Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Opposition - the 3 corner trap...

In the most closely fought election ever in the US, liberals blame independent candidate Ralph Nader for shaving off a roughly 1% of the votes from Al Gore resulting in a win by George Bush and the subsequent 8 years of pain and mismanagement US and the world had to go through.
Our opposition is not the Democractic Party and their candidates are not expected to win most of the time. However, 4 years of rising unhappiness with the PAP tells us they will have a chance to increase their representation in parliament. Hopefully, the PAP threatened with a loss of support wakes up, do some soul searching and start to do what is right for the people. If not, they face even a tougher time in the election after the next. The problem with this optimsitic scenario is our opposition consists of many small parties and run the risk of a disorganised dis-coordinated campaign and the greatest fear among opposition supporters is the emergence of many 3 corner contests all over the election map.
When opposition parties contest each other, the PAP candidate definitely win even in places where most people oppose the PAP. At the end of the day, the opposition and their supporters will be losers. Some people argue that it should be "the more the merrier" why limit the choice of voters. We have a winner-take-all system (vs a proportional representation system) and the PAP offers only one candidate for each seat so the notion of giving more than 1 opposition candidate to voters does not make sense because it is not a real choice - they choose but do not get what they want in terms of representation because of the winner take all system. This artifact in our system means the opposition needs coordinate among themselves so that system can work properly and deliver the "correct" results. Given the ideological similarities and close clustering among opposition parties relative that of the PAP, the process to avoid 3- and 4- corner fight is an essential phase of the election preparation that has to be done successfully to avoid the outcome of PAP winning seats where it does not have majority support. I don't see this just as something the opposition need to do to help themselves but something that has to be done for our democracy to work properly.

Unfortunately there is no formal process in place to do this. Our opposition parties organise negotiation sessions and in principle agree to avoid such 3-corner fights. In the past when there was limited resources and candidates, there were plenty of uncontested constituencies for opposition parties to choose from to avoid contesting against each other and wasting limited resources. Ironically, thanks (or rather no thanks) to rising unpopularity of the PAP, the number of people joining the opposition has swelled. The opposition now collectively has more than enough resources and candidates to contest every single seat. Now each party has to take painful cuts to avoid 3 corner fights. Ideally a systematic process that everyone can agree on and trust is in place e.g. selection panel, objective criteria, quota, draw lots etc. There is none ...worse still, there is a tendency for multiple parties to want to contest in places where the PAP candidates are believed to be unpopular e.g. Radin Mas (?) - they end up handing over the seat to the weak candidate.
Negotiations appear not to have gone on too well. A few parties have gone on to play hard ball by simply staking their claim (and determination) to run at certain SMCs and GRCs knowing that other parties are also interested in the area. Unfortunately our election laws don't allow for joint teams spanning across parties for GRC contest that would have allowed opposition parties to combine forces. It will be a bad start to this election for opposition supporters if there are many 3-corner fights declared on nomination day - the wind has been blowing favorably for the opposition and it will be a great waste of opportunity if these issues cannot be resolved ahead of the election.
A few people I spoke to feel that the opposition is better off drawing lots to resolve this than to go into a 3-corner fight. If the candidates are more or less equally qualified and are headed for a sure-lose 3 corner fight and all negotiations have failed - what is left in terms of process is to pick a stick or toss a dice....and you're still better off than a getting involved in a 3-corner fight.


The Arthurian said...

I just want to say that I do enjoy reading your posts. In this post, the "3-corner" metaphor is excellent.

Anonymous said...

It's such a pity of the opposition parties can't get together. There needs to be someone whom everyone trust and respect to broker the deals. Surely there can be some kind of exchange. I give up this GRC, you give up that GRC. I'm sure PAP is just laughing all the way at all this. I would hate to have the opposition parties lose because of this!!!

Anonymous said...

When we have a matured democracy, where more than 1 party has the potential of forming the next govt, then multi-cornered contest is welcome.

