Hard truths from the PE


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in an official statement on the PE said voters faced a difficult choice between Dr Tony Tan and Dr Tan Cheng Bock. He said that this explained why the winning margin is so narrow, and why the winner only gained slightly more than one-third of the total votes.

I am sorry, PM Lee but I do not think that is the most logical explanation for the results.

The were two main dilemmas that voters faced, depending on their political ideologies. For voters who usually votes PAP, it was a choice between Dr Tony Tan and Dr Tan Cheng Bock. For those who supports the opposition, it was mostly between Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Mr Tan Jee Say. If it was a straight fight between Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Dr Tony Tan, the dilemma would have been a lot less. Dr Tan Cheng Bock would have won convincingly.

There are noteworthy hard truths from this PE:

1. Dr Tan Cheng Bock has a powerful and compelling message of unifying people across the political divide. That should not be ignored. It had really reached to voters on both camps, showing that it is something the people desired.

2. Dr Tony Tan is now president-elect of Singapore. He had managed to reach to only the loyalist PAP supporters. A true president of Singapore must now work hard to reach out to the other groups which he could not during the campaigning.  The president’s term is 6 years. There is sufficient time to win people’s hearts over and I hope the process starts now.

3. PE is not supposed to be a political contest but it had turned out to be one. We need to ask why? Are people dissatisfied with the disproportionate translaion of 40% of popular votes into only 6 seats out of 87 in the parliament? Do we still want to have an elected president given that it may become another political elections in future rather than a selection for a candidate based on individual credentials? Perhaps after 18 years of elected presidency where there was only one previous election prior to this, it is time now to critically examine this institution and ask ourselves hard truths about whether it is required at all.

Meanwhile, I await to see the future that Dr Tony Tan can help Singapore define even as the establishment grapples with the hard truths from GE2011 and PE2011.

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15 comments on “Hard truths from the PE

  1. There are reports that the upper middle class of the east of S’pore like Joo Chiat supported TT rather than TCB. As a local of the area, perhaps you can elaborate?

    • I am not surprised. Joo Chiat is mostly middle and upper class and higher percentage of older population, as well as a good number of new citizens. Most of them would judge based on credentials of the candidate. There’s probably a higher percentage of swing voters here. If you give them a good candidate, whether opposition or PAP, they are willing to consider. TT has best credentials, so they go for him.

      • Hi JJ, I beg to differ. A lot of middle class PMETs are just frustrated with the existing folks in the cabinet whom we know that TT will continue to side with. While no one doubts his credentials, we have serious doubt of his independence.

  2. Your analysis is first class.

    What weighs heavily on my mind is whether Singapore has become deeply divided. And whether that divide is going to entrench itself over time.

    If it had been a 2 corner fight between Tony Tan and Tan Jee Say, I wonder how the votes would have been split?

    In other words, how would the moderates (TCB and TKL voters) have voted if it had just been a straight contest between Tony Tan and Tan Jee Say.

    I consider myself a moderate. If it were down to TT and TJS, I’d vote TJS.
    Simple reason – deaf frogs will never listen.

    • Thanks.

      A TJS vs TT contest is much harder to call. It depends on how the candidates position themselves as a straight fight is different from multi-corner. Each candidate needs to study the positioning of the others and respond accordingly. TCB vs TT is a clear cut conclusion.

      Just out of curiosity… you were an opposition voter in GE2011?

      • Yes I was an Opposition voter in GE2011.
        It was my 3rd time GE voting (lucky me).

        I’ve been a swing voter and moderate most of my life.
        An Englishman would call me a Red or wet Tory. i.e. I stand on the left side of the Conservative spectrum.

        I’ve read most of LKY’s earlier books by Alex Josey.
        In my view, there has been a distinct, determined and sustained swing to the right of the political spectrum by PAP. Especially over these last 5-10 years.

        There is a vacuum in the center of the political spectrum in Singapore. This worries me. TKL’s non-partisan stand garnered only 5% of votes. This raises my eyebrows.

        Lastly, I owe Mr Low THia Khiang a moral apology.
        I’ve been grumbling about his seemingly lack of action in parliament over many years.
        Hats off to WP for managing a difficult situation in the Aljunied town council.
        Action talks louder than words. Good job!

      • Hi “Implications of the moderates’ loss?”

        You fit into my model. There were few GE opposition voters that went for TT. There were some, and they cited PE is different so they chose TT based on him having the best qualifications. But very few. Most saw TT as the purest form of MIW you can get and rejected him without looking at his credentials.

        So you are in moderate camp, opposition inclined, one of the 40% from GE who were in a dilemma between TCB and TJS. I guess you went for TCB since you have been a moderate swing voter for a long time. TCB occupied that ground very well.

  3. Sincerity, Lee, sincerity! You seem to have ignored the convincing evidence of Alex Au’s survey.

    Anyway, the President trumps you as head of state. Who are you to comment on the strength of his mandate? Is he your employee?

    Nevertheless I congratulate you because you must be mighty pleased.

  4. On your point 3, I feel that the new role of the EP away from the purely ceremonial based is crafted very much by the ruling government, i.e. PAP. Among the 4 candidates, the person who best understood this role well is TT.

    So, if you go by the rule of the game, the best candidate is TT. However, TT is closely linked to the PAP government and therefore, for those who are anti-PAP, they will vote for vote for either TCB or TJS, so it becomes a political decision rather than objective decision.

    I guess the main question here is about independence which I feel should be a pre-requisite for future candidates. In my opinion, TT & TJS are not independence enough and therefore, some of the votes swing to TCB.

    Lastly, would like to know your prediction of the result (just for fun) if the contest in between only GY and TCB? Thanks!

  5. Dear YeeJJ
    Don’t know if this will help you understand the voter profile better.
    I actually voted TKL … not TCB.

    The ranking of my Presidential vote was;
    TKL, TJS, TCB … and then I’ll spoil my vote.

    I was no longer a swing voter going into GE 2011.
    TKL was my last attempt at a moderate centrist solution to Singapore’s problems.
    Since TKL only garnered 5%.
    There is clearly only one way to solve Singapore’s hearing problems.

    • Interesting…

      I wasn’t sure where to place TKL voters. Yes, those who wish for an independent voice is one segment, but a very small one. I need to think harder about your answer 🙂

  6. Pingback: Articles on Presidential Elections – the Good and the Bad « My Life, Your Song

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