My take on the Singapore General Elections.

I’ve been mulling a long time over whether or not to do a post on the General Elections seeing how politics is such a contentious issue and this is after all a happy family blog.

The truth is, I’ve never been this interested in local politics in all my 28 years and this political awakening (if you can call it that) is a big deal for me. Not that I don’t like politics as a whole because I spent days camped out in front of the TV watching CNN during the last few American Presidential elections and my entire Final Year Thesis was on the topic of American politics. I’ve just never been interested in local politics because it seemed like such a lost cause to me. It was always just a bunch of disgruntled old men yelling at other less disgruntled old men – something I had very little interest or time for.

This time though, I’m excited because not only do we finally have a chance to vote (instead of being told we have no options), we’re also seeing young voters being interested in the voting process. I’ve been reading so many political opinions of late that it didn’t seem right to just sit this one out.

For starters, here’s what I’d really like to see in government.

1. I want a government that knows how to man up and say “I’m sorry” when they’ve made a mistake. For example, a mistake on the scale of busting the YOG budget by 3 times needs to be addressed with a decent amount of compunction rather than dismissiveness. With this current crop of PAP leaders, sorry really does seem to be the hardest word. Hey here’s a thought, people are more forgiving when you take responsibility and say “I’m sorry, I messed up big time.” You see, only after I hear the apology, I’ll be ready to hear about all the wonderful things you’ve done in your 5 years in office, not the other way around.

2. I want a government that really listens. The only defense that the PAP constantly falls back on these days is “I know better so just sit down and shut up.” Even if you genuinely believe that your Cambridge degrees and life of entitlement makes you better and smarter than everyone else, it would still do you a lot of good to listen to the struggles of your people. And by listening, I don’t mean walking around a week before election wearing flowers and doing your presidential wave.

3. I want a government that’s accountable. Ok, that’s my beef with a one-party system right there, a complete lack of checks and balances. It may have worked 57 years ago when you were ruling a country who didn’t know any better but we do know better now and one of the pitfalls of such a system is beginning to manifest itself in the form of disconnected, arrogant leaders who assume they have a right to lead just because they have kissed enough bottoms and made the right political connections. Connections like um say, marrying the private secretary of the Prime Minister.

4. I want a government that rises above the need to resort to threats in order to get votes. It’s insulting that you think our votes can be bought by shiny new lifts and a fresh coat of paint. If the price to pay for upgrading is my integrity and sense of justice, I’d much rather walk up that extra flight of steps and carry both my kids to run in the rain, thankyouverymuch. Also, what about your supporters living in these opposition constituencies? It’s a tad mercenary that you would sacrifice them as collateral damage just to prove a point, isn’t it?

5. I want a government that understands the value of humility and servitude. Often, it’s not just what you do but the manner in which you do it that counts. It bugs me that our Ministers talk down to the very people they are supposed to serve just because they don’t share the same opinions. You don’t get to be all high and mighty and demand that Singaporeans kiss the very ground you tread on. After all, we were the ones who put you in office and we will take you out if you alienate enough voters.

To all the people who think that voting the PAP means voting for stability, my only question is this, stability for who? If I were an incompetent Minster drawing $1.9 million of taxpayer’s money annually, I’d be yelling about stability too. I mean, it’d be mighty unstable for me if I had to one day *gasp*, take a ride on a crowded train like all my minions. And then I’d actually have to walk from point to point because where will I ever find the money to have people carry me around on their shoulders while I wear this ridiculous garland around my neck. I can’t be certain but even if Desmond Choo did momentarily lose the use of both his legs, there’s a whole range of fancy motorized wheelchairs that can serve as perfectly good modes of transportation. There’s really no need to rely on a human sedan these days. Last time I checked, you guys were supposed to BE public servants, not HAVE a lot of public servants.

desmond choo My take on the Singapore General Elections.

Now lest you think that I’m dissing all the good work our government has done in years gone by, I’m not. I have a lot of respect for MM Lee, SM Goh, PM Lee (Jr) and a select handful of Ministers. I’ll be the first to say that I’m terribly proud of how far Singapore has come with all that was going against us so props to y’all. On my recent flight back from Florida, I was seated next to an elderly American gentleman who was thrilled to be sitting next to a “tiny Asian girl who didn’t take up too much arm room” (exact words, I promise) and decided to reward my lack of size with a spirited discourse about our Minister Mentor’s awesomeness the moment he heard that I was from Singapore. He went on and on about MM Lee’s political acumen, sharp thinking and fabulous policy-making skills. I have to admit that it was nice to know how much respect people all over the world have for one of us. Finally, he asked me “so what do you think of him?” To which I replied, “I agree with everything that you’ve said and even though we sometimes don’t like him very much, he is the single most respected man in all of Singapore.”

