35.19% of Singaporeans voted maturely

From ‘Election reflected our maturity’, 29 Aug 2011, Voices, Today

(Sonny Yuen): Finally, we have a new Elected President after nine days of hustings; weeks, if we consider the excitement about who is qualified to be one. My heartiest congratulations to Dr Tony Tan. Allow me, as a newly-minted citizen but long-time resident, to make some observations.

Firstly, from the results, it is quite conclusive that Singaporeans, despite the political angst, are a mature lot. They are able to distinguish between mere rhetoric and the quality of each candidate; they based their judgment on substance. As such, the Government should breathe easy and not worry too much about a freak result. Singaporeans have proven time and again that they can think for themselves and for their future.

…After yesterday’s results, we have a President with 35.19 per cent of the electorate’s votes. I am sure that President-elect Tony Tan will do a good job in unifying the nation and representing Singapore well. Such is his character and personality, we can expect no less.

However, we should reconsider the first-past-the-post voting system. Instead, if none of the candidates has at least half of the votes, the top two candidates should face a run-off. The winner of this second round of polling should be then declared the Elected President, one with a clear mandate as well as the moral authority.

The same praise of being ‘politically mature‘ was heaped on Singaporeans opting for the status quo after the results of the GE just a few months ago, from what can safely assumed to be a PAP supporter. I wouldn’t go so far to say society has ‘matured’ because that would imply that, ON THE WHOLE, we have made a wise decision when this is far from the case, as Tony Tan’s slippery-thin victory margin has shown. A heightened ‘awareness’ in political matters doesn’t imply ‘maturity’, especially when this sudden interest is fueled by gossip, scandal and a slurry of  one bad joke after another.  The writer would probably think twice if he had seen the kind of vicious, irresponsible comments spilling out of Facebook posts and anonymous emails targeting all four Tans during the hustings. There’s a limit to how much parody one can tolerate before the whole PE becomes a Cirque de Soleil of media-whoring, remembered more for spectacle and goofy high-fives riding on an ebbing wave of Tin Pei Ling/ Nicole Seah fanfare from the last GE, than what the president elect will actually be doing in office for the next 6 years.

Just because nobody sprayed graffitti on the Istana walls or threw  pies in the candidates’ faces during their walk-abouts doesn’t mean that the electorate cast their vote sensibly after a period of deep, quiet contemplation on Cooling-off day. With Singaporeans still uncertain of what a President can or cannot do, no thanks  to the confusion tossed about by the candidates themselves, explaining the apathy or utter cluelessness behind the 30,000 odd rejected votes,   it’s a bit premature in my opinion to conclude that we have arrived politically, when  there are people who make decisions based not on the candidates’ abilities, but rather on how their respective wives pull off the ‘First Lady’ look. Or people who draw funny faces on their ballot cards just to make a statement of some sort.

Furthermore, it’s possible that Tan Cheng Bock’s close call could have been a result not of voters who thought TCB was truly worthy of the presidency, but voters who would rather have him INSTEAD of hot favourite Tony Tan, meaning the ‘neck-and-neck’ race was in fact an artifact. So narrowing the race down to a two-horse sudden death play-off does not necessarily eliminate the possibility that there were in fact Tan Kin Lian or Tan Jee Say supporters ‘spoiling’ their votes on the ‘lesser of two evils’. One can argue, then, whether such strategic voting is an act of ‘maturity’, or simply people toying with probability i.e betting on a ‘second-best’ outcome to minimise their ‘losses’,  which exposes the problem of ‘too many presidents spoiling the vote’.  But perhaps I’ve said too much when it’s all too little, too late. Congratulations to TT and family for having the last laugh despite being smeared to no end, and all candidates for fighting to a TAN-talising finish. And SR Nathan must be breathing a sigh of relief that he was never subject to the kind of scrutiny and pressure that Tony Tan will be facing for the rest of his term.

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One Response

  1. The simple fact remains, if it was a two way contest, even a donkey would have won against TT. So this is a a most humiliating and shallow victory for TT, he certainly cannot claim to be the people’s President.

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