08 May 2006

Post-mortem II

In a slip of her tongue, ST political journalist Chua Mui Hoong tells the honest truth about using the upgrading election gimmick.

"Voters have become familiar with the upgrading carrot-and-stick approach", Chua says in "Three different styles in PAP campaign", Straits Times, p.18.

Singapore may not be a signatory to the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights, but these things hold true nonetheless:
Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:

(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives;

(b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors;

(c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country.

And in particular,
Persons entitled to vote must be free to vote for any candidate for election and for or against any proposal submitted to referendum or plebiscite, and free to support or to oppose government, without undue influence or coercion of any kind which may distort or inhibit the free expression of the elector's will. Voters should be able to form opinions independently, free of violence or threat of violence, compulsion, inducement or manipulative interference of any kind.

Look, Chua Mui Hoong says the upgrading issue is used as a carrot-and-stick. It is both intimidation and vote-buying at the same time. It is a clear violation of the General Comments on article 25 of the ICCPR. Our country may not have ratified the treaty, but we see its goodness and rightness are evident.

Singaporeans should heed Ms Chua's message and use the time from now to the next election to send a clear message to their elected or walkover representatives: No more talk about upgrading in election discourse from now on. The PAP is not campaigning for a seat in the HDB, citizens are not voting to return PAP's candidates to the HDB.

This generation of Singaporeans believe, together with Chua Mui Hoong, that it is morally wrong to use upgrading as an election issue; that it constitutes undue influence and coercion of voters; that it is a threat and a manipulation of voters that over 66 countries in the United Nations have pledged to reject.

We will spend the next 5 years repeating this point to our MPs. During their walkabouts, meet-the-MP sessions, ministerial forums and talks. Make this point clearly, politely, and firmly. Make it as often as you can. You have the power to change the discourse of the next election.

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