Saturday, December 1, 2007

Political opinion polls and non-censorships

Pardon me for being forgetful. Did we see such letters being published in our mainstream media during last year’s General Elections? Are Singaporeans so apathetic that not even a single soul wrote such “offensive” letters to the press during the election time? Or did the press simply practice self-censorship during the period?

Also, there are numerous opinion polls on whether children feel happy and on whether people feel disgusted about gays etc but there aren't any opinion surveys on the performance of the Prime Minister and his government. Isn’t it a common practice in many democratic countries and a good way to ensure good governance? I think we have a lot to learn from the Thais:

Thailand's Election Opinion Polls:

Democrats way ahead, says poll

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is in the lead for the position of prime minister, winning the backing of 46 per cent of those polled. PPP leader Samak Sundaravej trailed far behind with 23 per cent. Banharn Silapa-archa of Chart Thai received 6 per cent and Suwit Khunkitti of Puea Pandin got 3 per cent.

PPP headed for 190 seats

The People Power Party will win as many as 190 seats in the election, sweeping all regions except Bangkok and the South, where the predicted runners-up, the Democrat Party, is more popular, according to the first analysis of the upcoming election by the Nation Group.

Two of the letters to The Nation, the national newspaper:

Political promises are worth the price of a vote: a pittance

The finding from a poll that more than 50 per cent of people would accept money in exchange for their votes should be given serious thought.

It's easy for us to say that these people don't understand that vote-buying will harm the nation. But if we look from another perspective, the finding could indicate these people don't believe in promises made by any political party. They probably believe that promises are just marketing tools to get votes without any real intention to keep them. They might not believe that if they don't sell their votes, in the next few years they will have a school as good as Triam Udom not too far from their homes. They probably don't believe also that their children will have a better future. People, no matter how illiterate, will choose the better choice from their point of view. And if they choose to sell their votes, it could mean that they don't believe their living conditions will improve if they choose otherwise.

If politicians cannot prove through their deeds that they can improve the lives of the poor, increasing numbers of people may sell their votes for cash. And we cannot blame them. While we feel sad about this, it is an embarrassment for the politicians in the sense that a lot of people believe no promises of any party are worth more than a small sum of money.

Prichar, Bangkok

One baht for the forces, one baht for the children

When politicians recently controlled the purse strings of government, they voted themselves big pay rises. Now we have the military in charge, and surprise, they vote themselves big pay rises and a giant budget increase for weapons of dubious need. What if educators were in charge of government; would we then get ample budget for educating children? Here's my proposal: for every baht allocated for military spending, one baht be allocated for education, and one additional baht be earmarked for social welfare to take care of the sick, the elderly and the poor.

Currently, there are many kids who don't go to school for various reasons, all having to do with lack of money: their parents can't afford required new uniforms, shoes and/or books. Another reason is that kids are compelled to work for their parents to eke out a few extra baht per day to survive. Instead of maintaining an aircraft carrier that's non-functional and purchasing two new subs, the government should give more than lip service to seeing that no child is deprived of an education due to poverty.

Ken Albertsen, Chiang Rai

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