Andrew Loh

A recent public forum about youth concerns raised the issue of lowering the voting age to 18.


Perhaps a post-1965 Member of Parliament might initiate the debate to enfranchise these trustees of our posterity.

Andy Ho, Senior Writer, Straits Times, May 8, 2008, “If old enough for NS, why not the vote?”

The above are quotes from Ho’s article. The first one is the very first line of his piece, and the second one the very last sentence from it.

The “recent public forum” Ho was alluding to, I suppose, was the Youthquake forum held at the Workers’ Party (WP) headquarters on May 4, 2008. It was organised by the WP’s Youth Wing (YW) and in particular Bernard Chen, the YW’s Organising Secretary. (TOC reported on the event here.)

(I do not know of any other “recent public forum” which addressed the issue of the voting age.)

The forum’s title was, “Should Singaporean Youths be Allowed to Vote at 18?”

I think as a journalist – and a senior writer at that – Ho should have given due recognition to the organizers of the forum and not just allude to it. In fact, Ho avoided mentioning the WP altogether. This wouldn’t be so bad if not for the last sentence of that piece – Ho called on “a post-1965 Member in Parliament” to “initiate” the debate on the issue. I would have thought that the youths at the forum had initiated the debate already!

And as we all know, the only “post-1965 Members of Parliament” (also called P65 MPs) are from the People’s Action Party (PAP).

One can only wonder why Ho did not instead urge the WP to “initiate” or further the call to lower the voting age and instead called on PAP MPs to do so. After all, the forum was organised by the WP and not the PAP. This is quite bewildering, to say the least.

While it is laudable that Ho made some good arguments in favour of Singaporeans being allowed to vote at 18, closer scrutiny of his article reveals virtually the same points which were highlighted by the young speakers at the forum, particularly by Khairulanwar.

Here, Ho again failed to mention that the young forum speakers had also brought up virtually all of the points he raised in his article.

For example:

Ho said:

Perhaps a post-1965 Member of Parliament might initiate the debate to enfranchise these trustees of our posterity.

National Serviceman Khairulanwar, in his speech at the forum, said:

This suggests that the government has an implicit trust in the NSFs (Full-time National Servicemen) to undertake such a critical responsibility; however a similar trust to enfranchise us into the electorate remains lacking.

Today, May 9, the Youth Wing of the WP responded to Ho’s article. On its website, the YW says:

We agree with the arguments raised in Mr. Ho’s editorial, since virtually all of these arguments were raised by the speakers at the above event and duly recorded by Mediacorp, and urge that this matter be debated in Parliament regardless of partisan standing.

We stand united for the betterment of the nation.

Yes, we should all move on and address the issue of lowering the voting age in Singapore to 18 which, by the way, is the age most countries have legally adopted as the age of majority.

Nonetheless, one would expect senior writers in a national newspaper to not be shy from giving credit where credit is due, especially when it is something which is being fronted and organised by the youths of Singapore – even if they are from or invited by opposition parties.

Give credit where credit is due, Andy. (Though you may not have been there at the forum, as far as I know.)

And while you’re at it, do applaud the youths for speaking out too.


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