Monday, May 09, 2011

Nothing Changed - Everything Changed.

The General Election is over. The votes have been cast and counted and after the final round of political rallies, Singaporeans have found themselves getting on with life. This election was in just about every way like every other election before it - the ruling party was returned to government with an overwhelming majority of seats - the number being more akin to the score in a rugby match between one of the Southern Hemisphere Giants (Australia, South Africa and New Zealand) and their Pacific Island neighbours (Tonga, Samoa) - 81 - 6. Despite all the chatter about how this was the most seats ever won by the opposition - the fact remains that the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) will continue to have the ability to ram just about anything it wants to down parliament's throat - regardless of what the newly elected members of the opposition think...Let's also not forget that although the PAP did see its share of popular votes drop to 60 plus percent - that's still more than what ruling parties in other parts of the world dream of getting - NOTHING CHANGED.

However, there is also the optimistic point that EVERYTHING CHANGED. For once in most people's living memory, every ward bar one (co-incidentally that of the Minister Mentor and Founding Prime Minister) was contested. This was by Singapore standards - highly unusual. It was as if the suddenly the opposition parties found the desire to put up a fight in every constituency.

Then there was the role of the online media. I had the Young Pariah from Pasir Ris GRC phoning me on a regular basis hopping to get my feedback on how the PAP could counter people slamming them without fear in cyberspace. Suddenly, people were letting out their wildest thoughts on whatever topics suited them without fear...........For a party used to getting its way with the media - this was something of a change - it was downright frightening. For the PAP it must have been like being the hot chick who one day wakes up one day to find herself in the body of the fat cow everyone laughs at.

More importantly the opposition actually had people worth listening to. There were actually people you could trust to run the government. They would say something without calling the foreign press and without trying to provoke the rest of us into worshiping their egos. There was no call for a hunger strike or for a mass protest march (illegal). They merely raised all the questions that the rest of us were waiting to ask and somehow, when we did the ruling party proceeded with its usual form of intimidation tactics - which rightfully backfired.

In the end, the electorate decided that it was time to give birth to a new party - the Workers Party. They were the only opposition party to win seats. They retained their seat in Hougang with a new candidate and an increased margin. They then took the psychological step of claiming a Group Representation Constituency (GRC - a case of vote one MP and get 3). The members of this party are for a good part professional, working people who are educated. More importantly, they had a track record of having run something reasonably successfully. The PAP stressed its track record of why it should continue as the party of government. Its now talking about how the Workers Party will fuck up Aljunied and the voters will regret and repent - well, they might want to consider the Workers Party's track record in Hougang... and start treating the voters a bit more seriously.

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