Thursday, December 3, 2009

Much Ado About Nothing

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made the announcement that there will be an extra day of non-campaigning just before Polling Day. The deal was that this would act as a cooling-off period ahead of the General Election. The ‘proposed’ extra day of non-campaigning will also apply to a presidential election.

Now this isn’t new. A lot of countries have blackout days before the election itself, so it’s no big deal for Singapore to have one also. That unfortunately is my biggest gripe about the new rule. I am meeting this new rule with puzzlement because I fail to understand why this rule is needed in Singapore. For the past several elections, the Singapore opposition had been under the self-defeating by-election strategy (which doesn’t work by the way) so in over half of Singapore, there’s no voting!

Why do we need a cooling-off period when there's no voting in over half the country? PM Lee say the extra day “would give voters time to reflect rationally on issues, after the emotional high of election campaigning”. What emotional high? In other countries, elections are exciting; in Singapore, it’s boring.

With almost every Singaporeans believing this new rule is unnecessary, some had said that the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) are putting in this rule to give them an extra day of campaigning. However I do not believe this to be true. Like I said earlier, most Singaporeans don’t care that much about elections that one lousy day of campaigning will make any difference. The PAP will not benefit from the extra day.

So in the end, how would this cooling-off period affect the General Election? It would affect absolutely nothing!


Anonymous said...

It is too early to say whether this move by LHL is "Much Ado About Nothing".

He is using this proposal merely as an excuse to amend once again our supposedly sacrosanct Constitution of the Republic of Singapore.

Knowing the "cunningness" of the PAP leadership from past experiences, being pragmatic, it will not go to the trouble of doing something that is for nothing. It all depends how the amendments are to be worded, and what kinds of prohibitive clauses would be instituted against all concerned, inclusive of the new media in the cyberspace.

I foresee that in this coming Constitutional Amendment, there would be some unsuspecting little clauses here or there to give the Judiciary or the courts some powers to fault or remove elected politicians of their seats in Parliament, in case there is a “freak” election result.

If Opposition parties, or their leaders and affiliates, were to make a mistake of posting something on their blogs or websites just after midnight on the last day of campaigning, they can be charged for violating the Constitution, and therefore their winning votes could be "Null and Void"; or they could be fined more than a certain amount ($3,000) so that they would have to be disqualified as a MP, just like what had happened to the late JBJ before.

I see this as a very cunning and poisonous move. It would most probably give the ruling party the power to stay in power "forever"!

So, don't simply brush it aside as "nothing"!

Ghost said...

First off, you have to go 10-20 years back to see a “freak” election result. How can you have a freak result when the opposition refused to even contest the elections?
Second off, if the PAP want to stop anyone from contesting the election, they won't wait till the cool-off date to stop them. They will do it before the election.
Third off, how many Singaporeans do you know who truly care about this cool-off period?