Category: Current Affairs
Published on Thursday, 03 September 2015 00:00
Written by Cheryl Teo Kai Lin
The General Election (GE) has officially shifted into high gear after candidates for the 16 GRCs and 13 SMCs have been confirmed at the close of nominations on Tuesday (Sep 1). This could probably be the biggest GE ever held and will definitely prove to be a very exciting and nail-biting election as all 89 seats are being contested for the first time ever since Singapore's Independence. This could result in a major upheaval in parliament and Singapore might just very well get a coalition government that so many Singaporeans have always wished for.
The main question is; would you want a coalition government or a single-party government? Many Singaporeans are leaning towards the former, they strongly feel that there needs to be a balance in parliament. Then there are some who stand by the reigning political party that has been running Singapore for a long time, fans of the saying, “if it ain't broke, don't fix it.”
Before you decide to either throw caution to the wind and vote for the opposition to introduce change, or play it safe and vote for the PAP, there are a multitude of things that you have to consider and ask yourself. I am not going to give you the answers as there is no right and wrong, but please do the right thing and thoroughly ask yourself these questions.
First things first, which is more beneficial to our country; a coalition government or a single party government?
A coalition government
is more democratic and would enable a fair system of checks and balances, it represents a much broader spectrum of public opinion than government by a single party. However, on the other hand, a coalition government might spell sustained chaos or stagnancy for the country. There is a chinese saying that goes, “one mountain cannot contain two tigers (一山不容二虎)”, this can't be proven enough times by the Taiwanese government whose WWE-like antics in their parliament
over the years have amused masses worldwide. Honestly, I wouldn't mind watching a boring parliament discussion morph into a WWE Smackdown scene, but as entertaining as it is, it might be detrimental for our country. There might also be the problem of things coming to an absolute standstill, where bills simply can't be passed because of opposing views and eventually nothing gets done.
A single party government might cause the ruling party to become arrogant, complacent and unheeding of any other opinions other than its own. In a democracy, it does not make sense to have a single party government, as there are little to no opposing views in parliament and the people have no way of contesting against a certain bill, especially since petitions and (peaceful) protests do not hold any weight in Singapore at all. However, Singapore is unique to other countries as we have been a de facto one-party state since 1959, and while majority of us have our gripes with how the country is currently being run, there is no denying that Singapore has made a brand name for itself over time. A country with a single party government is also able to implement and get stuff done a lot faster as compared to a coalition government. Nonetheless, it is still a paradox that a country can be called a democracy when it is being dominated by a one-party government.
What really matters to you as a voter? Everyone has his/her own unique reasons to vote. Any credible voter will find that theirs will change over time, whether it's from hitting different milestones in your life or simply the change in ideologies. There is no shame in admitting that you are voting for your own self-interests, that's exactly the point of voting, YOU get to choose the party that you think can best benefit you.
What is really at stake here? Envision how the government will change if it remains to be ruled primarily under one party versus other opposition parties joining parliament. What will happen to Singapore and yourself? There is always a fear of the unknown, a risk you have to take to achieve results that might lead to the progress or downfall of the country. This is not something to be trifled with. If an incompetent party is voted in, there is also the danger of losing our tax-payers' money due to misappropriation of funds. One bad GE will not only affect the country for five years, it could very likely cause a domino effect for the next few decades that will be difficult to recover from, and our economy could suffer heavy losses from it.
Do you agree with the Party Whip's policies? For every political party, there is an appointed Party Whip who will enforce all decision making in order to ensure good communication within the party and contribute to the smooth running of the party's parliamentary machinery. MPs would have to go along with the party whip's decisions regardless of their own views. In order words, if an MP in a particular political party is pro-life, but the Party Whip is pro-choice, that MP has to go against his own reservations and vote for pro-choice too if asked to speak up in parliament. On some occasions, the Party Whip may “lift the whip” and allow MPs to vote according to their conscience, but that rarely happens. Find out which parties are running in your GRC or SMC, and pay attention to their Party Whips' (or suspected Party Whips) ideologies for Singapore and its people. The present Government Whip is Mr Gan Kim Yong, assisted by two Deputy Government Whips, Dr. Amy Khor and Dr. Teo Ho Pin. The Party Whip for the Workers' Party is Low Thia Khiang, and the Deputy Party Whip is Sylvia Lim.
