The battle for 2016 starts now

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Yong Yang

I woke up this morning with mixed feelings. While I’m ecstatic that the Worker’s Party has finally clinched a Group Representation Constituency, I can’t help but feel that we can only truly celebrate when we manage to hold on the Aljunied GRC in the 2016 Election.

Call me a pessimist, but there is not much cause for celebration in winning one term as an opposition party in Singapore. If it is your vision to one day see more opposition representation in parliament, hold your breath, sit tight, and pray that the Worker’s Party will not only do an amazing job in Aljunied, but be an influential and effective “co-driver” in parliament too.

By challenging, and successfully ousting a well-loved George Yeo, the Worker’s Party now has its work cut out. There is no room for failure. Singaporeans have sacrificed one of the few popular ministers in the government to give the Worker’s Party a chance to ensure that our voices are heard, and make a positive difference to our lives.

I’m convinced at least 8 out of 10 apathetic voters voted for the PAP yesterday. And unless the opposition can prove that they are worthy members of parliament from now till 2016, we will never be able to convince those who are sitting on the fence to take that leap of faith. And to be fair, why should they? As much as there is bitterness and displeasure against the PAP, why wouldn’t they want to preserve the status quo, and take the risk of being “that generation” that wiped out all that our forefathers had worked so hard to achieve over the past 40 odd years?

If I can have post-election wishes, it’d be that our Worker’s Party MPs will have the drive and the energy to sustain the 5 years; that they will have the wisdom to make the best decisions, the empathy to make the right decisions, the courage to be the leader to all other opposition parties in Singapore and most importantly, the foresight to start planning for 2016 now! Start winning the hearts and minds of voters in 2016 now!

The most exciting but scariest thing about this election is that with the heavy use of social media this time round, we have stirred up a sense of patriotism and a sense of belongingness among the younger generation. There was no way you could escape election updates. It was all over the Internet and everyone was and is still talking about it.  It was exciting because everyone wanted to get involved, and many wanted to be part of the change.

It is scary because after so much hype over candidates like Nicole Seah, so many photos of large crowds at rallies posted on Facebook, and so much talk about change and being brave on polling day, we’ve only managed to win two battles.

I guess as much as we enjoy hearing about the changes the opposition parties want to bring, as much as we enjoy the rallies where opposition parties raised issues about ministerial pay and cost of living etc, many voters simply don’t believe that the opposition can really change all that. The system designed by the PAP just wouldn’t allow them to make a significant impact. Not yet at least.

2011 will go down in history as the turning point for local politics if these six Workers’ Party MPs can deliver and show the doubters that they can make a positive impact. More will be inspired to follow in their footsteps, and the next batch of voters in 2016 will be just as passionate about bringing change to parliament, and again, be courageous when casting that valuable vote.

But this is a restless generation. As much as we will not tolerate arrogant, self-serving authoritarians, there will be many voters who will never give the opposition another chance if these six fail. And I fear that some of those flag wavers and supporters at opposition rallies we see during the past nine days will simply fall into a state of apathy.

This is the precious opportunity that we have been waiting for. One that will define the next generation of voters. Succeed in Aljunied, and we can sway those sitting on the fence towards us, and grow in numbers.  Fail and we are back to square one.

Good luck, you magnificent six. The battle for 2016 starts tomorrow.