blowing up that future? Than sending bullets into their future?

Each time I look at a child I think to myself how important is her development. How important it is to let her learn and discover the world, to prepare herself for adult life.

An open message to opponents

My friends, at this stage, I would like to say something from my heart.

Some of you may have read in the headlines about me in the last few days. I’d like to say from this place that I have no anger towards those who caused me to enter the headlines.

Politics is a stressful activity. Not for me, but for other people.

People who haven’t had to contest their seats for the last 20 years.

But having said that, politicians make mistakes. We are human beings, we say the wrong things.

So Dr Vivian Balakrishnan may have miscalculated. These things happen.

I want us to move on and I want to say from this place. I want to wish my PAP opponents the very best of luck. And may the best men and women win.

Personal conviction and motivation

I would also like to say something about my motivation for being in politics, and the motivations of the Singapore Democratic Party which I love. Our party’s aim, has always been the people of Singapore. Not so much for those who can speak their views, although them as well.

But we are moved and worried by those who can’t, or don’t. The elderly aunties and uncles. Our disabled brothers and  sisters. Our children who are not doing well in schools or have gotten into trouble with the police. Our young couple who are struggling to set up a family and buy a flat. Our startup businessmen who are very good with business ideas but struggle with the cost of doing business in Singapore.

And the whole of our people who wonder Why the PAP are telling us things are good. That they know what they are doing. But why are we do we see more and more money being wasted, and we are asked to pay more in taxes, levies and subsidies.

SDP’s true agenda

This is our only aim: The people of Singapore.

This is the agenda of the SDP.

To help our fellow Singaporeans. To speak on their behalf. To ask the hard questions. To do the research.

And take us all into the future confidently, with no one left behind.

Let me assure you all and Singapore from this place:

I have no other agenda, than your agenda.

Why?

Because I am one of you.

I also feel the pinch of rising prices.

I also have to think twice about going to the doctor’s when I have the flu.

I also haven’t been able to afford a flat.

I also worry about my parents’ old age.

I have spent my whole professional life working with the underprivileged.

And it is they who move me.

And it is they who move the members of my party.

And if we have any radical idea, if we have any dangerous agenda, it is this:

That ALL Singaporeans deserve to be happy and fulfilled – not just some.

That all Singaporeans deserve to be equal members of this nation – and not just economic digits, as the Minister Mentor once called us.

Because after 52 years of government, the PAP is still unable to secure your future.

How PAP regard Singaporeans

Mr Lee Kuan Yew says we need to be kicked to work harder. Mr Khaw tells us to send our elderly to old peoples’ homes in a foreign country. And Dr Balakrishnan refuses to increase support for the poorest of the poor, and then tells us to mind our own business when he overspends in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

What we have seen over these last 5 years, they have never asked us ’bout what we thought about the policies.

They never asked us if we wanted a huge increase in our population. They never asked us if we expected large numbers of people working for such low salaries, so that your salary will also be pulled down.

Did they prepare us so that we can be welcoming of these new migrants in our midst?

They never even asked us.

Did they prepare the country so that there will be community centres and social services, enough school places and flats and hospital beds to prepare for the increase in population?

They never even asked us.

Did they ask us for our advice on how our new migrants could blend into our community, so they could become loyal Singaporeans like you and me?

They never even asked us.

And did they ask us whether we expected our new citizens to serve in the army like all of us who have?

They have stopped asking us what we wanted. And they have steamrolled through policies, and we are now struggling. 

The true cause of our nation’s problems

And let us not make a mistake about the causes of these problems. Let us not forget that it is this government that have caused these problems not through one term in parliament, or two. But thirteen – over fifty two years.

That’s two generations of people. There are more people in this country today, who are not born when the PAP came to power. And it is those people whose lives are worse off now than they were then.

You know on the first page of the PAP manifesto Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says that they were not able to predict the global crisis in ’08. That is not true. There were several economists and thinkers and scholars who predicted that.In 2005, no one listened.

In fact in those few years, the Singapore government lost huge amounts of our investment money. And what did they do in the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council? They took $8 million dollars of your money and squandered it on toxic investments.

We knew at the end of ’07 that Lehman brothers was already in very choppy waters. But greed became more important than safeguarding your money. Mr. Goh Chok Tong says: “It’s only two percent.”

Let me say to him from this place, wherever he is in Marine Parade today, that that was two percent of your money, the conservancy charges that people have to struggle to pay on a monthly basis. They took it. They invested it. And they lost it. 

