Contestants: George Bush (pro-Iraq war; anti-gay marriage) versus John Kerry (anti-Iraq war; pro-gay marriage).
Result: George Bush won.
In the aftermath, what happened?
(1) When Americans discussed the Iraq war, a line often heard was "The election results show that the majority of the people of America support the US invading Iraq."
(2) When Americans discussed gay issues, a line often heard was "The election results show that the majority of people of America are against gay marriages."
Back then, Mr Wang was pretty amazed to hear such arguments coming from people who apparently even seemed intelligent. The arguments, of course, are flawed and illogical.
For example, some voters would have been pro-Iraq war but also pro-gay marriage. Other voters would have been anti-Iraq war but also anti-gay marriage. Yet other voters would have felt very strongly (one way or the other) about the Iraqi war, but were ambivalent or undecided about gay marriage. Yet other voters would have felt very strongly (one way or the other) about gay marriage, but were ambivalent or undecided about the Iraqi war.
Yet in the end each voter in the above-mentioned categories only gets one vote, either for Bush or for Kerry. If a person votes for Bush, it doesn't necessarily mean that he supports the invasion - it may only mean that he is against gay marriage. If a person votes for Kerry, it doesn't necessarily mean that he is against the Iraq war - it may only mean that he is pro-gay marriage.
So it was certainly quite simplistic to conclude:
(1) "The election results show that the majority of the people of America support the US invading Iraq."; or
(2) "The election results show that the majority of people of America are against gay marriages."
Mr Wang brings this up now because of the interesting situation in Thailand. PM Thaksin faced a big protest in Bangkok, over the Shin Corporation matter. So he held elections. And he won the elections. And all around the world, winning elections traditionally means that you have the people's support, the mandate to govern.
And yet Thaksin has now stepped down.
This leads us to some interesting new grounds. The Thai situation is obviously somewhat anomalous. But what we can see is that the formal results of political elections (eg the number of seats a party holds in Parliament; the percentages of its election victories) don't necessarily lead to any obvious conclusions about how much trust the people have in a particular political leader or a particular political party or its approach to running the country.Straits Times April 6, 2006
Thaksin steps aside, leaving his deputy in charge
By Nirmal Ghosh
BANGKOK - THAI Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra moved out of his government office, family photos in hand yesterday, leaving his trusted deputy Chidchai Vanasatidya in charge.
'These are pictures of my family that were on my desk. I'm taking them home. I want to rest now,' he told reporters, after chairing a Cabinet meeting at Government House.
'I will be around,' he added, indicating he may visit his hometown in Chiang Mai.
Mr Thaksin's spokesman, Dr Suraphong Suebwonglee, told The Straits Times: 'He will not be responsible for the job from now; he will be absent. If any laws or rules in the Constitution state that he has to come in for anything, to sign documents, he will do so. But if not he will not come here again.
'But he remains an MP, as well as Thai Rak Thai party leader,' Dr Suraphong added.
The move came as the Election Commission released an update on the results for the April 2 polls, showing that the Thai Rak Thai party won 55.8 per cent - or 16.2 million - of the popular vote. Turnout was 29.2 million out of an electorate of 45 million.
After claiming victory on Monday in the election, Mr Thaksin announced abruptly the next day, after an audience with the King, that he would not take up the premiership.
The decision followed weeks of street rallies demanding his ouster. It came after pressure groups, accusing him of abuse of power, cronyism and unethical business dealings, took him up on his offer to stop protesting if he quit.
Applying the above analysis to the Singapore context, what can Mr Wang say? Errrrr, too much of the politically incorrect sorts of things, probably. And Mr Wang has probably been treading on too much thin ice of late. So Mr Wang shall restrain himself and just give you a few brief questions to chew on:
No answers from Mr Wang this time. Just questions. You think for yourself, okay?1. If a Singaporean votes for the PAP, does it really mean that he thinks that the PAP is good? Or could it just be that he thinks that the PAP is bad, and the opposition even worse?
2. If the PAP succeeds in its goal in this coming election, and wins 84 seats out of 84 seats in Singapore, would it REALLY mean that the PAP now has more support from the people of Singapore than it's ever had since 1981?
4. If the PAP has so much support from Singaporeans, why is it that the PAP always has so much difficulty in recruiting capable, talented Singaporeans to join its ranks?