Monday, 9 May 2011

Salute to Mr Chiam, shame on voting chaos

It's heartbreaking, watching Mr Chiam try to speak on footage posted on FB last night.

The cameras were clicking away and I was shouting in my heart, "Stop! Stop! Is it necessary to take all those photos?"

Mr Chiam has done remarkably considering the fact that he had suffered, I'd been told, two strokes.

Watching him at a rally it appears that he had difficulty even trying to smile. He's got the words in his heart and in his fully functioning mind, I am quite sure.

But to make that connect between the brains and the vocal chords and other facial muscles must have been such an effort.

An elderly member of my church also suffered a series of strokes. The first one gave her a black eye. The second left her unable to speak. The doctors could not tell how many strokes she had had in total.

I visited her often at hospital and later at her nursing home.

You could see the frustration on her face as she tried to speak and no words could form.

So to see Mr Chiam, otherwise known as "Chiampion", making his points so clearly attests to the fighting spirit of this man.

That "office" where he had his Meet-the-People Sessions.

They say a picture paints a thousand words.

This picture paints a picture of :

(1) tireless, unrelenting desire to serve the people of Potong Pasir,

(2) an uneven playing field where opposition MPs, though elected servants of the land, are not provided the same facilities as other elected MPs of the ruling party, which

(3) illustrates that there is a dire need for Singaporeans to understand the distinction between the party and the state, the legislature and the administration, and therefore demand that the administration provides what is rightly that of the people: a right to a private conversation with their elected representative in parliament.

Perhaps we should insist that the new Potong Pasir MP-elect continue to use this office?

Potong Pasir (and Hougang and Aljunied) residents pay their taxes. They should be given exactly the same services as other taxpayers. Full stop.  And puh-leese, don't get me started on "upgrading".

Was there a counting fiasco?

I was trying to follow the election results on FB, Twitter and "938-live" on my internet radio.

What I heard was the radio station interviewing friends of PAP candidates to testify how wonderful these candidates were. After the first poll result, the candidate was quickly elevated to "MP-elect". Every other PAP candidate that was returned subsequently was described deferentially as "MP-elect".

Until Hougang was announced and Mr Yaw was simply and still the "opposition candidate".

And if a blog doing the rounds is to be believed, then Singaporeans appear not to know how to vote, leading to many votes being spoilt, and/or spoilt votes being counted.

It is worrying that if a voter puts "go to hell" next to a party logo it was considered a mark in favour of the party indicated by the logo.


So those crucial spoilt -- as well as valid -- votes at Potong Pasir could have made a huge difference.

As to why spoilt votes were not re-scutinized in cases of such tight margins is beyond me.

What a shame, this: Only in third-world countries do they have to educate voters how to vote in a normal election. These are countries coming out of dictatorships, colonial rule, and therefore needed to be told that a cross (X) must be placed next to the name of the candidate/party for which they wish to vote.

How sad is that?

Many Singaporeans in their mid-40s confess to being "virgin voters" because since coming of age they have had no opportunity to vote. Did they spoil their votes on purpose or did they spoil their votes unknowingly? Worse, were spoilt votes given to an undeserving party?

And if you were, like me, a Tanjong Pagar constituent ... aiyah! susah-lah! (My husband suggested that I took the government to the Court of Human Rights for depriving me of a chance to vote.)

Back to the recounts that night.

"938-live" explained that candidates could request a recount if the margin is very small, and a low figure like "between 2% and 4%" was quoted, if I remember correctly. Imagine my shock when the Hougang result was announced.

We'd been told all this time that there was a recount in Hougang, implying that there was a very close margin. But the result in Hougang was not any where close.

Which makes you wonder, "How impartial were all these election officials?"

Were these civil servants who have long forgotten that there is a difference between the duties of the Legislative (parliament) and the Executive (administration) branches of government?

Were these civil servants simply fearing for their ricebowls?

How valid were the spoilt votes and vice-versa?


jeffyen said...

The election officials are as impartial as possible from most accounts found online. Also, there are counting agents from both parties whose job is to make sure that things go according to plan.

While some spoilt votes indicate a genuine misunderstanding of the correct way of marking the ballot paper, many people also intentionally spoil votes to make a point

Hougang as a GRC has many divisions. (The GRC is big.) Not all divisions required a recount, but others apparently did, even if on average, the difference in votes is more than 2%.

jeffyen said...

The above is my guess anyway, I don't think we have the facts, especially the leaks that we got from time to time about which GRC had a recount etc.