Apr 20, 2011

Editing Epic FAIL: It Ain’t Right

A letter writer to The Straits Times Forum had his letter entirely edited, and reorganised (“Towards a Native Democracy” at ST Forum).

image

The dude complains that the meaning of his letter was changed by the edits. Which is kind true upon comparing the original (“A young first-time voter's view of the General Election” at TODAY) with the edited letter – an entirely rewritten piece that’s more forgiving and vague than the original.

But if you read it closely, you’ll see that the meaning really doesn’t change. But it’s been so obfuscated that it seems different (that’s the problem with condensing information –you lose detail).

Rationalisations aside, why did the editor cut, paste, slice and dice the poor writer’s letter into something else? That’s just bad form and if the ST Forum editors get ass-reamed for it, well, they had just bent over for your convenience.

And what the heck is a “first world parliament”?

Nah. The original versus the edited

A young first-time voter's view of the General Election

by Chua Sheng Yang

It is undeniable that the Government has done an amazing job in raising Singapore to the status of a first-world country in a short space of 40 years and that they continue to implement sound policies to ensure the economic engine drives us forward.

However, there is always the danger that the overemphasis on policies designed to fuel economic growth could result in the sidelining of policies that might improve the welfare of citizens at the expense of growth. (As one participant at a recent forum with the Prime Minister put it, Singaporeans no longer just want a competent Government but also one that shows empathy.)

This scenario is more plausible should a "group-think" mentality emerge within the Government, with no Opposition voices to provide a different perspective. It is interesting to note that of the new PAP candidates introduced, few felt that any policies needed review or change, despite many Singaporeans having recently raised numerous issues affecting our lives.

Does this suggest that, if elected, they would vote along party lines instead of what they personally believe to be in the best interest of their constituents? Or do they think that the Government is doing a perfect job without room for improvement? Either way, both scenarios could have negative implications for the country.

The detractors of a two-party system are right in saying that it can lead to an inefficient system of government, where differences in ideology result in an impotent Parliament.

I personally have been a strong opponent of two-party systems as implemented in the West. I feel this is where Singaporeans need to define the two-party system some say they want. It is not unthinkable that a two-party system can result in cooperation between both parties to achieve the best result for Singapore, if Singaporeans make it clear that is what they want from their political system.

As a young Singaporean likely to have the opportunity to vote for the first time and have an impact my country's future, I have paid close attention to the candidates unveiled by each political party.

While the PAP has revealed candidates of unquestionable pedigree, both in terms of educational background and careers, the nagging feeling remains that they are candidates I cannot fully identify with. Would they be able to identify with my concerns on the cost of housing, transportation and the general cost of living?
For example, one candidate remarked that lowering public transport fares could lead to the operators being unable to cover operating costs, as is the case in many countries where transportation is subsidised. Yet the company he mentioned reported a net profit last year of more than S$50 million. Perhaps as a layman, I cannot understand the intricacies of finance.

On the other hand, the Opposition has revealed a slew of candidates comprising Singaporeans from all walks of life and ones that I can identify with more closely. Yet internal strife dogs the parties and they seem unable to coordinate their efforts to run an effective election at the moment, with disputes over how to carve up the battleground.

A more unified approach, such as each party contributing one member each to run in a GRC, would appeal more. However, such thinking is simplistic given the many different political agendas.

Another concern is the repeated caveats by the Opposition that they are not yet ready to govern, which causes people to hesitate in voting for them as they do not want an unexpected election result where the Opposition is put into power.

Either way, this is shaping up to be a watershed election that I am eagerly looking forward to.

This Today reader is a 31-year-old management consultant and a voter in Yuhua.

from TODAY

 

Towards a native democracy

A TWO-PARTY system can lead to an inefficient system of government where ideological differences result in an impotent Parliament ('WP's fictional First World Parliament' by People's Action Party MP Indranee Rajah'; yesterday).

I firmly oppose Western-style two-party systems, but we must define the system of democracy we want by being selective of MPs.

We should define how we want our electoral system to work. It is not unthinkable that a two-party system can result in inter-party cooperation to achieve what's best for Singapore, if we make it clear that is what we want.

While the Government has done an amazing job in raising Singapore to First World status within a short span of some 40 years, and continues to implement sound policies that drive us forward, we should not assume that the Government can do no wrong and that all policies will always lead to public good.

The latter is even more plausible if a group-think mentality emerges within the Government, with no opposition voices to provide a different perspective.

For instance, few of the new PAP candidates felt that any of our policies needed review or change, despite many Singaporeans having recently raised many livelihood issues.

If elected, will PAP newbies vote along party lines instead of their personal convictions about what's best?

Or do they think that the Government is doing a perfect job and has no room for improvement? Either way, both scenarios may have negative national implications.

It is not desirable to have an antagonistic opposition whose main aim is to prevent the functioning of government.

I hope Singapore's system can evolve so that the opposition serves to provide valuable input on policies in the public interest - and that such input will be seriously considered by the Government instead of being dismissed out of hand.

Hopefully, we will make fact out of fiction and develop our own version of a First World Parliament that will benefit the world as well.

Chua Sheng Yang

from ST Forum



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