With the release of the final report on boundary electoral changes, Singaporeans could now smell the whim of the coming general election near at hand.
Many people speculate that Sep 12 is the D day as there is a one-week school holiday break during that period and many schools and teachers are likely to be activated for the big event.
Its also immediately just after the SG50 grand gala celebration on 9th August and patriotism will be at it’s highest hype.
PAP has always used patriotic emotions to it’s advantage by linking Singapore to the political party.
One week of non-stop PAP propaganda on TV after the death of LKY is a strong hint that they will probably use him during the SG 50 celebration to good effect.
But will Singaporeans bite? Will they be swayed by the emotional attachment to a post-LKY Singapore and vote for the ruling party?
Fragile weakening PAP
I have voted in at least four general elections and have not seen our ruling party in such a fragile weakened state.
Every other week, some ministers from the army have to try their best to soothe the nerves of many Singaporeans affected by yet another MRT train break-down or a new labour misgiving.
We seldom see such regular government intervention during the LKY era and one wonders if his son is doing as well as he did.
The state-controlled mass media must have over-work itself trying to fan up the look-good sentiments for the government but after a while nobody really believes in them anymore.
No one now believes that foreigners will help create jobs for Singaporeans – a pet slogan of the Prime Minister when he rallied the country to support his 6.9 million population white paper – three days after he lost the Punggol East by-election.
On the contrary, local PMETs wrote to us amass stating the obvious opposite – their rice-bowls were been snatched away by incoming hungry foreigners bent on making Singapore their home.
Many have at least a diploma with some acquiring masters degrees but all the ruthless academic pursuit seems a silly exercise now as our government seems to recognise fake mill degrees with at least 5000 culprits unofficially caught so far.
Many Singaporeans are pondering now – why study so hard when anyone from a third world country who speaks halting English can come in with a $10 degree and fake all his work experiences easily to land a job here?
We are not even talking about all those ministries that have flouted the AGO auditting standard and the illicit unexplained PA expenditure made WP’s town council mishap seems like a child play now.
We can only blame a Prime Minister who is not hard on his wards and who over-trusted on his team of untested young ex-army ministers.
Post-GE 2011 experience – worst Singapore had?
The merciless uncanny way in which the government allows in so many foreigners on all kinds of work permits carry on unceasingly after GE 2011.
Many will not disagree with me that the last four years were very tough years – our trains broke down regularly, ministers consistently made silly stupid remarks distancing themselves from the ground, our civil servants were caught in financial misappropriation culminating with the recent damaging AGO audits and last but not least the people were feeling the strain of an ever-rising cost of living made worse by our low stagnanted wages.
Nevertheless, the recent electorate census may give a hint that foreigner voters who are newly-converted citizens were the coveted final result of this mass onslaught.
There are around 2.46 million eligible voters, up from 2.35 million in 2011. New citizens are estimated to number about 150,000 if not more and most of them will vote for the incumbent out of loyalty than anything else.
Besides contributing to our economy, foreigners who converted to be our new citizens is also another very significant reason why they are being so specially courted.
Singaporeans are forgiving voters
But Singaporeans are a forgiving lot, when PM Lee made a rare teary appeal to voters to forgive him for failing towards the tail-end of the campaign of GE 2011, they relented and many gave him face because of the LKY factor as after all he is still the son of the respected legend.
However, this time round, will Singaporeans still give him another face-giving chance especially with the recent demise of his father?
When policies hurt your survival, livelihood and family – will you still stop and wonder who should I vote?
After all, about 300,000 Singaporeans still earn $1250 and below a month with many struggling to live from hand to mouth.
Well-qualified jobless PMETs in their 30s right down to their 50s continue to face steep competition from incoming foreigners fighting for jobs in their own homeland.
At our end, we have delivered our grocery pack to well over 100 vulnerable needy families and detected that most of them work very hard but their low wages make life very difficult for them to survive.
The appeal for a miminum wage guideline was shot down by of all ministers – the labour chief – someone who is supposed to look into the welfare of our local workers but ironically has always continued to add salt to the wounds of our low-incomed.
Moreover, what pissed many locals further is the minimum wage attaches to each work permit for every foreigner that is being brought in – a criterion that ironically is supposed to deter employers from hiring foreigners but yet provide them a basic wage that most loyals can only envy from afar.
Employers need to pay S-pass work permit holders $2200 and the lowest-runged EP foreigner workers are hired with a salary of $3300/month – wages that many locals can only dream of.
We have heard from local PMETs working alongside foreigners complaining of how their counterparts haul from third world countries are getting more salary than them with much inferior work experiences and qualifications.
The whole job market seems to have decimated into a playground for agents to ply their trade for the highest bid.
We know how local agents collaborate with the employers and foreign agents to bring in a foreigner as the person needs to pay exorbitant fees to their agent before they can be brought over.
More often than not, such companies are started by foreign entities keen on bringing in their own people from their homeland.
Rice-bowl and survival issues enough to swing votes?
But will rice bowl and survival issues be sufficient reasons for Singaporeans to swing their votes to the opposition?
Many ex-PAP supporters are also looking at the quality of the opposition camp before they consider their choices. If not, they may just vote back the incumbent often out of exasperation that there is not a better alternative available.
We all know that about 33 to 35% of voters will vote for any opposition that contested their wards whereas 15-20% are considered fence-sitters – they only decide after attending all the political rallies and often after digging into the CV of each and every candidate who are contesting in their constituency.
The heavy loss of Aljunied GRC to WP is a testimony that Singaporeans are ready to vote for the opposition – if they put in a good team of well-tested calibre and top-classed quality people.
People like Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim are house-hold names who work for the people for almost two decades and the addition of a high-caliber corporate lawyer Chan Show Mao to the team beefed up their credentials considerably.
The loss was both swift and devastating – a move I believed PAP in their wildest imagination, did not saw coming as the WP chief is a conservative politician who dares not take too much risk.
Moreover, if WP did not win in Aljunied GRC, the loss not only hurts the party but more importantly opposition politics as a whole.
I believe voters in Aljunied have considered that when they voted for WP as they literally carried the opposition cause on their back with that vote.
The key question to ask is – will PAP lose Aljunied GRC if Low and Sylvia did not take up the challenge to show hands at the GRC?
Chances are it may be a close fight with PAP finally triumphing.
Singaporeans who swing their votes probably will look at a few factors before they do so – the party and their candidates with a host of other current issues that will affect their final decision.
This coming general election will be fiercely contested and hopefully the opposition camp will try their very best to avoid 3-cornered contests which will only benefit the incumbent.
With more new parties coming into the picture and the belief that the ground is sweeter for the opposition camp, some may not yield ground and go head on into a 3 or 4-cornered fight thinking that they have a chance at winning.
Constituencies such as Tampines, Tg Pagar, Marine Parade, Bishan-Toa Payoh and Jalan Besar GRC all have potential for 3-cornered fights.
May the party that still continues to work with the ground after GE 2011 wins the heart and mind of the people!