Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hemlock on Singapore, E@L on Singapore

[Another post that no-one will read, except maybe the Gahmen spies.]

Here is a brief paragraph on Singapore and LKY from the blog of Hong Kong legend Hemlock (some big-rich-dude's paid blogger allegedly), Big Lychee and Various Sectors:

It looks like the sort of shallow, vindictive, spiteful and constitutionally and ethically dubious bit of electoral jiggery-pokery Lee Kuan Yew would have come up with, had opposition legislators existed in meaningful numbers back in the days when the carrier of the world’s mightiest human DNA was single-handedly carving Asia’s pinnacle of civilization out of a garbage-strewn wasteland of undisciplined, gum-chewing, inferior humanity.

Hemlock is about to analyze/demolish a constitutional change in Hong Kong in which:

As of 2012, if a democratically elected (as opposed to the other sort) Hong Kong Legislative Council member resigns or otherwise leaves his seat, there will be no by-election: the runner-up in his constituency will automatically replace him.

It does sound very much like a PAP (Lee Kuan Yue's People's Action Party) stunt doesn't it? If only LKY had thought of it. Hang on, maybe he did? Someone want to check that?


This fiery prose has of course inflamed E@L - he is fired up over the political system here in Singapore thanks to a slew of head-slapping activities before the recent election. If he is not blogging for the next few years, check the dank, dark, fetid basement of Singapore's equivalent to Stalin's Lubyanka prison.


Compared to Hong Kong (or so I believe), the structure of some of the Singapore electorates is already set-up in such a way that it is very difficult for an opposition party to make inroads and get candidates into parliamentary seats in the first place, let alone have them worry about what happens when they resign or retire hurt.

The Group Representation Constituencies (GRC )system in Singapore was set-up initially to allow minorities (like Malays and Indians) the chance to become parliamentarians. However, since the GRC was introduced, it is claimed that the ratio of minority groups (in parliament) has decreased!

How do the GRCs work (approximately)?** Groups of up to six candidates from each party stand in the GRC representing up to the six individual electoral wards that are now contained with the GRC. Each of these contained electorates may be contested by opposition party candidates and they may even win! But the seats in Parliament go not to those who won individually, but to the group of six (three, four, five) candidates from the party with the highest aggregate of votes across the GRC. WTF? So opposition candidates may win several electorates within the GRC, but still not get into Parliament, whereas their dumb-ass, wife-of-a-minster's-principal-secretary opponents from the PAP ride in on the coat-tails of a popular PAP candidate (like said minister) who calls in a huge number of votes and thus takes the GRC with him. Essentially a GRC is a way to stuff the parliament with PAP members with a minium of fuss. Why not just make all of Singapore one single GRC? Fair question.

Electoral borders for GRCs and electorates are carefully gerrymandered, building by building, floor by floor, flat by flat, bedroom by bedroom [joking! almost], so that, when the boundaries are announced only a few days before the election, the opposition is scrambling to work out where they should have been campaigning for the contest. The decision on GRC boundaries is in the PM's department's bailiwick. Any surprise there?

To top this off, voters in the electorates which vote against the government, even those electorates within PAP held GRCs, are outrageously harassed with threats of second-class treatment when it come to infrastructure works, such as the upgrading of HDB lifts (some of which only stop every second floor).


Somehow with the PAP vote dropping to 60%, from 66.6% last election and the lowest ever, they still managed to lose only one seat (from 82 of 84, to 81 of 87) although the percentage changes slightly due to the extra seats and the WP win. One must wonder what is going on. 60% of the vote and 93% of the seats, you do the math.

Yes, you heard right. There was an amazing turn-around this election, two ministers and four other parliamentarians were defeated in the GRC of Aljeneid by contenders from the Worker's Party. The now former Foreign Minister George Yeo (about the only competent guy in the PAP, I hear) is gone. Amazing.

And to find talented people to replace him, the PAP will be up against it. Their members have never had to battle hard to win. Despite being extremely well paid the Singaporean parliamentarians (there is a thread viraling [new word!] FB and forums that the 30 most highly paid politicians in the world - not among the top 30, but THE top 30 - are Singaporeans) they have never had to seriously defend any of their policies against any strong opposition questions. Some can hardly speak in public, like blatant coat-tailer (but cute) Tin Pei Ling. In short they are lacking depth, talent and experience, whereas the opposition parties are bulking up their leaders with new blood.


LKY, his PAP and Singapore: A city, and part of a continent. No true democracy. Why? Which is it? Not enough talent for a two party system, as PM Lee Hsien Loong says, or is all of Asia not ready for Western-style Democracy, as the received wisdom (received from Tunkul Mohammed Mahatir, or was it Uncle LKY?) had it when the Tiger Economies were in that boiling and bubbling cauldron prior to the 1998 crash?

