Posts Tagged ‘Singapore Election’

SG Election (5)–Post Election and Google fusion

May 10, 2011 17 comments

Upset, the swing was only 6.5% strong, 0.5% less than my conservative prediction… But yeah, one GRC fell!!!

60.2% of people chosen 93% of the parliament house, people will have to be angry with such electoral system and demand for a reform… Will there be an electoral reform? Honestly, it’s politically unsound to have a government with 93% control of the house to reform the electoral system that’s in favour of the government itself…

This morning I read Guardian UK and found out 2/3 of the UK people rejected the electoral reform, alternative voting system, hence in favour of first past the post, which usually produces a majority government with < 40% of popular votes in a multi-party system. What’s so damn cool is they produce a map showing how many percent of people from where voted YES to the referendum. And it is produced using Google fusion.

I’m not a big google fan, I use google search but I like my yahoo mail, my (cute) firefox and give me microsoft office instead of google documents anytime… but this Google fusion thingy is so cool! Basically it’s a mini GIS presented to you by Web 2.0, and a bit of google earth (OK google earth is cool too Smile with tongue out), but so far I only get to add one layer of information, but still good enough I don’t need to install anything but google earth…

And as a self-declared geek, that loves numbers and map (and being a biologist but that’s not relevant here), I decided to try to map the PAP’s voters share across the Singapore and see if there’s any pattern (there was this question if eastern is more anti-PAP than western)… took me under one hour to figure out how to map this thing, and including a google search that returns me someone’s hard work in plotting the electoral boundaries of Singapore, and since it’s shared in public domain… I shamelessly adopted it, but yeah, saved me tonnes of time, big thanks to these people. Otherwise, it’s damn simple, copy and paste all the data into a spreadsheet, import it into the Google fusion thingy and with some sense of arts (which I have none) in the visualization department… Ta dah, the PAP vote share constituency-by-constituency:

(Well doesn’t allow iframe, so I can’t embed the map here, sigh, please click the link above 🙂 )
Red – 30%, Yellow-Green – 50%, Blue – 70%

And then I got excited, and produced another map, PAP constituency-by-constituency vote swing from 2006 to 2011:
(Same situation as above =/ )
Darker green 7%, Dark Red 14%, White 0%

Constituencies from 2006 to 2011 were matched only by name, not geographical area.

Some observations:
1. Eastern has more opposition voters. North and West less.
Which can be due to several reasons including A) that  the worker’s party, strongest opposition in terms of organization and grassroots, contested mostly in the west; B) Singaporean people as I said is very candidate-based and groundwork-centric when it comes to electing MPs, like what my landlord said “I never even see the RP guys, how to vote them?”; C) which kind of answers why SDA (some sort of jokers) got trashed in Pasir Ris-Punggol, or that RP (new party that was embroiled in infighting, fighting for nothing actually) got thrashed in Ang Mo Kio; D) that most in the east have previous voting experience (see the swing map), hence are probably more politically aware than their western bro and sis, you care when you’re one of the shareholders…

2. Homogeneity rules, most of the time.
Hougang is the odd one that PAP garnered only 35%, –2% swing (which kind of hinted that hardcore PAP supporters base is about 30%). Aside from that, it’s between 45% and 70%, with most of them fall near 53% or 64% mark. That explains why 60% popular vote resulted in 90+% of parliamentary seats… When variation is small, most seats hover around the average mark, and First-Past-The-Post system is the most advantageous (towards the majority)  under such circumstances.

3. Constituency-by-constituency swing reveals strong swing towards Opposition.
Something PAP needs to get worried. Perhaps when people have the voting experience, and know the candidates or their party a wee-bit more, the likelihood of people voting against PAP is higher under the wind of change. Even the joker party SDA managed to swing 3%! Opposition gotta work their ground in the west, and who knows, they’ll get to enjoy the –10% swing during next election…

4. Potong Pasir and Ang Mo Kio swung towards PAP
Longest serving opposition parliamentarian left Potong Pasir for a GRC, and it’s possible people don’t get connected with his wife (as the candidate) and hence swung over to PAP, afterall, the ward has got no “development” and “upgrade” for 27 years (the goverment does not pay opposition’s town council). Ang Mo Kio is PM Lee’s ward, and last term, it was the stronger opposition WP who challenged the PM while this time, RP… certainly you would expect positive vote swing towards PAP right?

