Fear is still relevant

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.”

(ref: http://www.todayonline.com/Hotnews/EDC110825-0000309/Candidates-tackle-viewers-questions-on-CNA-online-forum)

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


4 comments on “Fear is still relevant

  1. “When people fear the government, there is tyranny;
    when government fears the people, there is Liberty!”
    – Thomas Jefferson, 3rd USA President

    “Do we really think that a government-dominated education is going to produce citizens capable of dominating their government, as the education of a truly vigilant self-governing people requires?”
    — Alan Keyes

    “The only limit to the oppression of government is the power with which the people show themselves capable of opposing it.”
    — Enrico Malatesta

  2. What is to expected, we have many “great” men and women but when it comes to speaking out what they think is right or wrong they have what I called “PAP PHOBIA”. So it is left to ordinary people who has nothing to “lose” to do that.

  3. Fear is there when people have a lot to lose. If people have good paying jobs, enjoying good life, these people will have a lot to fear from losing everything. Just look at Chee Soon Chuan, used to be a university professor, lost everything, reduced to a ‘mad dog’. If I will him, I will be as mad. But with PAP not going to deliver that ‘magic’ – good life, good jobs because of Singapore’s stage of economic development and their lack of real good ideas and imaginations to put the economic to another stage of growth, economic conditions will be weaker, there will be lesser well-paid jobs which means there will be lesser to lose, so that’s why we see the younger group (like Nicole) more daring. Singapore economy since the late 1980s isn’t terrific as the PAP struggles to find that ‘magic’ to push the economy, chasing or parroting the fads such as knowledge-based economy when it does not have the kind of real silicon-type of foundation. Government also does not seem to get it, with you seeing them still infatuated with those ‘bricks and mortars’ tech park, fooling themselves into thinking that high tech can happen just because you build a tech park. It is that ‘software’ which Singapore is lacking.

    What I’m saying the government is really running out of good ideas to steer the economy into the next stage of growth, as can be seen from the desperate attempt to come up with 2 IRs, which to me, do not really help the Singapore economy much, except to create this present property bubble, by jacking up land prices to sell to casino operators, which in the process pushing up all the land prices in Singapore now. So, with poorer job prospects for the younger generation, for sure, we will see more of Nicole-alike type of people in future elections. The fear among the young will be lesser, but for the old folks, the fear will stick.

    When I’m out of home, if I inadvertently touch on politics in my talking, my mum will quickly silence me. She is not alone among the old folks! Mind you, these are the people who ‘spoil’ opposition votes!

  4. To fear is in-built and is natural. It is part of being human. For someone to say that he or she is without fear can have different meanings in various situations or circumstances and for a wider spectrum of reasons. I will not dwell deeper into that. I thought that we are more matured politically since the recent elections but there are still some who are still in ‘hiding’ and not moving forward. It is very true that if we do something wrong we are always watchful that someone will always be there to catch us but if we come clean and try to live a life truthfully realizing that we do make mistakes but want to change and be better, we learn to accept ourselves and not be afraid or to live in ‘fear’…..

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