28 May 2009

More Opposition MPs: How Will This Change Voting Patterns?

In what is probably the biggest change in the political system in recent years, the government has announced that the lower limit for the number of opposition members of parliament will be raised from three to nine. This means that, in future elections, if the opposition parties capture less than nine seats, the rest will be filled up with NCMPs from the losing team with highest proportion of votes.

The first question that springs to my mind is, why does the government do this? I mean, are the PAP MPs looking for more targets to abuse in parliament? Well, there is the most straightforward possibility that the PAP really wants more checks and balances against themselves. Uh... okay, scrap that.

Obviously, this move will ultimately benefit them in some ways. But how? It seems to be a response against the rising voices of "checks and balances" and the employment of it as a rationale for supporting the opposition in elections. So PAP is trying to say, "Yo! You guys there who vote for the opposition because of the 'checks and balances' reason. There's no more need to do that with this new change!"

Now, does this hold water? It comes down to what it all means when people say they want "checks and balances". Basically, to me at least, it seems that this "checks and balances" imply that the PAP cannot pass bills in parliament at will. That is, the PAP controls less than two-thirds of the seats in parliament. In this case, the new measures cannot convince a rational individual to forgo "checks and balances" as a consideration when voting. Even with nine opposition MPs, they still cannot block any bill if the PAP MPs vote unanimously. What's more, NCMPs have limited voting powers.

However, is that all to "checks and balances"? Could someone want "checks and balances", and yet mean something less than a third of opposition MPs in parliament? It could very well be, if this person assumes "checks and balances" as more questions asked in parliament sessions. More specifically, they want bills to be scrutinised. They want "failures" like the recent losses in Temasek Holdings to be dissected. They want issues to be debated more thoroughly. And perhaps, they trust PAP MPs to vote on their individual capacities on non-partisan matters.

So how much votes will this new change bring for the PAP? Definitely, those hardcore fans of either camps are not going to budge. PAP is aiming at the middle of the spectrum, at people who may vote for the PAP, but at the same time lean towards the opposition for "checks and balances". For the person who takes that to mean "less than 66% of MPs belong to PAP", it's not gonna work. But how much does this group of people comprise in the electoral roll? How many people interpret "checks and balances" as the second meaning? How many people have no idea of what they want when they demand "checks and balances"?

On a side note, I welcome the new change to smaller GRCs, so long as it does not imply an increase in the number of ministers!


Ho Lang said...

Come what may, I will still vote for the opposition; my wife will still vote for the opposition; and my children will also still vote for the opposition. Why?

Because we have been voting for the PAP in the past and things have not changed to our liking. Most of the promises have been dud or merely lip services.

Those chaps who are enjoying the power, the wealth, the prestige, the status, the fame and whatever you can think of, are not going to so easily give up what they have been doing at their own expense.

In short, whatever it is, it will always be at our expense.

We must stopped being lulled into the continued belief that they are willing to change - significant change for the good of the PEOPLE, not change in disguise for the continued hold to power, wealth, status, prestige, etc.

The PEOPLE must always come first. In the past 30 years, this has not been forthcoming. The excuse of being capable of deciding on non-popular policy has become a norm to silent all doubts and dissents. In the past 30 years, we have given them enough ropes to hang themselves. Or should I say, they themselves have given themselves enough ropes to hang themselves! Either way, they are hanging themselves, alright

Form the 30 years' experience, we know fully well that we can not longer expect the PAP to change.

WE ourselves MUST change!

That is why may family and I are going to change to voting in the oppositions - not matter what others are trying to convince us otherwise.

Come what may, we will vote more opposition MPs into the Parliament.

What say you?

Ho Lang

Anonymous said...

Ho Lang said...
Come what may, I will still vote for the opposition; my wife will

well said ho lang.
i am in the same situation of being a 'blind' and easily led pap supporter in the past until the internet opened up my eyes to their greed.

lets hope more singaporeans wake up to see what's really happening.

Jackson Tan said...

Thanks to Ho Lang and Anonymous for your comments.

It seems, Ho Lang, that your dissatisfaction with the PAP lies in the unfavourable policies that have been passed over the years. So I suppose you belong to the first group of people who take "checks and balances" to mean that PAP cannot pass bills at will.

From someone who supports the same interpretation, I'm glad that you adopt it as well, but I do wonder how many people belong to the second group, because it is them whom the PAP are targetting with this change.

As with regards to whom I will vote in the next elections, I'm afraid I cannot give an answer yet. "Checks and balances" is one important factor, but there are also many other factors to consider before I can make my decision. And that's assuming that it won't be a walkover in my constituency, and also that I will be around to vote.