Exciting time, exciting numbers, the fact is opposition needs to work on the ground to garner people’s support, and PAP needs to think why was there a wind of change when the so called economy (GDP number) is good. And if, like PM Lee said, he will listen to the people, he would have offered to talk with the opposition leader and pledge to be inclusive towards the person sitting opposite him in the parliament. Did he? He did not. Will he? Well who knows, he could apologize during the campaign to win votes, I’m sure he could also “be humble” and listen to his opponent’s view, so much for the inclusiveness and parliamentary accountability.

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SG Election (4) – Political Awakening?

May 7, 2011 Leave a comment

You know how many articles like to use this template: “No matter what’s the outcome, the people will…”, and yes I’m going to use the template again, just in case you’re not bored with it yet Smile with tongue out

Some hours later, about 2.5 million voters will head to the polling stations to cast their vote, and to decide their future (can we please stop using all these cheesy words already? Smile with tongue out). Only about 140k voters will not be able to vote because they reside in Tanjong Pagar GRC, where PAP’s godfather Lee Kuan Yew and his team scored a walkover. Overseas voters could register themselves in embassies in 9 major cities and hence vote in overseas. Contrasting that with Malaysia, where we have minister telling us that Malaysians abroad shall not vote because “they don’t like the country”, *SIGH*…

Voting is compulsory or your name will get struck off the elector roll, which you’ll need to pay or give valid reason to reinstate your name back into the roll. Polling period is from 8am to 8pm, then probably from 10pm onwards you’ll get official results coming in… I don’t remember hearing any “unofficial results” in 2006 GE, hopefully this time the media will start to collate the unofficial numbers each party receives and put them up…

PAP garners overall vote of 66% during 2006 GE. In GRCs, it was 67% on average, with Aljunied GRC scoring only 56% but Sembawang GRC scored 76.7%. Variation in SMC is bigger, 37% and 44% for the oppositions seat, while scoring 68% to 77% in 4 seats, bringing an average of 61% for the SMCs. The voting pattern among the constituencies are quite similar which can be attributed to the similar racial composition as well as the small geographical area, i.e. that a local issue in one constituency is usually applicable to the rest of the island. In my opinion, the variation among constituencies in 2006 GE is candidate-driven, the two SMCs that PAP lost were held by opposition since 1988 and 1991, while the Workers Party has been working on the ground in Aljunied GRC since 2001…

Most of the Singaporeans I know can be classified into three groups, first group the most, third the least:
1) Hinting that they are leaning towards opposition, and to much lesser extent (I only hear bold statement like “I voting for XX, please vote for XX” once), calling people to vote opposition with them;
2) Know what’s going on but prefer to not talk about elections and not showing obvious preferences;
3) Indicate that they have no choice because “the opposition here sucks”…

It’s hard to predict because I think Singaporeans are rather “secretive” on their votes. I’m going to play with the number in a very amateur way: Simple extrapolation and assuming uniform change in the country. A 7% nationwide swing would result in the fall of 1 GRC and 2 possible SMC loss for PAP, resulting in a total of 9 MPs for opposition. I personally think that a 7% swing is very likely to occur. In 2006 GE, the swing from PAP to opposition was 8.7% and judging from the ground sentiment, I think it is even possible to see another 8.7% swing, which may bring another GRC and another SMC into opposition’s hand, i.e. 14 MPs for opposition.

