Singaporean author Sudhir Vadaketh said that although he wants the People’s Action Party (PAP) to stay in power following the upcoming general election (GE), but he will be voting for the opposition as he wants PAP and Singapore to improve.
Mr Vadaketh explained that the PAP’s dominance in Parliament has resulted in the politicians becoming arrogant and ignorant over the years, which is why he wants the party to win but with much “reduced majority”.
“My political preferences haven’t changed for the past 10 odd years. I would like to see the PAP in power, but with a much, much reduced majority,” the author said in a YouTube video published on 6 July (Monday).
He added, “I think the biggest reason is that the party’s utter dominance has led to arrogance and ignorance in the party”.
As to why he still wants PAP to win this coming GE, Mr Vadaketh noted that PAP has done a lot of good work over the years, adding that some of the nicest and smartest people he knows are either PAP politicians or used to be one.
For instance, he talked about PAP’s new candidate Mariam Jaafar, who will be contesting in Sembawang GRC for GE2020. He said that PAP’s “recruitment system isn’t completely broken” by fielding her as a new candidate for the party.
In the video, the author also explained that the ignorance and arrogance in PAP is getting more evident. As an example of that, he pointed out Ms Josephine Teo’s method of handling the COVID-19 outbreak at migrant worker dormitories in the country.
“The way Josephine Teo keeps deflecting blame for the dormitory crisis. She was actually politicking in Jalan Besar early April, right before the dormitories blew up,” he said.
He continued, “She knew the workers are squeezed into ‘very small spaces’. But nothing is ever her fault. It’s because of a ‘smart’ virus. Nothing to ever say sorry about.”
On 4 May, Ms Teo was asked in Parliament if the Government will consider issuing an apology to migrant workers living in dormitories in Singapore due to the COVID-19 outbreak. To this, Ms Teo said: “I have not come across one single migrant worker himself that has demanded an apology.”
Besides her, Mr Vadaketh also mentioned about Mr Chan Chun Sing’s “arrogance” in replying to Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh.
Mr Singh asked Mr Chan in Parliament early this year for a breakdown on the number of PMET jobs that goes to Singaporeans and PRs.
In his response, Mr Chan said: “We can get you the numbers. But let me say this: What is the point behind the question?”
Push for more Opposition in Parliament
Mr Vadaketh also pointed out in this video that it’s important to get more than 31 members from alternative parties into Parliament in order to deny the PAP government a supermajority.
“The more direct political implication of the supermajority is that it allows the PAP to change the constitution whenever it wants. It’s done this more than 50 times since 1959. That’s like one every year, almost,” the author asserted.
He went on to add that that the “constitution was supposed to be a sacred document”.
As an example on how PAP has changed the constitution to their preference can be seen in the 1980s when it implemented the GRC system, which “allows mediocre candidates to float into Parliament on the coattails of people like Tharman”, he said.
He also pointed out the change in the constitution in 2017 to reserve the President’s post for the Malays, which axed the opportunity for Progress Singapore Party (PSP) secretary general Tan Cheng Bock to become Singapore’s President.
Mr Vadaketh explained that there is a total of 93 seats in Parliament. If PAP wins 47 seats (51 percent), they get the simple majority which allows them to “form the government on its own, and running Singapore as it has”.
However, if the party managed to secure 62 seats, then it has supermajority and it can change the constitution whenever it wants.
As such, he said that the “sweet spot” is for PAP to get anything between 47 and 62 seats. This means that the Opposition needs to fill more than 31 seats, the author pointed out.
Having said that, Mr Vadaketh acknowledged that it is “going to take a long time” for the alternative parties to get more than 31 seats, given that they only secured six seats in GE2015.
He also explained that vote share is not equivalent to number of seats. “Because of our first-past-the-post system, a smaller vote share can translate into a much bigger proposition of seats,” he explained.
“In the last election, the PAP got 70 percent of the votes, and that translated into over 93 percent of the seats in Parliament. Similarly, for the next election, if the PAP wants to win a simple majority of seats (47 seats), all it needs is somewhere between 25 and 35 percent of votes, at the minimum.
“So don’t get too worried that the PAP’s vote share looks like it might come down. The party can safely still win the election, even still safely get their supermajority.”
He also noted that there’s a high chance of a “PAP wipeout” this election where the party will win every single seat.
“The reason is simple, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. There are many Singaporeans who believe that the PAP has done an amazing. Maybe they don’t care much about the dormitory workers. Maybe they don’t realise that countries like New Zealand have done a much better job than us? Maybe they just got their cash handouts and they are happy and they’re going to vote for PAP.
That’s fine, that’s their tai ji. It’s their decision after all.”
Mr Vadaketh expressed that all he wanted to say is that for the small number of people who are actually listening to him, they need to know the importance of voting for the opposition this GE, which is to counter the tide and slowly push for a change.
“Please make up your own mind. Don’t ever let anybody box you in.”
He also went on to say that it’s okay to like both PAP and the alternative parties.
“It’s OK to say, ‘I like Tharman and I like Paul Tambyah’. It’s OK to say I want Heng Swee Keat as my Prime Minister but I also want Jamus Lim of the Workers’ Party in Parliament to challenge him on economic issues.
“It’s good to have contradicting thought,” he concluded.