Spoiling your vote? Think carefully!

I have reconnected with many long lost friends as a result of my campaigning. Met Ms X, a fellow student councillor from Temasek Junior College. We have been neighbours in the same estate for years and we did not know it!

We spoke about old friends and about the upcoming elections. Our discussion drifted into the quality of opposition today versus those days when we first started voting over 20 years ago. We were both then in the Siglap constituency and she recalled a fishmonger contesting Mr Abdullah Tarmugi in our first elections since coming of age. She said she spoilt her votes because she did not want to vote PAP yet she could not vote for the fishmonger. Honestly, I could not remember how I voted then too.

She said she regretted spoiling her votes, because soon after, she moved to the Marine Parade constitutency and did not get to vote again until she moved back to Joo Chiat. To her, we get to vote once every 5 years and we should make our stand for whichever we feel fits our political beliefs. So she will not spoil her votes anymore.

The bar to contest in general elections has been raised. We will hardly get the situation today of uneducated candidates like a decade ago or longer. I do not look down on people with low education or humble work experiences, but in today’s environment, it will require a good level of understanding of the workings of parliament and governance to work effectively for the people. In GE2011, many people with good career and education backgrounds have been coming forward in a sort of political awakening throughout Singapore. You do have a choice.

Someone commented to me that he was going to spoil the votes because he said the opposition are not united, fighting one another in 3-corner fights. This will let PAP win easily, so he felt he might as well not vote any specific opposition nor does he want to vote PAP. The ability for any qualified person to stand is for elections is what a democratic system is about. Candidates do have the choice on where they like to stand in and why. While political parties have made significant concessions to one another, each party has its valid reasons for wishing to contest in a certain area and not all 3-corner fights can be resolved. Voters should see that they now have extra choices and should not spoil their votes. Political parties are all not the same. Examine the party and the candidates carefully and make your choice.

The ruling party, being overwhelmingly represented in the last elections will be the favourite in all the constituencies they had previously won in. They have a mean fighting machine. I do not believe there will be a freak result. The opposition has risen strongly in this elections, but unless there can be a breakthrough in the number of opposiiton seats won, nothing much would have changed in the political scene. The rise of the opposition is still in its infancy. Those who believe that Singapore should have more of a functioning democracy and that we need a first world parliament should state their stand clearly to encourage the opposition. By transferring a spoilt vote into a vote for the opposition, you will also decrease the ruling party’s vote percentage and send to them a strong signal of dissatisfaction with the state of affairs and make them pay more attention to you.

In the book “Alice in wonderland”, Alice came to a fork in the road and asked a Cheshire cat sitting there which road she should take? “Where do you want to go?” was the cat’s response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.” Do you know where you want Singapore’s political system to go? If you don’t, it doesn’t matter. But if you do wish Singapore to have stronger alternative voices so that your views are heard, then it does matter.

Written by Yee Jenn Jong. Jenn Jong is a WP member. He blogs in his personal capacity.


19 comments on “Spoiling your vote? Think carefully!

  1. Good article. Yes you can differentiate the parties. Look at the recent announcements of candidates. Each of them has his or her reasons for joining the parties. Good economic policies, moderate agenda, caring for the people, strong character of the leader, you choose it, they probably have it.

    So I too urge all Singaporeans to think about what you want Singapore to be. I am in my 50s, never voted in my life because the opposition never stage a fight in my area and it was well gerrymandered too! So i do look forward to see who can offer what for my child’s and grand children’s future! Look beyond 5 years and much further.

    • Hi Jay. I think in this elections, it will be hard not to be able to vote. There’s contest nearly everywhere, if not everywhere. You do have a choice!

  2. good post! I agree with you that one should not spoil his or her votes because we can only vote once every 5 years. so, we must make the most of it to make a stand on where we want Singapore to be 5 or maybe 10 years down the road. i’ll support you all the way Jenn Jong!

  3. Hi Yee JJ,

    I recall seeing you and your colleagues along Siglap Road, and stopped my car to get your party’s brochure. Unfortunately didn’t have enough time to chat, so I did not get your name, until I came across this blog. Also missed the second WP walkabout at Siglap Center.

    Has WP confirmed your candidacy for Joo Chiat SMC yet? If yes, I may want to volunteer for polling agent or counting agent duties.

  4. Views on Labor & ERP Issues

    Labor Issue

    My assessment of the current labor market situation in Singapore is employers have difficulty in recruiting locals for low-paying jobs, very keen competition from the so-called foreign talents on high-paying jobs and high jobless rate among the over 40s.

    The recent increase of the foreign worker levy does not solve the problem of employers in hiring low-paying workers. This only serves to worsen their problems, probably driving some out of business and further increase the operating costs of those remaining ones. For those low-paying jobs which are not able to attract locals, I do not think this category of foreign workers is ‘stealing’ away local jobs. It is a tough problem. I can think of a way to get locals to take up those jobs is for every local to take on this kind of job, the government top up a certain amount on his/her monthly salary – a sort of work fare scheme.

