Thursday, April 27, 2006

Nomination day - the perfect outcome

Nomination day could not have produced a better outcome for the PAP in Singapore.

Why is that? Wouldn't we have been hoping for a walkover in this election - to have have had more than half of the seats in Parliament uncontested so that a PAP victory was assured even before the poll next Saturday?

No. That would have shown Singaporeans and the rest of the world that our electoral system is a sham, and given ammunition to those who say that Singapore is not a real democracy. Now these things are true, but it is certainly not in the PAP's interests to admit them. We have always denied these accusations, and the number of opposition nominations in the coming election gives us another way to continue doing so.

We can now claim that the "large number" of opposition nominations is evidence of the health of our political process. We can crow about the openness, transparency and fairness of Singapore's electoral system - things that the opposition and other countries criticise us for not allowing. In doing so we will conveniently ignore the fact that in any real democracy the thought of 44% of seats in parliament going to the ruling party even before the any votes are cast would be unthinkable. That's just what has happened in this election though - in 37 of the total 84 seats in the Parliament the PAP was the only party to nominate a candidate. This is because in Singapore, the PAP use our control of the government and judiciary to rig the system to keep the opposition beaten down and weak so that an election will never, ever be a free fight.

Even though we now only have to win 6 of 37 seats being contested (that's a whopping 13%) to remain in government, it's important that we put on a show of having to work hard for victory. This evening, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong kept up this lie by saying "So we are fighting this election to decide who will form the next government of Singapore". Everyone knows that the PAP cannot lose this election, but we will pretend that the opposition could actually win, because in a real democracy that sort of thing can actually happen, and we have to pretend that Singapore is a real democracy.

Which brings us to the point about the PAP needing opposition parties. Don't think that putting the opposition parties completely out of business would be in our interests. We could do that in a heartbeat if we wanted to, but it's better for us to have them around. We just cannot afford to let them become strong enough to pose a genuine electoral threat to the PAP. We cannot maintain our lie about being committed to democracy if there is no opposition, but nor can we allow an opposition movement to gain enough momentum to oust us from government.

That's why this nomination day has turned out perfectly for the PAP. Now we will claim that the opposition parties are giving us a run for our money and that our victory is not assured, even though all the cards are stacked in our favour. Then when we win, we'll claim our "victory" shows that Singaporeans truely trust us and are skeptical of the opposition. It's so easy.


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