Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Three Elections. Three Candidates.

Chee losing the By-election was not a surprise. At least not to me.

Interestingly, he says his loss does not feel like a loss. It was a triumphant loss for him then.

Conversely, Murali was more sanguine and took the win with apparent humility and a focus on the work ahead. Magnaminous in victory, perhaps.

And of course there are various biases and partisan analyses of the results.

Pro-Opposition analysts crowed about the 12 percentage point swing against the PAP from 73% to 61%. "This is even better than the 11% swing in the Punggol East by-election! Chee is better than WP!" one concluded.

Pro-PAP analysts pointed out that at Chee's last foray, his team in Holland-Bukit Timah got 33.4% of the votes. Now he got 38.8% - a 5.4 percentage point increase. Conversely, Murali had 49% in Aljunied in 2015, and now got 61.2%. So he had a 12.2 percentage point increase. Winner!

Well, I hope the two groups of supporters can console themselves with their respective analyses. The objective truth though is that there is only one person elected as MP of Bukit Matok. Murali.

Or you can say, well, at least Chee managed to sell a few more books, eh? And that's a win for Chee too, right?

Other less partisan observers thought that Chee did not do as well as he should have considering his inherent advantages. The by-election effect would always work against the PAP as long as it is the ruling party. After all, they are entrenched in the govt (at least for the next 4 years or so), so even if they lose this SMC. there is no danger of losing the government.

Then there was the suspicion that the LKY effect and the SG50 effect might have helped the PAP in GE2015. Well, it is not SG50 anymore, and one year after the death of LKY, the daughter of LKY has accused PM Lee, the son of LKY of abuse of power.

Things fall apart? People fall out with each other? The sheen has gone?

As for the scandal effect of having an elected MP resigning because of "personal indiscretion", how does one measure it. We cannot use the Michael Palmer/Punggol East, because that flip is confounded with the by-election effect.

How about Yaw Shin Leong at Hougang? In GE2011, he garnered 64.8% of the votes. After his shameful exit, WP candidate, Png Eng Huat, got 62.1%. A 2.7% reversal. So that's how much shame costs.

And then there is Chee himself. A prominent opposition leader, with some pathos, and new-found gravitas and dignity, a self-proclaimed "changed man". I won't speculate if he truly has changed or if it is all smoke and mirrors for political gain. The fact is, there are many who believe in him. And since politics is very much a game of perception, that is all that matters.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), the number of people who believe him are insufficient in Bukit Batok.

So with all these "advantages" Chee only did 5.4 points better?

Ok. That may not be fair.

Perhaps the 12 point flip is the cumulative result of the "by-election effect", the fading of the SG 50 and LKY effects, and effect of the ignominious resignation of the PAP MP for personal indiscretion, and the prominence of Chee.

Well, Lee Li Lian had no SG50 effect, nor LKY effect rebound, and little or no prominence. She did have the by-election effect and the possible ignominious resignation of Michael Palmer to her advantage. And she got 11 point flip just for those two "advantages". If all things were equal, then the by-elelction and shameful resignation accounts for about 11 point.

Since Chee got 12 points, and 11 are from the by-election and shame effect, that leaves 1 point to be explained by the SG50, the LKY effect, and the prominence of Chee.

I don't believe the SG50 and LKY effects are real. Or for the sake of Chee's ego, let's say those are insignificant.

That leaves Chee's prominence or stature as providing for 1 percentage point difference.

Sounds about right to you?


John Oliver calls him the Trump of the East for his outrageous and uninhibited shock-jock type utterances.

Like Trump, his appeal comes from his non-establishment roots. He is the most politically incorrect politician and does not run a filter through his words before they leave his mouth.

Based purely on his rude and crude (he called the Pope, "son of a whore") soundbites, he seems like an immature, petulant, hedonist at times. Others call him the Clint Eastwood of the east. Or maybe Duterte Harry (Dirty Harry).

And certainly, his election to the Presidency portents some... interesting challenges for ASEAN, and for relations with China, US, and Australia, to name the most obvious.

To be fair, he does seem to be able to get the job done (as Mayor of Davao), being tough on crime, having turned Davao around, and he is not corrupt and he doesn't tolerate corruption. He does appear to seriously want to help and improve the lives of Filipinos.

And Filipinos are tired of politicians who cannot get the job done.

So while I may find his crude utterances abhorrent, while his bravura may undermine diplomacy and foreign policy, perhaps what is important is what does Philippines need now in a President.

The point is my opinion on who the Philippines President is, is as relevant as a Filipino's opinion as to whether Chee should have won the BB By-Election. In other words, totally irrelevant.

And I don't think he is the Trump of the East. He has real experience as Mayor of Davao for 20 years. He has a proven track record of turning things around.

And I have always preferred to judge a man by his actions, rather than his words.

Which brings us to...


The impact of Trump as the presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee may have unanticipated consequences.

Firstly, Ray Kurzweil has pushed back his estimate of when the Singularity will happen - from about 2045 to 2100 and possibly beyond.

Finally, if Trump becomes President, the symbol of America, the American Bald Eagle, will be required to wear a hairpiece. And be renamed the American Orange Toupee-ed Eagle.

Really, what is there left to be said about Trump?

He is like Amos Yee? Petulant. Immature. Attention-seeking. Naive view of the world. Thinks the world of himself and nobody else.

But I want Trump to win.

For wrong and sort of selfish, philosophical reasons.

Firstly, to all the idealist democracy proponents, Singapore will finally have the perfect one-line rebuttal. (There is already a long-winded "rebuttal" of sorts.) When one of these Democracy-Ideologues say, "SG is not a true democracy!" We will simply say, "True. A True democracy elected The Donald."

Secondly, a variation on the Problem of Evil, why did God let Trump happen? Of course I realise that the Christian Fundamentalist might just LOVE Trump and their answer to "Why did God Let Trump Happen?" would be, "because He Loves us.

And even if they don't like Trump, they can still answer, "because God works in mysterious ways."

Of course, if The Donald is not elected President...

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