So I read this “commentary” by “veteran Singaporean journalist and media consultant” P N Balji. It’s so terrible that it made me dust off this long-forgotten blog.
Just the first paragraph was enough to piss me off. “How I misunderstood the Bukit Batok voter. With 95.7 per cent of the residents there living in HDB flats, I calculated that their single priority was to make sure their families have a good life.” So P N Balji sees HDB dwellers as a different class, a class that doesn’t care for non-material concerns. That’s the most elitist thing I’ve heard in a long time. In a country where more than 80% are HDB dwellers, I really wouldn’t listen to any commentator who views us as a homogenous single-issue bloc.
He goes on to say the nearly 39% who voted for Chee “chose principle over politics”. I don’t even know what that means. Chee Soon Juan isn’t part of “politics” but is standing for elections? Everyone who voted PAP isn’t principled? Some way to respect the democratic process.
Phew. Rant over. Anyway, the rest of the “commentary” essentially says:
– 61% voted for Murali, but “with a ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) buoyant over a General Election swing in its favour just eight months ago, and one that wields power in nearly every aspect of our lives, its Bukit Batok performance is not something to crow about.”
– In fact, “the PAP has stepped back to when it was given a shock in 2011: A dip in vote share to just above 60 per cent and voters who do not tolerate vicious political attacks.”
Hello? He seems to have conveniently forgotten that this is the first SMC by-election the PAP has won in 37 years. History suggests that there is a by-election effect in Singapore, where voters feel that they might as well vote in an opposition candidate when the PAP has already formed the government.
On top of that, Murali was
– A minority candidate. You may think this doesn’t matter in this day and age, but Bukit Batok is overwhelmingly Chinese and there was a whisper going around to “just vote for the Chinese guy” (source).
– Unknown to most voters. Sure he was branch secretary in Bukit Batok, but was only known to PAP branch members, not the general public.
– Trying to win back trust after David Ong resigned due to scandal
Running against Chee who was
– A Chinese candidate who speaks fluent Chinese and Hokkien
– Leader of his party, with a much higher national and international profile. With slickly-produced videos meant to tug at the heartstrings (the director even has an IMDB profile), he had supposedly gone through a political rehabilitation in GE 2015.
– Letting his rally speakers attack Ong while he claimed themoral high horse
– Even anti-PAP blogger “redbean” wrote that all the factors were in Chee’s favour.
Against all these factors, the results show that Chee’s simply not electable. In GE 2015 he garnered just over 33%, well below the opposition’s nationwide vote share of 40%. In BE 2016 he managed to lose the opposition’s first SMC by-election in 37 years. He’s lost both in a “rich man’s ward” like Holland- Bt Timah and a heartlander ward like Bt Batok. Where’s this political rehabilitation people speak about?
For P N Balji to claim opposition supporters “were the real winners of” BE 2016 is either completely idiotic, deliberately misleading, or both.