In response to this essentially Chinese attitude, alleged Malaysian sodomite (not that there's anything wrong with that) Amwar Ibrahim made some plangent comments about Confucian values versus Western attitudes to government a while ago. These comments were discussed in an article on the Singapore Democrats website last year:

Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and the leader of Partai Keadilan in Malaysia maintained that there were still apologists, diehard sceptics and proponents of autocracy who say that democracy is not meant for all cultures because it is largely a Western construct and certainly not the only system for the rest of the world. “Asian values["?], for example, are said to be inherently incompatible with liberal democracy. The argument goes that the fundamental teachings of Confucius place great importance on filial piety and submission to state authority. He said that in Asia leaders of opposition parties and dissidents were incarcerated under draconian laws and no effort was spared in the war against ‘subversive elements’ and the ‘enemies’ of the people. He said that that the Asian values’ argument and ‘we-are-not-yet-ready-for-democracy’ excuse as nothing more than a doctrine for the justification of authoritarian rule. “There are still governments that are founded on the perpetuation of power not by free and fair elections but from arbitrary succession from the father to the son, or from one military clique to another, or even from one power elite to the next. And there are those who appear to have all the characteristics of a liberal democracy in so far as their domestic governance is concerned but they continue to violate human rights with impunity.”

No wonder they wanted him out of the way. He tells it like it is, allegedly.


With the way the Singapore elections are set-up, it is not the success of the Tiger economy style of Asia (free markets, expensive politicians) nor the people's support for paternalistic and serf-like Confucian values which contribute to the ruling parties winning again. As Ibramin says, it is blasting opposition members into bankruptcy and jail, detaining rebels - who refuse to apologize to LKY - without trial for up to 23 years (Communist Party member Chia Thye Poh is the longest political detainee in the 20th century, longer than Nelson Mandela, longer possibly than the Man In The Iron Mask), last-minute gerrymandering, and the vote-stacking system of the GRC that so far have enshrined the dynasty of the Lee family.

Dynasty? The Great Man, Lee Kwan Yue and his son(!), Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong are Chairman and Deputy Chairman on the Board of Directors of the Government Investment Corporation (GIC) which runs Singapore's foreign reserves around the world (about US$330 billion), and Hsien Loong's wife(!) is a director of Temasek Holdings which handles investments primarily in Asia (about US$186 billion).

Dinner table conversation must be interesting.

"Have we fucked up any major investments lately, dad? What about you, honey?"


Enough. Apologies for the bad logic, grammar and typing. No time fix just yet.


** This paragraph amended.


Tim F said...

You can reconcile liberal democracy with Confucian submission to state authority, provided the people have the chance to choose who embodies that authority, and to throw them out if they're not doing a good job. There's a big difference between democracy and anarchy.

expat@large said...

Democracy and dictatorship?

Michael McClung said...

2 boo-boos in your explanation of the GRC system- 1, it can be 4, 5, or 6 member GRCs, but one of the first 4 must be of a minority race. 2, you don't vote on candidates individually at all in the GRC system. You order bento set A or bento set B, no substitutions, additions or deletions.

expat@large said...

MAJOR boo-boos! Comes from trusting Wikipedia and my memory of drunken conversations with "experts"...

Should I revise?? Thinks: yes.

expat@large said...

Actually I said "up to 6", and I mention the racial minorities, but wasn't explicit on the ratios.

The other bit - man what a fuck-up. And I don't mean just me, I mean the amazingly fucked Singapore electoral system!

Michael McClung said...

"Groups of up to six candidates from each party stand in the GRC in six individual electorates contained with the GRC."

Mmm, yeah, it was the second part of the sentence that was wonky.

HKMacs said...

Do you have your toothbrush packed at all times Mr E@L?

expat@large said...

Nothing in here that isn't somewhere else on Singapore political blogs, commentary and party sites.

But toothbrush on the ready...

Skippy-san said...

And this is the world our Galtian overlords over here in the Whining States of America wish for us. One party-and absolute acceptance of one ideology.

DanPloy said...

Why do you get your panties in a bunch over this.

Is it that the opposition parties are peace loving, corrupt free, alturistic intellectuals that could really help start to solve the world's problems?

Or, perchance, would it just be more of the same (or worse) but with different names and faces.

expat@large said...

Dan: just like the reds in BKK! LOL!

Unknown said...

Dear LKY and PAP, I don't know this guy,never met him, never stayed at his place, never had a beer nor a meal with him, those photos that say otherwise are probably Photoshop fakes.

knobby said...

I volunteered as a Polling Agent on election day, as you may know from my blog. Was puzzled about why there were so many polling stations with so many superfluous people manning them when the actual number of voters was so small. Someone's conspiracy theory the other day was that they have so many polling stations and a few voting booths within each station so that they can figure out how people voted at a street or even individual building level. Her least nefarious-sounding explanation for this was that the government would then know how to gerrymander the constituency boundaries next election. You already know some of the more nefarious-sounding explanation.

knobby said...

By the way, when you blamed the errors on conversations with drunken experts (see what I did there?), you meant 'expats' not 'experts', right? ;)

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