In our current state, any multi-cornered fight will just hand over the wards to the PAP candidates.

If 1 opposition party contest my ward, they will get my vote. If more than 1 opposition party come to contest in my ward, I will SPOIL my vote.

Singaporeans in general want to see straight fights between the PAP and the opposition parties. They should heed our calls and prevent any multi-cornered fight, not just lipped service.

As much as I want to see more opposition members elected (not NCMP) to parliament, I will not hesitate to spoil my vote in a multi-conered fight. Why should I vote for them if even before getting elected, they are not listening to our pleas, just like the PAP ?

Anonymous said...

I think the PAP knows the opposition and the voters very well.

If I were the PAP, I will not be worried at all, despite all the so called "unpopular things" the PAP did since the last election.

To quote Sun Tze, the ancient Chinese military strategist.

"Know yourself. Know your enemies. 100 battles, 100 victories"

It is still very valid thousands of years later and outside of China.

If only the opposition can learn from this.

crescit said...

Anon 08:39:

Don't you think spoiling your vote further plays into PAP's hands?

I agree with you that with our current state of 'faux democracy', going into a 3 cornered fight is political suicide for the opposition parties. But I guess each opposition party goes in with best intentions, however seemingly unwise they may be.

But let's look at the bigger picture and think: if we want to change the 'current state', the only way is to put sufficient real opposition MPs into parliament (not the NCMP type as you say). And spoiling your valuable vote brings neither opposition MP nearer to that goal.

At least vote for the 'stronger' opposition party ie. the one you think will get more votes of the two. That way at least there's a chance to break the hegemony. Let's make the best of non-ideal situation and not make it worse by spoiling the vote.

Anonymous said...

Many oppositions are just sleeper cell or moles under the payroll of PAP.

We have to open our eyes big. We need to be suspicious of people like Tony, Chiam See Tong...etc.

The only true opposition that has presence in SG is Chee Soon Juan.

But I really curious to see how much PAP want to screw us. Until then, we will see a Lenin or Mao rise among the people.

Alan Wong said...

I think that those opposition candidates who insist that certain constituency belong to their 'territory' on the grounds that they have been working their grounds up there are basically 'opportunists' hoping to strike the lottery.

If your are that good a candidate, any constituency would be just as good a battlefield ?

Good luck to you and hope you will try harder at the next, next election to strike your lottery.

Anonymous said...

I am all for 3-4-5-6 corners fight! Here's why...

The way I see it, even though the tide seems to go against PAP, I only see them losing votes and not losing any seats, i.e, PAP is still going to win 84-85 seats but vote wise could be around 60%.

Having said that, whether it's 3 corners fight, it doesn't matter, opposition is not going to win.

I therefore think this election is to test out the strength of the oppositions, let them fight it out. let some of them lose their deposits, so in future elections we'll left with the stronger oppo to contest and the lesser ones will stay away.

Anonymous said...

"The way I see it, even though the tide seems to go against PAP, I only see them losing votes and not losing any seats, i.e, PAP is still going to win 84-85 seats but vote wise could be around 60%."
Anon 22/3/11 09:50

Although this will disappoint many, I think your prediction is quite realistic and most likely also very accurate.

Anonymous said...

If this opposition mess continues, I will not be surprised if PAP managed a 87:0 clean sweep in this election. Obviously, these motley crew bunch of so called opposition leaders need a painful lesson on unity.

Anonymous said...


the Fact that’s bare and clear for all to see is that
Singaporeans Alternative Political Parties are splitted.
The more Alternative Parties, the more fragmented they

The important fact is that Singaporeans as a whole is a fragmented lot, be it due to the divide and
conquer tactics used/use by the Current Regime or an innate
nature of Singaporeans does not matter. The Damn Fact is Singaporeans are divided and fragmented. The Multi-racial and Multi-culture make of the populace make it harder for the
people to gel or co-operate.