    Actually the one that is most threatening to Singaporeans ‘rice bowl’ is those so-called foreign talents where my rough assessment is about 30% of these are real foreign but not necessarily talents. Attracting foreign talent is a lofty ideal but have to compare against the reality of our situation. What I keep hearing is we need foreign talents but we hear very little about the problem of high jobless rate among the over 40s being mentioned by the government and some of these jobless ones are our real local talents. That to me is very uncaring!

    I have some suggestions about coping with the high jobless rate among the over 40s, which is a social problem that is getting more and more serious with our aging population. The government offers tax incentives to companies to hire those over 40s. Currently, the accounting policy is to allow workers salaries to deduct against sales to declare income. I recommend that for every worker of over 40s each company has, the company is allowed to deduct this worker’s salary for the 2nd time against sales. This amount to be deducted is subjected to a cap of about $5,000 for each worker per month. (a sort of double tax deduction). If this policy is still not working, then we may have to come up with of a sort of COE system in bringing in foreign talents (the same system as those COE system use on cars).

    ERP System

    I must first declare that I do not own a car neither do I have a driving license, so I am not much affected by the ERP system. This system is originally come out to deal with traffic jam. But the way I see it, this ERP system has deteriorated into a ‘scheme’ merely for raising state coffers. With more traffic appearing at any place, the easy response is to set up a toll gate to extract more money. The way it goes, eventually the whole island will be full of ugly-looking toll gates everywhere. To me, this is getting rather ridiculous!

    My way of dealing with the serious traffic jam situation in certain areas and CBD area is we have to relook at the zoning policy for urban planning. Singapore is no longer a highly industrialized country with many factories spilling out smoke and therefore the past strict zoning policy may no longer be suitable for the current situation. What I mean is a loosing up of the zoning policy to allow offices buildings or workplaces to be located at residential areas. With offices near to residential areas, the traveling distance to work will be shorter and this can in a certain extent cut down on car usage if people can cycle or walk to work. The government can also encourage companies to make use of telecommuting to allow workers to do some of their work at home. This is a feasible idea with the recent rolling out of Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network. Workers can still come to office to do some stuff but they do not necessary have to go to office at the same peak hour’s time, causing serious traffic jams. Companies can also cut down the cost of office space if some of the work can be done at home. As our MRT system will soon be covering the most part of our island, I do not think it is necessary for offices or companies of certain sectors (such as the financial sector) to be clustered at a certain location. With our well-developed public transport system, almost every part of Singapore is easily accessible, so it is not longer necessary to cluster the same kind of business at a specific location. Clustering has it usefulness but beyond a certain level this will result in serious traffic jam situation during peak hours when people go to work and leave their offices.

    I do hope the opposition parties can use this precious time and chance during the coming political rallies to bring up these issues and discuss with our people, to brainstorm for new ideas in order to come up with a cocktail of solutions to our pressing problems which have been neglected for quite long. It is time to have some real serious discussions and no more mud slinging or personal attacks. If not this General Election is a waste of our time. I hope the opposition parties don’t disappoint us this time.

  5. OIl price July 2008 USD 148, at SGD 1.35/USD = SGD 198
    Oil pirce April 2011 USD 110 at SGD 1.24/USD = SGD 137
    Price gasoline = now at pump price almost the same………
    Govt said – a strong SGD dollar will bring down inflation – by importing deflation
    But what is the use? Shell, BP, SPC, Caltex are the cause of inflation – savings are not passed down

    • I don’t usually want to think about this and make predictions. I believe in working my guts out and let voters decide. This is a special GE, unlike any other since independence. I am counting on everyone out there to vote WP and be counted upon to put stronger and credible alternative voices in parliament.

  6. the first time i got to vote was 5 years ago in the 2006 GE. i was all of 25, a pol. sci. grad and so eager to exercise my democratic right. but just as i was leaving my flat, i saw a news clip on cna showing the opposition candidate of my smc, at a nearby cofeeshop cursing and talking rather loudly in mandarin with what looked suspiciously like a glass of guiness on the table in front of him (at twelve in the afternoon!).

    i went into the voting booth, crushed. while on the one hand i acknowledge the need for a strong opposition in parliament to keep the govt in check, i can hardly say with all honesty that i believe that the oppo candidate would be able to represent and articulate my views and concerns. so i did what your ex-school mate did. i spoilt my vote. knowing from then on that i have relinquished my right to condemn whatever policies the govt put into place because when i had the chance to do something, i didn’t.

    i have recently gotten married and moved to malaysia. but even if i had moved farther away, i would have made all effort to come back and vote this time round. this election is something that all s’poreans, home and abroad, could be proud of because for the first time we are given truly worthy alternatives to the PAP (yourself included). this time round, i’m going to vote correctly and make sure my vote counts, towards a better s’pore and a more dignified system of governance.

    even though, i won’t be able to vote for you, i want to thank you for sticking your neck out for your beliefs and giving the rest of us a chance to truly practise and experience democracy.