They gambled with our money.

This is a government that after 52 years, that is not able to manage, not able to give you the right you deserve. 

Where is all the expertise they say they have? Not after 5 years, but after 52 years.

(indistinct) Mr Mah Bow Tan said that if we ran housing services as a non-profit affair we would be stealing/raiding  from the reserves. Is Mr Mah saying that banking in huge amounts of money is more important than sheltering our families and our own people? If he does let him come out and say it over these next few days.

But might I remind him, that he was utterly silent when his colleague Dr Balakrishnan gambled away hundreds and millions of dollars, and refused to explain, and continues to refuse us a debate on these and other policy matters.

That man is the leader of a team you may well have as your representative, come May the 7th.

A man totally incapable of either managing his portfolio, or justifying his policies like a man.

In conclusion

My friends, voters of Holland-Bukit Timah, voters of Sembawang, Yuhua, voters of Bukit Panjang. Next Saturday you exercise a choice. A choice I remind you that people have died to secure for us.

A choice between arrogance and service.

A choice between gambling and prudence.

A choice between self-service and community service.

I invite you to listen to what both ourselves and the other party’s saying.

Take a look at our website and our Facebook page.Support us in any way you can, and on that day, put your family first, as the Prime Minister says, put your home first, and send these eleven people into Parliament.

Thank you.

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ST tries to whitewash PAP’s ‘track record’ in ‘gutter politics’

Posted by singaporege2011 on April 30, 2011

After seeing their clumsy attempts to character assassinate opposition candidates backfired dramatically, the spin doctors of Straits Times are called in again to save the skin of the PAP from the PR fallout.

In a full-page editorial published on page 2 of the Straits Times today titled “GE 2011: Tough on ideas, civil on opponents?“, ex-ISD officer Chua Mui Hoong tried desperately hard to portray Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as a ‘gentleman’ whose “approach to electoral battle seems defined by a desire for fair play.”

She added that the first generation of PAP leaders like Lee Kuan Yew had to use the “sledgehammer approach” as his “opponents included ‘communists, communalists and crooks'”

It was disingenuous of Ms Chua to distort history and replace it with fairy tales in order to whitewash the PAP’s ‘track record’ in ‘gutter politics’ so as to repackage it into a more ‘palatable’ form for the younger generation of voters.

According to recently declassified documents from the British archives, the Barisan Sosialist leaders who were detained for lengthy periods of time by Lee without trial were not communists and none had any liaison with the Malayan Communist Party.

After the threat of communism and communalism receded in the 1980s, Lee still used a sledgehammer to utterly demolish the only opposition MP in parliament at that time – Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam.

“Put it this way. As long as Jeyaretnam stands for what he stands for — a thoroughly destructive force — we will knock him. There are two ways of playing this. One, a you attack the policies; two, you attack the system. Jeyaretnam was attacking the system, he brought the Chief Justice into it. If I want to fix you, do I need the Chief Justice to fix you? Everybody knows that in my bag I have a hatchet, and a very sharp one. You take me on, I take my hatchet, we meet in the cul-de-sac.”

Character assassination, smear attacks and gutter politics are the forte of the PAP which would single out an opposition candidate for attack in every single election since 1988, assisted ably by the state media.

The former Solicitor-General of Singapore Francis Seow was painted as a CIA agent in 1988, Jufrie Mahmood a Malay chauvinist in 1991, Tan Liang Hong a Chinese chauvinist in 1997, Dr Chee Soon Juan a crankpot in 2001 and Dr James Gomez a liar in 2006.

The ‘James Gomez’ saga cast a shadow over all other issues during the 2006 elections and continued right up to the eve of polling day before the PAP realized belatedly that its smear tactics weren’t working.

And who can forget Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s ‘promise’ to fix the opposition if more of them were to get elected into parliament:

“But supposedly you have a parliament with 10, 15 or 20 opposition members out of 80, then instead of spending my time thinking of what is the right policy for Singapore, I have to spend all my time thinking of how to FIX them and how to buy my supporters over.”

The PAP has not changed a bit at all in this election. First, Dr Ng Eng Hen questioned the political motivations of WP’s Chen Show Mao after being away for many years and then Dr Vivian Balakrishnan tried unsuccessfully to paint Dr Vincent Wijeysingha as a ‘gay activist’ with a hidden agenda to pursue in parliament.

