There’s No Point Having An Election If Half The Opposing Candidates Are Loonies

In developed countries, there are looney parties, and there are serious political parties.

The former are known for putting forward colourful candidates such as ex-porn stars and actors to spice up elections.

The latter would never allow un-electables to run.

People know this and vote accordingly.

Here in Singapore, PAP puts up well-qualified professionals and civil servants, while the “opposition” recycles jokers and no-hopers like Seow Khee Leng & friends, Ng Teck Siong, Gandhi Ambalan, John Tan, etc.

Yet they claim that something is wrong when they lose elections. They have tons of excuses– fear factor, election deposits, msm bias,  gerrymandering, short campaign period, etc.

But they don’t see what they’re doing wrong.

What’s the point of having an election when half the candidates are loonies, no-hopers and tired warhorses?

What really do these parties hope to gain from fielding these no-hopers? What do they hope to get from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and putting in all the blood, sweat and tears?

More than just a waste of time and money, such an election will give PAP ministers and MP’s bragging rights and will confer an air of legitimacy upon them they do not deserve.  Worse, it actually lets PAP claim that there is democracy in Singapore!

No more will we be able to say that they are not the people’s choice because they were walkovers.

If we can’t have well-qualified electables from other parties, I’d rather have walkovers than uneven contests. Because if all 87 seats are contested, then PAP can stand proud to say they are the legitimate elected govt of singapore. And that is a national shame.

The point of this is that “opposition” should not be for the sake of opposition, and running should not be for the sake of running.

A party must have a strong internal selection process to ensure that only worthy candidates are put up for elections. Because its reputation is important, and the trust of the voters is even more important. People will trust a party only if they can put up good candidates.

The current practice of putting up any tom, dick or harry willing to foot the election deposit is utterly and totally wrong.

In other countries, they hold national conventions to decide on their candidates before they put them up for election, and aspiring candidates have to garner party support before they can declare their candidacy.

In other words, the candidates are the best a party has to offer the electorate, and people will judge a party by the quality of its candidates.

While “opp” parties here are way too small to hold national conventions, CEC’s have to exercise quality control for the parties.

Putting up clowns, jokers, tired old warhorses and no-hopers is not the way to go. It basically tells the electorate that the best people your party can find are crap. So what does it say about your party?

It’s not a matter of finding enough people to run for 87 seats. I’d rather run for 10 seats and win 5 than to run for 87 seats and win 2.

Not only is it wasteful to run for elections with no-hopers, it is also counterproductive in the long run. Young, well-qualified candidates will shun your party. And why shouldn’t they? They don’t want to be tarred with the same brush!

So it hurts recruitment and renewal, and it creates a negative image of the “opp” as a bunch of no-hopers.

Parties don’t see this and they blame everything else– climate of fear, political apathy, donations act, etc– for their predicament.

There is one party which has understood this, and they go about their business quietly, trying to improve the quality of their slate of candidates from election to election, and picking only serious electoral fights.

They have no ambitions to form the govt now, but I hope their quiet achievements will enable them to rival the PAP one day.


About politicalwritings

Someone who sees beyond PAP and "opposition" in Singapore politics. To understand more please see the Top 10 link below.
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44 Responses to There’s No Point Having An Election If Half The Opposing Candidates Are Loonies

  1. hahaha says:

    well, this is the consequence of the system…it only attracts half rated individuals to a “we all know” biased electoral system.
    In anycase, electoral boundaries change, and all the hard work done previously in a precint goes down the drain with a stroke of a pen, or maybe pencil.
    One would expect some appreciation of reality, but your article is talking about ideals…sorry, too much hot air in my opinion.

  2. Thanks. I disagree this is about ideals. I write about reality. The reality is that half the opposing candidates are not electable. They can bitch and moan all they like, but there is no reason why anyone should prefer Seow Khee Leng over Goh Chok Tong or Gandhi Ambalan over Jayakumar.

    Only one “opp” party understands this.

    Until the other parties “get it”, they will not be able to achieve any breakthroughs.

  3. UnimpressedBudget says:

    Look at it this way. The so called “unelectable” candidates or parties fielded will still be able to return some sort of indication as to how satisfied the electoral of that area truly is. And that intelligence will go a long way in helping Opposition Parties and the citizens to know that PAP does not always have the clear mandate. If anything, a walkover is not a clear 100% mandate as PAP would always like to claim.

