By Cassandra Chia
It is quite uncanny that I have a passion for both writing on alternative issues and social work, although both are very distinct in nature. One requires the “mind” to reflect, analyse and express opinions. The other requires the “heart” to empathize, communicate and advocate for the voiceless.
Politics and social work are actually very much interlinked when I start to think about it. Political leaders have the power to change and improve on laws and policies which will impact the lives of citizens. A social worker similarly, empower people by enabling positive changes into their lives. Both aims to advocate and improve the lives of Singaporeans. The only difference is that one is done on a national level while the other on a community level.
As a 19 year-old youth, I’m not very well-read, knowledgeable, nor experienced on the political, media and social outlook of Singapore, or even the bread and butter matters faced by common Singaporeans. As such, I end up feeling uncertain and confuse when I start to expose myself to more news, information, and the diverse opinions of people. It slowly discerned on me that everyone seems to have contrasting perspectives, and almost everyone takes a side – be it people, media and parties.
Stepping into this uncharted world of national issues, I learn bit-by-bit more about our social, political and media landscape. This is when writing acts as a form of expression for me to express these unexpected and burning thoughts, questions and reflections of mine towards such matters on Offbeat Perspectives.
As such, I hope to explore more in-depth regarding our policies, current affairs and social issues. All these are important not only to my personal development, but also in understanding how our national policies impact our people. This will enable me to better understand and assist the needy or minorities who face bread-and-butter issues, in my role as a future social work associate, at my future internship or workplace.
The Right to Vote
In five years’ time, not only will I be entering the workforce, I will also be given the responsibility to vote for the first time. When I vote, I want to vote for the right candidate or party. The one that can be the voice for the minorities and needy. The one that can improve the system. The one that can continue developing our country well.
However, how do I know which is the best party or candidate for my country? It is a heavy responsibility I must say, as every single vote counts, and it all tallies up to the total vote. This ultimately leads to our politicians being elected. All these impacts not only my life, but also that of Singaporeans around me. Luckily, I do not have to worry about all these this now as I have yet to reach the legal age of voting.
CPF. Housing. Economy. Censorship. Freedom of Speech. Single Mothers. Diplomacy. Trade. Labor. Transportation. Immigration. Population. Education. Employability. Subsidies. Healthcare. LGBT. Race. Religion. Income Inequality. GDP. Disability. Low Birth Rate. Special Needs. So many issues, so many things I am unaware of, so much more to discover and learn.
In the meantime, as I continue to gain awareness and knowledge toward such matters, what I hope for the next four years is for the government to continue implementing and making positive changes to national policies that will improve the lives of Singaporeans.
I’m not pro-PAP. Neither am I pro-Opposition. I’m pro whoever who has the best interest for Singaporeans. A politician not only with a mind, but also with a heart. One that not only has a top-down approach, but also a bottom-up perspective. It is not just about grasping the concrete policies and system. It is also about understanding the relevant needs and issues faced by the common people.
Social welfare and stable families
With quality social welfare, and basic cost of living, housing, education and healthcare made affordable; adding on to subsidies and aids given to the people who really need it, in an effective and efficient system, social workers and those in related fields can then better focus on their many roles – one of which is to assist and link needy Singaporeans to helpful social schemes and assistance that can benefit their lives.
Social welfare is a fundamental need. With a solid base, it fosters strong families. All these leads to children who grow up healthy and happy, and are able to continue building up and strengthen our nation in the future.
I also see more news articles, statistics and talk shows about increased stress, depression or suicide rates in our youths. This is an issue that has to be taken seriously. I hope our education system can continue to be revamped to make it less academic-based and stressful for our children. Also, schools can act as a platform to encourage constructive debate and critical discussion in regards to diverse opinions towards racial, religious, sexuality issues among students.
Learning how to express opinions towards sensitive issues in an open but responsible manner is something we practice from young. This will allow society to progress and grow into a more diverse and inclusive one. Education is not just about providing information and knowledge, students can also be taught how to form and express their independent views through a healthy and safe platform with guidance from educators. This may be a helpful way to enhance creative thinking in our youths.
Political and media landscape
I hope more political films or documentaries can be shown in our theatres or television screens. Even if the accounts or interviews in the films are not true, I am very sure Singaporeans adults are sensible enough to differentiate between fact and fiction. Since we already have independent press which gives alternative insights on social or national issues, why isn’t the same coverage given to local films with alternative political themes?
I remember watching a video account of Vincent Cheng, an ex-Operation Spectrum detainee. It made me ponder – what he went through could also have happened to me if I was born decades earlier. He too was a social worker. Topics on alternative issues e.g. race, religion, sexuality can also be explored more in-depth in mainstream discussion and talk shows.
Voting in the right politician
Only when a politician knows what is going on on-the-ground, can they then create or enhance policies that will better solve the problems of the people. Social work and politics do actually come hand in hand. Both play a part in making changes to improve the lives of Singaporeans. Hopefully, there will be more politicians with a social work perspective or background in the near future but untill then, I shall trust the voting choices of my fellow Singaporeans for the upcoming GE 2015 and let’s see where the next five years will take us.
I hope all of you legal voting adults will vote wisely to ensure we, the younger generation, can continue to thrive and evolve with our ever changing and progressing society. Voting is a given power and responsibility, not just a choice to be taken lightly.
This article is an edited version of what was first published on Offbeat Perspectives. The opinions expressed are the author’s personal views and do not represent any educational institution or industry.