If not for the massive backlash, the PAP may well continue to harp on the two men to divert public attention from its own policy failures over the last few years.

As the saying goes, ‘the leopard never changes its spots.’ It is foolhardy to expect the PAP to change overnight. Only when it is taught a lesson it will never forget at the polls will it start to treat its opponents and Singaporeans with more respect.

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Singapore will not collapse if the opposition wins the next general election (revisited)

Posted by singaporege2011 on April 28, 2011

Temasek Review, January 2011

With public disaffection and disgruntlement against the PAP regime at an all-time high, the possibility of a “freak result” happening in the coming general election is becoming very real.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong once explained the thumping victories of the PAP in previous elections on the ground that the demographics of Singapore is similar in all constituencies.

In other words, the PAP can win big and lose big too.

Unlike the good old days where Singaporeans still remember the “accomplishments” of the PAP regime with gratitude, there is a palpable sense of disillusionment, unhappiness and anger on the ground.

With the stakes so high, the PAP regime will not take any chances in the next general election where its percentage of votes is expected to drop below the 66.6 percent it achieved in 2006.

We can expect PAP strongman Lee Kuan Yew to use his infamous fear-mongering tactics again to frighten Singaporeans from voting for the opposition.

He is likely to warn Singaporeans that Singapore will “collapse” and the foreign investors will be frightened away leading to a drop in their property values and salaries should the PAP regime be voted out of office.

Singapore will not collapse if the opposition wins the next election for the following reasons:

1. More educated professionals in the opposition:

In the 2006 general election, about 70 percent of the opposition candidates hold either a degree or diploma. The percentage is likely to be higher this year with more young educated professionals joining the ranks of the opposition.

Contrary to what is reported in the mainstream media, the opposition is not made up of a motley crowd of uneducated peasants. There are several high-fliers in the opposition who are of ministerial material.

For example, the Secretary-General of the Reform Party Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam graduated from the prestigious Cambridge University with a honors degree in Economics and worked for several years as a hedge fund manager in London.

Another Reform Party CEC member Ms Hazel Poa is a former PSC scholar and high-ranking official in the Ministry of Education.

There are also lawyers, doctors, engineers, fund managers and other professionals from various opposition parties who will be contesting againt the PAP in the coming general election.

Unlike in the past, the gap between the PAP and the opposition is narrowing. The Singapore opposition has more than enough capable people in its rank to form the next government of Singapore.

We do not need all our ministers to be PhD holders. What we need are caring, empathetic and understanding leaders who know what is happening to the common man in the street.

2. Well-oiled civil service:

The ministers are only in charge of formulating policies and charting the future direction of the nation. The actual implementation of the policies is done by the civil servants.

Each ministry is helmed by a Permanent Secretary who remains in charge regardless of which party wins the elections. The role of the ministers have been overhyped by the PAP regime to justify their astronomical salaries.

In reality, ministers have to rely heavily on the bureaucrats under their charge to ensure that their plans and policies get implemented soundly on the ground with few glitchs.

The opposition can always count on our well-oiled civil service to govern the nation should it win power in the next general election.

Other first world countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and France experience frequent change in governments all the time, but their countries never collapse and their economies continue to grow as if nothing has happened.

3. MNCs will establish ties with new government:

The MNCs are only in Singapore to make money and they do not care who runs the country, be it the PAP or the opposition so long they continue to enjoy the same tax cuts and benefits to maximize their profits.

In the event the opposition forms the new government of Singapore, the top honchos of the MNCs will be queuing up at the Prime Minister’s Office to shake hands with the new Prime Minister.

The deep-seated irrational fear that an exodus of MNCs will happen should the PAP lose power one day is completely unfounded and baseless.

When the Malaysian opposition won the rich states of Penang and Selangor in the 2008 Malaysian election, the two states did not “collapse” overnight. No MNCs left the states citing lack of confidence in the new administration. In fact, both opposition-run states continue to attract foreign investments.

It is time for Singaporeans to shed their innate inhibition and vote for an alternative party to govern Singapore. We have nothing more to lose. Enough is enough.

Our beloved country has been changed beyond recognition under the charge of the PAP regime in the last few years. If we do not do something about it soon, we may never have the chance to do so.

The next general election may be the last window of opportunity for Singaporeans to reclaim ownership of Singapore after which they will surely be overwhelmed by the hordes of foreigners the PAP regime is mass-importing to perpetuate its political hegemony forever.

