Sunday, March 27, 2011

Singapore General Election 2011: Battle of the Elites, or Battle of the Elites against Duds?

It's no longer credible to dismiss the opposition as "duds". 

PAP candidates are enticed with, and motivated by, money, at least substantially. This is PAP's declared strategy: use money to attract talent. They have safe seats to contest, and promise of obscene riches that come with ministerial posts.

Opposition candidates are motivated by a passion for economic and social justice. They have uphill battles to fight, with uncertain voter support.

Take your choice.

Quoting Battle of the Elites (here)

When Singaporeans vote in the coming polls expected to be in May, they will see more high-flier Opposition candidates with academic qualifications comparative to those in the ruling party.

FOR the first time in years, Singapore’s opposition is seeing a little light in a dark tunnel, at least in recruiting the highly-educated.

An impressive number of top scholars and professionals, including a dozen with Masters and Doctorates (PhD), will likely emerge to challenge the People’s Action Party in the elections expected in May.
It is something Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had long predicted would happen after his political retirement.

He is, of course still around with the ageing mentor not being in the best of health. His prediction of better-quality opposition representatives is slowly coming true.

The PAP has begun to introduce its 24 new candidates who as usual would likely come with high academic or professional records.

This has stood the party in good stead so far but the opposition may be narrowing the gap.

Not all agree. One opposition politician admitted the going would be tough, “like fighting a tank with bows and arrows”.

In the previous election as quoted in the Straits Times, the opposition said 70% of its candidates were professionals and graduates.

This time the percentage would almost certainly increase, it said.

A sprinkling of these opposition academic high-fliers comparative to the ruling party’s, will be fielded in the coming election.

They are leaders of two parties: Dr Chee Soon Juan (Singapore Democratic Party) who has a PhD in neuropsychology and Kenneth Jeyaretnam (Reform Party) with a double first in Economics from Cambridge University.

Among other candidates who will stand in the elections are:

> Dr Vincent Wijeysingha (Singapore Democratic Party), the son of the respected long-standing principal of Raffles Institution, who has a PhD in Sociological Studies from University of Sheffield, England.

> Dr John Yam (Workers Party) who holds a PhD (Australia) and Masters in Business Administration (Scotland) and Electrical Engineering degree (Singapore).

> Husband-and-wife team of government scholars and civil service high-flyers Tony Tan (engineering) and Hazel Poa (maths), who obtained first-class honours from Cambridge University.

> Wong Wee Nam, 63 with a PhD from Imperial College who last stood as a Workers Party candidate in 2006.

Singaporeans are now waiting anxiously to see whether another prominent scholar, Chen Show Mao will stand as a Workers Party candidate.

Chen, an ex-Rhodes Scholar, has a doctorate in law from America’s Stanford University.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Iberian intrigue in the Kampuchean court

A fascinating episode of late sixteenth century Southeast Asian history that I have just come across: see Diogo Veloso and Blas Ruiz.

For greater depth, read Chapter 14, A History of South-East Asia (fourth edition 1981), by D.G.E. Hall.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Politics in Singapore: The Strong Stench of Avarice in the Cabinet

The strong stench of avarice and venality in the Singapore cabinet will never dissipate. Legalized avarice is as odious as corruption, and will taint the government, time without end.

On legalized avarice in Singapore: here.

Sylvia Lim's speech in parliament: here.

ps. Any distinction between the avarice of the PAP government and the obscene corruption of the Marcos and Suharto regimes is disappearing fast. See here.