The following is sent to us by a TOC reader.
Tan Hui Min/
GE is always an exciting time – it is the time we find Singaporeans, young and old, gathered at public spaces to listen to debates intently and wear their patriotism for Singapore on their sleeves.
This GE, “fear” has been a running theme. The incumbents have warned the dangers of a freak election, possibilities of losing talented MPs and questioned the opposition’s ability to deliver on their promises. The opposition has asked the people to be unafraid to stand up for change and to think about the long-term consequences of having a one-party system. Incumbents and opposition alike have asked voters to consider how each party will use their parlimentary presence to advance their partisan interests.
Should we fear a freak election? Maybe, but what is the definition of a “freak election”? To many, the worst-case scenario is a politically diverse parliament with loss of incumbent office bearers. Yet, a politically homogenous parliament, which can well qualify as a “freak election”, is perceived as an acceptable result of GE2011.
As voters mull over their choices, should we fear a politically diverse parliament? To put things in perspective, we never had a politically diverse parliament since independence. Fears arising from this possibility are likely to be imagined because we have never experienced it. If we have an extremely efficient and capable party-neutral Civil Service, safety nets will be in place should any party tries to capitalise on their parliamentary presence. In fact, a politically diverse parliament itself is another check to prevent individual parties from profiteering at the expense of national interests. A common imagined fear is how political parties cannot agree on ideas. Naturally, we will find it difficult to agree with bad ideas. However, it is hard to imagine how we cannot agree on good ideas that are Pro-Singapore. Shouldn’t partisan interests be national interests?
Fear can be destructive or constructive. Will we let our imagined fears destroy the benefits of having alternative voices in the parliament or will we fear the under-representation of voices? Constructive changes can be effected surely and carefully by electing good and high-calibre opposition candidates to allow them to make good their promises. The opposition needs a chance to prove themselves. Do we want to fear the unknown and never know the capabilities of the unknowns? Like the incumbents, elected opposition MPs too will be accountable and supported by the people of Singapore. Won’t the incumbents make sure there are balance and checks on the policies which opposition MPs propose?
Every Singaporean has a stake in this country. Is it regretable that Singaporeans ask for more balance and checks within the government? Should greater accountabilty and transparency be feared by the people of Singapore?
To borrow a story from Mr Chen Show Mao, Singapore is on a journey to improve governance to improve Singaporeans’ quality of life. As citizens of the Lion City, roar courageously with your head and heart. Fear not.