As an aside, me will go as far as to say even Singaporean Netizens are fragmented in taking political position and or
political ideology. Has any Socio-political blogger able to
have a large following with latency to influence local
political movement?

And if anyone thinks WP will be a potent Alternative Party
able to replace the Current Regime or even just to be a
leading Alternative Political Party, we will be able to know
the potential of It soon.


Anonymous said...

I feel it in my bones that 3-cornered fights is instigated by pap moles in the midst of the opposition camps. We know very well that the 'scholar couple' are moles and they have influenced a group to desert the RF in a most spectacular way. This sabotage was due to the fear of the ruling party of the strength and influence of the RF (and the SDP). LKY himself has publicly voiced this. This is their way of signaling to their moles in the opposition camp. I would bet my bottom dollar that the scholar couple would be creating more havoc within the opposition when polling day draws near and when the GE date is set. Just take note of this prediction. It would be to the real opposition's interest to silence the moles before they start to do even more damage.

Anonymous said...

We were told a few PAP candidates are below their 40s. I below the ruling party is trying more ways to get younger people into politics and using them to get access to the youngsters nowadays. However, isn't the govt. forgetting about the lower educated in our country. They also needs a voice. Most of these young MPs are likely to be highly educated and English speaking. Who is going to represent the illerate in our society?

Anonymous said...

I can safely bet that somewhere in
a dark,quiet and secluded corner of
Singapore lies a PAP electoral WAR
ROOM. It has had already mapped out
the strategies on the winiest
possibilities of their candidates. Their method may even has a hint of
science.So wake up my fair-minded
opposition parties, have a gathering
of minds and create an intelligent
well thought out strategy.
Have your own WAR ROOM!

Anonymous said...

"Have your own WAR ROOM!"
Anon 22/3/11 11:07

Besides war room, the opposition also badly needs a mentor. Not necessarily 87 years old but at least to be feared and respected so as to create unity.

If not, and somemore if also not enough money, very difficult to win lah.

Anonymous said...

If Voters are willing and wanting to have change in the make-up of the Cabinet. They have an opportunity in the Coming Election as It will be comprehensively contested by Alternative Parties.


Will Singaporeans do it? Yes with their mouths!

Anonymous said...

unfortunately we use the us way of election not europe or swiss way of election. but the worst is the opposition cannot agree to avoid 3 or 4 corner trap. the pigs know very well that the opposition cannot agree and use that to full advantage. the people are always the ones who suffered. only option is to leave this country.

Anonymous said...

"...the people are always the ones who suffered."
Anon 22/3/11 13:47

As long as those who suffer are not the majority.

You may not have 100% but if only 66% of those eligible to vote are doing well and happy, it is very good already.

If elections is an exam, it means a score of 98 out of 100 marks! Distinction!

PMG said...

You know the elephant in the room is that the PAP gets at least 50% of the votes. Otherwise the opposition wouldn't really have to worry about splitting the votes.

Anonymous said...

Mr Lucky

1. Your buddy Mr Au says 3 corner fight good and vote PAP.

2. The liberals in US no longer pretends that Al Gore or Obama is one of them. In fact, its Jimmy "ahead of his time" Carter.

3. The opposition now collectively *STILL DO NOT HAVE* enough resources and candidates to contest every single seat.

Btw, isn't it time you make some sort of a stand ... like endorsing opposition candidates or making a donation?

Do you still believe reality have a liberal bias?

Anonymous said...

Take a situation of a 3-corner fight where the votes go this way:

PAP = 40%
Opp A = 30%
Opp B = 30%

Result is a PAP win. However it is clear as sky PAP does not have a mandate. Of course the thick-skinned PAP would not care hahaha.

Vincent said...

“In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of.
In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.”
- by Confucius

Analysis - Opposition and electorate
Opposition parties should be aware of their strengths and limitations, the strength of the ruling party and also the needs and aspiration of the voters.

