Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Queueing we will go

Orderly QueueingIn Singapore, where shopping is a national pastime, you'd would often see people queueing at the entrances of certain shops that are giving away limited numbers of merchandise for a song. The last time, the furniture and home appliances retailer, Courts, was pricing some merchandise at 32c, so naturally, the queues formed before the store opened. After so much practice, Singaporeans have become great queuers, and they have taken this skill to the political arena.

For the General Elections, candidates need to book the grounds reserved for speech making and rallies. But only that many are set aside for this purpose by the authorities. In Single Member Constituencies, there is all of only one location set aside for such mass events. So I can understand when Opposition candidate, Mr Chiam See Tong, got his supporters to join the queue (actually head the queue because his supporters were the first in line on Wednesday though the bookings only open on Thursday). Everyone, including those candidates from the incumbent party, has to stand in line. Oh, what a great country this is, when the fields are so level. But when you think further, this orderly system is just a big fat waste of time.

Consider: In any one constituency, there is at most 3 parties contesting in the recent history of Singapore. Given 9 days of campaigning, isn't it easier just to draw lots among the parties? This way, each of the three parties will have at most 3 day/nights to hold their rallies - more than enough time to get their message across. If any party needs more days than that, then they should stop speaking nonsense. So why queue? Just draw lots. We should be taking the que from the IR coming our way, right?

Ok, so some days are hotter than others, especially the first and last days of campaigning. But drawing lots is still fair, isn't it? As even the MM would say, its the luck of the draw. But each party will still have enough opportunities to hold their mass rallies within the 9 days. With only two-cornered fights this time around, there are even more opportunities. The Elections Authority just need to set the appropriate rules, for example, that no one political party can book for more than half the total number of election days. This rule should be extremely easy to impose and monitor, right? Shouldn't be a problem for a First World government to handle.

So lets do away with this queueing nonsense. It makes our General Election look so totally out of sync with the spirit of our up and coming IR projects.

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