I have reconnected with many long lost friends as a result of my campaigning. Met Ms X, a fellow student councillor from Temasek Junior College. We have been neighbours in the same estate for years and we did not know it!
We spoke about old friends and about the upcoming elections. Our discussion drifted into the quality of opposition today versus those days when we first started voting over 20 years ago. We were both then in the Siglap constituency and she recalled a fishmonger contesting Mr Abdullah Tarmugi in our first elections since coming of age. She said she spoilt her votes because she did not want to vote PAP yet she could not vote for the fishmonger. Honestly, I could not remember how I voted then too.
She said she regretted spoiling her votes, because soon after, she moved to the Marine Parade constitutency and did not get to vote again until she moved back to Joo Chiat. To her, we get to vote once every 5 years and we should make our stand for whichever we feel fits our political beliefs. So she will not spoil her votes anymore.
The bar to contest in general elections has been raised. We will hardly get the situation today of uneducated candidates like a decade ago or longer. I do not look down on people with low education or humble work experiences, but in today’s environment, it will require a good level of understanding of the workings of parliament and governance to work effectively for the people. In GE2011, many people with good career and education backgrounds have been coming forward in a sort of political awakening throughout Singapore. You do have a choice.
Someone commented to me that he was going to spoil the votes because he said the opposition are not united, fighting one another in 3-corner fights. This will let PAP win easily, so he felt he might as well not vote any specific opposition nor does he want to vote PAP. The ability for any qualified person to stand is for elections is what a democratic system is about. Candidates do have the choice on where they like to stand in and why. While political parties have made significant concessions to one another, each party has its valid reasons for wishing to contest in a certain area and not all 3-corner fights can be resolved. Voters should see that they now have extra choices and should not spoil their votes. Political parties are all not the same. Examine the party and the candidates carefully and make your choice.
The ruling party, being overwhelmingly represented in the last elections will be the favourite in all the constituencies they had previously won in. They have a mean fighting machine. I do not believe there will be a freak result. The opposition has risen strongly in this elections, but unless there can be a breakthrough in the number of opposiiton seats won, nothing much would have changed in the political scene. The rise of the opposition is still in its infancy. Those who believe that Singapore should have more of a functioning democracy and that we need a first world parliament should state their stand clearly to encourage the opposition. By transferring a spoilt vote into a vote for the opposition, you will also decrease the ruling party’s vote percentage and send to them a strong signal of dissatisfaction with the state of affairs and make them pay more attention to you.
In the book “Alice in wonderland”, Alice came to a fork in the road and asked a Cheshire cat sitting there which road she should take? “Where do you want to go?” was the cat’s response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.” Do you know where you want Singapore’s political system to go? If you don’t, it doesn’t matter. But if you do wish Singapore to have stronger alternative voices so that your views are heard, then it does matter.
Written by Yee Jenn Jong. Jenn Jong is a WP member. He blogs in his personal capacity.