    As for the lack of quality candidates, everyone has to start somewhere, and learn from someone before them. PAP has the headstart decades ago, and have today have been refined to a sleek organisation that knows how to present itself unified. Whereas the Opposition has a more transparency chaos to it, and while it is a big discomfort to the large majority of chinese population in the form of Confucius & legalism where harmony & top down respect is blindly given, I personally welcomed the organised chaos. They are sometime the necessary evil to real creativity and brilliance. We should not be too quick to judge. This is an area where it is clearly not a strength for Singaporeans. Be open to chaos and change no matter how messy it may look from the outside. As long as they are building towards constructive society, I don’t see it a problem.

  4. Thanks. But point missed completely.

  5. Wiliam the Con says:

    This is an excellent post. I agree entirely with what the author says.

    It’s sad that it elicited ignorant responses typified by “hahaha” and “UnimpressedBudget”. “hahaha” gives the usual excuse of “it’s the system’s fault” and “the system is biased”. And “Unimpressed” is totally off on his (her?) own tangent, talking about “transparent chaos” and other mysterious concepts.

    The point really is this: there is a group of people who think that they should vote for any opposition candidate, at any price, even if the opposition candidate is a serial killer who doesn’t recycle. Your article quite rightly points out that this group of people are wrong-headed. Having loonies in the opposition will weaken the opposition, and no one else.

  6. Tan LC says:

    Don’t blame it. on the oppostions but the system created by the PAP. When credible people emerge to challenge their political power, they are put down with whatever means, many bankrupted or exiled .
    Those standing by the sidelines would think twice about joining the race unless on the
    PAP ticket where even if the loose, they are still guaranteed in some cosy positions.

  7. Thanks. There’s enough smart people who haven’t been bankrupted or jailed to be counterexamples. Sylvia Lim is one, Steve Chia is another. Of course, our two opp MP’s LTK and CST, although I don’t consider them particularly smart.

    There’s some smart people who have been fined or jailed, but that’s their own folly. Chia Ti Lik because he took part in the TBT protests. And everyone’s favourite martyr CSJ for various acts of civil protest and unlawful assembly, plus his vicious attacks on PAP by comparing them to NKF.

    But overall, the record shows that if you’re willing to play by the rules, however unfair, you won’t get into trouble.

    And PAP doesn’t target intellectuals per se, but it does bite back against those who want to bring it down through unconstitutional means or those who hold grudges against them.

  8. Haha Choo says:

    Few points here:

    1) You mention Gandhi Ambalan as a “recycled joker”. But have you done your own independent research? Gandhi can’t even run because of his conviction (all thanks to the PAP government for that). “Recycled” he may be but he won’t be able to run as a candidate this time round.

    2) I see a few young faces joining Opposition ranks. Vincent Wijeysingha, Tony Tan, Hazel Poa etc. I don’t see young people “shunning” the opposition as you’re saying here.

    3) You obviously have not seen the likes of Abdul Malik, Alex Tan Zhixiang and many other dubious personalities. If you have met them, you’d be relieved that many parties do have an internal mechanism to select proper candidates.

    4) You simply do not understand our skewed electoral system. It is pretty clear that every constituency is gerrymandered close to Election Time. The PAP can easily outspend the Opposition Parties by over-promoting their candidates through the mainstream media. The opposition cannot.

    5) “Worse, it actually lets PAP claim that there is democracy in Singapore!”

    You must be living in the stone age. The PAP has always claimed that there is democracy in Singapore, regardless of whether 47 or 87 seats are contested.

    6) Your by-election strategy will spell the death of the opposition. If the Opposition contests 10 seats, they won’t win more than 1 anyway. No matter what they do, the odds will be against them. Your fallacious idea will set everyone back by years.

    7) “Because if all 87 seats are contested, then PAP can stand proud to say they are the legitimate elected govt of singapore. And that is a national shame.”

    “The point of this is that “opposition” should not be for the sake of opposition, and running should not be for the sake of running.”

    Wait – so you prefer to have a permanent state of walkovers then, so that the PAP cannot ever claim that they’re the legitimate government, so that we won’t experience a national shame? And let me clue you in on one thing: BY HAVING a by-election strategy you are basically opening the door to opposition for the sake of it.

    8) Apathy exists. Face it. Even the PAP has a hard time getting people involved in their campaigns. I can’t see why you’re slamming parties here because of that.

    9) The so-called party you’re speaking about is certainly quiet but it’s also making a fool of itself by engaging in some rough horse trading and political stubbornness. Oh and yes, they’re surely picking serious electoral fights – 3 corner fights that is.

    Unless there is a free and fair playing field, and until you get off your PC and go into the field to actually see what’s happening, your arguments about opposition candidate credibility is nothing but balderdash.

