Unless Siti Nurhaliza is finally pregnant and that grab the headlines today, the big story today should be the Singapore Election results:
Singapore's ruling party loses multi-seat constituency
Sat May 7, 2011
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's long-ruling People's Action Party (PAP) suffered its first-ever loss of a multi-member constituency, handing the opposition Workers' Party five of the 87 elected seats in the city-state's parliament.
Singaporeans voted on Saturday in the Southeast Asian country's most hotly contested general election since independence. Although the long-ruling PAP has won the election with more than two-thirds of the seats, its share of the popular vote fell to around 60 percent.Something worth noting for us and UMNO/Barisan Nasional should realise this important phenomenal change:
At the last election in 2006, the PAP won about 67 percent of the vote and 82 of 84 seats.
The loss of the five-member Aljunied group representation constituency (GRC) means Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will have to appoint a new foreign minister to replace George Yeo, a member of the PAP team contesting the constituency.
Second Finance Minister Lim Hwee Hua is another member of the losing PAP team.
The Workers' Party team was led by secretary-general Low Thia Khiang and included top corporate lawyer Chen Show Mao, managing partner of the Beijing office of U.S. law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell who advised on many of China's multi-billion-dollar initial public offerings.
The PAP government introduced the GRC system in 1988 saying it needed to ensure minority candidates from the city-state's minority Malay and Indian communities were represented in parliament.
Opposition parties, however, contend the GRCs, are aimed at making it more difficult for them to win seats under Singapore's first-past-the-post electoral system.
The PAP has never lost a GRC since the system was introduced in a 1988 election.
For the current election, the city-state was divided into 15 GRCs of four to six seats each, and 12 single member constituencies.
Young voters speak their minds
Sunday, May 8th, 2011
A record 2.2 million Singaporeans cast their votes yesterday in the country's most-fiercely contested general election to date. Some used the ballot box to get their message across.
GENERAL elections have always been a great excuse for Jess to throw a party.
Friends, their spouses and children normally gather at her place to help themselves to a yummy home-cooked buffet dinner while watching the live telecast of election results.
It has always been a fun affair. But this time, Jess is not having her usual election party.
Two of her closest friends have refused to come. They are die-hard PAP supporters and annoyed that Jess and her husband are backing the opposition and being so open about it.
So, to save their two-decade long friendship, the couple decided to go to different election parties this time around.
“I want to let loose and shout each time the opposition wins. Over the past two weeks, our friend Xavier has been lecturing us all about the good things that PAP has done. It's getting a bit boring.
“It's like he is more PAP than even PAP. So just for today, I don't want to be around him,” Jess said yesterday after casting her vote.
This is the first time that Singapore is facing such a fiercely contested election.
There are 87 seats in parliament but the PAP won five seats uncontested in the Tanjung Pagar constituency even before polling day as the opponent party's candidates were 35 seconds late in handing in their nomination papers. This left 82 seats up for grabs. And this is the first time this many seats have been contested.
While voting is compulsory in Singapore, a number of people in their 30s and 40s have never voted before because there has always been a walkover in their constituency.
So, it is a first for them and they are understandably delighted to be at the polling centre to have their say.
“I am glad that my one vote counts finally,” said 39-year-old Lim, who voted in Bishan-Toa-Payoh. The constituency has not seen a contest since 1997.
Yesterday, a record 2.2 million Singaporeans cast their votes compared to only 1.2 million in the 2006 elections when 47 out of 84 seats were contested.
Because of their lack of “practice” in voting, there are postings on websites, Facebook, Twitter and even on TV telling and showing Singaporeans how to cast their vote.
Some can be amusing like the one posted by theonlinecitizen on Facebook.
“Please remember: You are suppose to put a CROSS X in the box next to the symbol or logo of the party you want to vote for. PLEASE do not put a tick or draw a picture or write anything in the box. Otherwise your vote may be discounted. PLEASE also do not spoil your vote....”
Khor, a businessman, flew back from Penang to cast his vote in Tampines. He is considered quite a “pro”, having voted in three previous elections.
“PAP has been doing well but there is a need for improvement here and there. The stakes are too high for us to change.
There are things I don't like about the PAP government, like them increasing the retirement age, not letting us take out all our Central Provident Fund savings and giving us only S$300 (RM726) a month which is pathetic.
“This has messed up many people's retirement plans. But better the devil you know than the devil you don't. My vote is for stability,” he said on his way to his polling centre.
Singapore is a model country. Despite its lack of natural resources, the country which emphasises excellence, meritocracy and competitiveness has been able to grow into the most-developed nation in the South-East Asian region in just a matter of 50 years.
It has grown by leaps and bounds and today, it is able hold its own among other Western developed countries.
But this has come with a price. Singapore is a tightly controlled country, where spraying grafitti and stealing road signs can get you jailed and caned for vandalism!
There is very little freedom of expression in Singapore and people are afraid of speaking their minds for fear they will be penalised.
Despite its impressive double-digit economic growth rate, Singapore ranks among the bottom (136 out of 178) in the World Press Freedom Index.
But as the world becomes more globalised and connected, young educated and IT savvy Singaporeans have become a bolder lot.