That said, I just have a teensy weensy problem with the argument that just because they’ve had a proven track record, we should blindly cast our vote for all the subsequent leaders that they pick out for the sake of stability. First of all, we all know that past successes don’t necessarily guarantee future success. Second, for all their success in ruling the nation with a tight fist, the leaders in PAP don’t seem to be particularly adept at picking the next generation of leaders. If you’re saying that after scouring the entire list of under-30 Singaporeans and the best you can come up with is a Tin Pei Ling, that tells me all I need to know about your selection skills. I have nothing against Pei Ling as a person and I’m sure she’s every bit as saccharine sweet as her photos suggest but I have a lot against her ability to serve the needs of the people. Underneath the hollow-sounding rhetoric she dishes out, I see no substance or even real desire to better the needs of Singaporeans. It seems to me that the only criteria to be selected as a future leader in the PAP is to be able to memorize and regurgitate the party’s rhetoric (that is starting to sound as empty as a big fat black hole of emptiness).

I’m also not surprised by the popularity of her direct opposition candidate, Nicole Seah. After hearing her various speeches and interviews, I am suitably impressed. Yes, I get that she’s even younger, has no track record or experience, gets a little nervy during some of her speeches and is probably this popular only because of the seeming incompetence of Tin Pei Ling. All fair criticisms, but if if I could vote in that constituency, she would still definitely have my vote for the very fundamental reason that she’s got heart – something that’s sorely missing in our incumbent party. I respect the fact that with all her inexperience and practically zero chance of drawing a $15,000 monthly salary, she was willing to offer her candidacy simply because she wanted to make a change for the benefit of the people. Her agenda is not a fat paycheck but to put right the things that have gone so very wrong in our government. I’d go as far as to say that even if she made it into parliament and doesn’t accomplish all the things she set out to, that’s ok because damnit, she tried.

I’m growing tired of hearing the PAP say that change can only come from within. After 57 years as the ruling party, the most notable change I see is in relation to how their paychecks are getting larger. The only way to show that Ministers don’t have to draw an obscene salary from taxpayer’s money is to have brilliant Ministers who are not in it for the money and yet no less committed or capable than those who demand to have their coffers padded.

This is definitely going to be a watershed election and I’m proud to have candidates like Sylvia Lim (in my opinion, the best public speaker in the local politics scene), Low Thia Khiang and Chen Show Mao offering their services to the nation. For the first time, I feel like there’s a chance we as the people have the power to effect change. Instead of sitting around and complaining that things aren’t right and we can’t do anything about it, we see candidates who are willing to step up to the plate to make a difference. And more importantly, we see voters (especially younger ones) who aren’t ignorant or apathetic.

On this note, I’d like to point out that identifying certain glaring faults in the incumbent party does not make one anti-PAP or pro-opposition. Voters are a lot more discerning these days and just because they question some facets of your leadership does not make them the enemy. The bottom line is that I vote for progress and if that comes in the form of non-PAP politicians, that gets my vote. And I can honestly say that if the PAP can indeed bring change from within and address all the issues that have been raised, I’d be happy to be called pro-PAP.

For now though, there are several PAP candidates that don’t deserve a seat in parliament. A lot has been said about the GRC system and for all its merits, it doesn’t seem right that mediocrity is rewarded just because the right alliances are made. To be more precise, it would be a great disservice to Singaporeans if Tin Pei Ling gets a parliamentary seat and Sylvia Lim doesn’t.

In any case, this election is going to be more exciting than an episode of 24.

PS. Also, PAP, just cut it out with the comrades thing. The only people I know who went around calling everyone comrades were perpetrators of genocide. Seriously, just stop it.

Newer comments

163 Comments on My take on the Singapore General Elections.

  1. yuling
    April 29, 2011 at 9:45 am (4 years ago)

    I LOVE THIS! Couldn’t agree more, babe.

    Reply
    • Daphne
      April 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks, let’s get the message out there.

      Reply
  2. Kam
    April 29, 2011 at 11:32 am (4 years ago)

    **clap clap clap**

    All the best to Singapore in hoping for a better government!

    Reply
    • Daphne
      April 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm (4 years ago)

      That’s exactly what it’s about – the people of Singapore. No more, no less.