  9. JChua says:

    I was very impressed with the way Eric Tan and GMS conducted themselves on the recent talking point show. They were confident, clear, coherent and cogent with their arguments and points-of-view. Eric in particular was the show stealer for me. It was the first time for me hearing him speak and I was truly impressed.

    Contrary to what has been written above, the opposition most certainly does not lack quality candidates. Look at the current batch of PAP MPs and compare them to people like Sylvia Lim, Gerald Giam, GMS, Eric Tan, Vincent Wijey etc. and you’d be hard pressed to pick the better team. Indeed, I believe several opposition candidates are also of ministerial caliber.

    Yawning bread echoes similar sentiments very nicely here:

  10. Ken says:

    I have 2 points:

    1. There are too many oppo parties in Singapore each having its own agenda and ideals. This creates an image that oppos are the bunch of disunited, chaotic and selfish individuals. Come on, who have heard of DPP or the new Socialis something party? How many voters will place their trust in them? If they have the interests of people at heart, why these people cannot be more united? There is a big question mark here.

    2. Since you mention some of these are “recycles jokers and no-hopers”, the question is, how to attract more quality people to join them?

    Thanks and let’s hope for a better future in our country 🙂

  11. Thanks.

    1. Gandhi’s conviction was for unlawful assembly, right? That has nothing to do with the pap govt. He knew it was the law, and chose to break it. Don’t confuse things.

    2. Exception proves the rule. Hope it will herald new trend. But not optimistic given current party leaderships.

    3. What makes you think I’ve not met them? More to point, the evidence thus far shows a strong lack of qc still.

    4. Irrelevant. And you have no evidence I don’t understand our electoral system anyway.

    5. Guess you don’t understand hyperbole.

    6. This is mucho different from a by-election strategy! Such a strategy involves telling people to vote for clowns because they need not fear a freak result. I want people to vote for the better man with the better vision– not vote for “opp” because the country is now safe in the hands of pap once again.

    7. See above. This is not a by-election strategy.

    8. Irrelevant. This is not about apathy.

    9. That party has a strategy and knows how to fight elections. It also has better QC than other parties. We’ll see who’s the fool come polling day.

    Don’t make remarks about me not knowing the ground unless you know me personally.

  12. Jchua, thanks.

    Eric is ok, but could be better if he improved his diction and stopped looking downwards at his navel.

    Voters deserve much better than GMS.

  13. Ken,

    To attract better quality candidates, my post above gives a clue. My other writings here should provide some ideas too.

  14. Clarence says:

    “I rather have loonies working towards the common good, than corrupt politicians who are only skilled in emptying the citizens’ pockets.”

    “Likewise PAP should take out loonies like Lim Swee Say, Lim Boon Heng, both ministers who are without portfolio, hip-hip ministers like Teo Ser Luck and Michael Palmer, ministers who cannot do their jobs like Mah Bow Tan, Wong Kan Sing, old bones ministers who can’t keep their mouth shut like MM Lee, SM Goh… I could go on and on to the number 82.”

    i disagree with your points, given the biased electoral system, as well as the biased rules for assembly.

    The above comments made by two other people on another medium will describe my comments on this article quite well.

  15. Thanks. I think electoral rules have nothing to do with this. If anything, they should discourage loonies because of the high bar. Yet, the “opp” continues to recycle no-hopers.

    Similarly, I don’t think rules for assembly have anything to do with the quality of “opp” candidates.

    The pt of this story is not how bad pap ministers are. The pt is whether the electorate will elect a bunch of no-hopers.

    If the answer is no, then the next question is why? Do you prefer to believe that it is the “biased” system? Or something lacking in their candidates?

    • Clarence Zeng says:

      Well, even with the high bar, loonies like Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (387 mil YOG, public assistance in a hawker centre, food court, or restuaurant), Mah Bow Tan (increasing COE, increasing HDB prices), Wong Kan Seng (The Great Mas Selamat Escape) are still in.

      What were you saying about the high bar, discouraging loonies like these?

      The high bar, which is probably the hefty deposit , seems to indicates that only the rich and elite can come in. Then what about people in other rungs of society thinking they have what it takes to push Singapore forward?

      If you think there are other things which contribute to the high bar, do let me know.

      The rules of assembly actually do matter with the quality of the candidates. You do realise that permits are always given to PAP candidates, but rarely to Opposition candidates?

      I agree on the point that the electorate will not elect a bunch of no-hopers. Why? Obviously because they are a bunch of no-hopers!

      But the opposition candidates we are talking about here, are painted by the Mainstream Media as a bunch of no-hopers! I’m not sure if you have read the profiles of the opposition candidates, but these potential candidates do have a good background of knowledge that can be tapped. Even if they don’t, at the very least, they do have a understanding of what the electorate want, and responds to that.

