Minister Tharman accepts that inflation of GRC post 1988 'fixes' political opposition.
- (Our first class political leadership isn't as clean as it ought to be.)
'Singapore's Future - long term challenges' (CNA, 2April2010) [YouTube@#t=12m12s], Minister Tharman is heard responding to WP rep, Gerald Giam and SDP's representative, Dr Vincent Wijeysingha's comments respectively that Singapore needs a shadow parliament and that the PAP in times past jailed its political opponents, regarding Singapore's long term leadership challenges..
Excerpt from 'Singapore's Future - long term challenges' [CNA, 2April2010/ YouTube@#t=12m12s]:
"It's good for Singapore as well.
"That's why we’ve changed the constitution to allow for more single member seats, that's why we’re providing for more non-constituency MPs.
"So that more opposition voices, and more alternative voices would be in parliament.
"Let me also say thought that every independent international observer knows that Singapore won't be where it is if not for its leadership team, and if not for the PAP.
"So that more opposition voices, and more alternative voices would be in parliament."
With only the ratio of Single Member Constituencies (SMC) to GRC being (pls see [chart] for details)
GE 1988: 42/81 (51.9%)
GE 1991: 21/81 (26.0%)
GE 1997: 09/83 (10.8%)
GE 2001: 09/84 (10.7%)
(The fraction of SMCs/total constituencies for 2001, 2006 is unchanged.)
GE 2011: 12/87 (13.8%)
If there is a question why youth today are politically apathetic, the reason is simple, they see participation as futile as I shall explain..
In 'GRCs make it easier to find top talent: SM' [ST 26June2006], when SM Goh was reported saying "Without some assurance of a good chance of winning at least their first election, many able and successful young Singaporeans may not risk their careers to join politics", I wonder if SM Goh sensed that perhaps the selling of one's soul to the hegemony of the PAP as reflected in 'Singapore lifts whip on orchestrated parliament' [AFP 21Mar2002]: "The free vote is given to them when they make a request, and the Whip will consider. In the past it was simply: 'No you can't even request',' he said." could be one main reason why morally inspired young minds shun association with the PAP.
Inspired and altruistic as impressionable young minds may be, perhaps income and an increasing cost of living might be an issues they all struggle to cope with; like the examples of our dear PM and his gangly entourage, young Singaporeans too seek the privilege of stratospheric salaries [chart]. But for selling their souls to PAP hegemony, few eventually attain their ideal salaries, much less afford basic properties in the public housing developments of their fancy. 'Affordability of HDB flats – a response to Minister of National Development' (Hazel Poa) [TR, 17Nov2010][alt link] "From 1990 to 2009, median household income increased from $2,296 to $4,850 – an increase of 111%. Over the same period, resale flat prices increased by 342%. The affordability of HDB flats has certainly deteriorated very significantly over the past 19 years. It now takes a median income household more than double the time to pay for the flat."
Next we have to consider political participation in Singapore. Whilst some argue that PAP was tested through a period of political turmoil, one thing in her favor would be that political elections then was easier to comprehend and participate in- thus the vibrancy of participation. One could stand as an independent candidate and still beat party representative candidates in general elections; what mattered most was one's concern for one's constituents. Today, that relationship is lost. Besides being plagued with gerrymandering, many feel disenchanted with political parties that appoint and retire candidates/ MPs at will with neither the interest of constituents.
In 1988 when the GRC system of elections was introduced by the PAP government into Singapore's growing political scene, 13GRCs taking up a total of 39 parliamentary seats left 42 seats untouched as SMCs out of a total 81 seat parliament (i.e. more then half of all parliamentary seats remained unaffected). For reasons known only to themselves, PAP quickly reduced the number of parliamentary seats available to contest as SMCs, extra seats were added to each GRC, notwithstanding the adverse impact it had upon minority racial representation [Chart: column C: GRC seats as a prop. of all parl. seats]- the purported raison d'être for the existence of GRCs in the first place.
The SMC is an essential feature of parliamentary democracy (PD) in that it allows for constituencies to be represented by individual representatives of their choice. The barrier in entering most parliaments today is that of receiving enough votes from one's own constituency.
Despite having spearheaded Singapore's rapid economic development, nary a thought was made about advancing the democratic aspect of elections in Singapore (SG), an arcane 'first past the post' (FPTP) [wiki] remained with improved voting options such as the 'Single transferable vote' [wiki] needing no discussion. One reason would be the GRC system of elections totally eliminating any such necessity as all political opposition, by General Election 2006 (GE2006), had dwindled to an in-perceivable trickle; 'by-election strategy' being one of circumstance rather than choice. In fact, according to SGE2006 'full results' [wiki], contest by any independent candidate was extinct. Elections in Singapore had by now become a purely partisan affair, so scarce was opposition that no three way contest occurred. Perhaps Singaporeans were distracted by the prosperity promised by the opening of the Integrated Resorts (IRs) and easy visits to the casinos on home soil. Whatever the case, the political apathy that the PAP had now induced was total, Singaporeans were now almost completely beholden to the PAP.
(In FPTP voting, where the highest count wins, just 34% valid votes in a 3cornered fight suffices, provided that each of the other 2 opponents receive 33.5% of valid votes each- no vibrant opposition against the incumbent can develop under such odds of election).
