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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     1 November  2011

Singaporeans don’t understand presidency

A survey by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) found that Singaporeans appear to have a limited understanding of the Elected Presidency.

The survey was conducted within two months of the August election - Singapore's second since 1991 when the office was created. It sought to understand the factors behind voters' choices.

The 2,025 respondents were asked which of 11 statements described the roles of the President.

Of these 11 statements, only five were aligned with the government's interpretation of the office.

Forty-two percent got six or more correct and only one percent was able to identify all "correct" and "incorrect" statements.

Representing Singapore in foreign relations was the most recognised role, with 94 percent answering correctly, but respondents were unclear over whether the President is allowed to speak publicly on national issues.

Fifty-seven percent agreed with the official view that the Elected President could not speak unless advised by the government.

Seventy-five percent said yes when asked if the Elected President could speak on issues he thinks are important,

The survey found that among the top three roles that shaped a voter's choice, the top two did not fall within the official interpretation.

These were, "to ensure that the government manages the economy wisely" and "to ensure that the government does what it promised in the general election".

The third most important role was the President's veto powers over the reserves.

This, IPS says, reflects the level of opinion and expectation the public has over the office.

As for characteristics of candidates, respondents valued honesty, fairness and the ability to represent the country well with a score of 4.5 and above out of five points.

Independence from political parties mattered less, scoring 3.5 points. The majority of those who said it was important were from low-income groups and the lower occupational classes.

The survey found that in general, the higher the income and education levels of respondents, the more knowledgeable they were.

This same group also tended to be more critical of the system, and more likely to support change.

For instance, they were more likely to agree that political parties and social organisations and unions should not be allowed to endorse candidates.

As with the May general election, the Internet played a significant role as a medium of communication, particularly among younger respondents earning higher incomes.

However, newspapers and television remained the top two sources of information across respondents and also had a bigger influence over voting decisions.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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