But the hard truth is, while Aljunied seems ripe for a change, other GRCs seem to be relatively safe for PAP. The PAP is not seen sweating over other GRCs and there’s no heavy media attention on any other GRCs except Aljunied. As for the SMCs, it seems like this traditional battleground is “forgotten”, making it very hard to see if there’s any possible opposition gain. After all, I’m not aware of any oppositions working on the ground of the GRCs and SMCs except the already-opposition wards as well as Aljunied GRC (Note: All except 3 SMCs were newly drawn just 2 months ago…) So it is quite likely that the opposition will end up having 1 GRC and 2 SMCs, i.e. only 7 MPs, which is not going to be exciting in my opinion… Well at least the PAP’s popularity vote will decrease, that’s for sure! Smile


Alright, no matter what’s the election outcome (jeng jeng jeng), this election will definitely be remembered as the “political awakening” for the Singaporean people. To me, polling day is like the “holy day” for a democracy. It makes you feel the presence of democracy, I believe the kind of “feel-good” sensation is going to boost the political awareness in many people, especially those who decided to attend rallies, to kill time or not. The fact that voting is compulsory, and that almost the whole country is up for election means that the people need to follow the political news in order to make decision. The Singaporean people ended up digesting lots and lots of information, many of which are political stories, during this election, because they get to CHOOSE, and it’s everyone’s habit to check their product before deciding what to buy right? Internet penetration rate in Singapore is 80%, and I think almost all the younger generation find information through internet. While many of these young people never voted before (because of the walkovers in past elections), it is simply impossible to ignore the election when the video of the rallies is up almost immediately in the youtube and almost everyone in the facebook or twitter or whatnot is sharing all election-related information from videos to articles to notes written by ordinary you and me.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, it is for sure that the future general elections will not see much walkovers, and I think the people will start to follow what’s going on in the Singapore politics from this point onwards, because they know they have to vote again, and they probably don’t want to do last-minute-homework anymore. More significantly, it means the next parliament will be the results of the participation of almost all eligible voters in the country. When you’re the shareholder, you’ll definitely pay more attention to what’s going on in the “company” and that’s likely to happen when more people will want to know what’s happening with the parliamentary democracy.

When I see young people and even kids being a plenty in the rallies, I can’t help but to think in the next five years, or ten years, Singapore will definitely see a more political savvy voters entering the system, and with the air of “informed citizenry” (Amazing that Singaporean people are talking about being “informed citizen” over this election!) getting thicker, I think the two-party-system is definitely going to settle down in Singapore.

And the usually more political savvy Malaysian will not be able to laugh at the Singaporeans for being ignorant about politics and civil liberty. In fact we’ll have to be worried that with the current BN government’s attitude (and may I add, PKR’s attitude) towards the (dirty) politics and civil society among others, we may end up not going anywhere and continue our journey towards the hall of failed nations…

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SG Election (2) – Background

May 5, 2011 Leave a comment

It seems unthinkable to many people (non-singaporean) that why is there a wind of change in Singapore. GDP for 2010 was 14.5%, which is obviously great for the third largest economy in ASEAN (This report suggests that it surpasses Malaysia, and now behind Indonesia and Thailand). Malaysians flock to Singapore for better income and career prospective. My facebook status has the statistic:

~1 million Malaysians now living in diaspora (including non-residents)
~60% of them go to Singapore, 400k residents, 200k nonresidents
1/3 of them are classified as "brain drain"
47% of tertiary-educated foreign-born residents in Singapore are Malaysia-born

In the recent years, you see a lot more Malaysians, Chinese, South Asians and many more nationalities around in Singapore. Great education, great healthcare, great income and yadda yadda, it is very hard for the foreigners not to love this country, and of course, the PAP government.

But the discontent of Singaporeans, not necessarily towards the government (as they are trained to not get angry at the government), is rising.

I think the seed of the sense of change is planted, some time during the 2006 general election, when PAP sees 8.7% popularity votes swung away from it. I was then watching the election from afar, well to be precise, reading stories online and watching TV news during the counting (I never see a single campaign material then, the area I was in has no contest). And in internet forum, me and some Malaysian-in-Singapore (MiS, eh, I can make abbreviation too, right?) were then discussing the results, armchair-style. One forummer commented “when the chio bu (leng lui, hot girls?) become aunties, you expect to see more and more people wanting to change”. Youth, similar to many part of the world, is the main driving force of change.

