We got a first-time voter to write us her thoughts on the GE.
After months of guessing and positing, the President finally dissolved Parliament and called for the highly-anticipated general election. The Big Day’s 11 September, Friday.
Once you’ve confirmed your name is on the registers of electors here and figured out which constituency you live in (punch in your postal code here) it’s time to decide who to vote for.
Apart from the PAP, Singapore has eleven other political parties—yea, you read right, ELEVEN; who even knew?— 9 out of 11 of these parties intend to participate in this GE. (trying to think of a 911 angle here, but I’m not intelligent enough to do that)
Though the PAP has been in power for decades, the Opposition has made progress over the last two elections. Some commentators want the trend to continue, some seem excited about a freak election; and I think… well, at the end of the day though, it’s all a bunch of guesswork, and the ones who really have the power to dictate reality are… wait for it…
YOU and ME—the average, everyday Singaporean who holds a pen in one hand and a ballot paper in the other.
BUT… Deciding a country’s future is an awful lot of responsibility to give to people like us who, on occasion, can’t even decide what to have for lunch,
Why Should You Hire the PAP?
The PAP has been Singapore’s ruling party since the nation’s independence in 1965 and is a party that doesn’t really need much more of an introduction. To oversimplify the probable result of you voting for the PAP candidate/s running in your constituency, it means this:
you’re going to get more of the same.
Singapore has come very far in these last fifty years—as you probably know because that point has been repeated ad nauseum this entire year—and this progress is due largely to the efforts and leadership of the PAP. Thanks to their hard work and foresight, our population boomed, our land area’s expanded, our standard of living increased, our economy’s grown, and Singapore is a place to emulate – on a global scale.
And if PAP wins you’ll get all that and more.
The thing is, with great power… comes great electricity bills, both literally and figuratively. It’s no secret Singaporeans joke about PAP standing for ‘Pay and Pay’. Food prices (whatever happened to good $2.00 chicken rice?) and public transport costs (take the MRT they said, it’ll be fun they said…) and GST, CPF, and then there is the absolute joy that is our education system, boo-hoo, the average working Singaporean seems to be plagued with suffering.
So if PAP wins you’ll get all that and more too.
Despite my own apolitical nature, I have a decent impression of the PAP because I like how well prepared and far-sighted they are. When SARS hit, the situation was bad, but it could have been a lot worse in the hands of an incompetent government given our high population density. The party took swift, decisive action that showed the world the Singapore government could be trusted to handle a crisis situation. Also, our civil and military defences are solid when compared with other countries in the region, and I don’t know about you guys, but I always feel immensely proud when I hear Singapore has sent off a team to help in disaster relief efforts. ‘Prepare and Prepare’ is therefore another phrase which I think can be applied to the party’s acronym, with no hint of sarcasm intended. There were some idiotic types that were pointing out how scarily well organised LKY’s funeral was, and I honestly see that more as a pro than a con because if the government can’t handle something as simple as that, how can we trust them to lead our country?
It is no easy task bringing a tiny, resourceless island nation to our current developed state. Their track record, c’mon is bloody impressive alright.
So if you wish to stay the course, if you wish to leave the reins in the hand of an experienced party that has managed to weather every storm thus far, then the PAP is the party for you.
Why Should You Hire the Opposition?
If voting for the PAP can be summarised as ‘more of the same’, then voting for the Opposition can be taken to mean:
there will be change.
Disclaimer: While it’s a sexy notion, change, it is not synonymous with “good” though.
The problem is this. Voters like you and me think we only have two options: To PAP or not to PAP,which is kinda dangerous a mentality, cos it really ain’t that simple. I heard in other developed countries, you get to fill out a survey, asking if you like certain colours, if you like certain movies, if you like meeting people, if you support gay marriage, if you believe in aliens, if you like animals and BAM, you hit enter, and a party with a philosophical match is presented to you. I’d like that very much please. A scientific answer to who to vote for.
Unfortunately, here, it’s more an art.
I tried asking older friends for a breakdown of each Opposition party’s philosophy. and got very little answers. Beginning to think I need new friends, but that’s another article altogether. So here are some of my bimbotic questions that had no answers.
Workers’ Party – means they want to protect workers, or they are formed by workers? And can we trust them?
Democratic Party – kinda easy philosophy to like. but I heard in reality no true democracy can exist (for long anyway) right?
Singaporean’s First Party – a bit radical no? Aren’t we ALL some sort of immigrants or built on the backs of immigrants?
Reform Party – They scare me. Do they scare you?
Solidarity Party – Is that really their first choice of corporate colours? If so, let me reassess.
People’s Action Party – how can someone so popular be so hated at the same time?
And here are some other issues I care about:
Vote for PAP if: The PAP’s Population White Paper that set off a great storm of debate in 2013 scared the hell outta you, yet you secretly know they’re just being honest, and tackling a tough problem. If the foreboding estimate that Singaporeans would only make up little more than half of the total population doesn’t irk you.
Vote for Opposition if: You believe they have the means and plans and balls and expertise to take pressure off our straining infrastructures, preserve Singaporean values and identity better, and maintain our high employment rate whilst putting a stop to increasing foreign workers/talents.
Vote for PAP if: You think our healthcare and CPF system have made good strides, and has benefitted you / not caused a strain on you personally, and all is sound, despite all that coffee-shop noise.
Vote for Opposition if: You understand that any form of alternative policies that range from modifying CPF usage, to capping individual healthcare expenditure and forming a single central state fund, will still come from YOUR pocket. NO one will GIVE you money, the new government will just distribute it differently, that’s all. Did I somebody say “chey”
Vote for PAP if: The income inequality really hurts you. Like you drive a Toyota, but your neighbour drives a Ferrari; you live in a flat and she lives in a condo… that’s NOT hurt.
Vote for Opposition if: Their plans to aid the poor and elderly and needy is more effective than current measures. And whatever it is they ask for, say minimum wage, that you really understand what that means. Take minimum wage for example. It is a sexy idea, but when implemented, can have adverse effects. e.g. you make a bunch of people immediately un-employable / redundant / stagnant. Businesses pack up and leave, or over-burden their staff, or hold back from hiring, and all that jazz. Think about it. Really. cos if it were really that good, we might as well say minimum wage is $1000/hour and we’d all be rich.
It’s Down To Us Now
Though politics can seem like a daunting, dense, boringly theoretical topic at times, remember this: our decisions will have a very real impact on us and our future.
Whether you like it or not, whether you care for it or not, politics matters, and correspondingly, your vote matters.
Should Singapore stay the course or should we shake things up? The decision is yours.
Make a choice and cast your vote on September 11. Then go out and have a real PARTY! because day off – yay!
About the Writer: Mirabelle usually writes fictional short stories and loves travelling, k-pop, and having her mind blown by a great piece of poetry or prose. She is a first-time voter at this GE2015.