Tuesday, December 01, 2009

"Mixed" Reactions as defined by Channel News Asia

I don't know whether I want to cry or laugh after reading the following Channel News Asia article "Mixed reactions to PM's proposal of one-day cool-off before Polling Day" (By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 01 December 2009 1908 hrs).

Reading the article, it would appear the "mixed reactions" are defined as:

1. PAP MPs and ministers (Lim Boom Heng, Lee Hsien Loong and Teo Ser Luck) in agreement;
2. Opposition MPs (Sylvia Lim and Low Thia Khiang - both Workers Party) in disagreement; and
3. The lone "neutral" academic (Eugene Tan) guessing why the PAP might think this is a good idea, with no opinion of his own.

Apparently:

1. The opinions of ordinary Singaporeans do not matter. CNA either did not seek their opinions or considered them of too little importance to publish, even as a non-scientific poll.

2. Only the Workers Party represent the Opposition in Singapore. No mention of whether the other opposition MP, Chiam See Tong had anything to say or declined the interview. No mention of what the other political parties think. I guess the others are only there to help reinforce the idea that Singapore cannot possibly be repressive if there are "so many" opposition parties. Never mind what they think or feel about issues.

Finally, it appears CNA will happily quote MPs and ministers without even noting apparent contradictions. Here's what Lim Boon Heng said:

Choosing your representative in Parliament is a serious matter. So I think it is a good idea to allow people to reflect what has been said during the campaign period and then to make a considered decision on how they would vote on Polling Day.

And then Teo Ser Luck seems to happily suggest something completely different:

"Mr Low could be reading too deep into such an action. I think cooling-off could be good, whether for the opposition or the main party to consolidate and take a breather and to review their positioning.

"I don't believe it would have that great an impact on anyone. It would give people some time to consider but, as I say, some of them would have decided before the nine days of campaigning begin.

"And a lot of Singaporeans would almost look at the whole GE as uneventful, as their life would go on as per normal. But for another segment of the society, it would impact. But I wouldn't look at it as the majority."

So, we are now told the election is serious yet uneventful ... ow ... my brain hurts.

By the way, it is rather telling, what Teo Ser Luck said. What is the point of "allowing the political parties time to consolidate, take a breather and review their positions" during the "cooloff" period when they cannot influence the electorate from then on other than through "Party Political Broadcasts" and "News reports"? Well, it is not too much of a stretch to say the PAP enjoys a *massive* advantage where broadcast and news access is concerned. You can be sure they will make full use of this access too ... after all, the PAP has never shied from taking advantage of gross imbalances in the political playing field.

To the Opposition, some advice - please stop playing the "this is unfair" card. I am fairly sure a good number of Singaporeans know that at some level. Stop wasting your energy crying foul and start convincing us that you can form a reasonable government capable of tackling the issues facing this nation without resorting to the out-of-touch policies of the PAP. I cannot speak for others, all I want from you are signs you will have at least an inkling of an idea of what to do if voted into power (not just to deny the PAP a 2/3 majority). I want to know how you will run the government, what your policies will be. And yes, I get very annoyed when all you do is cry foul or tell us to vote opposition just because there is no opposition and that you "support democracy". I know that, I do not need to be reminded.

9 comments:

Ghost said...

Actually they are right about the mixed reactions. It's mixed because no one knows what to make of the idea. It's so unnecessary that I can't see how it would benefit anyone, including the PAP.

Terence said...

Don't you think the headline is ridiculous? Every policy under the sun will have mixed reactions. How uncreative of CNA. haha.

Gerald Giam said...

"I don't believe it would have that great an impact on anyone"

If it ain't gonna affect anyone, then why the heck are they doing it?

Chee Wai Lee said...

Ghost - Heh, usually "mixed" implies a 50-50 or some unexpectedly even response to an issue. In that article, "mixed" meant "there were different opinions, divided into their natural expected responses". It is like saying "Oh, there are mixed reactions to a proposal where A gets screwed and B gets a bonanza. A hates it, B loves it. Tada! Mixed!"

Terence - exactly!

Gerald - good catch! Either LHL is as dumb as he looks or this is a deliberate red herring and we're all falling for it ... would have been really funny if Mr Low Thia Khiang dismissed the idea as "dumb, silly and useless" and announce that he will vote by tossing a coin, hehehe.

Thanks for all your comments guys :)

Tan Ah Kow said...

Chee Wai,

As you have rightly noted that:

The opinions of ordinary Singaporeans do not matter. CNA either did not seek their opinions or considered them of too little importance to publish, even as a non-scientific poll.

But, if "ordinary" Singapore's opinion were solicited, what SHOULD -- not would -- they be saying?

Should they be playing the "this is unfair" card?

If the "ordinary" Singaporean says the situation is unfair, then would you be giving this piece of advice to them: "So what are you going to do about it?"

To the Opposition, some advice - please stop playing the "this is unfair" card. I am fairly sure a good number of Singaporeans know that at some level. Stop wasting your energy crying foul and start convincing us that you can form a reasonable government capable of tackling the issues facing this nation without resorting to the out-of-touch policies of the PAP.

