Saturday, February 26, 2011

Game On

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"Gerrymandering is a practice of political corruption that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected, and neutral districts."

To maximize the effect of supporters' votes and to minimize the effect of opponents' votes, two strategies of gerrymandering employed are packing and cracking. In packing, voters of one type are corralled into a large electoral ward to reduce their influence in other wards. In cracking, voters of the other type are spread out in order to deny them a sufficiently large voting block in any particular ward. The incumbents in Singapore are using cracking to maximum effect, roping supporters into friendly territory,  and hiving off pockets of opposition to weaken their cultivated base.

That's the theory anyway. The ugly practice is best illustrated in the Aljunied GRC, where Foreign Minister George Yeo had a close shave of just 12.2 percent  from the Workers' Party team led by WP chairman Sylvia Lim in the last general elections (GE). 5,614 voters suspected of voting for the wrong party have been lobbed from Aljunied and consigned to Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC. For addition insurance, 19,549 voters have been added from PAP "stronghold" Marine Parade GRC. Another opposition party has already lamented aloud that all their targeted SMCs have been redrawn into GRCs, and one targetted GRC has been “cut into pieces”. You can't get any more explicit than that.

All the changes by the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee, the composition of which is a guarded secret, are supposedly done to reflect population shifts and housing developments. The total number of constituencies has gone up from 23 to 27, the significant figure being the number of 12 single-seat wards. This pales in comparison to the 21  SMCs up for grabs during the 1991 GE, when the opposition scored its biggest win of 4 single seats. To make sure that never ever happens again,  the number of SMCs was slashed to 9 in the following GE of 1997. Now that's kiasuism for you.

Makes you wonder why the opposition bother with the skewed playing field. Before Mubarak caved in, Time magazine wrote that the Egyptians lacked a  charismatic, reassuring figure among the protesters. Without a Corazon Aquino or a Václav Havel to rally the masses, the people's will has no punch. The incumbents however, still have their symbolic relic on call. Whether wheel-chaired up a ramp, or hoisted by fork lift to the stage, you bet Lee Kuan Yew will be put on display. And should faltering vocal cords fail him, they'll probably attempt lip sync with past speeches of past glories. The wayang season is officially on, but tuning to American Idol is less aggravating. There the people get to vote, and their votes count.


  1. The electorate should vote in the other political parties in parliament. I dont understand why people are so fearful of letting other parties take up to 20 seats.

  2. Opposition parties should all sit out on this election, and lodge a formal complaint to UN council. On the day when PAP announced its 100% victory, the people should march to the street and demand for a new election based on a transparent "Election Committee" and its decisions. By contesting, Opposition parties are agreeing to the start of a disadvantaged game. Silly season begins!

  3. let other parties take up to 20 seats?!?!?!?
    dear zorro, what have you got against the numbers 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 87 and all the other numbers between these? come on, don't be such a scaredy cat. even our kiasu PAP is willing to introduce 24 new faces in one go.

    think long term. let a large bunch of opposition members in. let them have a go in the political arena. look at it as part of the country's wonderful continuous education and training programme, as skills upgrading. and if they don't work out, we'll vote them out next time. see how simple it is?

    it'll really be quite hard for them to make a worse mess of things in the next 4 or so years to the next election than what we've been experiencing in the last 4 years, you know.

  4. George Yeo says: "No evidence of unfair edge for PAP."
    George Yeo also said: "The IR is not a casino."

  5. Dear Anon 2:28

    Well if the alternative parties can win more than 20 seats, so be it. But seeing 30 to 40 parliamentarians from alternative political parties is wishful thinking. Based on previous GE election results, Singaporeans are fearful of change.

    Projecting 20 seats for the alternative political parties in Singapore is a posible outcome.

  6. So why they do what they do then? What's wrong with the last zoning?

    ERP is also not a toll collector, just a traffic regulator. Can you prove to me how it was to help the traffic then and now, and how much collected after the fact.


  8. Can the impossible happen for a peaceful transition?
    does it needs a revolution sometimes down
    the road for a change?
    Undoubted, the first one is the preferred choice.

  9. 40 years of peaceful transition through a carefully crafted electoral elections - Has it worked for you?

    Truth be told, people want "peaceful" non violent path to change is because of an inherent deep "fear" that is memory based. So it holds back people from changing themselves into more dynamic individuals. They fear the change required them to do more than what they expected to put in. Largely fear of (1) Unknown (2) Inconvenience (3) Failure.
    These are very real so they rather not upset the applecart as self-interests take over. We seem to have forgotten how to be a Hunter & Gatherer like our ancestors once were, and to trust in our own ability to shape and mold events/lives after decades of subliminal "fear mongering" perpetuated by PAPs. Sorry AND Safe is where we are now.

  10. dear zorro, re your reply. while i wish it was otherwise, i fear even 20 is wildly ambitious, becos, as you state, of the fear factor. but we need to aim for the stars, so that we might hit the moon. hopefully, even mars.

    if only people realise that having opposition members in parl will not bring this island to its knees. in many ways, it is there already. what we need now is to be able to stand, and to stand up to such fears. again, i doubt many will. but we must all try, for singapore!

  11. Dear Anon 8:24

    I agree with you about this irrational fear of national paralysis on the part of the average voterif the alternative political parties emerge as a force to be reckoned with in parliament.

    You might be right about aiming for the stars.

    Perhaps we should refrain from using the term "opposition" when we refer to parties other than the party in power. The label "opposition" has as its reference point the party in power and not on the values and mission of the alternate political parties. I think most of political parties would want the electorate to view serious entities with the ability to govern. And to their credit they have done a reasonably good job in Hougang and Potong Pasir.

  12. "And to their credit they have done a reasonably good job in Hougang and Potong Pasir".
    Indeed, and they have done so despite the hurdles put in their way, such as the denial to access for upgrading funds. They are testimony that Singapore can be a better, more caring nation.

  13. Our present system and the sense of nationhood developed over the years can more than withstand the impact of a multi party democracy.

  14. The Always Rise but not Quite Fall of Gerrymander - PAP.
    Let's see if people this time have the smarts to see through their games.
    I'm not optimistic.

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