Presidential candidate Dr Tan Cheng Bock spoke of the fear that he saw in some Singaporeans, including his former PAP colleagues, who told him they did not want to openly support him for the election for fear of being “penalised” or “victimised”.
His fellow presidential candidate, Dr Tony Tan said “this kind of fear-mongering is very mischievous”. He added that “The last GE has shown that Singaporeans are confident enough to express their own views. I don’t think any Singaporean could seriously believe that they will suffer for supporting another candidate.”
I had blogged about this in April from my own GE experience (https://yeejj.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/the-fear-factor-singapore-style/). I entered politics only this year. I saw first-hand how real the fear factor was. From my own family members to friends to people I meet, there were still lingering fears, a legacy of our early political landscape.
It is good that Dr Tan Cheng Bock, a long-time former PAP MP who holds the record of securing 88% of the popular votes in his former constituency realises this. Although the presidential election is not supposed to be political, we can all tell who the ruling party prefers and who are standing as alternatives. Even in a “non-political” election, Dr Tan feels the fear people have. So how much more fear do you think there is in the general elections?
For that, I thought it is admirable that his former PAP colleague, Mr Maidin Packer Mohammed, the former parliamentary secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs came out openly in support of Dr Tan. (http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20110823-295779.html)
Dr Tony Tan would not have the chance to experience this fear factor unless and until he stands as an alternative to what the ruling party endorses.
The good news is that with better education, widespread availability of information on the Internet and many alternative platforms other than the mainstream media for people to express their views, the fear factor has been diminishing. It also helps that many more credible people have stepped forward to contest as alternatives, whether in this PE or in the GEs. Successful people have cast aside their own fear in standing up and are showing to all that it is alright to have alternative political viewpoints.
I have long advocated that the PE should be contested, right from the first PE in 1993. Since our system requires an elected president, I want to see the post being challenged. We should not have the viewpoint of just one group being represented without the ability for Singaporeans to vote their choice. We had a famine of candidates since 1993. I am happy that this year there is a feast of four candidates, each campaigning on a different platform. These candidates have been scrutinized by the Presidential Elections Committee against a strict set of eligibility criteria. PE2011 and GE2011 are setting the stage for more contests in future.
I hope in this PE and in future PEs and GEs, Singaporeans will boldly vote their preferred candidate. Your vote is secret. No one will know your vote unless you choose to disclose.
We also have to remember that we are a democracy. We should not have to fear even if we openly state our political views.
So this 27 August, vote boldly for who you prefer. At the same time, respect others for whom they choose to vote.
Note: This post represents my personal views