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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pork Barrel Politics: Good or Bad?

In the run up to the 1996 General Elections, the then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong warned voters:

"Your estate, through your own choice, will be left behind. They'll become slums. That's my message."

The PAP then issued an open letter stating: "Please remember that the PAP government cannot upgrade all estates at the same time..... Our resources are limited. Which ones to upgrade first will depend on you. If you give strong support, you will be first in line."

The US State Department had some unkind words for the PAP with regard to the latter's 'threat' to the voters.

BG George Yeo retorted by stating that pork barrel politics had a long tradition in the USA.

so, I take it that pork barrel politics is good.

In 2005, at a luncheon organised by the Foreign Correspondants' Association, PM Lee Hsien Loong said the following with reference to Japan:

“...they landed into problems because of corruption, money politics, pork barreling, and then necessary changes were not made and the country, instead of making adjustments and prospering like America, just flew straight on and went into a storm. So how do we maintain our system and not end up like that?”

so, I take it that pork barrel politics is bad.

Good or bad, pork barrel politics continues. Whereas upgrading was delayed/withheld in the past, now upgrading has been promised for Hougang and Potong Pasir residents. A little sweetener before the elections. If the stick didn't work, perhaps the carrot would?

3 comments:

Gerald said...

The question that should be asked is: Will Singaporeans' voting patterns be swayed by pork barrel politics? I don't quite understand. Last time people decried the votes for upgrading policy, because they said it "forced" to vote for the PAP. Now I'm hearing people say that this is an election sweetener.

So is votes-for-upgrading good or bad for the opposition?

Subra said...

Actually, I wonder about this as well. To what extent does the upgrading issue affect a voter? I am sure hardcore opposition supporters and hardcore PAP supporters are not going to be swayed in any direction by the pork. If the pork is thrown in the direction of the persuadable voter, is a voter in fact swayed by it. Does a voter perceive it as a threat serious enough to encourage him to vote for the PAP? Or does he perceive it to be unethical and therefore consider voting for the opposition? Or is it a case that the upgrading issue plays no part in the voter's decision to vote?

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