Thursday, August 25, 2011

Who should I vote for?

For an election that is not going to make a great deal of difference in our political power structure, the Presidential Election has surprisingly placed me in a fix. Who should I vote for?

I had decided from Day 1 that I am not going to vote for the PAP endorsed candidate. When Tony Tan announced publicly that he was contesting, I had no illusions that he is the PAP endorsed candidate. Sure enough, the endorsements came regularly from different quarters. I am definitely not voting for Tony Tan.
That leaves me with three candidates, all of whom are to varying degrees capable of acting independently when elected.

Dr Tan Cheng Bock on a personal level gives me the vibes of a moderate person who would neither be a 'yes' man nor an unnecessarily confrontational individual. Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian appear to be equally minded to address policy issues with the Cabinet and possibly through that reshape the Presidency.

I have narrowed myself down to Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Tan Jee Say. It is now between the Palm Tree and the Heart. I just went through the New Asia Republic's tabulation of the candidates' position on various issues:

Still undecided.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

PA or PAP?

You can accuse us of political apathy. But, you can never accuse Singaporeans of stupidity.

I am amazed at the Peoples' Association's response to the Workers' Party assertions about WP MPs being deprived of an opportunity to be invited guests at the 7 month festivites. It has turned out that Chen Show Mao had been invited as a guest at a couple of 'Hungry Ghost' festival dinners. But, the organisers had to withdraw the invitation because the Peoples' Association informed that they would not grant future permission if the WP MP was invited.

This first surfaced via a facebook update by Mr Chen Show Mao and subsequently a press release by Ms Sylvia Lim indicating that HDB had granted leases at several places in the Alunied GRC to the Peoples' Association and taken away management of those parts of the estate from the Town Council. This had been done after the General Elections this year. This is in iself shocking as it suggests partisan politics at play in our public institutions. There is an important value that any self-respecting democracy must uphold: the independance and neutrality of the civil service.

But, I am totally stunned at the audacity of the PA's response.

"The PA and its GROs are non-partisan and do not allow any political party or MP to hold activities on PA premises or other facilities managed by the PA."

"This applies to all political parties and MPs, including the PAP"

There are so many things I can quibble about:
1. The Workers Party did not attempt to hold any activities on PA premises
2. The WP MPs did not attempt to hold any activities on the PA premises
3. Mr Chen was invited by civilian, non-partisan organisers to attend the function
4. Community Clubs are PA premises and PAP MPs have been invited as guests at functions held at CCs.

A simple google search reveals a wealth of information on PAP MPs attending activities or officiating as guests at events taking place on PA premises or facilities managed by the PA.
A sampling:
Eunos Heights Residents’ Committee organised a Chinese New Year Dinner on 20 February 2011 at Eunos Community Club Multipurpose Hall. MP for Aljunied GRC Mr Zainul Abidin was the guest of honour.

Passion Nite: on 31st December 2009 at Cheng San CC
Guest of Honour: Dr Balaji Sadasivan, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC

There are too many examples and they are easily available. When the PA decided to assert that they 'do not allow any political party or MP to hold activities on PA premises or other facilities managed by the PA', did they honestly believe that they can get away with that assertion?

I can imagine their response. Those events at PA premises where MPs were present involved MPs that were invited to attend and they were not activities organised by the PAP or the PAP MPs. Well, by the same token the hungry ghost event was not organised by the WP or its MPs. Mr Chen was invited to attend.

Please don't insult our intelligence.

And, by the way who is on the Board of Management in the Peoples' Association?
Lee Hsien Loong, Lim Swee Say, MG Chan Chun Sin, Grace Fu, Masagos Zulkifli, Janil Puthucheary, amongst others. (Interestingly, Mr Yam Ah Mee of GE2011 fame is also there)

Non-Partisan? My ***.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Three Tans and The TAN

Whatever I am going to say here is purely unscientific and is based on a gut feeling resulting from observing current debates about the Presidential elections.

From conversations with my friends and observing online chatter it is clear that all the usual anti-PAP crowd is anti-Tony Tan. I believe that there is no doubt that based on the GE 2011, the same 40% that voted for the opposition would not be voting for Tony Tan. But, the big question is whether they would all instinctively gravitate towards a single candidate. Tan Cheng Bock, Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian all have their merits and attractions for the anti-PAP voter.

What I find pretty clear as well is that a sizeable part of the 60% of PAP voters would not be voting for Tony Tan who is popularly perceived to be the PAP endorsed candidate. I know of friends and relatives that voted for the PAP in the GE for several reasons that would play no part in the presidential elections:
a) constituency level issues
b) fear of losing a PAP government
c) fear of losing credible Cabinet ministers
d) fear that they would lose out perks or promotions because they are in the civil service
e) fear that they will be 'marked' because they voted against PAP

I am sure that about 30% of voters would have been hardcore PAP supporters. These individuals would vote for the PAP endorsed candidate.
(I have always believed that the PAP has about 30% of hardcore supporters and there are about 25% to 30% hardcore opposition supporters. The remaining 40% to 45% of voters could be persuaded).

Nearly half of the voters that voted for PAP are likely to vote for someone other than Tony Tan. It is easy to assume that the person who benefits from this would be Dr Tan Cheng Bock given that he was a PAP MP and the PAP voter that decides not to vote for Tony Tan may not be inclined to vote for either Tan Jee Say or Tan Kin Lian.

The pro-opposition camp appears to me to be leaning towards Tan Jee Say. But, the 40% of opposition voters are not going to naturally veer towards Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian. Some of my friends have expressed their preference for Dr Tan Cheng Bock. Though he was a PAP MP in the past, he has enough of a track record in opposing the official policy position of his Party. If elected, we can expect him to be a President like Mr Ong Teng Chiong. Given this dynamics, I wouldn't be surprised if the 40% contribute a little to Dr Tan Cheng Bock's votes.

Dr Tan Cheng Bock might turn out to be the biggest beneficiary of a 4-cornered fight picking up votes from both the opposition as well as PAP voters. He also has the requisite personality to endear himself with the people.

Putting aside 30% of the votes for Tony Tan, the remaining 70% would probably be split amongst the Three Tans. There is a good chance that TCB can garner 35% of the votes with TJS and TKL picking up the balance 35% between the two of them.

If on nomination day all 4 Tans contest, Dr TCB stands the best chance of winning.

My own hope is that the Three Tans come to a consensus and two of them give way so that it would be a straight contest between TT and another Tan. The result would be clear. The next President would not be TT. But, with the three Tans going against TT, the split in the votes could be such that TT might get in by the narrowest margin by getting as little as 30% because the other three could get 25%, 25% and 20% That would be a result that most of us would not want. I hope it doesn't come to pass that way.