The GE2011 Aftermath
May 9, 2011 § 2 Comments
And so, the end of the 2011 General Elections marks the beginning of our political awakening. The next five years is a crucial time in which we cannot allow ourselves to fade back into the apathy that our generation has been branded with for the past decades.
Some may have been disappointed with the outcome of this GE. Some people may have expected more. But I believe where we are at this elections is a comfortable and gradual transition to change. Our society is maturing, but we are not ready for an overnight revolution, neither should we be wishing for one.
The incumbents have been incumbent for so long, that if they were to be suddenly displaced, then MM’s fear mongering predictions will be right. We have no one to replace the current leadership should they suddenly lose their portfolios. The PAP obviously never planned for a scenario where they would lose their foreign minister overnight. Something I hope to happen following this GE is that more opposition party members would be allowed to understudy key roles within the Cabinet (I hope lah, sounds like wishful thinking right now). The PAP accuses the opposition of ‘not being there for the past 5 years’, but the opposition firstly, has never had the chance. And secondly, the PAP makes it intentionally difficult for them to do anything beyond menial.
Think about it, if let’s say in the next elections, the opposition suddenly really ends up winning at least a third of the seats and half your capable (PAP) ministers are suddenly ousted, it’ll be too late to suddenly scramble to replace them, and also again, unfair to say that the opposition is too green to take over as they’ve never been tried and tested. If you give then the chance, and they prove incapable of rising up to the occasion, then it’s a different story, right? Also, being protectionist and selfish over guarding the positions for the PAP itself is only in the best interest of the PAP, not necessarily Singapore. When talking, it is getting hard to decipher what you really mean when you tell us that something is best for Singapore. At some point in time, a line has to be drawn between what’s best for Singapore and what’s best for the PAP, and you’ll have to admit that party survival is not the number one priority in preparing for our country’s future.
If your reply to this is ‘Our focus is obviously our PAP people first (let’s say for an understudy role, leadership, etc)’ the same way MM says ‘Obviously we’ll focus on the wards under the PAP first (they get upgrading, etc, yay?)’ then you’re missing the point of why we are voting the opposition. (Also, people who live in opposition constituencies pay taxes that you use to upgrade other constituencies, thanks.) We are voting for the opposition because we want an alternative voice to the tried and tested hypotheses that had once worked for the PAP, ceteris paribus. Well tough luck, reality isn’t ceteris paribus.
We are voting the opposition because PAP has created a system that has institutionalized everything. A system that forgets the fact that how human beings react to things cannot be rationalized in black and white on a sheet of paper. On paper everything looks wonderful doesn’t it? Your KPIs, your leadership grooming tactics, moving people around different leadership roles so that they will be ‘versatile and critical thinkers’. Sorry, I’m not sold. Neither am I sold to the way you ‘groom’ leaders from your pool of elite scholars.
I’ve had friends from elite schools asking me at 19 years of age what SIM (Singapore Institute of Management) was, is it a real university, and why do people even go there when they can just go overseas and study. Friends from elite schools who have never had friends from ITE, who have never have to deal with failure, who don’t understand that not everyone has fathers who can make phone calls that open doors or make problems go away.
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, you say. Well it’s broke, please fix it.
To the PAP, please understand this. You have not lost our vote, not yet, not completely. My generation is voting for change, not for the opposition. There are many of us who are moderates. We don’t want radical change, please don’t make the mistake of pushing us into a corner till we have no choice but to act radically. We like to think that somewhere in our education, there was some merit to the ‘critical thinking’ skills we were taught, and that we’re making critical choices for our future, not being ingrates for not appreciating the PAP of the past.
PM Lee Hsien Loong’s humble speech at the end of the results was well-delivered, kudos to him (and/or his scriptwriter). We ask you to please keep your promise. Please also understand that the 6% drop in votes is not ‘only’ 6% and less than the 8% dip from the 2001 to 2006 elections. It’s like how in secondary school and JC when the principal would announce how ‘well’ the students did for their O’s and A’s when the results had dropped drastically, to a hall full of students who weren’t buying that bullshit at all.
If you want to PR us, do it honestly. (As a media student, I believe strongly in the value of good PR.) We have a very well-developed bullshit filter. I refer to this brilliant comic by The Oatmeal as an example of how to talk to my generation:
We’re tired of false niceties and MPs whom I’ve only ever seen at prize-giving ceremonies who turn up for all of half an hour. Tired of a government that sees itself superior to the people it serves, and completely turned-off by anyone who tries to tell us they know what’s best for us so we should just stay obediently quiet and let them do their job.
We want to be involved in a real way, not just a if you have feedback email us and we’ll get back to you within 10 working days with an automated reply after your email has been tossed around 4 entry-level people and archived way. If there’s anything this elections has taught me, is that people my age can speak up and be heard, that commenting on politics doesn’t need to wait till we’re 50, own a company and sit on a council in a statutory board. This elections has given my generation new found hope that we can truly be the change we wish to see.
Us, we are calling out for sincerity and a voice that isn’t so far removed from our reality. This is something that if we fail to see within the next 5 years, then good luck and goodbye when the next batch of first-time voters enter the picture. By 2016, the legal voting age will be those born in 1996. If this isn’t sinking in and scaring you, it should.
That’s all we’re asking for.
To the Workers’ Party, you are the most credible voice of the opposition camp right now, but there will come a time where PAP-bashing and harping on the anti-foreigner sentiments will be unacceptable. I find it difficult to stomach how the anti-foreigner sentiments were played up during the rallies by some of the MP-elects, and I hope that while this helped to get the crowd on its’ feet, will be something that is handled more sensitively and wisely on the Parliament floor.
We will be watching closely for the next five years. Clearly, now that my generation has been awakened, we’ll be keeping a keener eye on how thing evolve. Quoting a man that I respect a lot, and still hold in the highest regard as the most important person that gave me the Singapore I know today, “The PAP must rejuvenate or stagnate – democracy will only come when the PAP proves incapable of responding to public expectations as a result of stagnation.” (Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew)
May the leaders of our country for the next five years serve with wisdom and humility, and not forget that Singapore isn’t just a country, but a people.