I would like to begin this post by stating that whatever is written here is just the two (or maybe less) cents worth of an average Singaporean.
For the past fourteen years, I never got to vote because of the electoral system here in Singapore. As such, I thank the opposition in this General Elections for giving most Singaporeans a chance to go to the polls. I feel sympathetic towards the voters of Tanjong Pagar for the walkover in their GRC. Especially after the last minute MP change fiasco by the incumbent.
I attended my first elections rally on the first night after Nomination Day, and my second, 4 nights after that when the NSP team came to my constituency. It gave me the chance to evaluate the party and candidate running for my constituency against the ruling party. With the reach of the internet, I was also able to catch the rally speeches online by the various parties, both PAP and the opposition.
With Polling Day only 2 days away, my take away from Nomination Day till now is as follows,
First and foremost, there is no doubt that Singapore has achieved what it is today because of PAP. For the past 45 years, they have gotten most of the policies and formula right. And frankly, this track record is pretty hard to beat. As such, I believe that on Polling Day, PAP will return to power quite convincingly. However, PAP have interestingly sidestepped and avoided the major gripe that I have, which is what the opposition refers to as accountability. How does the government account for the 8-months bonus that the ministers got after all that has happened in the past couple of years? I don’t think that a simple apology during a rally is sufficient, especially with the severity of the issues. If the ministers’ pay is pegged to the private sector, I believe that when something goes wrong, they should act like senior management in the private sector. I am not saying that the ministers in question should resign, like what Tony Hayward did during the BP spill, but they should at least not be entitled to the bonus, which should be based on performance.
Secondly, the incumbent MPs have taken the opposition candidates to task for only turning up during the last few months leading up to elections. It seems to be a case of pot calling the kettle black. What I would like to know is why do most PAP MPs start doing their walkabouts and rounds during this period too? Where were they during the past 5 years? Where were they when my constituency was a walkover during the last elections? To me, the weekly MPS do not count as that is one of the responsibilities of an elected MP. In addition, I think that for them to push the opposition for concrete plans for the various constituencies if they are elected is quite unfair. Other than Hougang and Potong Pasir, the town councils for all the other constituencies are currently run by PAP. Therefore, without knowing what they are inheriting, it will be impractical for them to commit on what they can deliver.
Thirdly, as voters, to quote Uncle Ben from Spider-man, we are given great power, and with that comes great responsibility. Collectively, we have the power to decide the direction that Singapore will take in the next 5 years. This is non-trivial as some outcomes, regardless of how remote the possibility, might put Singapore into chaos. Hence, I hope that everyone going to the polls this Saturday take this responsibility seriously and evaluate the individuals or parties running in their constituencies and their ability to represent us in Parliament. We should not be influenced by all that is happening in other constituencies such as the various hot seats, or comments online, and be frivolous with our votes since we will not be able to affect the results elsewhere.
Finally, it has been mentioned by both PAP and the opposition that this is a watershed election for them. This might be true to some extent, and how the outcome this Saturday shapes the political landscape of Singapore remains to be seen. For me, I think this elections will determine the role of social media and the internet in future elections. In the past week, we have seen how the internet was used to disseminate election information to the masses, ranging from real-time comments on Facebook and Twitter, and rally speeches from various party being posted on YouTube. Thus far, majority of the comments online have been critical of the incumbent, ranging from the mishandling of various events to the skyrocketing prices of public housing. It will be interesting to see how much of this online frustration and chatter actually constitutes to votes for the opposition in the next 48 hours.
A small part of me is envious of the voters in the various group-representation constituencies which pit cabinet ministers against the A-teams of the various opposition parties. It is quite exciting to go to the polls knowing that your vote will decide not only if an office holder gets re-elected, but the fate of 3-5 other candidates. However, I am mostly thankful that for my maiden trip to the polls, I am in a single-member constituency, and my current MP is not an office holder. I have the luxury of weighing what my current MP has done for my constituency against the possibility of the opposition candidate bettering that.
I will end this post by reminding anyone who is reading this that your vote is SECRET, as long as you do not disclose it. The following video puts this message across very nicely.