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Turning white into black: PAP’s blatant distortion of opposition’s message

Posted by singaporege2011 on April 28, 2011

The Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels once said: “A lie, when repeated often enough, soon becomes the truth.”

The PAP leaders are experts in distorting the message of the opposition. Instead of engaging the opposition candidates in public debates, they resort to twisting their words to obfuscate the issue at stake and using the state media to confuse, mislead and deceive Singaporeans.

The following examples highlight how good the PAP is at ‘turning white into black’ and put words into the mouths of opposition candidates.

1. Tan Jee Say’s economic proposals:

In his comprehensive economic proposal, SDP candidate Tan Jee Say proposed Singapore reduces its dependence on manufacturing and switch its focus on the service sectors.

Instead of countering Mr Tan’s arguments, PAP leaders dismissed them outright and accused him of proposing to ‘abandoning’ the manufactoring sector.

PAP Chairman Lim Boon Heng said Mr Tan’s suggestions would lead to companies moving their operations out of Singapore, and many families here depended on the sector for jobs.

Minister of State (Trade and Industry and Manpower) Lee Yi Shyan added that Mr Tan’s proposal to move away from manufacturing and focus on services, saying an economy without manufacturing would be difficult to imagine.

At a SDP election rally last night, Mr Tan accused the PAP of distorting his economic proposals:

“I did not propose closing factories and abandoning the manufacturing sector. What I said was that we should not promote manufacturing because it requires a lot of land and labour,” he said.

2. Workers Party’s housing proposals:

The Workers Party had proposed lowering the cost of HDB flats by reducing the land costs which caused PAP Housing Minister Mah Bow Tan to fly into a rage, accusing WP of ‘raiding’ the reserves.

The land for building HDB flats is ‘sold’ to HDB at market rates by Singapore Land Authority and the ‘profits’ made are channeled to Singapore’s reserves.

WP Chief Low Thia Kiang later clarified that WP did not propose depleting Singapore’s reserves to subsidize public housing. What it suggests is merely reducing the land cost by a bit in order to pass more savings to home buyers.

3. Dr Vincent Wijeysingha’s appearance on a ‘gay’ forum:

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan had rejected an invitation by the SDP to an open debate with its candidates in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, but appeared to be more interested in ‘engaging’ them on a more ‘personal’ level.

After blatantly refusing to explain his YOG bursting its budget by more than three times, Dr Vivian tried to cast doubts on the credibility of Dr Vincent Wijeysingha by insinuating that he had a ‘hidden’ gay agenda just based on latter’s participation in a forum last year discussing gay issues.

His clumsy attempts to smear Dr Vincent didn’t go down too well with the ground and netizens lampooned him for resorting to ‘gutter politics’ instead of debating on the real issues at hand.

SDP Chief Dr Chee Soon Juan later clarified that none of SDP’s MPs, if elected, will pursue a gay agenda in parliament causing Dr Vivian to back down in embarrassment.

4. Opposition ‘raiding’ Singapore’s reserves:

PAP leaders are always quick to accuse the opposition of ‘raiding’ Singapore’s reserves while forgetting that they may have already been ‘raided’ by Temasek Holdings and GIC which lost billions of dollars of reserves during the global financial crisis in 2008.

DPM Teo Chee Hean fired the latest salvo at the opposition:

“The opposition parties forgot why we needed to use the reserve that gave us comfort. They want to raid reserves. To them, S$60 billion is small change. Ten zeros in this figure is not small change. It’s hard work.”

None of the opposition parties have ever proposed raiding or depleting the reserves. What they propose is merely investing a small part of the reserves in Singaporeans.

Contrast the PAP leaders’ sudden ‘concern’ for the reserves with Lee Kuan Yew’s cavalier response when he claimed that the reserves lost via Temasek and GIC can be ‘recouped’ in 10, 20 and 30 years because they are ‘long-term’ investments.

Singaporeans must stay vigilant and expose the blatant attempts of the PAP and its propaganda mouthpieces to distort the message of the opposition in order to confuse, mislead and deceive voters.

Some of the distortions may be very subtle, but will have widespread repercussions on the opposition’s chances in the coming election. They must be debunked immediately on the spot to stop the PAP from propagating them further.

