Thursday, 16 April 2009 Singapore Democrats
Several weeks ago, we published a piece entitled Misconceptions about the Singapore Democrats where we briefly highlighted five areas where Singaporeans often misconceive what we say or do especially because the PAP media refuses to report the truth about the SDP. In this series of articles, we discuss these misconceptions in greater depth starting with this one: The Singapore Democrats are not interested in parliamentary elections.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We are democrats and democrats believe that elections – genuinely free and fair elections – are the only legitimate way citizens win power to become rulers. We have taken part in every election in the past and will continue do so in the future.
The problem is that elections are not free and fair in Singapore. The entire process is controlled and run by the PAP under the guise of the Prime Minister’s Office. There are many things wrong with the electoral process:
- Redrawn constituencies are not announced until the last minute.
- The GRC system makes it much harder for campaigning.
- Ballot papers are numbered.
- The campaign period lasts for only nine days.
- There is no independent election commission to check the abuses of the PAP such as buying votes through issuing of shares and threatening voters through HDB upgrading. The prime minister in a rare moment of honesty admitted that he needs to “fix” the opposition and “buy” votes.
All this does not even include the fact that the entire media is in the hands of the PAP making it near impossible for voters to read and hear the alternative views.
Then there is the ever looming threat of the ISD and lawsuits which terrify the people so much so that opposition parties find it extremely difficult to recruit members, much less get them to stand as candidates.
The truth is that, under such circumstances, it is impossible for the opposition to make any meaningful inroads into Parliament. But the PAP wants Singaporeans to continue to believe that it is possible for the opposition to win elections under a system that it controls so that we will continue to play the game under its rules – and lose every time.
Now we even learn that the Government intends to turn to electronic voting machines which are notoriously prone to tampering. Without an independent audit of the computers, can we ever trust the results under such circumstances?
So what should the opposition do? We have a choice: (a) boycott the elections or (b) take part in it. Option (a) is not feasible unless all the opposition parties agree to the boycott and then strategically work to force a reform of the electoral system.
Given the present state of affairs, we are left with only option (b). But even as we participate in the elections, we will not stop there. We will use the opportunity during elections to educate Singaporeans and raise awareness of the need for reform.
This is because reform is a long-term endeavour and cannot be brought about simply by taking part in the PAP-controlled elections. This is the reality that Singaporeans must be aware of.
One day when elections are truly free and fair, we are confident that we will win the elections. Until then, we have to keep fighting on all fronts, elections or otherwise.
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