Singapore’s 17th parliamentary general election will be held on 11 September 2015. Back in 2011 General Election, the People’s Action Party (PAP) won 80 out of 87 seats but only managed to gather 60% of the popular votes. So how did a political party that win only 60 percent of the vote could get 80 out of 87 seats (92%)?
According to The Online Citizen (TOC), in a recent event, “SG50+ Conference” held on 2 July , Dr Fareed Zakaria asked Prime Minister of Singapore and Secretary General of People’s Action Party (PAP) how is it possible and whether such an unfair electorate system will change.
His answer was “That depends on how the electorate votes and how the votes are distributed. You might ask in the western countries how a party which wins 30 percent of the vote can form the government. It happens, In America not quite so extreme, but in Britain it just happened, it’s an electoral system; it’s a system which is meant to give the country a stable and effective government. It’s not meant to give a country a proportional representation Parliament. The purest proportional representation Parliament, I think it’s in Israel, and I am not sure whether they are totally happy with the system.”
So is it alright, since it is a common practice, to have a tweaked electoral system to ensure that a ruling political party can stay in power even if it does not reflect the public choice?
As a Christian, how should we respond?
“A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.” Proverbs 11:1
“Differing weights and differing measures, Both of them are abominable to the LORD.” Proverbs 20:10
“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,And to walk humbly with your God?”
Should we just turn our eyes away and chuck it as “favor of the Lord” or “God’s will”, or should we make a stand against such unfairness and call it a “false balance”?
Does God need to resort to unjust methods to do His will? Is this the way God raise up kings and rulers in the Bible? That sound more like the devil!
Based on the electoral divisions in the 2011 general elections, even if People’s Action Party (PAP) received just 23.8% of the popular vote, the party can still retain a simple majority in parliament to form government (44 out of 87 contestable seats). This figure changes to 27.2% (49 out of 99 seats) if we include all Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs) and Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs).
With 27.2% of the popular vote, or support from a little over a quarter of Singaporeans, the PAP can pass any law it wants, even if the law affects everyone in Singapore.
Moreover, the PAP only needed 31.5% (66 out of 87 seats) of the popular vote to have the two-thirds parliamentary supermajority needed to make constitutional amendments. NCMPs and NMPs cannot vote on such issues.
Based on information from the Elections Department the number of electors in GE 2011 was 2,460,484. So, the minimum for 44 seats would be 584,644 (23.8%) votes and the minimum for 58 seats would be 774,323 (31.5%) votes.
Under the current electoral system and constituencies similar to those seen in GE 2011, a situation where the PAP loses power, what PAP politicians sometimes call a “freak election result” or even its two-third majority, is highly improbable. Singapore is more likely to see a PAP government that has lost the popular vote (less than 50% of total votes cast) but retains a parliamentary majority or even a two-thirds supermajority.
Talking about unfairness, this has to be top of the line.
So, how should we, as Christian, vote during the coming 2015 General Election? Should we be loyal and submit under PAP since they were the ruling party (Parliament was dissolved). As a Christian should we even consider the opposition parties since they do not have track records like the ruling party?
As a Christian, we do not have to support any political party, be it ruling or oppositions. We should support Singapore, a Singapore-under-God. 51,000 Christians came together to pray for Singapore on the 5 July 2015 during the Jubilee Day Of Prayer (JDOP).
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.“
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; …”
However, I do not believe the “governing authority” here meant the “ruling political party”. PAP cannot pass any law and implement it unless it already went through the Parliament even though they may have more than 90% of the seats. They still have to bring it to the Parliament and both their fellow party members and the opposition parties will debate on it before it is fine tuned and pass out as a law.
So in this case, shouldn’t our “governing authority” be the Parliament instead? If so, then our governing authority consist of both the ruling party and the opposition party with all the NCMPs and NMPs.
During the biblical days of the Roman empire when the above scriptures were written, Rome has already changed from a more democratic government to a one-man ruling emperor. Therefore when Apostle Paul wrote about submitting to the authority, it is an authority dominated by a one-man monarchy system.
Since Singapore is a democratic country, we now have the privilege and responsibility of choosing the authority we wish to submit under. As such we can choose one that is honest. righteous, fair, kind and serve it’s people. However, there is no one political party in Singapore who are not self-seeking and are more party-minded than Singaporean-minded. Hence the reason why we as Christian should not line ourselves up with any political party in Singapore, at least not this time round. Not only are they all party-minded, some even advocate changes that will harm the society or families contrary to the Biblical standards that God instituted.