Bloated with conceit over the extinction of independent representation and a whimpering opposition in the walkovers GE of 2006, yet mystified about the paucity of political participation by the young, PAP quickly claimed the credit of a 'first class political leadership' [pict] and in 2007 legislated raises in it's own office holder's salaries, with Ministers and the PM enjoying raises of about 60% and 50% respectively [chart] (see related link about the source of 'prosperity' of some private companies (IBM) in 'How long can an economy, sustained on steroids last?' [link]).
Fortuitously or otherwise, some more realistic internal voices must have decried the embarrassment that might follow in GE 2011 if walkovers completely plagued elections in Singapore. Would Singaporeans migrate to another land where they could feel free? Would such exodus bankrupt this young country?
So worrying was this possibility that PM Lee announced in 2009 that 'GRCs to shrink, but they will stay' [ST, 28May2009]: "Currently, the average number of MPs in a group representation constituency is 5.4, as there are five six-member GRCs and nine five-member GRCs. There will therefore be fewer six-member GRCs by the next election, he promised.There will also be at least 12 single-member constituencies, or SMCs, up from the current nine."
Convinced that further concession to the opposition would be necessary but equally conscious about his personal leadership tolerance capabilities of no more then 9 opposition members being in parliament 'PM Lee says countries worldwide respect and admire Singapore's proven system': "Suppose you had 10... fix them, to buy." [CNA:03May2006][YouTube/@1m10s], PM Lee made the gracious concession of 'Parliament amends Constitution to change NCMP & NMP schemes': "The NCMP position is a unique feature of Singapore politics. It is offered to losing opposition candidates with the highest percentage of votes to make up the required number of nine opposition MPs. With the changes, Parliament can have up to nine NCMPs, up from six." [CNA, 26Apr2010].
Whatever the case may be, with the entrenchment of the expanded GRC system of election and the PAP's palpable intent on 'fixing' the opposition, Singapore's journey to a full parliamentary democracy will be a long and painful one.
Singaporeans are beholden to the PAP and the PAP seeks to enforce this by means both fair and foul.
Our first class political leadership isn't as clean as it ought to be.
PS: A good way to minimize GRC encroachment of parliamentary seats would be the rule that 1 in 3 members in a GRC MUST be a minority, up to 6 constituencies per GRC- GRCs permutations such as 1:2, 2:2, 2:3, 2:4 (last figure demotes non-minority candidacy)- would result in at most 1/2 of all parliamentary seats being occupied by GRCs in line with first principles (or better) as assigned in the 1988 GE.
~ "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"-- Matthew 25:40 (NIV)
May God bless and Love,
- 'GRCs make it easier to find top talent: SM': "Without some assurance of a good chance of winning at least their first election, many able and successful young Singaporeans may not risk their careers to join politics" ; with hosting site footnote: "In Singapore, a Group Representation Constituency is a super-sized constituency where 5 or 6 candidates from the same party have to stand for election as a team. Voters vote for the party, not for individuals, thus weak candidates can still win a seat in Parliament by riding the coattails of stronger candidates."- [ST 26June2006]
- 'Singapore lifts whip on orchestrated parliament': "The free vote is given to them when they make a request, and the Whip will consider. In the past it was simply: 'No you can't even request',' he said." [AFP 21Mar2002]
- 'GRCs to shrink, but they will stay': "Currently, the average number of MPs in a group representation constituency is 5.4, as there are five six-member GRCs and nine five-member GRCs. There will therefore be fewer six-member GRCs by the next election, he promised.There will also be at least 12 single-member constituencies, or SMCs, up from the current nine." : [ST, 28May2009]
- 'Parliament amends Constitution to change NCMP & NMP schemes': "The NCMP position is a unique feature of Singapore politics. It is offered to losing opposition candidates with the highest percentage of votes to make up the required number of nine opposition MPs. With the changes, Parliament can have up to nine NCMPs, up from six." [CNA, 26Apr2010]
- 'PM Lee says countries worldwide respect and admire Singapore's proven system': "Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament...I'm going to spend all my time thinking what's the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters votes, how can I solve this week's problem and forget about next year's challenges?.. " [CNA:03May2006][YouTube/@1m10s]
- 'GRC system: Wool Over Eyes (Part 2 of 6)': "Campaign period and the media.. In the 1968 GE, where presumably the old traditions inherited from the British were still followed, a total of 56 days was allowed for campaigning (coincidentally, this was the same elections in which the PAP swept the polls,..). In the next seven GEs, the campaign period was truncated to 10 days and in the 2001 and 2006 GEs, they were further shortened to 9 days." [TOC, 12Mar2011]
03Aprr2011: Minister Tharman agrees that inflation of GRC 'fixes' political opposition.
03Apr2011: Minister Tharman accepts that inflation of GRC 'fixes' political oppositio
03Apr2011: Minister Tharman accepts that inflation of GRC 'fixes' opp.
03Apr2011: Minister Tharman accepts that inflation of GRC size 'fixes' political opposition
03Apr2011: Minister Tharman accepts that inflation of GRC 'fixes' political opposition
04Apr2011: Tharman says strong opposition good for PAP: Really?