      Compare this with a current MP/Minister who doesn’t want to hear what the electorate wants, and continues on with his own ideas.

  16. Kelvin Tan says:

    Have you consider that, maybe, no-hopers have to win first and consolidate their positions before more “quality” people are willing to run for opposition in the next GE?

    So when you blame the opposition for no hopers, and yet not willing to join them, 3 fingers are actually pointing back to you.

  17. Alf says:

    Have you considered the possibility of running yourself? Clearly you think your judgment is superior to the opposition’s which is interesting because all your posts are about how lousy they are.

  18. Thanks. Have you asked football commentators to play for the club or the country?

  19. Alexla says:

    Here what I want to hear…….blahblahblah…There is no point blahblah…opposition are loonies blahblah…waste of time and money blahblah..This is wrong..blahblah


    Political commentators or football commentators, as you have mentioned, are well-qualified PROFESSIONALS who analyze, make observations, offer fresh insights, provide critical arguments and the like. So what are your credentials? besides your usual whines and fancies you offer neither of the above I’ve mentioned.

    So eh, who are you ah? Your job is to simply criticize and magnify weaknesses of oppositions instead of offering constructive criticisms or solutions? And you think oppositions will listen to someone ranting behind the computer screen? What’s your point anyway?

    I could offer my opinion with twenty reasons why your simplistic-arguments cuts no ice but no. Pointless.

  20. Clarence,

    Thanks. High bar has little to do with electoral deposit.

    Rules of assembly have nothing to do with “candidates”.

    Rally permits for locations are given on a first come first serve basis. Sadly, that means those who have more manpower to queue overnight etc will get their first choice of locations.

    As for general public entertainment licence/ speaking permits, this has nothing to do with “candidates” since one is not a “candidate” until one is nominated on nomination day.

    But notwithstanding the above, generally no permits are given for outdoor public political speeches. Of course ministers are exempt from this because they make speeches in the course of their duties as ministers of the govt, not as candidates/members of a party. The fact that they might sometimes use their speeches to sell their own achievements gives pap ministers an advantage, but certainly is hard to prevent. You can’t tell an elected minister what to say or not say when he makes a public speech.

    Indoor events, however, do not require permits. That’s why the recent TOC F2F forum with 5 opp speakers could go ahead.

    • Clarence Zeng says:

      You avoided my first question.

      The law of assembly does not have nothing to do with the “candidates”. How else do the Political Parties market themselves other than the biased-as-always Mainstream Media and rallies, which the opposition parties have limited capital to invest in?

      I also thank you for the enlightenment on permits, but I am not talking about rally permits. I’m talking about assembly permits. We have two examples:

      PAP Charity Foundation, with the cycling trip attended by PM Lee – allowed to proceed.
      Worker’s Party 50th Anniversary cycling event – not allowed to proceed.

      CASE’s World Consumer Rights Day Protest & Walk – allowed to proceed.
      Protest against the escalating prices of basic necessities – not allowed to proceed.

      What do you have to say about the bias of issuing these permits?

      And with this in place, opposition candidates have no power to argue for the people in Parliament since the opposition needs a certain size in Parliament to stop the incumbent from implementing policies that are viable.
      Opposition candidates also have no power to argue for people on the streets.

      Rallies are mainly speeches by the candidates to showcase their ideals to the electorate, and to rally the electorate behind these ideals. We won’t know that they’ll execute their ideals until they get voted in. PAP has been in power for long and promised us this and that throughout their rallies and speeches, but it fell short on its promises.

      • Thanks. It would appear that permits are granted to non-political organisations more easily than political orgs.

        Like it or not, it is not a bias, it is a practice. Even pap doesn’t get outdoor speaking permits other than during campaign periods. And such permits are only granted on condition that sufficient security and crowd control measures are put in place.

        This is not the country to be in if you want free protests. Even ngo’s don’t get permits to protest, what more political parties.

        Like many Singaporeans, you equate pap with govt and thus you see a bias. Pap charity foundation is a charity. And when pm lee attends an event, he attends as a minister, not as a “candidate”.

        One must break distinction between party and country if one is to advance in politics.

      • Clarence Zeng says:

        This is where you are wrong.

        I have the opinion that PAP is not equal to the Government itself.

        But the fact that PAP wins the elections overwhelmingly (82:2), and PAP passes policies like a rubber stamping entity, and that the civil service just follows the flow accordingly, proves otherwise.

        What is the point of one advancing in politics when many other Singaporeans think that PAP is the government?

