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Vote MP = Vote PAP? and the Presumption of Innocence August 27, 2008

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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Vote MP = Vote PAP?

As expected, there will be no by-election in Jurong GRC, even though it appears that residents themselves would rather have such an election. Nevertheless Mr Lee Hsien Loong’s reported speech is illuminating for the deliberate conflation of two separate issues; namely voting for your MP and voting for a political party.  Indeed this also highlights the role the GRC has to play in entrenching the ruling party’s hegemony.

Mr Lee claim is this,

unlike other democracies like Britain in which MPs form the government, Singapore’s system emphasises on choosing political parties.

So when an MP is elected, it means voters are also giving the mandate to the party represented by the MP to form the government.

That is an erroneous view. Undeniably there are instances where the person votes for the MP and votes for the party. There are however various other instances where a person votes for the MP NOTWITHSTANDING his political affilations and there are other instances where a person is voted in merely because he hides behind a political party. Therefore Mr Lee cannot conclude with great authority that voting for one MP means a vote for PAP in general. And if one considers the various arguments on whether Singaporeans actually have choice (a rather difficult question; but then questions of choice always are), then Mr Lee’s simple equation; vote for (insert name here)= vote for PAP fails. Another example is this; suppose A lives in a GRC and there is an election; 6 candidates from each side contest. A is a vociferous supporter of the opposition and does not shy away from Mr JBJ or Mr CSJ when he sees them along Orchard Rd. Nevertheless A finds that 1 of the 6 PAP candidates is a very nice man (for whatever reason) and feels obliged to vote because he does not want this man to lose his seat. So he casts his vote for the ENTIRE team just because he likes this one person. Can one say that he supports PAP? No; he is merely voting the way because of one member in the team.

Now moving the story along, what if nice MP suddenly retires from politics for whatever reason? Suddenly Mr A is left with a group of people he cares nothing about. His choice is gone, lost. He feels aggrieved and seeks to exercise once again his right to select his representatives. Of course in Singapore the story ends with the PM giving excuses and now and again engaging in abit of dooms day prophesying.

The Presumption of Innocence

This issue was first raised when the new AG, Walter Woon, gave a press statement whereby he introduced concepts such as legal innocence and factual innocence. This drew a stern rebuttal from the Honorable Justice of Appeal V K Rajah; just recently the new Law Minister K Shanmugam stepped into the fray in support of the AG.

As stated by E-Jay in his post, it is true that there is no full proof legal system. There will be miscarriages of justice; and thus there will be times when the guilty cannot be brought to justice while the innocent will suffer such a miscarriage. Nevertheless in my opinion the crux of the issue is this: what kind of system would we like to have? Would we want a system which derogates from the principle of innocent until proven guilty (the so called crime control system)? Such a system draws a wide net, and increases the risks of ensnaring the truly innocent (echoes of such a system can be found in the Drug provisions). Or do we seek to give effect to the presumption of innocence and crafting a system in pursuance of that goal? In such a system those who are guilty may sometimes escape.

The establishment’s stand is that the presumption of innocence is upheld. Which is well and good for I am a firm believer in the maxim “it is better to let 9 guilty people go then to allow 1 innocent to hang”. It is for this reason that I frown at the usual “deterrence” arguments commonly employed to support to derogation of the principle ( sometimes I do wonder if proponents of such arguments truly comprehend the stakes; perhaps they are of the impression that they will never be caught on the wrong side of such a system; well many people in the Western countries thought so too, yet they were convicted for crimes they did not do and some paid the highest penalty for it too; see The Innocent Man by John Grisham). Nevertheless in attempting to preserve the AGC’s reputation the AG and the Law minister are encouraging cynicism in the legal system;  such face saving exercises would have an adverse impact on those acquitted of crimes. In my opinion there is no reason why the AGC has to embark on this course; even the best institutions make mistakes; no one wins all the time.

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1. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily SG: 28 Aug 2008 - August 28, 2008

[…] – TOC: Singaporeans want by-election in Jurong GRC [Thanks mr.udders] – Winter Is Coming: Vote MP = Vote PAP? and the Presumption of Innocence – BothSidesOfTheJohorStraits: LeeHsienLoong says each of our votes is more for the political party […]

2. feedmetothefish - August 28, 2008

Mee Siam Mai Hum.

Buy Votes.

Fix Opposition.

I rest my case.

feedmetothefish

3. Singapore Kopitiam - August 28, 2008

For more detailed discussions on these important topics, see:
Singapore Kopitiam
http://forums.delphiforums.com/sunkopitiam/messages/

4. peesai - August 28, 2008

the man of the hour was seated, arms folded during the ndr. that says a lot of what is to come.

we hv devloped a perfect system of mib complementing miw. miw increase the economic stakes and drive the lower stratas to crime and death( eg suicide is a crime), hypocritical mib preach the gospel of self righteouness and then weaves the parang and hack and hack to keep everybody in line.

and the bodoh people still talk technical about the laws. what a joke

5. guojun - August 28, 2008

Actually the quantity = quality fallacy is throughout the entire Singapore system what. You see school ranking system, FT rates, birth control, of 66.% percent being a good score. Moreover, the politicians are forced to use quantity as a measure for quality. What i don’t like is that they now assume that quantity IS quality…

How much did they actually reflect on the sentiment of the people? No what. Quantity good = quality must be there. That is the fallacy every politician should avoid but ours seem perfectly happy to be there.

Btw i would write more but now i am chionging for an exam. study hard ah. HAHA

6. dropppings - August 28, 2008

everybody paid so well. got honor and respect some more for committing the perfect ‘crime’. the mafia also not so clever.lol.

7. Onlooker - August 30, 2008

No wonder they don’t want to have a by election.
The GRC system itself is the problem.
Whatever happen to “meritocracy”?


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