They won't accept “because-I-told-you-so” type of answers. They want logic, reasoning and for both sides to present and argue their case. And they have found a voice through social media on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other websites.
Young voters make up about 10% of the voters. And the ruling PAP can no longer afford to ignore their voice.
Even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has acknowledged how important it is to engage the young. Three days to polling day, he went on Facebook to “chat” with the country's youths.“Hi, I'm Lee Hsien LoongIn that hour-long chat, comments kept flowing in with some people saying how cool' it was to see their PM on Facebook and how they respect and salute him for what he is doing for the country.
Welcome to my webchat!
This is my first time doing this
So please don't flame me, I'm a newbie :-H)
I see many of you are interested in how we can engage youths more
Shall we start with this?
But others posted tough questions like asking him to justify the “sky-high” salaries of the Singapore ministers, the building of casinos, the high cost of goods and public (HDB) housing.
It isn't just the youths or young voters who have been griping. There has been a lot of rumblings on the ground which came to a boil during this election.
People are upset that the HDB public housing is no longer affordable, especially to first-time home buyers and singles and are unhappy that foreigners are pushing up their flat prices and rentals.
They complain about overcrowding in buses and the MRT and foreigners competing with Singaporeans for jobs and places at universities. They worry about healthcare, retirement, their CPF savings and say PAP leaders with their million dollar salaries have lost touch with the realities on the ground and become arrogant.
A number want to teach PAP a lesson or send them a message.
And it helped that the opposition has candidates of high calibre this time, such as corporate lawyer Chen Show Mao (Aljunied constituency), investment adviser Tan Jee Say (the former principal secretary to Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong), psychiatrist Dr Ang Yong Guan (both contesting in the Holland Bukit Timah constituency and top government scholars like Tony Tan and Hazel Poa (Choa Chu Kang).
Fred, a parent, claimed PAP has forgotten about Singaporeans.
“I pay taxes but have to send my kid to Australia to study because there are no more places at the university here.
“Then I see Singapore giving scholarships to foreign students to study at our universities. This is our taxpayers' money paying for the foreign students, so how do you think it makes me feel?” Fred asked.
Jess' husband, Samuel, is an engineer drawing S$10,000 (RM24,205) a month.
“Singapore ministers are the highest paid in the world, getting more than S$1mil (RM2.4mil) each a year.
“Our ministers are paid more than the US president (who gets US$400,000 which is RM968,220)! Does this mean that the job of our ministers is tougher than that of the president of a superpower? You can't blame us for having very high expectations on them to perform.” On Tuesday, after a feel of the rumblings and anger on the ground, the Prime Minister made an unprecedented apology to Singaporeans for all the shortcomings and promised to do better.
While some believed in his sincerity; others said it was a little too late and a desperate move to fish for votes.
Polling closed at 8pm last night, and even at midnight the first official results had yet to trickle in.
While each political party held its own get-together election results parties, some individuals like Jess prefer home parties with friends.
The New Paper Sports Bar opted to screen the election results instead of sports, a first for them.
But other Singaporeans aren't holding their breath.
“I'd rather watch football,” said Khor, holding his hands up in triumph.
Whatever the outcome and whatever the margins, Singapore's political landscape is changing.
Will this trend emanating from the youth continue to spread in Malaysia? If it does, this is a glimpse of what is coming.
Does the UMNO leadership realised this? At least, Prime Minister and UMNO President Najib is active and seriously pursuing this. Not quite sure for the rest.
Maybe there must be some serious consensus or policy making at Cabinet or party level on cyber engagement by Member of Parliaments and Cabinet members.
Does the warlords and power gatekeepers dominating their presence at and behind the positions at the divisional and branch level take heed? Many does not even keep abreast with current and political developments and even within their area.
Umno needs daring transformation: HishamSic ... 3 years and 3 months after March 8, 2008 General Election and facing an upcoming General Election, an UMNO Vice President is still talking of transformation?
BESUT: Umno needs to carry out a more daring and drastic political transformation to ensure that it remains relevant under the current political environment and accepted by the people, said party vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
He said that at the same time, Umno must also continue with the tradition of listening to the woes and demands of the people and to meet these demands.
"We are fortunate that, by meeting the demands of the people much earlier, we were able to avoid the situation occurring in other countries such as in the Middle East
"The opposition made their move prematurely. They staged street demonstrations much earlier, protesting against the ISA (Internal Security Act) and they intended to seize Putrajaya on Sept 16 (last year), but they were unsuccessful because we had implemented what the people desired," he told reporters after opening the Besut Umno divisional delegates meeting, here Saturday.
Also present were Besut Umno division head Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and a representative of the Terengganu Umno Liaison Body, Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh. Earlier in his opening speech, Hishammuddin, who is also the Home Minister, said Umno leaders and members must strive to strengthen the party's struggles and be prepared to face the opposition parties in the 13th general election.
He said this was appropriate as the parties in the opposition pact were now at loggerheads with each other.
He said that Umno should also not fear PAS, which was now divided and had lost in several recent by-elections.
"We are not afraid of PAS, they are now divided. This shows how brittle they are in facing the BN (Barisan Nasional) which is bold, sincere and honest in championing the cause of the people and country," he added. - Bernama
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