Election Lessons from SG50

On my MIND? General Elections! In Zambia, in USA, in UK, in ASIA and Africa. Some Lessons which may be learnt. Some Salient Points like “COOLING-OFF” period and “BEST – LOSERs” MPs.

With wall-to-wall coverage of the U.S. presidential election campaign, you could be forgiven for missing the fact that Singapore is also going to the polls this 9/11. Friday 11th of September 2015. The elections have been called earlier. If the current Government had wanted, they could have gone up to January 2017. They cut short their term of Office. Strategic if one asked me. Some Salient points to take note, explore, consider and maybe take a leaf from.

Compulsory voting: This solves the APATHY cry mostly in Zambia. All Singaporeans who are 21 or over have to vote on election day or stand to lose their right to vote in subsequent polls. A list of people who didn’t vote is published by the elections department after the ballot, and offenders are removed from the register of electors. Getting back on the ledger is possible only if you have a valid reason for not having voted, like delivering a baby, or are willing to pay S$50 ($35). For many Singaporeans, Sept. 11 will be the first time they get to vote, as opposition parties will contest every parliamentary seat for the first time since independence in 1965. A record 2.5 million Singaporeans will be at the ballot boxes this year, according to the Elections Department. Lessons Learnt here is that Electoral systems have to work. National IDs and have to be tamper proof and the system have to be incorruptible. Singapore is surely a shining example.

Quick campaign – Zambia held Presidential Elections in January 2015. By February, the Country was back in a Campaign mood for the September/October 2016 General Elections. That obviously may be a cost to the Campaign teams from all Political Parties involved. Not forgetting the diluting of Campaign messages which by then would have become stale and not impactful. Singapore has one of the shortest official campaign periods in the world. This year, candidates will get nine (9) days, the minimum required by the constitution, to woo voters.

The country also observes a “cooling off day”” , where no campaigning is allowed on the eve of polling day. That is meant for electorates/voters to deeply reflect and digest and dissect the campaign messages and make up their own ADULT minds to settle for who they want to lead the Country and manage resources on their behalf. Compare that with the UK, Zambia or indeed the USA where campaigning for the Nov. 8, 2016, presidential election has been in full swing for some time now. Reminds me of TRUMP and Hillary Clinton

No surveys – The UK Surveys were wrong. The STANBIC Survey on Sata and MMD in 2011 were wrong. The 2015 Zambian election survey between HH and EL were wrong. In Singapore, it is actually illegal to publish the results of an election survey or conduct exit polls once an election is called, offenses punishable with up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine not exceeding S$1,500. The Attorney-General’s Chambers issued “stern warnings” to Singapore Press Holdings Ltd., publisher of the island’s most-widely read paper, The Straits Times, in 2013 after it printed the results of a survey of voters during a by- election. Doctor Joseph Ong was arrested in 2011 for publishing an exit poll during the 2011 general election online, AsiaOne reported at the time.

No entertainers – Pilato, JK, Moses Brothers, Black Muntu. Mampi, Bikiloni and Prof. Difficulty, Dorika Ndaifulila, Dangerous Jo”burg, Black Muntu, Dandi Crazy (Donchi Kubeba), General Kanene and such many others are not allowed to demean others on the Political scene. Candidates can only hold outdoor political rallies at designated sites, which are allocated through a ballot. Parties are also barred from sharing the stage with traditional Getai singers, live performances held during the Hungry Ghost Festival that coincides with this year’s vote, a likely draw for middle- aged voters, the Straits Times reported Aug. 15. That’s different from election campaigns in ZAMBIA, India and Indonesia, USA, where actors and entertainers frequently endorse candidates and appear in campaign rallies.

Group districts – The government created multi-member wards in 1988 where voters elect a group of candidates instead of an individual. The system requires parties to field as many as six candidates, including at least one of a minority ethnicity. While some have argued the rule makes it harder for smaller opposition parties to field candidates, it also resulted in the removal of then- foreign minister George Yeo in 2011 when the ruling People’s Action Party lost in his district in the general election.

One idea the never ending Zambian Constitution making process can explore and consider is the issue of the “BEST-LOSERS”. An MP in PF Mandevu Counstituency for example who loses by 50 votes but has been voted for by 20000+ votes is much better than an MP who won an election in another constituent voted by 900 voters beating his/her other 10 rival MPs by 20 votes only. Singapore reserves parliamentary seats for Non- Constituency Members of Parliament, who are the “best-losers” among the opposition candidates. The system ensures a minimum number of opposition members of parliament after each election. While NCMPs are entitled to vote on most issues, they don’t represent any particular district. There were three in parliament before it was dissolved for the upcoming election .

Just sharing.

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