On Having a Voice: Why Bother?

By Selena Tan

I write as I feel the distance. The Bukit Batok by-election is approaching. I am not a Bukit Batok resident and I am a Singaporean who is not in Singapore. I write in support of the Singapore Democratic Party and with hope for another distinct voice in Parliament.

During my discussions with friends throughout the 2015 general election, I have been told that the Singaporean electorate is not mature enough and not ready for a more open and progressive political system. I trust we are.

The way I see it, a great many of us might be apprehensive about exercising our maturity. And that is no surprise when we have long been governed by a top-down approach. We are told to let someone else do the thinking for us, as they know what our best interests are, and we begin to believe we have no autonomy and no voice. So why bother? As long as there is some semblance of financial security, what’s the difference? Here’s the thing. When we lose our voice, we can no longer be heard and might not even be able to listen to ourselves. And with it, we lose our power. That is too much to relinquish.

The responsibility of government is to respect our rights and serve us as citizens. We can stand confident in our power as voters. And what if whom we have elected does not turn out to be what we thought? Well, give them the boot the next time around. Keep our politicians on their toes. Demand their sincerity. Only then will they serve all of us, as they should, respectfully and accountably.

We are more robust than we imagine. Singapore and her people prevail way above any political party. Singapore is who we are, what we think about, how we place ourselves in the wider context of whom, and what is around us. When we have a more balanced democracy, we can then be secure in our identity and begin to recognise what it is to be free, and to express ourselves without fear.

On 7 May 2016, I hope Bukit Batok will make my voice heard by voting for the SDP’s Chee Soon Juan, and take a significant step to move us towards a more equal and dynamic society. I write this also for my two nieces who although only little, are already beginning to find their own voices.