29 January 2013

RP's and SDA's Waterloo at Punggol East: Implications

Several political parties and independent individuals salivated at the prospect of contesting the Punggol East by-election.

But many people said that the by-election should be left to People's Action Party and The Workers' Party to contest.

Singapore Democratic Party heeded the call.  So did the two independent individuals.

But The Reform Party and Singapore Democratic Alliance did not, and went ahead to contest.

In the end, RP received 353 votes and SDA received 168 votes, representing 1.20 per cent and 0.57 per cent, respectively, of the valid vote cast.  Both performed abysmally and lost their electoral deposits.

28 January 2013

MediaCorp and Punggol East By-Election Finale

Friday, 25 January was the day preceding the Punggol East by-election.  As canvassing was prohibited on that day and on polling day, what was said by the contesting political parties up to 11:59 p.m. on 24 January was the last word.  It was left to the media to present their reports.

Let's see what happened.

TODAY published a generous coverage of People's Action Party's by-election campaign in the first three (non-advertisement) pages on 25 January with the following headlines:
▪ PAP has always worked to improve S'poreans' lives: PM Lee
▪ Coming up: more sheltered linkways for commuters[1]
▪ PAP upholding its purpose, objectives and integrity: PM
▪ I want to stand up and be counted, says PAP's Koh

24 January 2013

So Many Government Schemes Announced

It's not often that the Government announces so many schemes, initiatives or measures in so short a span of time as in the past fortnight.

8 January  Ministry of National Development instructed to review the sale and leaseback of PAP-managed town councils' management software with Action Information Management.

10 January  Train operators to be subject to stiffer penalties and held to more stringent standards.

11 January  Measures to cool the private and public housing markets.

14 January  Singles to be allowed to buy new HDB flats for owner-occupation.

20 January 2013

Why Punggol East By-Election Couldn't Wait

Many people thought that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong would take his time before calling a by-election for Punggol East following the resignation of Mr Michael Palmer on 12 December 2012.

After all, he had pointed out that the Government was focused on several national issues and preparing for Budget 2013.

Whilst acknowledging that the Constitution did not require a by-election to be called within any fixed time frame, he said that he would make his decision based on what was best for the constituents of Punggol East and the country.

Many people were therefore surprised when the writ of election for Punggol East was issued on 9 January 2013.

Some commentators praised PM Lee's political astuteness as a snap by-election gave the opposition parties little time to discuss how to avoid a multi-cornered contest that could favour the ruling People's Action Party and to prepare for the contest.

But were there other reasons for the timing of the by-election?

15 January 2013

Punggol East By-Election — The Power Of No

Many people have expressed their disappointment, frustration and anger that more than one opposition party plan to contest the Punggol East by-election, and the futility of their plans (if put into action) and the negative implications, both immediate and in the medium term, for these opposition parties.  But Singapore Democratic Party, The Reform Party and Singapore Democratic Alliance seem hell bent on contesting in Punggol East — a constituency in which The Workers' Party received 41.0 per cent of the valid vote at GE2011 — and, in the process, turn the possible capture of another Parliamentary seat from People's Action Party into an almost certain lost cause.  Sadly, they have lost their focus and lost their way.

With one day to go before Nomination Day, what can be done?

By now, anyone who plans to contest the Punggol East by-election would already have received his political donation certificate.

Anyone who has not received his political donation certificate will not be able to contest.

Singapore Democratic Party Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan cannot contest this by-election.  The public thinks that the following are potential SDP candidates: Dr Paul Tambyah, Dr Vincent Wijeysingha and Dr Ang Yong Guan.

If Dr Chee will not yield to common sense to avoid a multi-cornered contest, perhaps Dr Tambyah, Dr Wijeysingha and Dr Ang — assuming they have received their political donations certificates — will assess the situation sensibly and wisely and decline to contest.  At this juncture, there is nothing that Dr Chee or SDP can do if none of these gentlemen are prepared to inflict untold damage to SDP and the opposition's cause.

Having made their decision, Dr Tambyah, Dr Wijeysingha and Dr Ang should talk to The Reform Party's Kenneth Jeyaretnam and convince him not to submit his nomination papers.

If they succeed, they should similarly talk to Singapore Democratic Alliance's Desmond Lim, Mr Ooi Boon Ewe and Mr Zeng Guoyuan.


1. This article was updated.

2. SDP Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan announced on 15 January afternoon that SDP would not contest the Punggol East by-election.  It was heeding the voice of the people who were concerned that a multi-cornered fight would dilute the vote of the opposition.  (Channel NewsAsia 15 Jan 2013 1620 hrs)

14 January 2013

Punggol East By-Election — Losing The Battle And The War

When Michael Palmer resigned his Parliamentary seat of Punggol East, various opposition parties salivated at the prospect of contesting the by-election and perhaps capturing the seat.

Any politician worth his salt has to be optimistic, of course.

But he or she should also be realistic.

It is almost certain that People's Action Party will win in a multi-cornered by-election.

This leads to the question: which opposition party should contest the by-election?

Every interested opposition party will have its slew of reasons why it is the right or best party to contest.

Democracy is about giving the people a choice.

We (the respective opposition parties) have good candidates.

We have the best chance of winning.

We have good, sound policies.

The Workers' Party is too bland; we will spice up Parliamentary debates.

WP already has several Members of Parliament, and it should give us an opportunity to have at least one Member of Parliament.

If WP wins the by-election, it will have another Member of Parliament and very soon people will consider it to be the lead opposition party (a role that we want for ourselves until we form the government, but we can't say this to anyone).  If both we and WP contest, PAP will almost certainly retain Punggol East (we can't win other than in a straight fight but this will not happen, and we can't say this to anyone).

But these opposition parties are deceiving themselves, and they know it.

And they have lost sight of their number one objective.

09 January 2013

Town Councils and AIM — From ReAiming to Review

When the bureaucrats at Ministry of National Development noted that Aljunied-Hougang Town Council had yet to submit its auditors’ Management Letter — a material factor in grading the town council's corporate governance — little did they realise that they would open a Pandora's box.

Apart from the two main players — AHTC chairman Sylvia Lim and coordinating chairman for 14 PAP town councils Teo Ho Pin — how did the politicians respond to the ensuing political furore?

Grace Fu: Wrong Focus
Weeks into the saga, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu said that the people who were questioning the sale and leaseback of the town council management system between the 14 People's Action Party-managed town councils and Action Information Management Pte Ltd (a dormant $2 PAP company) were hoping that the public would forget how the saga started — Ministry of National Development's Fourth Town Council Management Report which gave AHTC a "red" for service and conservancy charges arrears management and "pending" for corporate governance[1][2].