Monday, May 08, 2006

Singapore General Election results in the eyes of the foreign media

The People's Action Party (PAP) has returned to power (not surprisingly) in Singapore's General Election, winning 82 out of 84 seats in Parliament. Opposition parties retain Hougang and Potong Pasir seats. PAP took 66.6% of the valid votes. This posting takes a look at what some of the foreign media is saying about the results.

The Voice Of America repors on Singapore's very small steps toward a more liberal society. From VOA News:
While strict limits remain on freedom of the press and assembly, his government now allows gatherings, in hotels, of more than five people. He has liberalized somewhat the ability of people born abroad to acquire Singaporean citizenship.

These are not the sweeping changes the government's critics would like to see. But Sinapan Samydorai, president of the Think Centre, which promotes greater political openness in the country, speaks favorably of Mr. Lee.

"So, I think, under him, he does want to open up a little bit more, and, I think, he wants to relate with the younger generation," said Sinapan Samydorai.
The Sydney Morning Herald puts out the headline "Opposition makes waves in Singapore" and highlighted the Prime Minister's apology to an earlier statement he made. From
It is clear Mr Lee expects to lead the country for many years to come, and comments he made last week showed he does not want a pesky opposition getting in the way.

"Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I'm going to spend all my time thinking what's the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters' votes," he said on Wednesday.

He later apologised, saying he had meant he would have to spend time countering the opposition rather than addressing issues of state...

"No party lives forever. The PAP's overwhelming dominance is making them less battle-ready," Sylvia Lim, chairwoman of the Workers' Party, said on election day. "The PAP has an arrogance towards the opposition. When we released our manifesto, they told us to change it because it was politically not acceptable."

The Workers' Party ignored the Government's demand. With its slogan "You have a choice", it tapped a new desire in Singapore for a more open, inclusive political environment. It won recognition in the electorate for the calibre of its candidates and the organisation of its campaign, polling 38.4 per cent of the vote in the seats it contested.
The Standard, a business newspaper in China talks about the doubts remaining in Singapore's political system and the arrest of James Gomes from the opposition, The Workers' Party. From The Standard:
"You have a political system where one-third votes for the opposition and yet only has two out of 84 seats," said Garry Rodan, head of the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. "So one-third is under-represented in parliament and large numbers of those are probably losing out in the economic restructuring...."

An opposition politician was arrested Sunday for allegedly threatening the country's election officials, a day after he failed to win a seat. Workers' Party candidate James Gomez was arrested Sunday for alleged "criminal intimidation," his aide Jacob George said.

Gomez was attempting to leave the country but was stopped by immigration officials, who turned him over to the police.
The International Herald Tribune carrying a report by Agence France-Presse focuses on the hard-line campaign tactics and financial incentives that the PAP uses to retain control. From International Herald Tribune:
Before the election, the government - which denied buying votes - announced cash handouts ranging from 200 to 2,600 Singapore dollars, or $127 to $1,650, to adult citizens as their share of national surpluses resulting from economic growth under the PAP.

Despite this strategy, 44 percent of voters in a working-class district supported political newcomers fielded by the Workers' Party against a more experienced PAP slate led by George Yeo, a former foreign minister. As a result, the Workers' Party, which has attracted professionals to its ranks, is entitled to a nonelected seat in Parliament under a "best loser" provision, in addition to the one held by its re-elected leader, Low Thia Khiang...

Sinapan Samydorai, a human rights advocate, said the PAP's share of seats was not representative of popular sentiment because of the "winner take all" political system in Singapore.

"There is a sign of hope" that if the opposition "can get more than 30 percent of the vote," he said, adding, "People recognize that there is a need for an opposition, but they are not getting the seats yet."
How to win the General Election
Voting in Singapore is compulsory... really!


sharlet said...

Thanks for posting this, very interesting. Mr Samydorai's words about LHL make me wonder if he's from the ISD, or else been bought over by the Lightning Party. :P

Anonymous said...

He's just showing a lot of love. Hehehe.

Anonymous said...

I am impressed with how the opposition did this year. Congratulations to them. Let's hope they are still around and they are stronger come next elections and they can win more than 2 seats.

Anonymous said...

Provided the govt does not sue them in the years to come.

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans should salute the people of Hougang and Potong Pasir for their courage and their sacrifice. But, for them, Singapore would be a one-party state. Because of them, and their refusal to be bribed, there is hope for Singapore (yet).