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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Civic Consciousness Starts Young …

This article is contributed to the Singapore General Election Portal (SGEP). The articles referred to are found in the SGEP.

Civic Consciousness Starts Young …

Minister Khaw Boon Wan wrote in this blog, "Civic Consciousness Starts Young" [19 Apr 2011 – Blogs].

"Woodlands MP Ellen Lee copied to me some recent photos showing her very young residents at work on the ground, cleaning up their favourite play ground dirtied by thoughtless graffiti. It was such a wonderful sight, showing our young generation taking ownership of their life and their community….. As Ellen Lee put it, “it shows that our understanding of kids may be too superficial as this has shown that they possess plenty of initiatives, and they know right from wrong".

That’s when children are playing on the playground. In the political arena, the depth of understanding about "civic consciousness" takes a twist with which party the Election candidate is representing and which A-Teams he/she belongs.

The positive picture painted by Minister Khaw seems to endorse only the entry of young inexperienced candidates like PAP’s Tin Pei Ling and NSP’s Nicole Seah.

"The social media went into overdrive on Wednesday moments after the National Solidarity Party (NSP) named Ms Nicole Seah as the youngest electoral candidate for the May 7 General Election", TODAY reported. [Netizens close in on another 20-something; 22 Apr 2011 – Local Media / TODAY].

"When asked about the face-off with Ms Tin, the NSP candidate refused to be drawn into comparison, saying she would choose to focus on pressing national issues rather than discuss trivia."

"Ms Seah said her interests lay in matters such as the rising cost of living, engaging young Singaporeans in politics, as well as women's issues."

Ms Seah was quick to assert her political convictions to represent the middle class. "The middle class has really borne the brunt of policies", she said with regard to rising house prices and the cost of living.

TODAY reported that PAP’s candidate, Ms Tin Pei Ling, 27; said "she welcomed the entry of the youngest candidate in the General Election (GE), Ms Nicole Seah, 24, from Opposition party, the NSP." [Tin Pei Ling no longer youngest GE candidate; 21 Apr 2011 – Local Media / TODAY]

"She told MediaCorp she was happy to see more young Singaporeans stepping forward to do good and to serve the country."

"Why many have chosen Nicole Seah over Tin Pei Ling" to be representative of the Gen Y? [23 Apr 2011 – Blogs].

The Kent Ridge Common said :-

"The heap of criticisms centered on Ms. Tin’s poor and seemingly trivial answers to television interviews, her lack of political nuance and also controversial political viewpoints such as her belief that the government had no responsibility to help the poor bridge the widening income gap.

The scrutiny even went personal — many questioned her motivations behind joining the ruling party, and placed her private life under an intense spotlight."

So Nicole Seah must have testified to Minister Khaw’s statement “Civic Consciousness Starts Young’. And "The young Ms. Seah had cultivated a strongly independent, critical and informed perspective of Singapore’s affairs ever since she was in the University" according to the The Kent Ridge Common.

A Letter to TODAY [Experience that counts, not looks; 23 Apr 2011 – Letters /TODAY] argued in support of Ms Tin :

"With Ms Tin's work and grassroots experience trumping that of Ms Seah, I feel it is not fair that Ms Tin gets so heavily criticised when she has proven her sincerity to serve the people by spending several years getting acquainted with the ground."

But is it because as we all know that it all started from her father’s coffee shop? In contrast, Ms Nicole Seah started from her youth while in school and university, a platform she is clearly standing on, and not disguised on great political ideology.

"Ms Tin has been flamed mercilessly for being ‘immature’ and ‘inexperienced’ for the past few weeks." - "Online poll: 95 percent of respondents will vote for Nicole Seah over Tin Pei Ling"; Nicole Seah – 21 Apr 2011 –Blogs]

Perhaps trivial matters and great political ideologies do not mix and certainly not if you were asked, “What is your greatest regret in life?”. Ms Tin’s political mentor (SM Goh) should have coached her, notwithstanding that the GRC ticket might be to her advantage and the PAP election machinery is overwhelming. The younger Ms Nicole Seah had understood and handled this well through her own PR drive so far. But Ms Tin had fallen behind miserably though a graduate in “Psychology”, despite PAP’s experienced PR armour; and certainly needed the desperate recovery actions through her supporters via the MSM’s Forum page.

Should a discerning Electorate be blamed for poor reception when candidates gave the wrong PR signals? Certainly not! That is part of life experience and not just “grassroots” experience. "Videos of Ms Nicole Seah speaking in interviews have been circulating on social media networks. Her intelligence, clarity and persuasion in these videos have been critical in convincing Singaporeans that Ms Seah is a credible candidate". [She has earned the support; 25 Apr 2011 – Letters /TODAY]

Things certainly took a different twist for older candidates such as WP’s Chen Show Mao and SDP’s Tan Jee Say. While “new citizens” are fielded amongst PAP new candidates, having past through the highly acclaimed ‘tea sessions” selection process of the PAP, their Ministers are casting aspersions and questioning the intention of these high-profiled opposition candidates for returning to contest in the coming GE. [Ng Eng Hen writes...; 19 Apr 2011 – Letters / ST Forum]. He was joined by other PAP supporters in the MSM. [Away for a generation and now back to contest; 23 Apr 2011 - Letters / ST Forum]. Is this arrogance shown by a capable and qualified candidate or is it just arrogance in rhetorical arguments by the opposing incumbent?

It’s “Not hard to understand why he returned”, a supporter wrote. [20 Apr 2011 - Letters / ST Forum] “Why would a successful corporate lawyer return to Singapore to join an opposition party?” when his credentials are these, when compared to PM Lee – [Comparing credentials; 20 Apr 2011 – Letter to SGEP]. So does being away for a generation of 30 years really counts and matters when a deserving son of Singapore, who had served his NS and fought it out in the global economy, returns to contest an Election and to contribute back home?

Dr Ng Eng Hen wrote personally in ST Forum, “In our search for candidates, the People's Action Party (PAP) has also considered people with good academic and work credentials who have been working overseas for many years.”

"We advise them to come back and re-establish their roots first - get a job, set up a home, bring back their children, volunteer on the ground, get to know the issues first, and only then talk about candidacy."

Perhaps, it is hard for those who climbed fast in the PAP-centric-only-one-party political system to understand the difficulty of establishing a career in the aggressive global business arena. It probably had taken WP’s Chen Show Mao at least 20 years to establish himself in the international legal fraternity considering prior time for his academic pursuits. This span in time is just equivalent to 4 terms of Parliament which PM Lee expects his future PAP ministers to serve.

Chen certainly had no luxury of time even in the shoes of his WP colleague, Watson Chong; [Watson Chong Cham Weng (WP); 25 April 2011 – Local Media / TODAY] and certainly not the youth of Tin Pei Ling or Nicole Seah.

Indeed, voters must think and vote wisely in this GE as advocated by PM Lee if it is for our true FUTURE.

Read SGEP for more interesting links to GE articles.

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