Independent Election Commission: Obligation to the People of Singapore

Posted by under Editorial on 19 May 2001

Mr. Wong Kan Seng has reiterated that it is not the job of the PAP or neither is it its obligation to make things easygoing for the opposition. Responding to comments made by the National Solidarity Party that the PAP always made things difficult for the opposition, Mr. Wong felt it was not in the interest of the PAP to ‘help' the opposition. Viewing it from a party perspective, deliberating means to make the situation easier for your opponents is entirely ludicrous. In a democratic system where parties openly contest and compete for votes, Mr. Wong's sentiment is neither surprising nor unexpected. Electoral politics is all about winning therefore only the foolhardy can expect any sort of magnanimous overtures from the government in power.

The nature of electoral politics and the question of obligations are for the parties to sort out as issues during the forthcoming elections. No one owes anyone anything and there are definitely no obligations to each other. Yet one cannot see this logic when you see it from the point of view of the gradual growth of our nation and the obligations to democracy to our country. From this angle one seeks for fairness to commensurate the democratic society that we intend to build. Elections are part of that democratic process and they must be based on justice.

The PAP holds a unique place in our country's history. They are without a doubt the dominant party and will continue their dominance for at least two decades more. They have built order and law. We say this because in Singapore, in contrast to the rest of the region, our system has maintained order and law has followed suit. The practical realities of order first and then law in our historical specificity as a developing nation has turned on its head the abstract notion of law and order. Maintenance of order has secured the institutions of law.

Today, there is order and the institutions of law and justice are being built around that order. Good people, good laws and good institutions are key elements for good governance. In the process of electoral politics, the obligation of the government of the day to its people, is that it must build a process of ensuring that electoral politics are in essence reflective of the spirit of democracy: fairness and justice. A more educated populace demands this. Themes of fairness and justice are part of the consciousness of a thinking and caring nation.

Setting up an Independent Election Commission will be a process that will entrench democracy and provide the stability to enhance order amidst differences. Our population is increasingly getting more educated and they do understand the trappings of democracy. Therefore, the legitimacy of future governments do not really rest on bread and butter issues alone but also on issues that provide people a sense of their freedom of choice.

Here the PAP must be obligated to the people to build the process of democracy. An Independent Election Commission will see to this. If the PAP maintains its current dominance after the set-up and recommendations of the Independent Election Commission, than not only is the PAP no longer obligated to the opposition but it has fulfilled its democratic obligations to the people of Singapore. Oblige the people.

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