The Show with PJ Thum — Episode 2 —How Singapore’s Elections are Structurally Unfair.

For some reason, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wants to call an election in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. Historian Thum Ping Tjin (“PJ”) comments on this and explains how the electoral system is deeply unfair. It is designed to maximise the seats and votes for the governing People’s Action Party (PAP), and the point of the system is to legitimise PAP rule, not to reflect popular will or ensure democracy.

N.B.: This video was filmed 28 January 2020, and so predates the new electoral boundaries of the EBRC Report of 13 March 2020. The new Report, sadly, reinforces the arguments made in the video. The introductory segment was filmed 26 March 2020.

The list of countries which have postponed elections (and a shorter list of those which have not postponed) is at

If you’d like to discuss this video, join us for our next open meeting on 31 March 2020, at 10am MYT/SGT (10pm EDT/7pm PDT on 30 March) and 7pm MYT/SGT (12noon BST, 6pm WIB). Click here to join: We will be discussing New Naratif’s ongoing coverage of the Singapore Elections. All are welcome!


Thum Ping Tjin

Thum Ping Tjin (“PJ”) is Managing Director of New Naratif and founding director of Project Southeast Asia, an interdisciplinary research centre on Southeast Asia at the University of Oxford. A Rhodes Scholar, Commonwealth Scholar, Olympic athlete, and the only Singaporean to swim the English Channel, his work centres on Southeast Asian governance and politics. His most recent work is Living with Myths in Singapore (Ethos: 2017, co-edited with Loh Kah Seng and Jack Chia). He is creator of “The History of Singapore” podcast, available on iTunes. Reach him at

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