GE Daily Roundup: 7 September — Populist Politicians

At this point in GE2015 campaigning, Singaporeans are beginning to have election fatigue. I’m having fatigue too, but it’s a very different kind of fatigue. Can you guess what kind of fatigue it is? Here are a few clues.

 

Exhibit A: Singapore Democratic Alliance

The sheer kukubird factor in this statement just made my brain explode. HAR?

Screenshot 2015-09-08 01.10.56

 

Exhibit B: Reform Party

Gilbert Goh’s rants aside, the Reform Party’s manifesto advocates auctioning the rights for foreign workers to work in Singapore. When asked about how low-wage migrant workers would be protected from punitive fees on top of the already high recruitment fees they pay to work in Singapore, this was Kenneth Jeyaretnam’s response: he is concerned with the interests of Singaporeans, and “not really with the plight of migrant workers.”

Wow, just wow. Hey, you know who else used auctions for labourers who worked and lived in appalling conditions? Slave traders! That was so much fun, wasn’t it?

 

Exhibit C: National Solidarity Party

It’s so convenient to just hurl immigration-related ire at voters. I mean, that spares you having to talk about your manifesto or real policy, right?

Screenshot 2015-09-08 01.20.05

 

Exhibit D: Workers’s Party

Even the most conservative, cautious party is apparently not above xenophobic, the-sky-is-falling rally narrative. At today’s WP rally at Ubi, Yee Jenn Jong said that in 15 years time, almost half of the people in Singapore would be foreigners. Don’t even get me started on the “Singaporean core” rhetoric, either.

 

This is the fatigue I have: exhaustion from seeing politicians pandering to xenophobic sentiment and even encouraging it outright.

We are all descendants of foreigners. One generation, three, even five — it doesn’t matter. We are all the children of immigrants. You only get to call yourself a native Singaporean if you are an Orang Asli or Orang Laut whose ancestors lived off the the land and sailed the waters of Singapore several centuries ago.

 

I have a message for the pandering populist politicians who think it’s okay to fan the flames of xenophobia in the heat of rally speeches.

I don’t care what colour you wear. I really don’t. I do, however, care very much about this country. I am heartbroken to see the best of Singapore being drowned out in the worst, in this never-ending wave of xenophobia. I am so very tired of seeing politicians being loose with words that fuel bigotry and hatred.

We have always been a home to many peoples. We are better than this, and you lot, for the sake of playing to the crowd, are dragging the country down. I don’t believe that our identity, young and still-pliable though it may be, is as fragile as you would have us believe. I will not accept this blatant and irresponsible anger-mongering from any political party. I am not the only Singaporean who feels this way.

When the flames of anger die down, when those new trains arrive and people aren’t traumatized by their daily commute, when the country is looking at this with less emotion, there will be questions. Hard questions about why you stooped to this ugliness. A wall of shame and petition about this has already appeared here. So continue with your poisonous rhetoric, if you think that’s a good idea. I can promise you this: any party that makes xenophobic statements is not going to get my vote, because you know you are playing with fire but you chose to do it anyway.

Not everyone is angry. There are those in this country who will not blindly accept the xenophobic rhetoric that you feed them, because they know that this is not who we are. It’s up to you, politicians. Feed the flames or grow a spine and stop pandering to mass sentiment. What’s it going to be?

About the author

Samantha De Silva

Samantha De Silva develops and conducts courses in communication skills and also run writing workshops and mentorships. When she’s not doing this, she creates content, copy-edit and proofread for corporate, academic and creative projects. She also works on fun things like script analysis, writing for film and fiction projects and has been a contributing writer and voice talent on the satirical podcast, the mrbrown show, since 2008.

Samantha also blogs at: http://samanthadesilva.com

View all posts

1 Comment

  • Thank you, Samantha, for speaking out against the use of xenophobia by members of the opposition to whip up popular sentiment on this sensitive issue and use it for their own (potential) political gain. I for one was delighted to see that it backfired fairly spectacularly in the recent GE. They’ll have to generate something far better than that if they hope even to stay in the game come the next GE!

Share your thoughts!