Chia Ti Lik’s Blog

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SDP Forum on 20th January 2008 – How to Reform the Election System

Was invited to speak at this forum. This is the excerpt of my speech.

How to reform the election system 

Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and family, observers and activists. Welcome to this forum. My name is Ti Lik, and I am tasked with opening the topic of reform of the election system.


I do so from the vantage of someone who has been there and done that. I have seen the elections from both sides of the camp albeit on different levels, I am currently also experiencing pushing for change from a non-partisan vantage point and of being someone who wishes change to come and will support the party who genuinely pushes for that change.


By targeting the election system we are also referring to the process of elections, the structure of the state institutions and its flaws.


Now, the question of reform of the country and its institutions is a forgone issue. By and large people would agree that reform in those areas are much needed and all of us will agree that change would have to take place in accordance to law or via the establishment of a new legal order.


1.                  take place in accordance to law – self explanatory

2.                  establishment of a new legal order – setting a new government via extra – electoral action / revolution / coup etc.


Very often the much needed reform is described as something to be done only after you secure power which falls under (1). This is the ploy of the People’s Action Party.


In Singapore, the example of the PAP being in power and having majority in parliament enables them the right to twist the system into its weirdest contortions.


For the system is skewed to give whoever is in power an advantage to stay in power. Only advocating for change when you come into power is as good as not advocating for change.


For some proponents of reform make a feeble attempt, they ask for reform but they are obviously getting nowhere and the PAP pushes their and continues to push its agenda that any changes to the law would be right so long as it is approved by a parliamentary majority.


To seek reform only after you come to power and have the legal right to do so is one of the most senseless political moves a party can take.


Even worse, to clamour for reform by putting it in some pre-election manifesto and then thereafter endorse the ruling party in more ways then one is worse. That’s fraud on the electorate.


What then is the way to go?


The key is in seeking the path which we can take to achieve reform of the election system


This brings us squarely to the question which is the topic of today which is HOW do we reform the election system. We are not talking solely about the end product of how the election should system should be BUT HOW we can achieve it and go about the mission.


When you have only 2 seats in parliament and the system has kept you at 2 seats for the last 14 years 3 GEs, 1997, 2001, 2006 is it not clear that the system has succeeded for the PAP and worked to its advantage?


Since none of the proponents of reform currently able to seek reform by raising it in parliament and our friends in parliament are far too comfortable and cosy with the ruling party to breathe such words, then I suggest “extra-parliamentary” and “extra-legal” means of forcing the PAPpy hands on the reform documents.


Now the pacifists and apologists will jump at such words “extra-parliamentary” and “extra-legal” means and will be quick to accuse me of advocating illegal means. And of course claim that getting into parliament is a must first before instituting any changes.


But I must clarify that “extra” means “outside” but does not necessarily mean “contra” which is “against” and therefore I can perfectly claim that what I am advocating will be legal and hopefully effective ways of forcing the PAP into introducing election reform.


Taking “extra-parliamentary” measures means not restricting oneself to just “parliamentary” attempts which then enables one to bypass the excuses of those in parliament for not opening their mouths.


“Extra-parliamentary political pressure” would be the way to bring about change and make it easier for opposition to get into parliament.


For if the same formula and the same gameplan has yielded no progress after so many elections is it not time we tried another way? To borrow an oft quoted phrase from the multilevel marketing talks.


“If you keep on doing what you do, you will keep on getting what you get.”


We all know what we want in a reformed election system but the Question is HOW?

 We all know the pressing need for an independent elections commission and the need for removing unfair laws that create barriers favouring the incumbent. BUT HOW do we achieve this? My answer would be to openly, strongly and fiercely campaign for it. 

Openly canvassing for it creates political awareness and pressure. Moral pressure for the PAP to salvage the last vestiges of pride and self-worth of being even morally entitled to lead this nation.


Of course in doing this, you come up against the 154th Media. The 154th media works against us we often say. But to me they are a pro-establishment barometer. Because the PAP no longer has the quality of candidates to take on the opposition in a one to one fight and the ability to handle new opposition in parliament the ability to rally a nation with its call. This has resulted in them using the media to push their agendas.


