As promised, here’s my post regarding the recent General Elections in Singapore. 🙂
I shall start with a disclaimer that I am not an expert in politics and that I am not very well-read about the many political issues and the details inherent. However I still wish to share my personal and humble thoughts about the recent and pretty exciting GE.
I would like to start by saying that I am thankful for the current ruling party, People’s Action Party’s (PAP) excellent track record. They have indeed done much for this little country of ours, aka the tiny red dot for the past 45 years and counting. We have come a long way and it’s been incredible how we’ve transformed from a third world country to a first world nation. Under the helm of Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Chok Tong and current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, our past and present leaders have shown intelligence and great foresight in governing our nation.
The second thing I’d like to say is that I am also thankful for the six opposition members that have been fielded into our Parliament from the recent GE. We now have four more (up from two from the last GE) alternate voices to speak up for the people in Parliament debates. I applaud them for their courage to have braved and to continue to brave a difficult political path. The nation thanks them for being the “co-driver” that will watch the “driver” when he dozes off or goes off track.
Through the GE, there has been great political education and awareness on new social media such as on my Facebook and Twitter page. Friends, Straits Times, Online Citizen will post news article, personal views and on-the-ground happenings at rallies which have educated me on Singapore’s politics like never before.
Prior to elections, I actually did not know who my area Minister of Parliament was and I was embarrassed. Was it because I am politically apathetic? I then I realize that many, like me also did no know theirs. I think partly the reason is because my area was not contested for the last elections in 2006 and so the PAP did not require to actively campaign in my area. Another reason could also be my area’s boundary was redrawn and PAP was confident of winning my area without a tough fight. Lastly it could also be because I am not active in grassroots activity and neither do I need to meet my MP in the meet the people’s meeting so I simply didn’t know who my MP was for the last five years.
But then came the elections, I suddenly knew that my area MP is Tan Chuan Jin, that he is new and he came to my house’s doorstep on an early Thursday morning to shake my Dad’s hand and to win our votes.
The elections has revealed the change in Singapore’s political climate. Gone are the days of “apathetic” citizens and youths. Many have spoken via Facebook, Twitter and even cried out in response to the speakers during the rallies due to dis-satisfaction over a gamut of issues such as housing, transport, immigrants and the ruling party governing Singapore like a corporation. Another hot topic was about the minister’s high pay that results in them living lives that are detached from the common man’s and therefore they simply cannot understand what we are going through and not really listening to our cries.
However, with the GE 2011 results revealing that overall 60% of the people’s votes went to the PAP and 40% to the opposition parties collectively, I hope that there will be positive changes with regards to the approach that the PAP takes in implementing policies and governing our nation.
Looking forward, we now have more alternative voices to speak up for the people’s interest. Hopefully the PAP will also take a stronger interest in listening to the people’s cries and not place economical growth as the all important and only defining success of a nation.
I don’t expect housing, transport and migrant issues to be resolved overnight. But I truly hope that Singapore as a nation will be able to find solutions to these problems. I truly hope that the leaders can see that no doubt progress is good, but it should not be forced at the expense of the people’s comfort and ability to cope with these changes. I fear that Singapore is transforming too quickly and that problems arise far faster than we can solve them.
I also believe that the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) system should be capped at 5 maximum since there are only 4 major races in Singapore and that new MPs should prove their worth and fight their own fight in a Single Representation Constituency. This will no doubt be extremely unlikely because then the ruling party’s possibility of winnings may be highly diminished.
After this GE 2011, citizens will no doubt be keenly watching the PAP’s next steps and hold them accountable for their promises to listen to our views and opinions, especially the younger ones like myself. I do hope that the PAP’s manifesto of including EVERYONE in nation building is something I can believe in and not just a nice sounding slogan.
Lastly, perhaps the most important lesson on leadership I take away from GE 2011 is that to be a leader, you must have a heart for your people, listen to their plight, seek to understand them and ultimately it requires sacrifice to help them. I believe many times it may be a thankless job especially those who serve humbly and quietly every week. But when you prove your sincerity, the people can feel it and you will no doubt have the sweetest rewards.