Thursday, April 29, 2010

Can there be a level playing field?

Was it any wonder that the PAP government was able to bulldoze through Parliament amendments to the Parliamentary Election Act (PEA) to increase NCMP from six to nine and a cooling-off day on eve of Polling Day? It was a foregone conclusion with the PAP's massive majority in Parliament. What chances the minuscule number of two opposition MPs and one NCMP had against the relentless aggressive onslaught of PAP ministers and MPs in trying to stem the PAP's might in bulldozing through the amendments?

Opposition NCMP Sylvia Lim was remarkable in her element in putting up a scintillating performance with two eloquent speeches, one on the NCMP amendment and the other on the cooling-off day that had PAP ministers in a discomfiture trying to match. Those who have not read her speeches are encouraged to do so in order to share in the oratory of her arguments against the two amendments to the PEA. The arguments were cogent and could have moved any sceptical audience in an assembly but unfortunately fell on deaf ears of PAP ministers.

Is the increment of 3 NCMP seats up to 9 seats a boon to the opposition as propagated by the government? A NCMP seat is awarded to the defeated opposition candidate with the highest number of votes in the constituency he or she contested. The government is in fact telling the voters that even if a PAP candidate is elected, the defeated opposition candidate can still enter Parliament as a NCMP. Thus guillible voters are hoodwinked into believing that it is safe to vote for the PAP candidate as the defeated opposition candidate is not deprived of a seat in Parliament. But the simple voter may not be able to have the cognition of the handicap faced by a NCMP. He or she has no costituents to represent and therefore has no status in his or her constituency. The NCMP cannot vote on certain important issues in Parliament besides other disabilities. In other words the NCMP is like a puppet apart from being allowed to make speeches in Parliament. Therefore, increasing the NCMP seats is just a charade of the PAP government to maintain or strengthen its massive majority in Parliament.

A cooling-off day on eve of Polling Day is another shenanigan of the PAP government to ensure its dominance on Polling Day. A total ban on electioneering on cooling-off day puts the opposition parties at a disadvantage as they are not able to make any last-minute appeal to voters in order to counter government propaganda against them. Nowhere in the democratic world is there such a precedent and for the PAP spin doctor to come up with this nefarious idea is the apex of perfidy. There is no guarantee that the crafty PAP will not take advantage of this cooling-off day to slip in anti-opposition propagnda in disguised form while opposition electioneering stands frozen.

These two schemes are introduced in addition to vote-catching measures that have been put in by PAP leaders. The upgrading of aging HDB flats inPAP constituencies as welll as in some opposition wards is just one example. The PAP leaders are doing all these as they are concerned about reports of favourable ground situation in favour of the opposition in a general election. They will try with everything in their power to prevent the opposition from making inroads into their political dominance. So can the opposition expect a level playing field?


Gary said...

IMO, there is only one logical response from the opposition which is to boycott the NCMP seats.

Nothing shows up the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the ruling party to Singaporeans more clearly than this.

Any reason why the opposition should allow the govt to manipulate them like puppets?

Recruit Ong said...

Agree with Gary. If the opposition oppose the NCMP scheme, they should not take up the NCMP seats when they lose.

Anonymous said...

Of course. They cannot resist the temptation of having a chance to sit in parliament, make their views heard, and reach a wider audience than they ever will on their own accord.

Incidentally, NSP has just pronounced that it is "neutral on the NCMP scheme”. In other words, its political are about to sell out on their political principle to accept the NCMP seat if offered, the same way Sylvia did.


TracyTan said...
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TracyTan said...
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TracyTan said...

The Alternative Parties should all oppose the PAP's NCMP scam by not agreeing to accept any NCMP seat if they are not voted in by the electorate.

This would nullify the PAP's NCMP scheme and render it obsolete. It would also force the electorate to choose between the pap candidate and AP candidate or risk only having PAP MPs in Parliament

totoro said...

@Recruit Ong

Alex Au said it well: "Even when a scheme is bad, one should always consider leveraging it to one's advantage. Absolutism is for religious nuts."

on the other hand, i suggest the opposition parties adopt this strategy, ie, only if they have won some seats will they fill the NCMP seats AND the number of NCMP seats must not be more than the seats won. For eg, if they have won only 2 seats, then they will just accept one NCMP seat.