      Reply
  3. MP
    April 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm (4 years ago)

    This is an excellent and a superbly well articulated blog. I am a second generation Singaporean who now lives abroad but I take much encouragement from the third generation Singaporeans who boldly state what they want from an effective government. Hats off to you guys.

    Reply
  4. Hema
    April 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm (4 years ago)

    Very brave of you to voice out..!

    Reply
  5. Garry
    April 29, 2011 at 2:38 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi Daphne,

    Wonderfully written. My sentiments exactly!

    Reply
  6. james
    April 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm (4 years ago)

    good one:) Fair view.

    Oh by the way.. it’s MM Lee and SM Goh in case you… :p

    Reply
    • Daphne
      April 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm (4 years ago)

      Nice catch there james, thanks!

      Reply
  7. jaime
    April 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm (4 years ago)

    excellent excellent piece! took the words right out of my mouth!

    Reply
  8. Muhammad Yazid M
    April 29, 2011 at 6:02 pm (4 years ago)

    This is by far the most well written and objective article I’ve read of all others. Finally whatever I feel and needed to articulate is all here! Bravo! I’m so proud to know a Singaporean like you ;)

    Reply
  9. Dianah
    April 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm (4 years ago)

    Well said, babe :)

    Reply
    • Robin's Karma
      May 6, 2011 at 2:31 pm (4 years ago)

      Like you, I am never a “politically” inclined person. After all, being a Singaporean, most of the elections were walkover with no opposition contesting my area or GRC, and election day was just one more extra holiday in every 4 years.

      As Buddhist, I also understand that all these are impermanent.

      Most Politicians think they can rule the world, but only some of them did. Election period and the months building up for elections, are the “goody” weeks where the reigning “Gods” descend from the god realm and throne of governance, and start to offer the hungry ghosts and human on earth some extra money or sudden pay-out from the hell bank. Such Gods also start to become humble and start to descend to the human and hungry ghost realm to preach how good they are, so that they can gain the same power to control them for the next five years.

      Singapore ruling party will face their biggest challenges since independence in this coming election. By tomorrow & May 2011, Singapore Citizen will cast their votes. Except the few who dare to make a difference, I believe the majority will take the “Dun rock the boat” or “kia-si” mentality to vote the ruling PArty. And there is nothing wrong with that, since Singapore has been the most prosperous and progressing country since the step down of our mentors.

      This time, however, a new group of voters have entered the scene. Being the society of endless complaints, the younger Generation Y for Why and Generation W for “Whatever”, will make their voice heard. And I am sure the proud Gods will fall to the lower opposing Asura realm, whilst the Asura will exert their jealousy more in the campaign and manifesto, as a form of dream yoga.

      This is a time where the proud Gods must repent for all the past mistakes and openly admit and accept the criticisms. Whether it is an escape of a hell being due to lack of control, a over-spillage of public funds to create an international disgrace at the run of the Gods, or a wrong investment of hard earned tax-payer money on some hell papers or a casino to help the greed hatred and ignorance, the proud Gods remain un-regrettable and not sorry nor apologizing. Perhaps, they should learn from the Buddhist repentance prayer. They should acknowledge the mistakes, make good and amend of whatever wrong they have created, double their compassion practice and use their wisdom to prevent the re-occurrence of such unfortunate mistakes. Instead, we see the Gods being defensive, aggressive, tit-for-tat, struggle to fight their opponent or even try to dig up the revealer mistakes and argue their way through.

      Self reflection is important for all sentient beings.

      Buddhists believe in Karma, and that karma will run out one day. Like a pen that runs out of ink, Gods’ karma will run out too, and they too will have to enter into another lower realms of samsara. But like all sentient being who have not reach enlightenments, our Gods choose to continue to err and let their karma run out and facilitate their own descend. Hope their next realm is not the hell realm, like the Taiwanese or Korean fallen ex-presidents.

      They never listen and they never had, perhaps they may listen now.
      Robin’s Karma´s last post ..A Buddhists view on SIN-gapore Election

      Reply
  10. M
    April 29, 2011 at 8:46 pm (4 years ago)

    that is exactly right! well said . :)

    ps: yes! go sylvia lim! :)

    Reply
    • clear
      May 1, 2011 at 12:11 am (4 years ago)

      All said and done, what’s really going to determine the outcome of the Election goes beyond who is voting for whom, but rather;
      – How carefully the boundaries have been drawn up,
      – The GRC system effectiveness in diluting the votes for Opposition (i.e. 33.3% = 2 seats), and
      – the dilution of votes cast by people born in Singapore, by “New Citizens”

      Reply
  11. James
    April 29, 2011 at 10:07 pm (4 years ago)

    Splendid piece of writing!!!
    couldn’t agree more

    Reply
  12. Candice
    April 29, 2011 at 11:38 pm (4 years ago)

    i can’t agree more! nicely put, babe!
    Candice´s last post ..PG

    Reply
  13. Jean wenai-li
    April 30, 2011 at 12:25 am (4 years ago)

    Well written! Come 7 May, I hope I can finally see a change!