Ever since then, more websites that air dissent voice towards the ruling elites. Yes, from my observation, the huge discontent comes from the elitist attitude of the PAP. The grassroots vs the elites. People feel disconnected from the government, or the “top layer” of the country. It’ is quite easy to use the ministerial pay to illustrate the clash of classes (but bear in mind it’s more complicated than this):
How do you sell the idea of having a Prime Minister whose monthly income is 37 times more than the median monthly household income ($5000 in 2010)? When the people witness how the “scholars” are fast-tracked into top-layer of civil services (which undoubtedly carries incredible pay)? Rest assure the class issue is BIG in this election, the three rallies I went to mentioned it.

One Filipino asked Singaporean friends, during a drinking session, “so how much you think the ministerial pay should be, and to ensure they don’t corrupt?” (Though the official reason for the lucrative pay is to attract private sector talents)."Much less of course, they can’t even take care of a terrorist!”. How much shall they pay the leaders? No idea, but they definitely think that 2.2 million USD per year is not right. Oh, and the terrorist was Mas Selamat Kastari. The then home minister Wong Kan Seng might sweat a bit when tabling the white paper regarding the incident in the parliament, but what do you expect from an 82 vs 2 parliament? Any head rolls? Definitely not any of the expensive politician. Accountability, another huge issue in this election cycle. Parliament needs more oppositions to beef up the government’s accountability, so says the opposition.

Another big issue that dominates all parties election manifesto, is immigrant issue. Foreign talent or FT as the Singapore (aka land of acronyms) people like to call. Yeah, I am one of the foreign thrashes watching this “watershed election” and attended the election rallies, rather stealthily Smile with tongue out. One in three human you see in Singapore is not Singapore-blooded. I’m studying/working in Singapore for 8 years, and you can definitely feel the abundance of immigrants. In KL, we complain about not being able to eat “local” food as most of them are prepared by foreign workers. Well, ditto to Singapore! Annual growth rates between 2006 to 2009 of different group of Singapore population are as follows:

Singapore citizens 0.8 to 1.1%
PR 6.5 to 11.5%
Non-resident 4.8 to 19.0%

Increase in competition results in stagnant wage rate. Not unlike in Malaysia lah. In fact a friend of mine commented:

Employers definitely love foreign workers. Less complain, many of them don’t have many friends here hence more likely to work hard and be loyal to you. Also, their work passes are tied to the employer, so you can’t afford to lose your job as you’ll end up becoming a tourist!

“It’s like taking a holiday, I don’t even need to bring my passport”, said National Solidarity Party (NSP) star leng lui candidate, Nicole Seah, probably the Hannah Yeoh of Singapore. In a way, she does highlight the social impact of having such huge number of immigrant.

According to Workers Party (star, too) candidate Chen Show Mao in one of his rally, The minister said immigrants ratio will be pegged at 1/3 of total population. He asked, why 1/3 and not 1/4 or any other number? “Did he ask you?” “NO!” “Shall we send more people into the parliament to ask him?” The 30k odd crowd cheered. I clapped my hands, oh well, it certainly is interesting when you yourself is an immigrant Smile with tongue out

Apart from identity crisis, another issue of concern is the foreign workers dormitory. In Pioneer SMC, which is part of the Singapore core industrial area, PAP candidate said he will propose to install CCTV in each flat. NSP candidate said in the rally, “We shall just move the dormitory to Joo Koon (right next to Pioneer) side, which has no residential area! Then we won’t need (expensive) CCTV!”. Presence of foreign worker seems to affect the locals, socially or in terms of safety, or if according to the candidate, the public behaviour such as littering and spitting and whatnot.

Singaporean is VERY disturbed by the booming of immigrants, sure-topic for day-to-day chit chatters.

PAP fielded 20+ young “new faces”, citing some of them coming from private sector or poor families. The government is expected to appoint more unelected Non-Constituencies MP (NCMP), “members of the opposition parties who were appointed as members of the Parliament of Singapore even though they had lost in the parliamentary election.” (Only 1 NCMP currently). Also, PAP government has since slowed down the number of Permanent Residents (PR) intake, and increased foreign workers levy charge.

PAP is smart enough to address these issues, but is it enough to stop the wind of change?

