~By Foo Jun Kai ~
As a 20 year old Hougang resident who cannot exercise his right to vote in the upcoming by-election (due to the voting age in Singapore not being in line with many developed countries as the government knows that allowing those between the age of 18-21 to vote is not advantageous to them), I thought the least I can do is to pen my thoughts.
Please help to share this if you know of Hougang voters in your friends list. One criticism of Singaporeans is that we whine so much about the government but ironically, we are the creators of our own unhappiness as we are the one who voted for the government we have. Well, at least 60.4% of us, but Hougang residents have been bucking this trend for the past 20 years.
The government has tried to frame this by-election as a 'local' election rather than a 'national' election. Residents in Opposition wards have been discriminated over the years. The PAP government has politicised supposedly 'neutral' organisations such as the PA and HDB. For those who don't know, losing PAP candidates stay on in Opposition wards as grassroots advisers.
Instead of our elected Opposition MPs, the grassroots advisers are the ones who announce lift upgrading in Opposition wards.
When a Hougang resident contacted HDB to repair a leaking toilet pipe, he was told to get the PAP grassroots adviser to request for a subsidy from HDB.
When Opposition MPs want to organise events in their own constituency, they have to get approval from the PA if the piece of land belongs to the PA.
When residents organise events and wish to invite their MPs, they are told they have to invite the grassroots advisers instead.
As we all know, Opposition wards are placed at the back of the queue for upgrading programmes even though the funds come from all taxpayers. In 2011, PM Lee justified that "there has to be a distinction because the PAP wards supported the Government and the policies which delivered these good things." So how can elections be solely 'local' and not 'national'?
In 2012, PM Lee justified that it is his discretion whether or not to call for a by-election because in our Westminster system of parliamentary government, voters not only choose candidates but also the party to form the government. So how can elections by solely 'local' and not 'national'?
Going by this line of thinking, voting for an MP is also a referendum on the government policies and views, which include issues such as the ISA, Lim Chong Yah's wage proposal, and the need to continuously expand our population. These are issues the ruling party has refused to budge on.
We, the citizens of Hougang SMC, pay the same taxes and suffer the same two year delay (NS) in our education, career, life, and future as any other citizens in other constituencies.
DPM Tharman has said that the WP takes elections lightly. Now, who is the one who takes elections lightly? We have been disrespected by the ruling party who put in their own grassroots advisers instead of OUR OWN ELECTED MPs.
To voters of Hougang SMC, if you truly believe in equality, please continue voting for the WP. The only way to stop all these things that are so wrong with the system is to have more and more opposition wards over the next few General Elections, till this government realises that they cannot continue in their approach of discriminating against their own citizens. Please think hard before you cast your vote on 26th May 2012.
This article is published by The Online Citizen, 20 Maxwell Road, #09-17 Maxwell House, Singapore 069113.