    Reply
  14. Darren H
    April 30, 2011 at 1:00 am (4 years ago)

    Brilliantly articulated as usual couz :)

    Reply
  15. Ada Wong
    April 30, 2011 at 1:09 am (4 years ago)

    Words from my own heart!
    Do spread the word and get more to read this heartfelt piece.

    Reply
  16. X
    April 30, 2011 at 2:20 am (4 years ago)

    Thank you for daring to write this. I really hope Singapore will not succumb again this elections.

    Reply
  17. wenjing
    April 30, 2011 at 2:21 am (4 years ago)

    Very well written article with objective view. Thanks for a good read, im a fan.

    Reply
  18. Life with a Mini
    April 30, 2011 at 8:31 am (4 years ago)

    THis too is my political awakening, what great timing for my trip home. Like many others, it will be my first time voting. And this is how my voice sounds like! Well done Daphne, I am so proud of you for all of us moms out there!
    Life with a Mini´s last post ..Who needs chocolate when theres vegemite

    Reply
  19. Linette
    April 30, 2011 at 9:28 am (4 years ago)

    One of the more perceptive and astute pieces, compared to all the one-sided pro-opposition or pro-PAP pieces I had been reading. Truly objective :) That being said, one of the best ways of ensuring leaders or MPs who rule from the heart is not to provide fat allowances for all current MPs. They should be volunteering their services for a tiny allowance rather than getting paid loads for it, I always feel.
    Linette´s last post ..Dinner Under The Kites

    Reply
  20. ~Y
    April 30, 2011 at 9:46 am (4 years ago)

    Wow, this speaks to me! Wonderfully written. ;)

    Reply
  21. fooshijin
    April 30, 2011 at 10:50 am (4 years ago)

    一党之大,难以平衡,欠缺公平,执政党做的多好,也该有人监督,有多一点反对的声音,新加坡才会更进步, 更繁荣富强。 就算执政党少十个议席,也不见得会怎样。在国会里,需有多一点反对的声音,才是健康.
    为什么今年大选有那么多的反对党向执政党挑战? 那是因为执政党做的还不够好,不够透明, 不够公正?

    Reply
  22. Sy
    April 30, 2011 at 10:54 am (4 years ago)

    Put this on papers pls! It’s great views!

    Reply
  23. kelvin
    April 30, 2011 at 11:11 am (4 years ago)

    200% agree. Confirm and double confirm.

    Reply
  24. Lawyer
    April 30, 2011 at 11:31 am (4 years ago)

    Great article, written from the heart and with heart! I enjoyed reading it.

    Reply
  25. haT
    April 30, 2011 at 11:52 am (4 years ago)

    great blog entry!

    Reply
  26. Kamien
    April 30, 2011 at 11:54 am (4 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Though candid at times, your sincerity shone through.

    Reply
  27. NeutralGuy
    April 30, 2011 at 11:58 am (4 years ago)

    I totally agree. You put the sentiments of many people into good words.

    Reply
  28. Quek
    April 30, 2011 at 12:09 pm (4 years ago)

    Great article.. reflects what is felt in many of the hearts of true blue SGreans..

    Reply
  29. babyckh
    April 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm (4 years ago)

    Hear! Hear!. A passionate article from a true blue Singaporean.

    If every voters had the same thinking as you, there will be hope for Singapore, our children and their children.

    Great piece of write-up. Now, where is the LIKE button?

    Reply
  30. Anonymous
    April 30, 2011 at 1:01 pm (4 years ago)

    This article is beyond cool!!!!

    Reply
  31. ck
    April 30, 2011 at 1:01 pm (4 years ago)

    Hope more ppl will get to read this article. Let’s spread the words.

    Reply
  32. John Choo
    April 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi DAPHNE,

    What a blog! Fantastic… Well said and at the right time. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  33. Jeff
    April 30, 2011 at 1:53 pm (4 years ago)

    Found out about this article from elsewhere.

