The following letter is by Mr Andy Lim. It is in reply to Dr Yik Keng Yong’s letter (see below, “It’s a sound policy”) in the Straits Times forum page to Dr Catherine Lim’s interpretation of People’s Action Party’s announcement of the 24 hour cooling-off period before Polling day.
Cooling-off period – reminder of success
Dr Yik Keng Yong’s view of the cooling-off period’s effectiveness apparently relies on the reliability of the human psyche to properly interpret and differentiate emotional argument from rational reasoning after a good night’s rest. Unfortunately the reliability of the said reflection is a combination of factors that includes the cognitive ability of the individual, personal character and convictions, and emotional states of the person in question.
This combination of factors ultimately throws the reliability linking a good night’s rest and the person’s ability to reflect on the any given issue, metaphorically out of the window. With the lack of reliability, and therefore justifiability on the basis of the policy, the next assumption is that of the motivation of the policy maker and the policy’s goal.
There was no doubt that any policy maker, especially of those with as much foresight as PAP’s leaders would allow for the providence of certain portions of the population that were still wavering in their voting decision. As Dr Yik had mentioned in his reply, undoubtedly, PAP’s contributions to Singapore’s success story is undeniably moot. This then brings about the primary motivation behind the 24 hour cooling-off period, the only reflection that would and could only bring about; that is the reminder of the incumbent’s success story and to reinforce in the wavering population’s ultimate voting decision, which is to make a repeat selection on what has been successful before as is common with most human habit and susceptibility.
The only problem with the said reminder of the success story is, what has successful before, might not continue to be just as successful again.
It’s a sound policy
DR CATHERINE Lim’s interpretation yesterday (‘Surprised by ‘cooling off’ idea’) of the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) announcement of a 24-hour cooling-off period before Polling Day is as striking in its perspicuity of human behaviour as it is jaundiced of the PAP’s intentions.
Her view goes to the heart of the problem of how governments are unexpectedly voted out of power through a concatenation of a young electorate manipulated by disingenuous oratory, just as countries are bobbing in a sea of uncertainty now and trying to recover from massive economic and natural global disasters.
No one can argue with Singapore’s success and the PAP’s pivotal role in it. It is moot whether we could have accomplished as much with as little had another political party led the nation since independence.
Yet successful governance has always been associated with an iron will to push for tough policies which frequently disenfranchise certain sections of the population.
Visionary leadership comes with a price and the PAP deserves grudging admiration and support, even as many Singaporeans are not always enamoured of it.
Calm, collected and rational voting is what all sensible citizens should seek. Yet who among us is not ruled partly by emotions, letting the heart overrule the head in the heat of the moment?
It is easier to be swayed momentarily by demagoguery and emotional argument than by rational reasoning.
Nothing remedies this better than a good night’s rest and some rational reflection, after which convictions can be firmed and action taken without room for remorse.
This is a sane policy that should be applied not only to voting practice but also in our daily routine.
Dr Lim may ascribe PAP insecurity and anxiety to this new policy, but in the final analysis, the PAP’s idea is more conducive to the election of a government that Singaporeans are less likely to regret.
Dr Yik Keng Yong