I think, before you start dispensing advice to the "opposition", I think it is worthwhile examining what you -- personally and the Electorate -- should be doing, should it not?

After all, the "oppositions" are people drawn from the ranks of the population to offer a "service" to you (me and the electorate). Don't forget these "oppositions" put their necks out for you (me and the electorate) to have a chance to speak (and possibly, government) on your behalf. Mind you the "oppositions" are doing it for free, unlike, ahem, the incumbent party!

If the electorate (you, me and others) feel that the situation is unfair, should it not be up to us to do something about it rather than just expect ST to "seek" our opinion or just sit back "giving" advice?

Chee Wai Lee said...

Tan Ah Kow -

It would be interesting to know what ordinary Singaporeans are thinking, wouldn't it? I have less interest in knowing what they "should" say than the opinion of individuals out there. I suspect the opinion might actually turn out to be mixed (just not the "mixed" as defined by CNA), but at this point, it is anyone's guess.

And if a scientific poll were to be conducted with a significant verdict of "unfair", then perhaps the policy makers should pay attention to that, as with most democracies. It is only after the policy makers ignore such a poll would it be appropriate to start asking "So, what are we gonna do about it?". In Singapore, the whole point is moot because no such poll is going to be conducted.

I am sorry, but the overall gist of your comment reminds me of a certain Goh Chok Tong telling a certain Catherine Lim to go join politics if she wanted to express her opinions about Singapore politics, issues and society. If I read them correctly, all your questions are rhetorical. I may be wrong, but the way I see it, your take on the matter is as extreme as the PAP's. That is, either we keep our mouths shut or take action. I do not subscribe to that. To me, individual members of society can and should be able to express their opinions about issues publicly, whether or not they want to somehow take action. That is the basic foundation of a democratic society on which people can then choose to pursue deeper levels of political engagement.

As far as I am concerned, members of the opposition can choose to ignore my advice (if they even read it). They just have to face the possible consequence of my not voting for them (unlikely, since my MP is Low Thia Khiang and I still like him :) ).

Tan Ah Kow said...

Wai Lee,

It would be interesting to know what ordinary Singaporeans are thinking, wouldn't it? I have less interest in knowing what they "should" say than the opinion of individuals out there. I suspect the opinion might actually turn out to be mixed (just not the "mixed" as defined by CNA), but at this point, it is anyone's guess.

As you noted in your article, and I quote here:

"To the Opposition, some advice - please stop playing the "this is unfair" card. I am fairly sure a good number of Singaporeans know that at some level. Stop wasting your energy crying foul and start convincing us that you can form a reasonable government capable of tackling the issues facing this nation without resorting to the out-of-touch policies of the PAP".

Your contention that opposition wasting time talking about things that, as you put it, sure a good number of Singaporeans know that at some level to be unfair. If it was the case what was the value of such a poll? What purpose would it serve by telling people what they already know is true?

Now if the "oppositions" are not doing the job, the question is why don't the people do something about it! After knowledge is power. Take the example of Hong Kong, when the security act was passed, and people were unhappy about it, they rose up and do something about it!

Of course as you put it, you can't really tell and the opinions could then genuinely be mixed or go the other way. Now as you put it:

And if a scientific poll were to be conducted with a significant verdict of "unfair", then perhaps the policy makers should pay attention to that, as with most democracies. It is only after the policy makers ignore such a poll would it be appropriate to start asking "So, what are we gonna do about it?".

Now let's say a "scientific" poll somehow revealed the electorate thought cooling off period is a fantastic idea, what would such a result be telling us?

(a) That the people have been brainwashed to the point that whatever the PAP say people are happy?

(b) That the people genuinely like the ideal?

If it is the case of (a) then should the "oppositions" not play "the unfair card"?

If it is the case of (b) then yeah the "oppositions" should stop playing the old record and move on. But as you noted:

In Singapore, the whole point is moot because no such poll is going to be conducted.

In which case, when the oppositions' views were solicited, scenario (b) was not known to them. So if they erred on the side of scenario (a), given the absence of (b), can you genuinely say they they are playing the "unfair card"?

Then if the electorate already feel that the cooling off period is a deploy to hobble the "opposition" then should the electorate not be more actively seeking out the views of the "oppositions"? Must they wait for the policy makers to not do something about it? After all, the fact that these so-called policy makers don't seemed willing to conduct such a poll is already telling, does it? What more evidence is needed for action, if the electorate are so inclined to go with the "ploy to hobble"?

No need to be dramatic in their actions, just start a simple online campaign to ask awkward questions from the "opposition" instead of just waiting or start meet-the-session forums inviting the PAP and "oppositions" to give their views, by-pass the main stream media.

Tan Ah Kow said...

Wai Lee,

My Comment was broken into to two parts because of the size restriction. Only the first was posted but the second part could not be posted. It kept rejecting.

I'll post it or email you if you prefer the comment in full.

Chee Wai Lee said...

Tan Ah Kow,

I do apologize for not responding to your comment in a timely fashion. I was away, fell sick and then had to deal with some personal crisis over the past 2 weeks.

I welcome an email with your full comments. Please send it to cheewai1972@gmail.com. Allow me the luxury of some time to read and digest the contents before responding as my life is in a state of some serious flux now.