There was an error in this gadget

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Election Watch Part V - In Search of the Young Voters

The following article is contributed to the Singapore General Election Portal (SGEP). The articles refered to herein can be found in the SGEP.

In Search of the Young Voters

This year, the celebration of Chinese New Year coincides with the start of Spring (Li Chun) on Feb 04. If the Lunar New Year starts after the 1st solar term – Li Chun, it would be referred to as a “blind” year, and it is a bad omen of unfavorable outcome or unsuccessful year. So, this Year of the Metal Rabbit should be quite auspicious although it is not a “double spring year”, such as 2009 the Year of the Earth Ox; which is supposed to be most auspicious.

As "springtime" broadly signifies the season of ideas of rebirth, renewal and regrowth, let’s go in search of the likely profiles of young voters and new citizens in the coming General Election.

In November last year, I wrote to the SGEP to highlight a posting in Yu Kym's Blog [Do you hate Singapore?; 20 Nov 2010 – Blogs] to illustrate how an increasingly apathetic younger electorate may be completely out of context with issues for them to vote wisely in the coming GE. [A Response To Yu-Kym's "DO YOU HATE SINGAPORE?"; 3 Dec 2010 – Articles]. In this postingl, I like to highlight another posting "Hardship" [07 Feb 2011 – Blogs] by another blogger in the early dawn hours the day after Li Chun (Feb 5). While many Singaporeans would probably be asleep at those hours since it was already the 3rd Day of Chinese New Year, what the writer had posted must have been most thought-provoking for him to put in writing then.

This blogger (in his mid-20s and an eligible voter) having just read MM Lee’s newest book on Hard Truths said :-

  "wonder.. how many of us can truly say we've been through hardship. the type that our parents have.. the type that our forefathers have been through.

   we come from a generation who have not seen our friends die right in front of our eyes .. nor have we seen death at our door steps. we have not been in situations where its either do or die. where we simply just anxiously await another day to live.

   Lee Kuan Yew's generation saw war when they were teenagers. Lee Hsien Loong saw racial riots when he was in secondary school. What has our generation seen?”

The writer started his argument on a solid footing of understanding “hardship” by paying tribute to an older generation of Singaporeans. This was great. The intention was obviously also to support his admiration of what MM Lee had done for Singapore as an social “architect” who “structured Singapore with words”. The rhetoric of his arguments soon drifted when he started to cast aspersions on his young Singaporean peers who disagree with our political system:-

  "I'd rather Lee Kuan Yew's critics be the western media than a fellow Singaporean. Who knows how much this man has sacrificed and cried for a land that Singaporeans would leave at the first sign of danger. These men and women who so proudly slam their own country ( as though they were trying to free us from oppression) in the name of justice would leave Singapore simply because they can and they couldn't care one bit about the country that has provided the stability so they could study without having to worry if the next day they might be robbed on the way to school."

  "I wonder.. how many Singaporeans would die for this land.
   This land of miracles."

  "The reason why there is Singapore is because we had men who gave a damn about our country.”

  "Our country is full of talent. However, the kinds of talent we have are shallow. Because they are easily bought by money. Dangle some loose change in front of them and they would prostitute themselves, sell you their families and sacrifice their friends, throw away any integrity they have. That's where our talents are going. To where the money leads them."

 "Unless we can make Singaporeans see that they are not just any people who can be bought by money... we would eventually sell our integrity. The only thing that makes us stand out from Malaysia, Indonesia and many of our neighbouring countries. This is perhaps why we are valued far more than other countries. Our nobility lies in our government's integrity."

Will Singaporeans sell our integrity?

  "Problem is.. our people are too shallow to even realize how much more our government has sacrificed when they could have just easily taken the easy route out."

  "Why do we envy a country like America which has so much freedom of speech?..."

  "Singapore is still in a safety zone where this situation has not happened. We still have a majority of people, the older generation, who know and understand that their government has sacrificed much for us. But our younger generation.. who doesn't even know why they are 'forced' to enter NS think that .. the government is forcing them to do something they are not supposed to."

While the writer who is about to graduate (or has just graduated) from NUS is not ignorant but recognised the existence of an older generation who had gone through “hardship”, is Singapore really in a “safety zone” as he claimed, especially when the average younger Singaporeans he described is so hopeless in his eyes?

Read this opposing view – ["Hope for Singapore”; 7 Feb 2011 – Blogs].

  "And once more I don’t get how criticizing the PAP and its policies is a direct attack on Singapore. If I criticize the ministers and their policies, if I criticize the unrelenting pursuit of GDP growth at the expense of the happiness of the citizens, it is not because I hate Singapore or want to attack it. It is because I care about Singapore and the direction it is heading. Does this writer not know the difference between constructive criticisms and slamming?"

  "What I want is an egalitarian Singapore where everyone has equal opportunities opened to them and that as long as one is willing to work hard, social mobility is never denied to them- not the current elitist society socially engineered by the PAP that ensures they, their progeny and their cronies will forever lord it over the rest of us."

  "Remember our forefathers did not escape from the tyranny to slave and slog and to build Singapore to what it is so that we can live under another form of tyranny."

If indeed it is a “heart issue” as the first blogger had suggested, “that has to be resolved before we can talk about solving the structural issue”, then what has gone wrong with MM Lee as our social “architect” who "structured Singapore with words" and our education system?

Will the sudden “drumming-in” of Hard Truths in our young “shallow” voters and / or new citizens transform them into intelligent and responsible voters overnight? In upholding a “beholden” view of MM Lee’s Hard Truths and our political system, does it accord one with a right to abhor others about other alternative political thinking?

We need not see “our friends die right in front of our eyes” or “death at our door steps” in order to appreciate the situation [Change in Egypt will take time: George Yeo – 7 Feb 2011 – Blogs] and take in "Lessons from Cairo" [7 Feb 2011 – Blogs].

Let's hope the younger generation of voters and new citizens will not turn this Election year into a “blind” year.

More interesting links to articles are available at SGEP.

No comments:

Post a Comment