Andrew Loh / Deputy Editor
So, the talk is that there might be an early General Elections (GE) in Singapore. The bets are being placed and the speculations have begun.
While the rumour mills churn, I would like to urge Singaporeans to ponder on one thing which is just as important as those who will be standing as candidates.
What will we, as Singaporeans, do when the elections are eventually called?
More often than not, we would be sitting on the fence – watching the elections as if it were the biggest show in town. It is, of course. But perhaps this time round, we will hopefully be more involved than in the past, if we were not.
When the Malaysian elections tsunami swept across the peninsular, many of us here in Singapore were awed by the power of the tidal wave. We never thought it was possible.
When Barack Obama won the American presidential elections, we too were awed – by the historical victory which brought the first African-American into the White House. We never thought it was possible.
Will Singapore see similar waves sweeping across our tiny island come the next GE? Some have said it is not possible while others yearn for similar tremors to hit our shores.
But to just hope and dream will not make it happen. The one reason why Malaysia and Obama happened was because of ordinary folks who got out to vote, or got involved. Obama, for example, mobilized an army of ground troops made up of ordinary – young and old – Americans who volunteered their time and money and helped out in the campaign. Even on the Internet.
So, the question for us here in Singapore is this: Will we do the same?
My hope is that when the elections are called, ordinary folks like you and me will take an active part in it. There are many ways to help out and get involved. You could join one of the political parties as a volunteer, and help them in distributing leaflets, putting up banners and flags; or help their candidates in research, writing speeches. You could be their election agents, polling agents, counting agents (the opposition parties especially need these).
You could blog about it, become a citizen journalist and report on what you see and hear in your constituency. You could question your potential MPs about certain issues you care about. You could persuade those who are apathetic to pay attention to the issues which will affect them. Or talk to your friends, relatives and colleagues about what concerns our nation. Write to the press about your views, write to TOC! The best thing to do to inspire others is to get involved yourself! There are a million things you could do during an election, even if you were not a candidate or a party member.
There are things you can do as ordinary Singaporeans to effect the change you want to see – just as the Malaysians did. Just as the Americans did.
So, to me, the biggest question about the next elections is not when it will be called, or who to vote for, or who will win and by what margins.
The biggest question is: Will Singaporeans take an active role in the elections?
The parties and the candidates are just one part of the equation. The second – and in my opinion, the more important – is the people.
Whether Singaporeans care enough to be involved will determine whether what we thought impossible is made possible.
So, while the wheels continue to spin on the rumour mills, lets ask ourselves if we would summon enough courage and give of our time to make the next elections truly a People’s Elections.
Impossible is nothing – if we want to see change we can believe in.
And please believe that you and me – ordinary, HDB-dwelling folks and everyone else – can make a difference.
For me, I already know what I will be doing when the polls are called.
And it is something which is not impossible.
So, do give a little thought to what you could do for Singapore when the hustings begin.