Aspiration of Electorate

From the last election results, there is an indication that as much as the voters would want more opposition candidates to win, they do not want a change of government. They understand that a sudden change of government will create political instability and there will be a negative effect on the economy.

Moreover, the opposition parties appear disunited, even before the election. It is unlikely that they can unite after the election. A disunited government cannot perform well having to spend a lot of time to overcome their differences and conflict.

In order for the opposition parties to serve the electorate well, they must show that they are sensitive to their needs.

Their election strategy must reflect their understanding of the needs of the electorate. Below are 3 strategies.
Strategy B would be the one supported by the electorate.
It will be a good thing to conduct a survey to find out the preference of the majority of the voters.

Strategy A
This is straightforward. The opposition parties should contest in the 12 Single Member Constituency (SMC) wards. Increasing from our present 2 opposition members to 12 is an increase of 600%. When there is a 3-corner contest, there is some complication. Since Worker’s Party has the highest % of votes during the last election, it goes to show that people may vote for this party first, Singapore Democratic Alliance second, Singapore Democratic Party third. For other parties, we will have to look at how strong the individual candidate is. For this, I will have to update after Nomination Day.
Voters can actually force opposition to form only one party. The strongest opposition party is the Workers’ Party. So, each time there is a corner fight, they can all vote for the Workers’ Party forcing the third party to lose its deposit. The Workers’ Party MP has more than 10 years of looking after the constituency. He is a good mentor for all future opposition MPs .

Strategy B
Make use of the by-election strategy and contest less than half the number of seats.
The aim is to stop the ruling party from winning a two- third majority.
(to continue in next posting)

Vincent said...

Analysis - Opposition and electorate

Results of last election
PAP 66.60%
Workers’ Party 16.34%
Singapore Democratic Alliance 12.99%
Singapore Democratic Party 4.07%

In the last election, the opposition won 33.4% of the votes. This is more than one third. One third of the total 84 seats in the last election is28. But, the opposition won only 2 seats. By simple Math, the system seems imperfect. However, the system can be worked around.

According to the by-elections strategy, the target number of seats to contest in this election is 43, giving PAP 44 seats via walkover on Nomination Day. Since the electorate has no fear of change of government, they will feel safe to vote for the opposition to put pressure on the ruling party to perform even better.

Based on last election’s results
Workers’ Party 16.34% of 87 seats 14 seats
Singapore Democratic Alliance 12.99% of 87 seats 11 seats
Singapore Democratic Party 4.07% of 87 seats 3.5 (4 )seats
Total 33.4% of 87 seats 29 seats

So, there is an extra (43 – 29) 14 seats.
Workers’ Party should contest (14 ÷ 29 x 14) 6.7 seats ( 7 )
Singapore Democratic Alliance (11 ÷ 29 x 14 ) 5.3 seats ( 5 )
Singapore Democratic Party ( 3.5 ÷ 29 x 14 ) 1.6 seats ( 2 )

Hence, the suggested total number of seats to be contested is as follows:
Workers’ Party 21 seats
Singapore Democratic Alliance 16 seats
Singapore Democratic Party 6 seats
Total 43 seats
By following Plan B, the opposition can win 30 seats depriving the ruling party a two-third majority.
Increasing from 2 to 30 seats is an increase of 1500%. This is a fantastic achievement in the history of Singapore General Election.

The figures above only serve as a guide for opposition parties to refer to during their discussion. The figures need to be updated as more data is received.

Strategy C
This is to contest in 50% or more than 50% of the seats.
In the last election held on 6 May 2006, the opposition contested in 47 out of 84 seats. One very important reason why the opposition won only 2 seats is the fear of change of government. Voters are smart. Voting is an investment and not a gamble.
Based on last election results, by following Plan C, the opposition may win 2 and even less seats.

Anonymous said...

however disarrayed the oppositions are, a less than 50% of popular vote will create trembles down the spine of PAP even if they managed to form the next government.

