At 29 years of age, I finally have a chance to put an action to my inner voice. In 1997, I lived in a fairly affluent estate which meant that alot of the proverbial carrots that were dangled didn’t apply to us.
We had many passionate people who dared speak up against what I thought was the government. The legendary JB Jeyaratnam and his team led the Worker’s Party in Cheng San GRC. As an impressionable 16 year old, I listened and found myself wishing for a change.
I remember my school mate and I were eagerly watching the news on polling night for the results and, after watching conspiracies on television and the big screen, we saw one unfold before our eyes. Cheng San GRC was the last GRC to have its results announced, even well past the mid-night hour. How can it take so much more time to count this GRC compared to others? As we discussed, it could be various recounts that were made at either party’s request. After all, this was right after the Florida recount debacle of 1996 (Bush v Gore). As much as we suspected the current ruling party was the one that demanded the recounts, the suspicion was unfounded.
Until 2001, Cheng San GRC was never to be heard from again. Its districts were divided up between the Ang Mo Kio GRC and the newly formed Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC.
That aside, another possible clue was that one of the Workers’ Party candidates was driven to bankruptcy and forced to leave the country by what many citizens have ‘affectionately’ termed the ruling family.
Imagine my disdain when we had to move to a new estate and it turned out to be in the legendary GRC, home turf of the Mentor of the Ministers (a position no other country can boast and, while highly paid, is a position that doesn’t serve much in the government.), a GRC that is normally left uncontested by other political parties.
But thanks to gerrymandering, without moving out, I am now in a new GRC. I now have the opportunity to vote, a chance to express my views. I admit that the current ruling party has done a good job in building up Singapore. But the latest generation of politicians is not inspired to serve the people but their own selfish needs. The high ministerial salary is supposedly to deter corruption in the government. But the flipside is that those seeking out these positions are corrupted without a third party, raising the taxes and also their income. Whatever happened to public service because of the desire to serve the people?
We have seen a more than decent crop of candidates from other political parties this time around and the responses from the current ruling party are less than satisfactory. Their ruling party status has made them conceited masters of the people rather than humble servants. Their apology for some of their oversights has come only in response to the other political parties voicing out the people’s concerns. In my opinion, it is too little, too late.
I’m all for giving second chances. But second chances should be accompanied with stricter guidelines. This was what was offered to me before when I faltered. All I would like to see is the other political parties given a chance to prove themselves in parliament, with the ruling party still allowed to have the majority. After all, we are supposed to be a democracy, not a dictatorship.
Despite all I have mentioned, I urge voters to seize their responsibility in voting wisely. That means weighing your concerns with those of ALL parties and voting your conscience. Not because you are fearful of what might happen if you vote against the ruling party but what might happen if the party you vote for doesn’t represent you.
I’ve made my choice. And if you have yet to make the choice today is the day that you decide. Let tomorrow’s elections mark a change with the government serves the people’s needs. Regardless of who you vote, please vote and not void it.
God Bless Singapore.