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Singapore's elections

Our general election is coming up next Saturday. As an permanent resident I'm neither eligible to vote nor to be elected. This doesn't seem too much a loss to me, since the outcome is quite predictable. Since Singapore's independence the Peoples Action Party (PAP) under the reign of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew has won every election so far, it is quite sure that they will win this time again. This year they announced to run for a clean sweep: they want to will all of the 84 seats in parliament (they held 82 before). Around election time, it is not uncommon, that opposition politicians face libel suits (that would both deprive them from funds and the right to stand in an election). The mainstream press has been accused to biased in favour of the government, (political) video and podcasting has been banned during elections, hot election topics become part of a law suite (so it becomes an offence to blame anybody) and senior politicians threaten voters that the executive (which should be apolitical by definition) would neglect them once they vote for the opposition. Also the opposition is not very strong in numbers, they can't field a team to contest all 84 seats.
No wonder that besides a low record on press freedom, Singapore doesn't score well on the Asia Democracy Index either.
Nevertheless, it seems this election seems to get a little more interesting than before:
First of all, for the first time since 1988 the opposition fields enough candidates to contest more than half of the seats, so the PAP didn't return to power on nomination day (which is only a few days before the elections to shorten the campaign time, which otherwise could dent Singapore's productivity). The opposition dares to contest the electorate run by the prime minister The team is young and unknown, so any vote for them rather counts as a vote of no confidence for the incumbent prime minister Lee Hsien Long (son of Lee Kuan Yew --- anybody thinking it could be this, better gets ready for a libel suit). But the most surprising fact, since very little is found in our local press: the opposition seems to enjoy quite some support. The famous Singapore Blogger Yawning Bread reports from a rally of the opposition Worker's Party in Hougang. He estimates up to 100000 people might have attended this event. That would be quite a number for Singapore. I wasn't aware of it until Mr. Wang mentioned it.
Wasn't it an old Chinese curse? "May you live in interesting times!"

Posted by on 30 April 2006 | Comments (0) | categories: Singapore


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