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I don’t know how to vote, but do you?

This note was first published on the author's Facebook page. He has given TOC the permission to republish it.

by Clement Chio/

5 years ago, I was just another typical University student.

I can’t say I was extremely interested in politics back then but really, you can’t blame me because everyone was talking about ‘adult’ issues.

I had more pressing student issues to worry about.

Furthermore, my GRC was a walkover anyway so there wasn’t a need for me to vote or – in any manner – bother.

But guess what shook me?

Almost immediately after the PAP won a resounding victory in the 2006 elections, transport fares increased, followed by the increase of GST from 5% to 7%. (I’m pretty sure some other rates increased too but I can’t really remember.)

At that time I recalled someone’s cryptic predictions before the voting day:

“Mark my words, just like the last time, the PAP will increase every tax and price you can think of right after elections so that by the time the next election comes, you will have forgotten.”

Hence I told myself, I must remember this for 5 long years. I must.

Turns out that 5 years came sooner than expected.

Now, as a young working adult, suddenly everything that was thrown out on the bashing table this election struck a chord with me.

Coupled with the fact that I’ve always had a thing for intellectual controversy and debate, this 2011 General Elections became an extremely hot event for me to follow.

Thanks to Twitter celebrities like @mrbrown & @Fake_PMLee, and various socio-political blogs out there, I wasn’t restricted to the biased reporting by the state-controlled mainstream media in the months leading to this day.

In fact, as much as possible, I’ve tried to look at issues in a rational way rather than being absorbed to the mob-syndrome that is typical of Social Media.

My stand on what I’m unhappy with, what is wrong and who to vote for becomes clearer by the day.

Yet the mainstream and social media platforms grow to be more and more polarized ever since the dissolution of the Parliament.

Not that this is surprising. After all, the former is owned by Temasek Holdings while the latter fuels on the anger and discontent of the anti-incumbents.

So, what now?

And here we are, battle lines drawn, facing the daunting task of casting the vote for our representative voice this General Elections.

With each twist and turn in events, each commentary I read, each discussion I engage in, I find myself sinking deeper and deeper into the confusion on HOW this sacred vote of mine is to be cast.

So tell me… do I

  1. Vote for the party with ideals and manifestos that best represent me?
  2. Vote for the party that will run my estate well? OR
  3. Vote for the party with impressive candidates to send them into Parliament / Vote sucky candidates out of office?

 

You should vote for the party with ideals and manifestos that best represent you!

This would probably be the reason why political parties were established in democratic societies in the first place and should be the ideal way of vote casting.

But is it possible in Singapore?

If I were to choose a party that best represents my ideals and hopes for Singapore, it would have to be the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).

But am I able to cast votes for them? No, they are not running in my constituency.

The examples can be endless – for the simple fact that other than the PAP, all other parties do not have the bandwidth to contest in all constituencies, at least for now.

And this mentality that all alternate parties seem to have right now:

 

credit: http://blinkingbrink.wordpress.com/

Hence the caution to avoid 3-cornered fights at the expense of voters’ choice to vote.

Will there come a day that we voters have a choice of not just 2 political parties to vote for?

You should vote for the party that will run your estate well!

Which makes me wonder how to make sense out of this ‘Electoral Boundary’ system in tiny tiny Singapore?

Pardon my political ignorance, but I would believe that in bigger countries, the party that voters cast their vote for, has a direct influence in changing individual State Laws and State Policies right?

How does that apply in Singapore?

It’s not like each constituency has is run by different laws and policies right?

So MPs running for this election are reduced to entice voters with trivial carrots like upgrading and adding amenities and so on.

Really? We need a million-dollar MP to look in such small issues?

Cos these small issues are the reasons why the vote was cast for them right?

And in the first place, upgrading and adding amenities can’t be part of any Party’s core values.

If Party A can propose upgrading, so can Party B without compromising party ideologies, right?

So why do people fear that alternate parties can’t give them the lavish improvement in neighbourhood lifestyle that they want?

Ah… money.

Wait, read this:

http://royongbg.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/pap-raiding-our-reserves/

You should vote for the party with impressive candidates to send them into Parliament!