Vincent said...

PAP is good but with opposition it becomes excellent.
PAP government scores 80%. Spurred by the opposition, it will score 90%.
Parliamentary debate is for show like a wayang without the opposition. Boredom can be seen in the sleepy faces of many PAP MPs.
When an opposition speaks, MPs are more alert. They wake up. This is human nature.

The PAP did have a very strong opposition at one time. One PAP MP was taken from the hospital to cast her vote to get the two-third majority for the party.

Do we need the same incident to happen again to make the PAP perform better?

Anonymous said...

Off all the 5 MPs who are going to retire, only Chan Soo Sen is a more familiar face. What had the rest of the 4 been doing for the people or the society all this while?

Anonymous said...

I wrote some time back that the introduction of more SMC was a PAP ploy to dilute the number of candidates so that GRC will not have serious competition like Eunos and to create chaos amonsgt opposition. They were spot on.

Anonymous said...

The opposition should just spread their candidates across every constituency. We need to fill up just 2/3 of parliament with opposition candidates to take back Singapore for Singaporeans.

What happens when PAP loses majority control? Rest assured the other 33.3% of PAP dogs and scums will flee very very quickly -- they can only behave so cocky, arrogant and tough and talk down to Singaporeans when PAP is in FULL control of the government, the army, the jiak liao bee poodles, the kangaroo courts...so they can demolish opponents they can't beat.

Anonymous said...

The Alternative Parties can be contesting every constituency.

BUT, if the 'fearful' voters have no ball to vote for them, it will still be pointless and futile.

If Singaporeans are sincere in wanting a change, there is this last once in a lifetime chance to do it. VOTE THE ALTERNATIVE PARTIES WHEREVER THEY ARE REPRESENTED.

There shall be no instability or upheaval socially as Singaporeans have always being able to conduct themselves well and sensibly.

Do not say we do not have the opportunity IF WE GIVE IT UP.


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Anonymous said...

Why should we berate the Opposition parties to unite, avoid 3 corner fights in order to fight the PAP? The reason why there are different opposition parties in the first place is because they have different ideologies and visions for society, and therefore choose a vehicle that can best help them achieve those visions. They must believe that their visions are the best bet for the community and will put it to the public to vote. This is democracy at play. In the end, the people's will must prevail.

Anonymous said...

Seriously speaking, does having more opposition MPs, but with PAP still having more than 2/3 majority

1. reduce the income gap?
2. make PAP ministers cheaper?
3. more welfare and care for the poor?
4. lower HDB prices?
5. lower the cost of living?
6. cut down the number of foreign talents?

And can the opposition deny PAP 2/3 majority if 66% of voters are satisfied and happy?

So I think it is more realistic to find ways to make more money for oneself and be happy and be part of the 66 % than to hope for more opposition MPs.

In other words, if you cannot beat them or the system, join them.

Harry said...

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Anonymous said...

Is it legal to tell others which party you cast your vote on, in the elections? (Casually telling other, not in election poll area i mean.)

Anonymous said...

Why should we berate the Opposition parties to unite, avoid 3 corner fights in order to fight the PAP?
This is democracy at play. In the end, the people's will must prevail.

... cos Mr Lucky doesn't believe reality have a liberal bias anymore?

Anonymous said...

don't forget, void ticket goes to ...

Alfred said...

agree with Anon 14:34,

a null void is vote for the incumbent.

take a stand - either you're with them or against them.

8jess said...

whatever trap there my be, mat he best party win. my bet is on the wp to win resoundingly. dr. lam is an original singaporean? or a foreign import?

六大派 said...

All 6 parties can fight the devilish sect in a coordinated manner aka 即将上映的新加坡版倚天屠龙记:六大派铲除魔教!

Anonymous said...

Even without 3 corner fight, I believe opposition candidates have only 40% or less chance of winning (i.e. unlikely to win).

With 3 corner fight, 0% chance of winning.

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