    Fantastically written with the exact grouses Singaporeans on the ground are facing.

    Great article and yup, let’s spread the word!

    Reply
  34. Jen
    April 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm (4 years ago)

    THere’s more besides paycheck. We are getting crowded at the expenses of new immigrants and PRs and FW as they claimed.. but we see some as FT. I do not understand why the need to bring in so many immigrants because the reports recently said they also contribute 1 kid. so bring in 2pax, have 1 kid. i think we are not benefiting.

    Reply
  35. Tqualizer
    April 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm (4 years ago)

    Brilliantly putted. All the best Singapore

    Reply
  36. Ismail Bin Samli
    April 30, 2011 at 2:29 pm (4 years ago)

    Great comment…I feel the same way too.couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Reply
  37. Lynda
    April 30, 2011 at 2:37 pm (4 years ago)

    Great article! U just said how I feel!:)

    Reply
  38. chiew eng
    April 30, 2011 at 3:02 pm (4 years ago)

    i am thankful to Mr Lee Kuan Yew,respect & trusted our first elected president Mr Ong Teng Cheong, liked the down to earth Mr Lim Boon Heng and the non-nonsense Mr Jayakumar. Where we are today is the result of the work by the former members of the PAP. While the brand name “PAP” today still remains, the substance inside has already changed significantly!
    Many so called multi-million MP and Ministers today are just free riders!

    Reply
  39. Momof2
    April 30, 2011 at 3:05 pm (4 years ago)

    I read and read and read many many times and you wrote it so well. I hope this is a wake up call for PAP. Thank you so much for saying what many didn’t dare to say or just couldn’t hv put it so well. Applause…..

    Reply
  40. Theresa
    April 30, 2011 at 3:18 pm (4 years ago)

    u brought tears to my eyes.. thanks :)

    Reply
  41. Jim
    April 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm (4 years ago)

    Great stuffs you have there!

    Reply
  42. Farrukh
    April 30, 2011 at 3:48 pm (4 years ago)

    Uber Cool!
    You said it, my dear!
    You said it all there is to know about this election!

    Reply
  43. ana
    April 30, 2011 at 4:35 pm (4 years ago)

    My dear, You are much better than me. I am 10 years old, and only got up this year. I have gone to the nomination center just to lend support, rallies for the past two nights (NSP and WP). I am moved by the passion these people have, to set things right. OK. Not like all policies are wrong, but we just want them to go moderate on some things. Please, we are not PAP’s commodities in the name of GDP growth. I am moved to tears…

    Reply
  44. Stella Tan
    April 30, 2011 at 5:27 pm (4 years ago)

    Beautifully well written with honest opinion.
    Can somebody get it posted on Termasek Review or The Online Citizen please? I do not know how to get it posted and would be a waste if not read by many.

    Reply
  45. Darren
    April 30, 2011 at 5:32 pm (4 years ago)

    The best article I have read so far! I was sure who I wanted to vote for until I read this article. Now I really need to rethink, harder. I always felt that our govt has done a great job but I just couldn’t pin down what was still not right until now. Connecting with us, that’s what they are not doing enough. Listening to us with their hearts, not just go thru the motion so they can tick off the to-do list. It reminds me of my own behavior – struggling to be a responsible father, to provide for the family, but always too busy working & never have the time or energy listen & bond. And seldom apologize.
    But is voting for the opposition the answer to the problem? Because every decision or policy, no matter how thought through, will not be perfect. There will always be pros & cons. There will always be things for the opposition to go against for the good of the nation or for more selfish agenda. Will we end up like many countries where decisions take too long because of too many voices. Sometime, an imperfect policy or decision at the right time is better than no decision at all. Then on hindsight, the opposition can always make the decision look very stupid so that they themselves look good.
    Still, I think this article is thought provoking & insightful. For example, how the GRC system has allowed undeserving people to go into parliament via the backdoor.

    Reply
  46. Brenton Wong
    April 30, 2011 at 6:09 pm (4 years ago)

    Beautifully articulated… thank you!

    Reply
  47. Chua Soon Teck
    April 30, 2011 at 6:17 pm (4 years ago)

    Well said! I totally agreed with what you had written and your observance is sharp!! Really impress with you. There should be more Singaporeans like you who have really gave a thought as to how we should live our life and not taking things stuff down your throat even though you don’t like it! Brilliant!

    Reply
  48. Anonymous
    April 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm (4 years ago)

    Can resonate with wthat the write has said. Good Job! Hopefully the result is a positive one.

    Reply

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