Yes, I have been notably silent over the past couple of days and only waited to the day before the polling day before writing. Busy, with work. Busy, hunting elections news from inside. Basically, I was overwhelmed with commitments, so much so that I didn’t even have time to check my emails. Following the advice of at82, I guess it is good to introduce some PAP perspectives into the blogosphere, since opposition have other "mouthpieces". There are some unanswered comments in the previous articles as well as via email. Rest assured that I will get to them as soon as time permits. Here are some issues to think about and pictures from today’s campaigning to savor.
The cctv Gomez video has been broadcast over the news in “Tammy-like” frequency. His name is fast becoming the equivalent of “Mohamed Jufrie Mahmood – 1991”, “Tang Liang Hong – 1997” and “Dr Chee Soon Juan – 2001”. There is a similarity and difference in such trends.
Maybe it is known to many that the PAP’s strategy is to focus on one “rotten apple” in the basket of many to cast the entire consignment into the dumps. In the past, oppositions tends to shoot themselves in the foot by saying something silly or doing something silly to provoke retaliation. Gomez seemed to be on course for that. In fact, the “Gomez-lightning” struck twice when he failed to fill up the nomination forms properly in the 2001 elections and now the latest fiasco. Whether he is the crook or not, it doesn’t matter, for one purpose: Sylvia Lim.
The reason why PAP pointed their heavy-weight guns at Gomez was to divert the attention away from Sylvia Lim. Sylvia Lim, is one candidate that fits all description of a good and credible opposition that PAP mentioned, but with one problem; she is contesting in a GRC. PAP wouldn’t mind having her in the parliament but can’t afford to lose a GRC as well as a vital Minister in George Yeo, the modern architect of Singapore’s economic success. When the electoral boundaries map was drawn, they probably tried to tempt WP to send Sylvia Lim for a single ward in Yio Chu Kang and probably would be willing to sacrifice Seng Han Tong for her. But they didn’t bite the bait. Thus, they have to focus on a new direction and issue to ensure Aljunied remains in PAP hands. Aljunied is historically a weak ground for PAP. In 1991, PAP won the Eunos GRC (now part of Aljunied) by only 52.38% of the votes. Another part of the present-Aljunied GRC also belonged to the Cheng San GRC in 1997. PAP did not do much better in Cheng San GRC when they garnered only 54.82% of the votes. This is no doubt a shaky ground for the PAP.
However, unlike all the other elections, this one is different. The Worker’s Party now has a credible and likeable candidate in Sylvia Lim, whose actions and words are well-thought and unfaultable. In addition, the local media (so-called mouthpiece of the ruling) has an unhealthy (in the eyes of the PAP) obsession with her. Take all the Straits Times reports over the past 3 months and count the number of Sylvia Lim’s reports, pictures and coverage. The number far exceeded the total number of reports and pictures for all 17 PAP female candidates. When NUS had their forum recently with Chiam See Tong (SDA), Indranee Rajah (PAP) and Sylvia Lim (SDP), the contrast in the photos was clear. Indranee was pictured with her jaw-dropped defeated look; Chiam was photoed like a caring grandfather and Sylvia with a motherly-like beaming smile. Indeed, the PAP are worried about losing Aljunied. When the Gomez issue came, they had to pounce on it, but over-cooked it.
The PAP expected the WP to react strongly to the criticism on Gomez and hoped that WP candidates might slip their tongue because of it. They didn’t bite the bait again. Instead, Sylvia Lim put PAP on the defensive and was portrayed as the sensible heroine of the whole fiasco. In simple terms to summarize this Gomez-issue, Gomez was the bad guy (perception-wise), Sylvia Lim was the good guy (or woman) and PAP lost overall in this issue. That is one reason why the PAP decided to cut loose this issue and tell the public to move on.
Rolling-in the MM Tank
With the threat of the WP looming, MM decided to step in and tried his old tactics of provoking his political opponents. Sensibility of the WP prevailed and they didn’t bite the bait for the third time. Many expected MM to step down during this elections but he didn’t. This is significant for many reasons.
