Image - For a better Singapore

Vote wisely and rationally?

Image - For a better Singapore
Image – For a better Singapore

By Tan Boon Gim

Over the last few days, there have been many clarion calls for Singaporean to “vote wisely” and many such calls went viral on social media.

It baffled me. Do they envision many people who are not voting wisely? After reading several of them, I realised they were not espousing the people to vote wisely, but to vote for the party that they support, purportedly the only wise choice.

I have two main issues with that. The first of which is: One man one vote – whether he or she makes full use of it or to others, squanders it, it is his or her choice and something that we need to recognise as part and parcel of a true democracy. Leaving it at that will also overly simplify their choices.

Each of us has a different life and highly varied life experiences, some easy and smooth, some tumultuous and arduous and there are also all variations in between. These experiences will bring us to different conclusions, including our political choices.

Just to simplify matters here for a moment. Imagine a child of someone like Nelson Mandela or someone of much lesser standing, jailed for a long time and never got to see him or her for all of their childhood and many more years. Would you be able to chide them for voting in a “sub-standard” candidate standing against the people who jailed his parent? Yes, not many of such people around, but again, individual life experiences differ and so will their choices. In my humble opinion, even if they did vote irrationally, they have done no wrong or disservice to anybody.

My second point will require me to question the choice of words – wisely. You mean, choosing a team you find inappropriate is unwise? How obnoxious!

From where I stand and from my observations, the incumbents and their “oppositions” have a fair share of candidates that are highly qualified, academically and in fields that are very relevant to the better running our country. Simultaneously both camps, if we can properly classify them as such, have candidates that have questionable motives, track record and character.

Whilst some will rate governing experience higher, others will rank sincerity first. There is a whole gamut of other considerations that will be assessed with level of importance differing from one person to another. All these will be considered while voting for their preferred candidates. And that is before including the equally important considerations of party plans and manifestos, ability and willingness to raise issues, diversity in parliament…

So I beseech you, before you question if others are voting wisely and feel a need to tell them to do so, consider this: They could also be questioning if your choice is wise.

This article was first published on the For a better Singapore Facebook page.