Although Singapore is a circular country, there is freedom to believe and to worship God here. The Singapore constitution allow us, to exercise freedom to believe in whatever religion we want to. We have freedom to go to any church we wish and even evangelize when the opportunity arises to win souls for the Lord. The truth is, unless God intervene, Singapore will never become a Christian nation and the it’s law will not be based strictly on the biblical laws. The best we can do, at this juncture, is to pray that Singapore will continue to be a free circular country so that there are freedom on the ground for others to come to know Christ. We just have to do all the hard work and not rely on being spoon fed!
Another fact that we as Christian have to accept is that Singapore will always flow along with the western world policies trends , at least partial policy, whether we like it or not. We are a more reserved society, therefore we are slower in following policies trends with more ground work to prepare for and a longer time for society acceptance. Meaning our human rights and freedom of speech will become better as time goes by. We may not be like the United States or Europe countries but we are getting there at our own pace.
There goes the same for the gay rights and marriage in Singapore. The repealing of Penal Code Section 377A will eventually be successful although we hope it will be delayed as far back as possible. Like what Bishop T.D. Jake told his congregation on the Sunday after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling,
“I’m not really as concerned about this as a lot of people are. I’m really not as concerned about it. I think that we should not lose our mind about the world being the world and the Church being the Church. This is not a news flash.”
Is it so hard to believe that the world is never going to become more moral or biblical based? All we can do as Christian is to stand for what we believe even if it means persecution from the world and hope that our faith can somehow bring the revelation of the truth to the unbelieving public.
Truly, the best thing we can pray for is freedom. Because even in the worst situation, if we have the freedom to speak God’s Word, we can still be used by God to influence individual mind. Without freedom it will be a lot harder and riskier.
How then should we Christian vote to ensure a fair play in the Parliament?
- Vote with the consideration of the benefits of Singaporeans. Vote for Singapore. Consider what kind of Singapore we want in the future. What type of Authority (Parliament) we want to submit to? A just, honorable and dedicated one or one that is one-sided, unchecked and not in touch with the common public.
- Do not aligned ourselves with any political party. They are all party-minded and will not think twice to lie, to hide the truth, bad-mouthing opponent or manipulate us to get our vote. Aligning ourselves with them means we are alright and agreeable with their actions. Rather we should aligned ourselves with God, the Almighty.
- Do believe everything you hear. Ask God for discernment. A lot of promises and claims can be made for the sake of the election and after that it will be conveniently forgotten or ignored. Mud throwing is also very common tactics too, but remember, he who throw mud may miss but his hand is already soiled.
- Do not vote in fear. Do not be afraid of changes. In the world there are many countries whose ruling party changes often and yet their economy did not collapse, they are not bankrupted and there were no political unrest. Singapore is unique but we are not that unique. Our late Mr Lee Kuan Yew has put in place measures that ensure foreign and local policies cannot be altered by individual minister even if a different Government may emerge. And as mentioned above, even if the ruling party only received 27.2% of favorable votes, they will still be able to form the Government.
- Vote for future freedom. Consider what type of parliament mixture will ensure more inclusive representations in Singapore. Don’t forget that one day we may fall into the cracks of society in certain policies. During those time, we will wish that our voice can be heard and exceptions can be made for us. There are many who are constantly falling into these cracks and if no one will speak out for them, there is no hope of any help. Freedom of speech allow future God’s work to be done freely in a changing and degrading world.
- God is in control. So vote with your heart. Do not vote for someone because that candidate is a Christian. Many Christians are genuine but not capable enough to serve as an MP. Do not vote because of their social standing in society. We have a lot of examples of good profession MPs but of little use for the last 2 elections.
Although all constituencies are being contested, the PAP has already won even before the election. Our PM can start writing his victory speech. It is a matter of how many seats can they garnered this election. Will they take back what they have lost to the Worker’s Party or will they lose even more to the oppositions. It is a fact that even if the oppositions formed a coalition, they will not be able to form the Government. A freak result is highly impossible.
Should we continue to put PAP on their toes so that they can serve the people better or should we just give them another comfortable 4 or 5 years? It all depends on you.
Pray, ask God for wisdom and do not cross the wrong box.