The Headline is "Punggol East back in the spotlight." The sub-headline reads: "Many residents aren't thinking of a by-election yet; they're still in shock over the loss of an MP who was clearly popular."
My first reaction in reading the sub-headline was to think that unfortunately most Singaporeans don't seem to appreciate the need for Parliamentary representation in a democracy.
As I read further, I came across the following:
"...for many of the residents, the thought of going to the polls again has not sunk in yet. They are still reeling in shock over the loss of an MP who was clearly popular among the residents."
The impression that was building in me was that a majority of Punggol East residents are uninterested in the issue of having a by-election. Further down in the article comes the following:
"Among the 30 residents TODAY spoke to, 13 felt that a by-election should be called within three months. Slightly more than half (16) felt that there was no rush, and one said there was no need to elect a new MP for the constituency."
Firstly, this is not a properly conducted survey. So, it is not going to be sufficiently representative of residents' sentiments and a wide margin of error must be accounted for.
I find the 'findings' made by TODAY to be rather amusing especially for the impression that they were trying to create. Clearly, by stating that 13 felt that there should be a by-election within 3 months and more than half felt that there was no rush, TODAY is brushing over a very important fact. Of the 30 persons interviewed, 29 actually thought that there is a need for a by-election. Only one person thought that there was no need to elect a new MP. If the information was presented in this way, it would not aid the overall impression that the PAP probably wants to create: that there is no necessity for a by-election and that municipal duties of the MP can be performed by an MP from a neighbouring constituency (and that many residents are not interested in a by-election).
TODAY's unscientific straw poll (after reading in between the lines) restores (in mymind at least) some faith in my fellow citizens. We are not about to roll over and play dead. Clearly, many want to see the Parliamentary vacancy filled. I expect that there is bound to be disagreement as to whether by-elections should be held as soon as within 3 months of the vacancy. But, only the hardcore PAP apologists would preach on the merits of an empty Parliamentary seat, the acceptability of an unrepresented Constituency and the disenfranchisement of about 31,000 voters.
Coming back to TODAY's article. This appears to be just part and parcel of the whole business of perception management: presenting information in a technically accurate but linguistically 'massaged' form to create the impression that there is not much public support for a by election.
Well, so long as you keep a healthy ability of not taking information at face value, you won't be caught in the matrix.
(To put an opposite spin the information: 96% of Punggol East residents want a by-election. :-) )