In other countries such as Europe, Party splits are common. In Malaysia, UMNO demonstrated that this is not peculiar to Asian societies. To MM, this election represents crucial importance in consolidating the transition. He will not rest until he thinks this transition is complete. Looking at all the new candidates, the person with the most Ministerial potential is RADM Lui Tuck Yew. Without a doubt, he will be groomed to be the next Defense Minister, a vital post for any government. Under MM’s constituency, he will be “nurtured” by MM to provide loyal support to PM Lee in the future. These new candidates are expected to replace the “GCT-men” such as Lim Boon Heng, Lee Boon Yang and Yeo Cheow Tong.
Cyber-cop for Blogs?
Elections have gone for 8 days. Blogs and podcasts on elections have been active yet no arrest or even a slight warning has been made. Let’s do a quick check. Singabloodypore. Checked! The Void Deck. Checked! SgRally. Checked! Yawning Bread. Checked! Seems like all the political blogs have not been touched as predicted earlier.
I don’t think I need to explain the reasons again, but my MDA friend said that they have no intentions of monitoring the blogs at all. I’ll place all my bets that the law will be revised in the next electoral term.
Secrecy of Votes?
This was a hot issue when SM Goh mentioned that upgrading will still be possible for residents in Realty Park if the votes are higher than 60%. It sparked a wildfire of questions on the secrecy of votes. So is our vote really a secret?
After tomorrow, I’ll be able to assure everyone out there what happened from the first casting of the votes to the sealing of the ballot boxes. Why would I know? Yours truly, has been invited as the external counting agent to monitor the procedure of the votes as well as the secrecy.
Just to shed some light on why one can estimate the votes for each area without knowing the identity of the voter who cast the vote. At each polling station, the PAP, oppositions and members of the public can participate as the polling agents. Each PAP as well as opposition parties are expected to send their members as polling agents to ensure that the game is played fairly. This is not as important as counting agents. Both camps will send members as counting agents when the casting is closed at 8pm tomorrow. Agents from both camps as well as invited members of public will monitor the counting of votes in each sub-district such as ITE-MacPherson or Pei-Hwa Primary School. Thus, representatives will know how their party fairs (in terms of percentage) based on these sub-polling stations without being allowed to know the identities of individual votes. Example: percentage of votes from Si Ling Secondary School will be representative of the 14 blocks in Sembawang GRC and made known to the counting agents. Subsequently, the boxes will be sealed (with wax and tape, stamped by the presiding officer) and send to the main principal counting centre (for the example of Sembawang, it is Admiralty Secondary School) to total up the votes. Thus the counting agents can and will feedback to their candidates their performance for each sub-district.
Unless there is a dispute in the results, the official wax-stamped seal of the polling box will not be broken until the burning of the votes after the stipulated months. Thus, there is no issue of personal votes being known to the political parties.
How Good is Good?
Every time a journalist’s microphone is pointed into the lips of the candidates, they are always asked about the percentage of votes they expect to win. One should not and could not expect the same high percentage during the 2001 elections. The 2001 GE took place under extraordinary circumstances (the September 11 terror attacks), which swung 10%-15% of the votes in PAP’s favour. Based on that, the average percentage of votes is expected to reset to the 65% mark. Here is my prediction of the expected target of the PAP wards from the PAP perspectives (why the PAP perspectives? Read the title of this article!) :
Aljunied GRC – 5-10% below average
Ang Mo Kio GRC – 10-15% above average
East Coast GRC – 5-10% above average
Jalan Besar GRC – 0-5% above average
Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC – 0-5% above average
Sembawang GRC – 0-5% below average
Tampiness GRC – 0-5% below average
Bukit-Panjang SMC – 8-12% above average
Chua Chu Kang SMC – 5-10% below average
Hougang SMC – WP to win by 5%
Joo Chiat SMC – 3-8% below average
MacPherson SMC – 0-5% above average
Nee Soon Central SMC – 5-10% above average
Nee Soon East SMC – 0-5% above average
Potong Pasir SMC – PAP to win by 2%
Yio Chu Kang SMC – 0-5% below average