Thursday, May 11, 2006

Parrot Press and lame ducks

As a journalism student, I must say that the Singapore mainstream media never ceases to amaze me.

I have been TRUELY APPAULED by its coverage in the recent days. Everybody already knows that its coverage of the elections is biased, and anyone who has had any alternative exposure to the election either by attending opposition rallies or via the non-mainstream press would agree with me.

They already toed the government line with regards to the Gomez incident so fantastically enthusiatically, faithfully reiterating and presenting the relevant ministers' golden words. And gave it headline coverage for 3 entire days out of the 9 days of campaigning.

And many other things of which we have yet to do a content analysis.

Fast forward to the results. When it was announced on TV that PAP had 66.6% of all votes cast and PM Lee called it a strong mandate - I was laughing my head off.

Here was a case of sheer denial. Yes, you may have subsequently read the analysis by some political observers or academics on CNA or ST who go to the tune of '66.6% is very strong compared to the mandate given to the ruling party in most democratic countries'.
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But hear me out. In these OTHER countries, are there:

1) a severe lack of non-ruling political parties and people standing up for elections?

2) walkover victories for almost 1/2 of the seats such that about only half of the people actually vote?

3) constant redrawing of district boundaries that people no longer know where they live although they haven't shifted house?

4) an Electoral Department that reports to the Prime Minister's Office (the PM is an elected person too - so isn't this a conflict of interest?)

5) a PARROT PRESS that doesn't give balanced coverage (as explained above)?

6) the ruling party, knowing that it will form the next government and control the budget, threatens people in opposition wards that they will be missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars of funds allocation for the improvement of their estate?

So, thank you for staying with me through this mini-discussion, we have concluded that it hardly qualifies as a 'strong' mandate, given the context.
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Zoom back to the results announcement. PM says its a strong mandate. (I thought the press was being a big cynical when in one of the inner pages the title went "PM gets his strong mandate") - perhaps refered to his self-delusion.

And the next day the parrot press resounds all over. Strong mandate! Strong mandate!

Anybody remembered that the 'suicide squad' opposition gang in AMK consisting of rookies caused the PM to actually get a lower percentage in his ward than the PAP average? (66.1% vs 66.6%)

and today, we have the best front page title yet -

"PAP picks up 81% of votes cast overseas"

"... On their own, the overseas voters registered 81 per cent support for the People's Action Party across the 16 constituencies contested - well above the 66.6 per cent that the ruling party received here.
...
Taken in isolation, they would have handed Potong Pasir to the PAP ( PAP 9, SDA 3) but given Nee Soon Central to the Workers' Party ( WP 2, PAP 1)"

STOP WASTING MY TIME WITH SUCH NONSENSE.

Don't keep putting the percentage results of the 335 overseas voters against that of the 1 million+ voters at home!!

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