        From your comments, it seems that you do not prefer democracy to flourish in this country.

  21. Alf says:

    Politics is about judgment, decisionmaking, working on issues. Its not an innate talent like football. So if you think you’re wiser than they are, then you should try running. Why not? Would you support a PAP ticket? Would you stand against? Why or why not?

  22. You’re asking why I don’t run. Nice question but I think it’s beside the point of the story. Which is why “opp” parties choose to field old tired warhorses and no-hopers.

    The reason is not just because they’re short of candidates.

  23. Alf says:

    I’m just curious what your actual political viewpoints are, since you have put up a blog dedicated to bashing the opposition, and not in a constructive way. If you are better than them, why not show your constructive alternatives, focusing on actual issues rather than character assaults?

  24. My alternatives and views are in this site.

    Try “The party political broadcast that I would like to hear” for a start.

    It’s sad that you see my views as “bashing”.

  25. Alf says:

    I’m afraid I don’t have a better word for someone calling people “loonies”

    • It’s so easy to go around complaining the rules are unfair, the media just loves to play up opposition infighting or disunity, pap ministers are useless despite being paid millions, etc.

      But somehow “opp” supporters can’t take a hard look at themselves, the quality of candidates that they have, the stupid things that “opp” politicians do and say, the fact that everyone wants to be his own SG running his own little party instead of uniting under one leader and one party dedicated to fighting the pap, and that fighting to be in opposition is not the real aim of politics.

      And when someone points things like that out, and suggests a different way from how things have been done in the last 50 years, and to retire the old-timers who are stuck in the old ways, these supporters cry “opposition-bashing” and “not constructive”.

      • Alf says:

        I think it’s a matter of how you say it, not that you say it. Using such hyperbolic language demonstrates your own immaturity that you bash the opposition for

  26. “But the fact that PAP wins the elections overwhelmingly (82:2), and PAP passes policies like a rubber stamping entity, and that the civil service just follows the flow accordingly, proves otherwise.”

    I think you mean Parliament rubber stamps rather than PAP rubber stamps, right?

    Because if PAP has 82-2 then why should it not endorse its own policies unconditionally? And how can you accuse the civil service of just following the flow? By definition the civil service reports to the political masters and must carry out all legitimate orders from them, regardless of what they think.

    “What is the point of one advancing in politics when many other Singaporeans think that PAP is the government?”

    When I say advance in politics, I mean advancing one’s understanding of politics to go beyond PAP and opposition.

    “From your comments, it seems that you do not prefer democracy to flourish in this country”

    On the contrary. Unlike other “opp” supporters who hope to score a few seats in opposition, I believe the aim of politics is not to spend 26 years in oppoosition, and I am looking at a complete change of govt.

    My writings on this site illustrate exactly what I mean. You can start with “The party political broadcast I would like to hear” to see this.

    • bongkinchen says:

      “Because if PAP has 82-2 then why should it not endorse its own policies unconditionally?”

      Would you condone the insidious unconditionally 82-2 endorsement of own (self-serving) policies? Don’t you see it coming to a political critical destructive stage of “parliamentary dictatorship”. What is the justification of being the highest in the world of the index in political salaries? Would you consider that lectures fees by an ex-USA President as part and parcel of his political salary??

      There are more of such infamy.

      • “Would you condone the insidious unconditionally 82-2 endorsement of own (self-serving) policies?”

        “Condone” is a tiresome Singaporean word which I don’t use.

        Notwithstanding the above, my response is simple: if PAP has an 82-2 majority, why shouldn’t they use it? Else what’s the point of winning elections with overwhelming majority?

  27. kokanaden says:

    I find it strangely disturbing that people are throwing the concept “democracy” around without really understanding what it means and the sort of consequences (both good and bad) it entails. I think the writer is absolutely right in pointing out that the aim of political parties, first and foremost, is to aim to form the government.

    Secondly, given the overwhelming number of sites and blogs dedicated towards supporting the opposition parties, I think this blog provides a nice counterpoint to them. More crucially, if anyone has read the site thoroughly, the PAP is also not exempt from his caustic criticisms. In any case, criticism (opposition or otherwise) does not necessarily reveal any political leanings, so I think that’s a moot point.

    Good job blogger! TBH I’ve been getting quite sick and tired of the same old stuff floating around on the Internet.

  28. bongkinchen says:

    No comments at moment.

    • bongkinchen says:

      I am glad in the same vein. Somehow, the comments are somewhat textbook and academic skewed. Little or insufficient or no attempt is made for more analytical and deeper thoughts on what motivate such causations.

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  33. slack says:

    what a nonsense post.

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