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GE 2011: Hot GRC matches to watch

Posted by singaporege2011 on April 28, 2011

Aljunied GRC

PAP: George Yeo, Lim Hwee Hua, Cynthia Phua, Zainal Abidin, Ong Ye Kung

WP: Low Thia Kiang, Sylvia Lim, Chen Show Mao, Faisal Abdul Manap, Pritnam Singh

Analysis:

The Workers’ Party is fielding its strongest team in Aljunied where it lost narrowly in 2006. Given the expected vote swing towards the opposition, the popularity of Low Thia Kiang and the impressive credentials of WP candidates, it will be a tough call for the PAP to retain Aljunied. Mr Low has shrewdly upped the stakes by warning Singaporeans that they could end up with no opposition MPs in parliament. He also brings with him years of experience of managing a Town Council which will assauge the anxieties of voters over a new team taking charge.

 

Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC

PAP: Wong Kan Seng, Ng Eng Hen, Zainudi Nordin, Josephine Teo, Hri Kumar Nair

SPP: Chiam See Tong, Wilfred Leung, Mohammad Hamim, Benjamin Pwee, Jeffrey Lee

Analysis:

Mr Wong is a ‘walking duck’ after the escape of Mas Selamat in 2008. He was greeted by a chorus of ‘Boos’ and shouts of ‘Mas Selamat’ when he spoke to the crowd on Nomination Day. Mr Chiam is widely respected by Singaporeans for his long service to the nation as Singapore’s longest serving opposition MP since 1984. He brings with him two former government scholars in Benjamin Pwee and Jeffrey Lee. Though Bishan-Toa Payoh has been uncontested since 1988, there are a significant proportion of lower-income Singaporeans in Toa Payoh who may feel left out by the PAP’s economic policies over the years. As for Bishan, it has a large number of middle class voters who are feeling squeezed by the rampant inflation and influx of foreigners.

 

Holland-Bukit Timah GRC

PAP: Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Christopher De Souza, Liang Eng Hwa, Sim Ann

SDP: Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, Tan Jee Say, Dr Ang Yong Guan, Michelle Lee

Analysis:

Dr Vivian is facing a tough challenge from SDP’s ‘A’ team in his first ever electoral contest. Though hampered by his mishandling of the YOG, the PAP should still win in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC due to the advantages of incumbency and continued doubts about the SDP’s credibility. While SDP has sought to portray a ‘softer’ image in the coming GE, the damage has already been done by the media’s demonizing of its leaders as a group of ‘radical crankpots’ in the last ten years and it will take some more time before it is reversed. Nevertheless, it is already a near miracle that the SDP is putting up such a strong team to contest against the PAP and it can even pull off a surprise victory on polling day if Dr Vivian continues to shoot off his mouth again.

 

Tampines GRC

PAP: Mah Bow Tan, Masagos Zulkifli, Heng Swee Kiat, Irene Ng, Baey Yam Keng

NSP: Goh Meng Seng, Gilbert Goh, Raymond Lim, Syafarin Sarif, Reno Fong

Analysis:

Mr Mah Bow Tan admitted lately that he is expecting to lose some votes over the housing issue, but it is unlikely that he will be defeated in his stronghold of Tampines where he has been the anchoring MP since 1988. While Mr Mah may not be exactly popular among Singaporeans, his fellow colleagues such as Masagos Zulkifli and Irene Ng are well liked among the Malay voters whom the opposition NSP will have difficulties winning them over. Furthermore, Goh Meng Seng is a relatively lightweight and has discredited himself already by his numerous postings on Sammyboy forum. He was unceremoniously asked to leave Workers’ Party in 2006 for disgracing the party with his online comments.

 

Marine Parade GRC:

PAP: Goh Chok Tong, Seah Kian Peng, Latimah Fateef, Tan Chuan Jin, Tin Pei Ling

NSP: Cheo Chai Chen, Nicole Seah, Abdul Salim, Ng Chung Hon, Yeo Tiong Boon

Analysis:

Despite the media hype over NSP’s star candidate Nicole Seah, it is highly unlikely that she alone will be able to bring her team to a victory single-handedly in Goh Chok Tong’s stronghold of Marine Parade where he has served since 1976. Though she may be able to win some votes from young Singaporeans, the older voters are likely to opt for security by staying with SM Goh. While the widespread public unhappiness over Ms Tin Pei Ling’s candidacy is likely to cost the PAP votes, it may not be enough to propel NSP to a victory. Even then, reducing SM Goh’s winning margin to less than 10 percent is likely to embarrass the former prime minister of Singapore.

What are your predictions in these hotly contested GRCs? Please feel free to share your views with us here.

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