To me what is reported in the media betrays the deepest fears of the PAP and when they are smarting and when they hurt.


Our pappy ministers have been known to hide behind their media and let the media trumpet the pro-establishment line in response to what is happening on the ground on the opposition front.


The PAPpies will always attempt to relieve pressure by garnering obscure viewpoints and buttress them with well thought out arguments and publicizing them as being widely held and sway the population and in doing so hopefully whitewash their errors and mistakes and inadequacies.


You will realize that the PAP does not have the guts to engage in a debate with hard talking opposition outside parliament but they will seek to sway opinion by obtuse and oblique articles written by political commentators and writers.


Against all this, speaking up will never be an instant fix but it is a step ahead. Why?


Speaking up, I do not just mean verbal, I could mean many anyway of spreading the message. Writing, blogging, internet etc etc. Communication aimed at undoing the domination the PAP has created which rests on 3 evils:


  1. The shadow of fear – The fear of sedition charges, defamation suits for saying the wrong thing and the past often used Internal Security Detention.


  1. The illusion of hope – The illusion that if you stick within the boundaries they have placed on you as the opposition, you still stand a chance of getting into parliament to then make an impact and a difference


  1. The diversion of focus – The endorsing of acceptable opposition which they feel extremely comfortable with which obviously are too happy to work with the skewed system and would not push boundaries neither inside nor outside parliament.

 How do we banish the shadow of fear? 

1.                  The people who should, can and able must speak up – The ready able and willing to criticize and the PAPpy actions, deeds and policy harshly without any need to sugar coat the criticism so that it may pave the way and embolden the fearful and timid to do the same.


2.                  Pushing the boundaries, who pushes the boundaries? I need not say much I would only need to look in the direction of the SDP.

 How do we remove the illusion of hope? 

3.                  By breaking the illusion of hope that having a PAP approved opposition will help counter the PAP and change the system which the PAP has manipulated to its needs.


4.                  By recognizing the fact that how control of state institutions and the election process has proven successful in creating an uneven playing field for the opposition.


a.       The PAP (Lee Kuan Yew) has openly admitted that they have engineered the election system to produce victories for themselves


b.      The PAP controls the government and accordingly they control the media, the government machinery, the elections department they even control how some opposition parties think.

 c.       Their latest strategy is to dilute the ever growing dissension in the Singaporean voice by allowing 14K and above foreigners to become Singapore citizens within the first 11 months of the last year and a large number of them I believe are being inducted into the pro-establishment grassroots or even the PAP itself. The PAP is Pimping and Prostituting the nation to the fullest. How do we prevent the diversion of focus? 

5.                  By exposing PAP apologists and sympathizers amongst the opposition.


a.       By breaking the illusion that the opportunity for change will come when such approved opposition enters parliament. And that is if they enter parliament.


b.      By reminding the electorate that the PAP has openly approved the current opposition in parliament and they have done the same in return. Reminding the electorate that in the many years of approval and consistent and mutual back scratching they have given to each other, what has been achieved?


c.       By asking ourselves, who set the rules, who do the rules serve? What have the rules created for the opposition and Singapore as a whole? They want us to play within their rules. Do we want to play within their rules? And do we want to endorse opposition that plays within their rules?


Thank you.



January 21, 2008 - Posted by | Politics


  1. […] chiatilik wrote an interesting post today on SDP Forum on 20th January 2008 – How to Reform the Election SystemHere’s a quick excerptBut I must clarify that extra means outside but does not necessarily mean contra which is against and therefore I can perfectly claim that what I am advocating will be legal and hopefully effective ways of forcing the PAP into … […]

    Pingback by Claim Blog » Blog Archive » SDP Forum on 20th January 2008 - How to Reform the Election System | January 21, 2008 | Reply

  2. If you kept criticize TiLik behind his back, it wont be good. let him realised his mistakes.
    This is not private affairs, you criticize him behind his back and i have the proof. Might as well u criticize him here.

    Comment by nfirdaus | January 23, 2008 | Reply

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