Following the announcement that the Presidential Election Committee (PEC) has awarded four certificates of eligibility – in the report “Historic Four To Run For President” (August 12, 2011) by Miss Gwendolyn Ng and Miss Sarah Chang – discussions on the upcoming Presidential Elections have been proliferated.
Most significantly, propositions have been made about the number of candidates – and whether all eligible individuals should actually continue the contest – the public’s understanding of the Constitution, as well as the adequacy of the campaigning period for the gentlemen to appropriately showcase themselves.
How Would Young Singaporeans Benefit?
However, it is not surprising that younger voters in general have adopted comparatively laissez-faire attitudes; given that the presidential position is far removed from their respective constituencies, too distanced from on-the-ground developments to yield well-informed influence, and that some candidates are considerably foreign to the populace.
Regardless, the heightened attention given to the contest would bring about positive advantages for young Singaporeans: first, the pool of information available allows more to be properly cognisant of the authority of the elected President, rationally distinguishing between fact and opinions; second, interest on current affairs would be maintained; third, a healthy culture of dialogue and feedback would be continued.
Properly Comprehending The Presidency
Given the absence of such an election over the past years, and the corresponding lack of constructive discourse on presidential roles and responsibilities, citizens have conveniently accepted the President’s supposed ceremonial undertakings, and have seen no need for healthy feedback and debate.
With the level of exchanges in newspaper forums and online commentaries, not only would young Singaporeans be able to make more informed choices at the polling booth, but also feel more proactively involved, comprehending what is at stake. Besides questioning areas which are directly related to the election, nomination process and the position itself – such as the reliance upon the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA), contributions of past elected Presidents et cetera – publications or statements in the media can also highlight day-to-day concerns like public transportation or housing.
Generating The Ripple Effect
Even though the President should be above the political and parliamentary fray, drawing attention to socio-economic issues can generate healthy momentum to overcome public apathy or lethargy. Recommendations can be subsequently gathered, and create a culture of communication that would greatly benefit relevant ministries and agencies.
Ultimately, youth involvement in the process of understanding the Presidential elections and challenges that confront the Singapore society will galvanise efforts, and create a ripple effect of change. In the bigger picture, the buzz from the elections – and the daily back-and-forth verbal contests between the candidates on anything and everything – will sustain the enthusiasm from the General Elections, and further the relevant endeavours.
A version of this article was published in My Paper.