Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Singapore GE 2011: 7 May

So, here we are. Parliament has been dissolved. Polling day is on May 7.
5 years on from the last elections, there is something in the air. The country is stirring in a way that is unusual. There is more coverage about the elections in the mainstream media. The MSM is not exactly neutral but it is definitely not taking as harsh a stance as it used to in relation to the opposition. There is still the indication of partiality in the way newspaper and television reports are slanted. PN Balaji noted recently that there seems to be a certain openness in the MSM. He used the term Orchid Evolution. It is kind of catchy. I wonder if it would catch on.

People seem restless. The number of people defending PAP fiercely seems to have dwindled. More people appear to express unhappiness. The single biggest grouse appears to be immigration. Ironically, whilst I am happy about the anti-PAP sentiment that seems to be growing I am not exactly thrilled about immigration as the reason for this backlash.

These foreigners who work amongst us and live amongst us are trying to make a living and to support their families either living back home or living here. The lax immigration policy can possibly be blamed for causing wages to be depressed. But, I hope that it is not an anti-foreigner mentality that is driving much of the anti-PAP sentiment. The last thing we need is an opportunistic xenophobic campaign by the opposition to be the basis of a serious assault on Parliamentary seats.

If we were to vote for candidates to have a broader representation in Parliament, so be it. If we were to vote for candidates to break PAP’s almost complete dominance of Parliament, so be it. If we were to vote for candidates because we believe that they propose better policies than the PAP, so be it. If we were to vote for candidates to pave the way eventually for a viable alternative government, so be it. But, to vote for opposition simply because of an anti-foreigner sentiment reeks of xenophobia and is all the more ridiculous in a nation made up almost entirely of the descendants of immigrants.

That said, I must admit that many of my friends and relatives seem genuinely excited at the chance to vote. For some it is the first time since the 1980s. For some it is the first time ever. But, with the growing chorus of anti-PAP sentiment and the interesting accumulation of talent by the opposition parties, I can’t help but feel that our expectations of an election upset is growing tremendously. I just hope that on the day after polling day we don’t come crashing down to the ground with a resoundingly disappointing outcome.

Singaporeans have complained before. Singaporeans have been vocal before. But, too often they have been cowed to submission by the irrational fear that their vote is not secret or the threat of losing material benefits in their housing estates.

Your vote is secret. Cast away that fear. Vote in the long term interest of the nation and set aside your narrow selfish interests and greed. The time seems right. Vote wisely.