“‘I think it would be wrong of us to be ageists, either against old or young’, said Mr. Khaw, speaking on the sidelines of an event on Friday” (Backing For Youngest Candidate, Mr. Vimita Mohandas).
The news report “Backing For Youngest Candidate” (April 2, 2011) by Mr. Vimita Mohandas expounds upon the support, pledged by several incumbent Cabinet ministers, for the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) youngest candidate, Miss Tin Pei Ying. However, the contention that the plethora of criticisms directed towards Miss Tin has been unfairly premised upon her age is a red herring; the fact is, a significant majority of the comments – amidst the online vitriol and unsubstantiated personal attacks – has revolved around her sparse credentials and current inability to prove her mettle as an election candidate.
Miss Tin, in her introductory press conferences, constantly reiterated her desire to serve the community and its corresponding constituents, particularly in terms of empowering youths to shed their lethargy and exercise their commitment as stakeholders of their respective communities. Nonetheless, given that she already has extensive experience serving as a grassroots volunteer over the past years, and has purportedly been doing her part walking the ground and addressing specific bread-and-butter concerns through Meet-the-People sessions, what difference would she make should she be elected as a Member-of-Parliament (MP)? Do her current capacities or responsibilities impair her from doing the aforementioned? The question is: how – and to what extent – would the constituency or country benefit if she is eventually elected to Parliament?
Furthermore, the primary reason why many Singaporeans have highlighted her young age and relative inexperience is because Miss Tin has not convincingly proven – either through press communications or written commentaries – her competence as a political candidate. Rhetorical ability is of paramount importance; after all, one’s disposition and exposition in the public eye substantially reflects one’s maturity.
As a potential parliamentarian, her lacklustre response that there is no specific PAP policy that she is strongly against furthers the perspective that she will hardly bring anything new to the table. Voters and residents would naturally be uncomfortable with a politician who is satisfied with the comforts of conservatism, and makes no conscious attempt to challenge and status quo so as to enhance socio-economic policy recommendations. Equally, the silence on national policy is deafening: voters have the right to know where each candidate stands on bills, policies and national issues.
Under such intense scrutiny, voters would be increasingly aware and sensitive; hence, candidates from either side must be confident to stand up and speak out to have their views heard. A sensible population deserves outstanding candidates at the polls. The demand for better candidate quality – in tangible abilities and oratorical prowess – will only grow as information becomes more accessible, and the electorate more educated.