Thursday, August 25, 2011

PE2011: Power to decide in voters' hands

The campaigning for the presidential election is winding down and we go into cooling-off mode tomorrow. But what an exciting week it has been.

This past week has seen all four candidates staging their own rallies, addressing the masses through televised broadcasts and engaging each other in debates and roundtable discussions.

While their individual performances in the broadcasts, debates and roundtable discussions have varied, there is one measure that could serve as a proxy for the level of support for them - the turn-out at their rallies.

And if such a measure is considered valid, then as at the time of writing this posting, I would have to say that former civil servant Tan Jee Say is well ahead of the pack, with the exception of Dr Tan Cheng Bock who is only holding his rally tonight.

It had been estimated that Mr Tan Jee Say's rally had seen a turn-out of an estimated 30,000 people who had come to hear him and listen to testimonials about him. In contrast, the turn-outs at former deputy prime minister Dr Tony Tan's and former NTUC Income chief Tan Kin Lian's rallies paled in comparison.

However, this lead in the run-up to polling day on 27 August could change if tonight's indoor rally at Singapore Expo by former member of parliament Dr Tan Cheng Bock sees an even bigger turn-out. But given the space constraints at Singapore Expo, I do not see the likelihood of Dr Tan overtaking Mr Tan’s lead.

Mr Tan Jee Say's current lead, based on voter turn-out, could be attributed to having been the first to hold his rally, staging it at a central location and holding it in the evening. The sea of people that filled Toa Payoh Stadium to overflowing brought back memories of scenes at the Workers' Party rallies during the May general election.

But does the huge turn-out mean that voters had identified with and accepted Mr Tan as the alternative voice, as the non-PAP affiliated candidate and as the so-called truly independent presidential candidate?

Well, yes, the turn-out does suggest that these factors resonated with the people, who since the general election realize the power of their votes, and if they embrace his platform of being the Heart of the Nation, then Mr Tan could surely be a runaway winner in this election.

On another level, the huge turn-out can also be seen as a people-centred endorsement of Mr Tan Jee Say and his platform. Contrast this with the endorsements that Dr Tony Tan had secured during his campaign.

Despite the many endorsements of Dr Tony Tan, there is still much doubt whether these endorsements will translate into actual votes for him. This is because the endorsements were mainly from the leadership strata and not the mass membership of the unions, associations and trade bodies.

It is also worth noting that Dr Tan had admitted during his lunchtime rally at Raffles Place that he may not win the election, suggesting a recognition that the ground may have shifted even more against anything that was remotely associated with the PAP, since the general election.

Going by popular sentiment, it seems quite clear who is likely to emerge tops in the presidential election, but as the saying goes, “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings”. This means that all the candidates still have everything to lose as well as everything to gain.

But there isn’t much that the candidates can do now since they have come to the end of their allotted campaign period. After the clock strikes 12 tonight, they will have to leave their fate in the hands of the voters who on Saturday will, in their wisdom, decide who to elect as Singapore’s seventh president.

And the candidates can only hope that they have each done enough to convince you and me that they are deserving of our vote.

It only leaves me to remind you and myself to vote wisely!


Cynical Investor said...

Err someone who attended rally estimated the crowd to be closer to 10,000.

This would make it closer to MSM report of 8,000.

Revise yr analysis?

Maverick a.k.a Jumari Naiyan said...

Thanks for the update. Even with the crowd at TJS' rally estimated to be closer to 10,000, I would still go out on a limb to say that TJS had a slight lead just based on crowd turn-out (as at the time of my writing the post and TCB's rally was only going to take place later that evening). But I concede that sentiments are malleable and can shift over time (measured in days in this case) and that attendance at rallies does not automatically translate into real votes. At the end of the day, my aim was to stir some thinking in voters instead of just having everyone riding the wave. My hope is that rational heads will prevail when we go to the polls tomorrow and that we will all, collectively, have made the right choice for President.

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