Random Drivel from your Average Tosser

...with your host, Binty McShae - whether you like it or not!

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Further to yesterday I am going to expand on one of the three South East Asian political situations, in this case that of the looming Singapore General Election and the recent giveaway budget, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is adamant is not intended to bribe voters.

The budget, PM Lee says, is not "merely for the purpose of distributing hong baos to get votes" (hong baos are those little red envelopes stuffed with cash and given out at Lunar New Year and other events). Instead the public windfall is in the hope "that the Government wins not just the next election, but also the mandate to govern over successive terms". Like they have done since, ohh... 1965.

Yes, that's right. After the Brits pulled out there was a short and ill-tempered dalliance as a state of Malaya (which is where modern Malaysia gets the SI in its name from) before the rogue island was booted out and forced to find its own feet through, err, a democratic process.

To understand a little more about Singapore elections you may want to wade through this document. But I don't blame you if you steer clear... it is not the easiest to understand. To summarise, the bottom line, the one apparent aim of the election, is to make sure that the Peoples Action Party (PAP) get re-elected. Which, it seems, is never a problem. "Why?" I hear you cry...

Maybe it's the blatant bias of the mainstream press who do not question the government. But then the same could be said in the US for Fox News. Maybe its the bizarre ruling that means that the district boundaries are reset before each election - effectively gerrymandering like the Brits did in Ireland years ago. Maybe its the fact that in 2 of the last 3 elections Parliament was dissolved, the boundaries set and the election held all within 20 days, giving the relatively small and poorly funded opposition party no time whatsoever to prepare.

Or maybe its the fact that Singaporeans don't really give a flying fuck. In the classic "I'm alright, Jack" mode that saw Thatcher get re-elected year after year by folk only concerned about their own pockets and not the country at large Singaporeans tend to stick with more of the same. Okay, so the previously mentioned press influence helps here - never has the term 'sheeple' seemed more appropriate - but by and large the average Joe just isn't interested in politics.

Let's try to be fair - in a lot of ways the PAP are beneficial to their country, a nation that has had a huge economic turnaround in its 40 independent years and has pushed headlong into the 'first world'. But why the pretence of being democratic? The aforementioned article describes Singapore as 'soft authoritarianism'. People I know who have lived there awhile describe it as a 'benevolent dictatorship'. But however you put it you can't tell me that the people, as apathetic as they are, actually have a choice. So maybe PM Lee is telling the truth after all... I mean, let's face it - you don't need to use the budget to bribe people to vote for you in an election you can't lose anyway, do you!

Oh, and one final note... the guy who guided Singapore from British rule through the Malayan debacle and into a prosperous independent, ahem, 'democracy' was the first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew... pictured at the top with his son, current PM Lee Hsien Loong. Nepotism, the game the whole family can enjoy...

Cheers m'dears!

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At Thursday, March 02, 2006 10:19:00 pm, Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

This is very intresting,Binty. Aristotle thought a benevolent dictatorship a good thing. Of course the operative word is "benevolent". When it comes down to it I don't feel I have much choice in our government. I'm still waiting for my hong bao from Bush.

At Thursday, March 02, 2006 11:08:00 pm, Blogger Larry Teabag said...

Of course the operative word is Of course the operative word is "benevolent"..

Indeed. Singapore has mandatory death sentences for minor drugs offences.

I wouldn't call that "benevolent", I'd call it "barbaric".

At Thursday, March 02, 2006 11:25:00 pm, Blogger Binty McShae said...

More than that, larry... unlike any other crime in Singapore if its a drug offence you are guilty until proven innocent!


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