A truly democratic Singapore

January 10, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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Below is an article sent to the Singapore Democrats. We reproduce it here after some editing.

Are elections free in Singapore? No. Why?

1. Just look at the large election deposit that a candidate needs to put down to take part in the election, which is even way more than those in developed Western countries. This effectively restricts the process only to the rich and connected. Anyway, that’s the whole aim of the PAP. This is one of the reasons why the number of Opposition candidates decreases with each election.

2. Many voters fear to vote according to their own free will when the ballot papers are serialized against their names. Especially when the Government has no qualms in meting out ‘punishments’, such as witholding property maintenance grants (money that actually belongs to the people to begin with!) against whole precincts that voted against them!

3. Before and after each election, the PAP would go after Opposition candidates and financially ruin them with libel suits. Nowhere else in the free world is such bullying and abuse of power by the ruling party permitted to such an extent. In other countries, political figures are not allowed to hide behind libel laws as they are expected to be able to stand up to public scrutiny!

Are elections fair in Singapore? No. Why?

1. The absence of an independent elections commission means that the Government can change the electoral boundaries to ensure that opposition voters in each constituency form the minority and no Opposition candidate would ever get elected into the Parliament. Is it not completely absurd that even when there are at least 30% of the voters who voted for the Opposition, they’re only represented by 2 Opposition candidates out of 84 or 2.4% of the MPs in Parliament? Singapore should do away with first-past-the-post representation and go for proportional representation to better represent the people’s wishes! And indeed, gerrymandering by the Government is meant to ensure that they can shut out any opposition.

2. When the PAP began to lose more and more seats in the late 80s, they decided to come out with this Group Representation Constituency scheme in the name of ensuring adequate representation of minority racial representation. What they were really trying to do was to ensure yet fewer cash- and resource-strapped Opposition candidates could take part in the elections. Indeed, in the last election, 75% of the PAP MPs went into the Parliament without any contest and mandate from the people.

3. The absence of a free media and freedom of expression means that reports on the local political scene is lopsided. The ex-ISD-spy-managed-147th-ranked press ensured that the PAP would always be portrayed in the best light while unfair and false aspersions are cast on the Opposition which the PAP then used to sue its opponents for libel! The Opposition was also banned from using the Internet to bring its message across the public a certain number of days before the polling day.

We can therefore conclude that Singapore is a fake democracy but true dictatorship in which elections are neither free nor fair. Even Saddam Hussein might have been able to learn a thing or two from the PAP if he were to be around.

So, what are the consequences of the absence of free and fair elections in Singapore? The Government can change the Constitution at will to further consolidate its power without proper debate and against the people’s will. The ruling party does not have to shoulder any responsibility for the disastrous social consequences brought about by its policies.

As a result, Singaporeans are emigrating at record numbers. Those who cannot afford to emigrate are being impoverished to such an extent that many had to commit suicide (one a day) under crushing household debts, currently the highest in the world (http://www.singstat.gov.sg/press/media/bt28032003.pdf). The divorce rate is 30%, which is the highest in Asia. The birth rate is less than one per couple, the lowest in the world. Yet the Government still boasts that we have of a huge USD100 billion foreign reserves. While Switzerland has a population twice that of Singapore and a foreign reserve only half of it can provide for unemployment benefits for its people, the poor in Singapore are forced to live without electricity and water, and their kids to study under candlelight!

Which brings us to the next question. Why should the international community care?

Of course it should! If not on humanitarian grounds, the international community should ask itself if it prefers to invest in a country that is run by a truly democratic and transparent government that is elected in a free and fair election where the people are happy, creative, dynamic and entrepreneurial, such as is possible only in the free world.

Or if it prefers to have its investments in the hands of a dictatorship which seeks to hide a ticking time bomb and run away from its losses, and which has no qualms driving out its best talents out of the country, even when the population is heading towards extinction.

If the international community wants to invest in Singapore for the long haul, the choice is obvious.

Can the international community help Singapore to become the good ole vibrant Singapore again? Certainly! The immediate thing that the international community can do is for its journalists and NGOs to give more coverage to the true situation in Singapore, something that the local 147th-ranked media have stubbornly refused to do. Let the free world know the truths here. Let officials in the free world help push for the democratization process in Singapore by leveraging on their trade relations, like what they have successfully done with other totalitarian countries and transformed them into vibrant democracies.

Both the world and Singaporeans will eventually find that they are way better off with a truly democratic Singapore!