Instead of just complaining and listening to the complaints, think about the things that we are benefitting or have benefitted from too, and ask yourself if you are happy.
It is in the nature of Singaporeans' to complain, we can find anything under the sun to complain about, and we make it a hobby to. So much so that sometimes we forget to stop and smell the roses. Singaporeans keep complaining all the time about the things they are unhappy with but they have not given the government credit for the good things that come their way. Sure, there are still a lot of outstanding problems with Singapore; the influx of foreigners, the rising costs of living, the overpopulation, the transportation issues and the lack of jobs. Then there are the really silly ones that Singaporeans get their panties in a twist about like some China chiobu being able to attend the SG50 NDP while others can't
But as much as we got to complain about, there is also an equal amount of things to be grateful for. If you scoff and say that there is nothing good the government has implemented recently, I suggest you go back to whichever rock you are living under and continue staying there, because even a political noob such as myself is aware of the benefits. There are major things we enjoy as Singaporeans; easy access to to electricty and water, a lone person thinks nothing about walking around outside late at night because the streets are so safe, we don't have to worry about being abducted, robbed or raped, and our public transport system (while a little wonky now and the trains keep breaking down) is easily accessible and very conveniently located, there are so many bus stops and MRT stations in Singapore (and even more coming up), despite Singapore being so small, that we hardly have to walk much. Though we are known as a concrete jungle, our country is still an absolute pleasure to live in for its clean environment, green surroundings and aesthetically appealing sights. Since basic education is made compulsory and affordable, our children have the luxury of going to school and getting smarter with every generation. There is also stuff such as baby bonuses, medisave, medishield, government grants, pioneer benefits and etc that makes Singapore a very liveable country.
But the question is - is it enough? Maybe we are complaining about certain aspects because we believe that there are capabilities to be heavily improved on and we want to move forward. After all, the purpose of constructive criticism is to improve the outcome of situations, however some Singaporeans go about dishing out constructive criticism in a very... crude and tasteless manner.
Listen to what all the political parties contesting in your GRC or SMC has to say. Don't be a mindless follower and automatically assume that the party of your previous GE choices is still the best party to vote for. Do your homework, watch debates, rallies and various talkshows that allow you to gain an insight about the different political parties' competency, passion, dedication and ideologies. It may come as a surprise to you that if you listen with an objective mind, there are many policies you will tend to agree and disagree on with the party you are against and your favorite party. It is only by keeping an open mind and remaining unbiased that you can make an informed decision based on which party is best suited for Singapore and your needs.
Don't fall for desperate tactics designed to win your vote. During the campaign period, politicians are all out in full force trying to win the favor of the residents in the GRC or SMC. They will pull out all the stops in order to make themselves more likeable; they might sweet talk you, make promises that some won't be able to keep, have a tea and talk-cock session with you in order for you to warm up to them. This friendly method does not accurately portray their substance as a capable politician, all it does is tug on your heartstrings which is what they hope is enough to get you to vote for them. When personal feelings get in the way, you are doing yourself and all your fellow Singaporeans a disservice by not voting wisely and responsibly. If you do meet them face-to-face, instead of simply going through all the friendly formalities, you should ask them about what they plan to do to solve certain issues you and the country face as a whole. You can still accept that delicious, piping hot bowl of abalone porridge though. It's FREE regardless of which party you choose! Just don't expect to be treated to abalone porridge everyday if said political-party-distributing-abalone-porridge wins.
We all have our own preconceived ideas of how we want the country to be ruled for the next five years, and the GE brings out a lot of angst in Singaporeans from the myriad of conflicting opinions, my own humble opinion is to calm your tits, consider everything that is paramount to our growth as a nation and to you yourself as an individual, decide which party can best serve the needs for yourself and Singapore, and vote wisely.