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GE2011 – Looking Back and Peeking Ahead

Dr Wong Wee Nam/

[戏者,罅也。罅者,涧也。涧者,成大隙也。]  鬼谷子

“When we do not pay attention to a fault line, it is going to become a small fissure. When we do not repair a small fissure, it is going to grow into a slit. If we still not take any remedial action, a big crack will soon appear and become so big that collapse becomes inevitable.”  Guiguzi

credit: Newsobserver.com

The battles had been fought and the dust had settled. The victors held their parades and the wounded licked their wounds.

Yet not all victors behaved like victors. One big winner, the PAP, apologized and promised to change. Similarly not all vanquished were demoralized. The SDP, which saw itself transformed within a month, from a party that decent people like to avoid to one that well-heeled citizens now want to rub shoulders with, believes it has scored a moral victory.

Indeed, this has been a watershed election. The mighty has been humbled and a citizenry, numbed by decades of fear into silence, has suddenly found its voice and the courage to actively participate in this election. The flood of volunteers that poured into the offices of the various opposition parties caught them by surprise and also gave them an organizational nightmare.

The citizens of our country have awakened and a democratic society is truly in the making.

For once this has been a reasonably clean election. Unlike the past, no one was singled out for mention, there were no defamation suits and no opposition candidate had to flee the country after the votes were counted.

There was a weak attempt to smear. One candidate tried to insinuate something about his opponent by mentioning about a youtube video. He got many unpleasant responses and he had to let the matter rest.

Another candidate tried to belittle one of his ex-staff who had sacrifice five years of his prime working for him. Unfortunately this has the effect of showing up more of his ingratitude rather than his subordinate’s incompetence and that shut up him up too.

In the past, the state-controlled media would have milked such pronouncements and spun them into character assassinations. This time round, thanks to the Internet, the citizens would not allowed it. Even the reporters that I met had wanted to be as fair and objective as they could.

This is indeed a new political chapter for Singapore.

What then lies ahead?

If the PAP has any hope of regaining Aljunied in the next GE, it knows deep down that it is going to be a very, very difficult journey.

Tried as they did in Hougang to wrestle it away from Low Thia Khiang in past elections, they failed miserably. Carrot, stick and threat did not work. Even some big guns who tried to help in the campaigning did not make a dent.

If Low continues to use his well-tested method of connecting with the people of Aljunied as he did with the constituents of Hougang, he is going to grow the same tenacious roots that will withstand any PAP onslaught.

How tenacious the roots are can be seen in Hougang. Even when he decided to leave it to contest Aljunied, the voters continued to show their confidence by voting in his replacement, Yaw Shin Leong, with an even greater majority.

With an affable heavyweight minister, an equally humble respected minority senior minister of state, the first woman minister and a potential minister being voted out, how is the PAP going to find five strong candidates to try and re-take Aljunied?

Not unless the PAP can find a charismatic person like Lim Kit Siang who took on the Chief Minister of Penang and defeated him. Or even a Nicole Seah.

If they just send in the clones, then these are just going to be five sacrificial lambs.

At the moment, the PAP does not have a solid heavyweight to do the job. Take Sembawang GRC for example; it was helmed by a likeable person, a person whom some kindergarten kids even openly expressed adoration for. The support from the residents was so overwhelming that at one of his rallies, he wept.

At the start of the campaign, he was so sure of his team. His team had the ground well covered and they had served the residents well. A $500 million blueprint of facilities, gardens and harbours for the residents was unveiled.

Even against what he considered the “C” team from the SDP, he was going for a big win. “We are now going to the people for a mandate – a very strong mandate – to realise and translate these into real action on the ground,” Mr Khaw said.

This was supposed to be a super heavyweight minister. Yet when the votes were counted, 13% of his previous supporters had swung against his team. This is the biggest swing in this GE.

However, five years is a long time in politics. Nothing can be written off yet.

This election is, indeed, a watershed election. It has liberated the people of Singapore. Though fear has not been totally eradicated, it has been reduced enough for more good people to come forward to serve the country. This is good for Singapore.

We hope not only the people have awakened. We hope the politicians will now realize they are just our contract servants for five years and will stop being arrogant. They are amply compensated for their services, and even for their mistakes, and should not expect any gratitude at a general election. In future, they need to show why their contract needs to be renewed. This is how the next election will be fought.

Singaporeans may be grateful but as Mr Tan Jee Say, SDP’s candidate for Holland-Bukit Timah had said, “Gratitude does not mean blind loyalty.”

They are no longer blind. Singaporeans have awakened from their slumber and opened their eyes.