While speaking at a forum organised by Mothership on Saturday (6 February), Workers’ Party’s (WP) politician and former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Yee Jenn Jong said that opposition in Singapore is becoming mainstream and has more candidates who are qualified professionally and academically, just like members in the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).
“Opposition has come a long way. The PAP had long painted that Singapore only has enough for one A team and that a sizeable opposition presence will be bad for Singapore.
“Like it or not, opposition is becoming mainstream, and in my opinion, in a responsible manner and with increasingly more candidates as ‘qualified’ professionally and academically as those on the PAP’s side,” Mr Yee said in a Facebook post.
In the post, the opposition member revealed that he spoke at Mothership’s physical forum on Saturday, entitled ‘What’s next for young Singaporeans after GE2020’ along with other two panellists – multiple Eisner-awarding winning cartoonist Sonny Liew and activist cum lawyer Remy Choo Zheng Xi.
Mr Yee went on to note that in the forum, the panellists talked about their personal journey into politics, advice for young Singaporeans on how to get started in this line, some of the toughest things they had to go through, and more.
During the panel, the last question that came from the audience was on the view of political development in Singapore in the next 10 to 20 years given the greater access to information and youths becoming more politically aware.
As a reply, Mr Yee stated that the Sengkang GRC in the last general election was an interesting case study.
“A young WP team took on and won against three political office bearers from the very strong incumbent ruling party. It did show that the relatively younger voters in the GRC were quite open to change,” he said, adding that opposition is becoming more mainstream.
On the other hand, Mr Choo highlighted how access to information has changed over time, and new social media platforms will arise and could influence the outcome of future general elections.
“The half-life of generation change is shortening, particularly in the way people are accessing and sharing information. It was not too long ago that FB was first used for political outreach. Then came Instagram and now the young ones are on TikTok. And many of the TiKTok users may not even be voters in the next GE as they may be just 12-16 years old now.
“New social media platforms will come and make global information more readily accessible to people and could influence the outcome of GEs. There is power in people now to influence politicians compared to the past when information was more controlled and less diffused,” he said.
Upon hearing Mr Choo’s point, Mr Liew then asked if this is based on the assumption that the government will continue to allow information to be free flowing. This is because, he said, China has showed that it can control information and is still successfully doing so.
As such, Mr Liew expressed that other governments can learn from China and do the same. “China had earlier learnt from Singapore how to control political processes and maybe now we might learnt from them,” he noted.
In response to this, Mr Yee said that he hoped that wouldn’t happen.
“Already, people are uncomfortable with POFMA and I hope we will not get more and more controls like in some other governments (I was thinking of Myanmar where the coup just happened),” he explained.
He continued, “I do not hope for that to happen in Singapore and I do not think it is so easy because there will be push back by the people. I did add that even as we now get easy access to information, we should read opinions from different sides so that we do not end up pushing for change based on misinformation.”
At the end of the talk, the forum’s moderator, Tanya Ong from Mothership, asked the panellists to each state a word to the audience, and Mr Yee said ‘interested’ as he wants young Singaporeans to be interested in what’s happening in the country.
As for Mr Liew, he said ‘engaging’ as he is always finding ways to engage with people given that he is a content creator, while Mr Choo said ‘you’, as the future is yours.
“Indeed, Singapore is yours, especially to the new generation. Stay interested, stay engaged and let’s take Singapore forward,” Mr Yee concluded.