You should vote sucky candidates out of office!

This would have to be what the focus of everyone would be in these elections thus far.

Why?

Because the Opposition has managed to field their own A-Teams with candidates of impressive caliber never seen before in previous elections.

Because of the belief that it’s time for irresponsible/incapable incumbent Ministers to lose their jobs for whatever they have screwed up in their previous term.

But again, the stupidity of the Electoral Boundaries in tiny tiny Singapore stepped in to irritate.

Everyone’s irritated with how screwed-up our Public Housing system is.

But why is the judgement of whether Mah Bow Tan should take responsibility of it fall upon the 137,498 Tampines voters only?

Being the Minister of Home Affairs for 17 years, how can the complacency and slipshod security of Whitley Detention Centre not be the result of the Minister’s years of attitude and policies towards security?

But despites calls for this Minister to step down after the disgraceful escape of Mas Selamat, the decision to vote him out of office rests solely with the 122,472 Bishan-Toa Payoh voters.

Why must the 91,588 voters of Holland-Bukit Timah determine if Singapore is really ready for a Gay MP?

I don’t live in the above GRCs, but I want to have a say on the above with my vote too!

The GRC system may serve to keep the incumbent in power, but again, it only adds confusion to how the vote is cast.

The typical example is the battle between Tin Pei Ling and Nicole Seah.

At the end of all the childish banter and blind support of Nicole, voters will have to come to decide if they are voting for the girl, or for the team.

Frankly, if someone in Marine Parade GRC were to give Nicole Seah a run for her money, it would have to be none other than BG Tan Chuan-Jin who also (like Nicole) has been handling his Social Media moves very well and very well received on the ground (like Nicole).

Faced squarely, pitting Goh Chok Tong vs Cheo Chai Chen, Nicole Seah vs Tan Chuan-Jin, Seah Kian Peng vs Ivan Yeo and Fatimah Lateef against the rest of the NSP’s unknowns, how will Nicole Seah’s 30,000+ facebook likes convert to votes?

What’s causing this dilemna?

GRC.

All eyes are set now on the contest in Aljunied GRC.

Before Low Thia Kiang confirmed his decision to leave Hougang, it seemed to be a 50-50 fight between Geroge Yeo, Lim Hwee Hua and gang vs Sylvia Lim, Chen Show Mao and gang.

Now Low’s entry into the scene seemed to have tilted the odds to WP’s favour.

While many including myself have rejoiced of the reality of the WP heavyweights ‘combining powers’ to contest in Aljunied, there definitely are a number (including myself) that are slightly disheartened that a good MP like George Yeo had to sacrifice in the process.

Sacrified in the name of PAP’s own GRC system.

Now, to you reading this, let me throw the golden question back to you:

How will YOU vote?

So, what next?

At the end of the day, what the PAP needs to learn is to stop viewing the Opposition as a nuisance.

Do they still think that our current Alternative Parties are nothing but Extremist Left and Right Wing Parties whose sole purpose is to hijack the political system to serve their own agenda and ruin the country?

With reference to the quote by Low Thia Kiang at his rally, seriously what’s wrong with having a co-driver to make sure that the journey runs smooth for all the passengers?

Is the dying need to retain more than 85 seats in Parliament really for Singapore’s own good, or so to prevent losing face?

That said, granted that after 2011, the Alternative Parties do form a larger percentage of the Opposition in the Parliament, we all know that it’s only the beginning of their journey.

While it’s only understandable to sensationalize current flaws in our policies and release manifestos that will be popular with the general public to win votes, the Opposition still has to be responsible for what they are going to bring to the policy-making table.

Whether all these lowering of costs for housing, transport, GST and so on are actually feasible have yet to be analysed in detail and debated not only fiercely, but also transparently in Parliament.

After all, Singapore does have limited resources.

And as citizens, we must keep ourselves in the know about these issues even beyond 2011.

So that come General Elections 2016, we will be a better educated, less politically apathetic, more aware group of voters that will once again take another step to shape the Singapore that we young Singaporeans want.

And hopefully, marking that X then will be a less daunting task.