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SG Election (1) – Malaysian perspective

May 3, 2011 15 comments

Singapore is holding 11th general election since the separation from Malaysia. It’s said as the “watershed election”, and the biggest election the country ever whereby 82 out of 87  parliament seats are up for contest (in 2006, 47 out of 84 seats were contested, one of the biggest election then). And of course I’m in Singapore right now, feeling excited to witness this biggest political event in Singapore. I felt compelled to write something about this election, for this is the first time I actually “observe” (as a layman, if I must add) an election so closely. I followed 2004 and 2008 Malaysia GE in Singapore, and in 1999 MYS GE, I knew close to nothing about politics!

Even if no one is reading this, I’ll still be happy enough to read this ten twenty years later and have a good laugh of how stupid was I Smile with tongue out

Before going into the general election, I wish to talk about a little bit of difference between Singapore and Malaysia’s election. They may have inherited from the same system, but yet the elections are quite different, here are some similarities and differences:

1. Singapore has only ONE house in their parliament, no senate. Instead, they have Non-constituencies MP and Nominated MP.
NCMPs are proportionately distribute to opposition parties according to vote share in GE. NMPs are “independent” MP.

2. Singapore has unique “Group representation constituency” (GRC) system.
It is kind of similar to having "multi-member constituency” where a constituency is represented by more than 1 member of parliament. In Singapore’s case, each GRC consists of 4 to 6 MP, and whoever wants to contest in such constituency must be able to form a team of, well, 4 to 6 candidates with at least one of them being an ethnic minority, e.g. Malay, Indian or lain-lain (others). Voters than decide which team to vote into the parliament, i.e. if you win, your whole team of candidates get to be MPs; if you lose, you get nothing.
Such voting system, in my opinion, is fundamentally unfair because a voter would not be able to choose who’s in and who’s out. You may not like one of the 4 to 6 candidates you voted for, but you can do nothing. The system is said to “enshrine minority representation in Parliament“ but I believe it is not too hard to design a fairer system. There are currently 15 of them.

3. There are some “Single member constituencies” (SMC) too!
Which is exactly the same as the kind of constituencies you see in Malaysia, one constituency one member. But how do you decide one area should be an SMC instead of a GRC? No idea. 12 of them in this election.

4. Elected MP is automatically a member of the constituency’s town council, which governs the public housing within that constituency.
In Malaysia, election of local government was disallowed since 1969.

5. Campaign material is highly regulated.
This is the only campaign materials you can see on street
A2-size (somewhere there? or maybe slightly bigger) board that’s cable-tied onto the lamppost or roadsign, or maybe a banner (the size and design is regulated too). If I’m not wrong even the flyers etc are regulated, which is obviously not the case in Malaysia…

6. Campaign rally at night is from 7 to 10 in Singapore. 7 to 12 in Malaysia?
An opposition candidate said: “Getai also open till 11, and election such big matter is allowed till 10 only!”

7. For the number of seats, Singapore has A LOT of opposition parties.
Five. And as in Malaysia, they form election pact to not contest with each other. But they don’t go support each other’s rally. Their election issues are very similar, and I’m not too sure what are each and other’s ideology difference… I would say minor difference…

8. PAP holds on to power ever since separation (and even before that!), similar to BN lah!
Workers party is the biggest opposition party and looks set to win highest vote share among the oppositions.

9. New media, social media plays HUGE role in election campaign in Singapore, where internet penetration rate is 80%!
But apart from The Online Citizen, there’s hardly any credible Malaysiakini or TheMalaysianInsider-ish “internet media”.

10. The wind of change is real! People want better accountability, and want to give the already complacent and arrogant ruling party a slap!
2006 PAP experienced an 8.7% vote swing against it, but only 2 opposition candidates (Chiam See Tong, five-term MP, and Low Thia Kiang, four-term MP) managed to get re-elected into the parliament via SMC. I think this time, there’ll definitely be a swing, in fact a stronger swing against the ruling party.
And I believe a successful wind of change that blows more opposition into the parliament in Singapore, will in a way help to maintain the momentum of change in Malaysia.

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