  7. I’ve never voted before. I relish the fact that this is my first time in 3 elections that I’ll finally be able to vote. However, I can relate to the temptation of spoiling my vote. Despite wanting an alternative voice, I just cannot bring myself to vote a party and candidate that I do not think can represent me well. Yes there are higher quality candidates now but they’re not in my constituency! So should I vote opposition regardless simply because I want an alternative voice? So even if I do not agree with their manifesto I should vote for them? If I don’t agree with neither party then I should spoil my vote, right? This is really my biggest dilemma. It’s too late for me to move to a WP constituency now 😛

    I’m really glad you wrote about this. Sadly nobody has been able to give me an answer yet. I wonder if you have any thoughts on this… Nevertheless, I guess I’ll keep thinking about it until May 7 🙂 All the best for the elections!

    • Congratulation on finally being able to vote. It is indeed too late to move to a WP area 🙂 Thanks for your confidence in our party. Perhaps one day we may contest in your area.

      Yes, sometimes it is hard to make the choice. Take heart that with each GE, the opposition candidates do get better. Choose as you deem fit, be it for ruling party or opposition, as you think who can be represent you as well as provide for your desire for a good alternative voice. Cheers

  8. All I can say is vote according to your conscience!
    Remembered when Ronald Regan was running for the Presidential Election in 1980, on the eve of voting, he threw out a question – Are you better than you were 5 years ago?

  9. A note from a stockbroker :

    Its the largest day in Singapore for electioneering and there will be a bumper 15 rallies being held today, in the afternoon and the night. For the first time at a GE, tomorrow is a cooling off day. There have been little incidents so far, perhaps the biggest thing being the public apology from the PM for some of the situations that took place in recent years; prompting many to ask why the ministers concerned were so slow to immediately regret or apologise for acts they were responsible for that upset the public.

    Incidentally the internet has been circulating the betting odds being offered by (illegal) Singapore bookmakers on the election. From 3 to 1 for the opposition to win at least 40% of the popular vote, the odds have been cut to 2 to 1. At the same time the bookmakers are calling for a total of 16 seats to be lost to the opposition. These include the seats of the DPM, the ministers for education, foreign affairs, youth sports and culture, the only lady cabinet member, and the minister of state that the PAP is hoping to nominate to become speaker of parliament. This would mean that the opposition would win three group representation constituencies (GRCs) (interestingly these GRCs include two that have opposition candidates who are former government scholars and senior civil servants). Now, bookmakers are not known to easily give their money away, so …….. although I would be surprised by the extent of such a swing. Oh yes, the PM is also expected to see his majority in his constituency reduced.

  10. Excuse me if some of you here think I’m bias.
    During this election, I observe a big difference – a substantial improvement in the quality of opposition candidates, there are businessmen as usual, President Scholars, ex-civil servants – quite a broad spectrum.
    Some of these people in fact have real administrative experience.
    In fact, I will feel the election result will be freak if the opposition shows no substantial improvement this time round.
    I don’t believe in the talk that if elected, the opposition will bring down the country.
    If you look at these people, all of them born and grow up during most period of PAP rule. If these people are junk, it will be a great slap to PAP which has been running the education system since 1959.
    Most of them are decent men and women to me. Some of us may feel some of what their say are not so realistic. But if you look at experience in other countries, some people during campaigning can have this view, but after becoming government, they mellow down and make changes if they find their views no longer practical.

    I believe these people are Singaporeans like all of us, they have parents, kids who are living in Singapore. It just doesn’t serve them any interests to do rash things that will ultimately hurt their loved ones too. We shouldn’t demonize them just because they hold different views. Those different views resemble the different religious faith we hold. Just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean I am a lesser person if I am a Buddhist.

    Like most Singaporeans, I also believe in playing safe or kiasu. If you have studied history of the various great ancient civilizations such as the Roman Empire. They don’t last. In China’s over 5,000 history, a single dynasty doesn’t last. Each dynasty or empire can only produce maybe 1-2 generations of good rulers. Afterwards these empires just fall.

    What I’m saying is, no one including MM Lee himself can guarantee PAP can keep having capable leaders forever. It therefore serves our own interest that we have some real backups so that if a dynasty collapses, the backups who are experience can quickly take over and reduce the chaos period that usually accompanied the collapse of every long ruling dynasty.

    If we vote for any opposition candidate, we are not doing this for out of pity for them or we owe them. It is because we do this to play safe, for our own selfish interests, to offer them the chance to provide sufficient training to a group of backup forces just in case something goes wrong out there. Singapore is so small, we just can’t afford to have the kind of chaos that occur when a long ruling power collapses. In financial sector, we call that hedging. In layman terms, we say – not putting all our eggs in one basket.

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