Friday, 13 October 2017

A Reserved Election for a Reserved President for Reserved Singaporeans

According to hyperbole, Singaporeans are feeling "muzzled and angry" over the outcome of the Presidential Selection.

Much like how HKers were angry about China's proposal to "pre-approve" candidates for their Chief Executive election (selection?)

And HKers protested that proposal which they saw as instituting a false democracy.

Singapore and Singaporeans? How would we respond if this happened in Singapore? Would we also take to the streets in protest?

From this opinion piece from Oct 2014:
What determines if Singaporeans will march on the streets?
I think it depends ultimately on whether there are fair rules, and whether government and people play by those rules.
If a society has fair rules to govern elections, there’s no need for people to take to the streets. The vote gives people voice and power.
If people think rules for elections are  too unfair, that’s a trigger point, because they will lose faith in the democratic process and decide that street politics is better than ballot box politics.

So do the muzzled and angry Singaporeans think the machinations of declaring PE2017 a Reserved Election for Malay candidates fair? Do they think that disqualifying the other potential candidates was in effect "pre-selecting" approved candidates (like what China does for the CE of HK)? Was the whole exercise seen (cynically, or otherwise) as stage managing the selection of Mdm Halimah to be the PAP-approved President?

Certainly the "computation" that it was time for a Malay President, and so time for a Reserved Election was in dispute, and was even admitted by the government that it was a discretionary decision. So, it would seem that this could be seen as the government NOT playing by the rules.

And you need to understand, they had just re-written the rules! Why couldn't they have made the rules to suit their need?

And the non-event that is PE 2017 resulted in... a WALKOVER. Which in effect was denying the people the process of voting. And which, if the opinion piece is correct is denying the people's "voice and power".

The people should have decided that street politics is better than ballot box politics?


Why weren't there street protests? Weren't Singaporeans feeling angry enough? Muzzled enough? Furious and frustrated enough?

Well, two reasons.

Firstly, I believe the opinion piece is wrong. People don't protest because rules are broken or because elections are unfair or because they have no voice. Otherwise people in Zimbabwe, North Korea, and many other places would be having protests every other day. If not every day.

In my "rebuttal", people will protest when a) they have nothing to lose, b) they have a moral cause, or a moral high ground, c) it is a matter of life and death, and d) the govt is perceived as not doing anything to address the life and death issue.

Which brings us to the second reason Singaporeans didn't erupt in spontaneous street protests - the lack of a life or death issue.

So you didn't get to vote. Upsetting? Furious? This will have a major impact on your life, income, freedom, rights?

The problem is the question of who our president is, has little impact on our lives. Our president has a largely ceremonial role. That we were denied the chance to vote for our President is inconsequential. Some have even suggested that we do away with the Elected Presidency and revert to the Appointed Presidency.

The question of when will Singaporeans protest can be reduced to what I call the "Braveheart" question: How will Singaporeans fill in the blank for this quote from Braveheart:
"They may take our lives, but they will never take away our _________!"
"Vote/Right to Vote/Right to choose our President"? Nope?

"S-League"? Gawd I hope not!

"Cheap EPL cable subscription"? "Our right watch the World Cup games cheaply"? This would be sad.

Because, Western Democracies have decided to have civilised "peaceful protests" and the people in Western Democracies have to Right and Freedom of assembly, speech/expression, and association. So they can protest peacefully, without interference by the law.

And those idiots don't realise that "peaceful protests" are so civilised that they have been made impotent. The powers that be can safely IGNORE peaceful protest. Much like how SG protestors in Hong Lim Park can be ignored by the SG government.

But yes, there is a need for a "safety valve" of sorts, which is what Hong Lim Park is for.

But I also believe (or want to believe) that when those 4 conditions are met - nothing to lose, moral high ground, life or death, and incompetent/unresponsive govt - Singaporeans will rise up.

But I still want to know, how will we fill in the blank: "They will NEVER take away our _________!"

No comments: