By Farid Mydin
Being the hot blooded youth during the past 2 elections, I was angsty and full of revolutionary thoughts. This was also partly because I was in my twenties and fresh into my job. The usual frustrations that everyone was talking about was on my mind and like everyone else, I was angered by the audacity of the regime, especially at the ‘repent’ bit that was thrown around in Aljunied GRC during GE2011. I was living in the jurisdiction of Aljunied and found myself in a dilemma as to whether to vote for the incumbent or the opposition instead – self-interest vs national interest.
To be honest, my estate under Aljunied GRC was perfectly fine. We had all the upgrading needed, the estate was clean and the Bangladeshi cleaners were hard-working, friendly and great. The cleaner working at my block every morning was even like a friend to my family and we were very sad that his contract was up and he had to leave after six years of working in Singapore.
There was nothing major left to be done in my estate as all the improvements had already been made. Perhaps on hindsight, that may have affected my decision as I would have nothing to lose.
When the elections finally came, there was a lot of hoo-ha about Singapore needing change and an overhaul in government. I was honestly also swept up by all of it and in GE 2011, I voted for The Opposition. Up till today, I do feel guilty in the sense that I did not vote for the Worker’s Party as a result of the content in their manifesto or what they spoke about during the rallies. I simply voted for them because I wanted to vote for the opposition (i.e. the underdogs), driven by the romanticism of rooting for the underdogs or the freedom rebel fighters who fight against the evil powers that be.
I was proud of Chen Show Mao (who became my MP eventually) with his powerful credentials, and believed that there would be a difference. The opposition parties spoke up against ministerial salaries all the time during the lead up to the elections. The ministers shouldn’t be paid obscene amounts to do something for their country, the opposition candidates said.
MPs were paid about $15,000 a month and I thought to myself, “Yes! When they are in, they will bring it up in Parliament and maybe even lead the way by volunteering to initiate a cut in MPs’ allowance.” I will never get to earn $15,000 a month in my career and I would jump up and down with joy and do the MP job full-time even at a 33% reduction (i.e. $10,000)!
When the dust settled
So what happened after GE2011 then? The Worker’s Party won the first GRC. Wow! Finally we were getting more non-PAP people into parliament and they would fight for us.
But reality hit home instead. I did not read about my powerful Chen Show Mao in the news, but it wasn’t because of any mainstream media blackout – MP Pritam Singh and even NCMP Gerald Giam were regularly mentioned by the very same mainstream media. I have not been impressed much these past few years as a constituency member of Aljunied GRC.
So, after having had this experience my advice is this. There are many people on the ground, especially on social media, who are disgruntled and hot-blooded just as I was during GE2011. Everyone yearns change, but my worry is that people want the change so much so that they will vote the opposition for the sake of it – just like what I did.
So, please, vote for the candidate who is capable, instead of along the lines of ‘I love PAP and will vote them in no matter what’ or ‘I hate PAP hence I am voting Opposition no matter who they are’.
As for me, I am wiser this time round in GE2015 and will be avoiding the mistake I made in GE2011. I am really going to look hard at the candidate choices I have and learn what they have to say before I finally cast my vote – I can only hope that you will too.