“The group is among Mr. Lim’s youth volunteers – some are as young as 17 – who have attracted much media interest, amid speculation that they were paid to volunteer” (A Hands-On Lesson In Local Politics, Miss Desiree Tay).
TODAY had an interesting piece on the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) and its team of youth volunteers (A Hands-On Lesson In Local Politics by Miss Desiree Tay, January 19, 2013). Usually, a decision to engage younger individuals in political campaigning should yield positive responses; however, Desmond Lim’s manoeuvre has come under intense scrutiny. I thought it was a pity that the aforementioned publication focused on the allegations that Mr. Lim had broken electioneering rules, because the interview presented some healthy opportunities to ask more pertinent questions.
Here are the queries I would have posed to Mr. Lim and the group of youth volunteers:
1. What is this “group”, and why does it state that the “number of volunteers has fallen sharply”, even though Mr. Lim has declined to comment on the number of volunteers on his campaign team? Correspondingly, what is the composition of this group: how many are from the Institutes of Higher Learning, and are there students from the Universities?
2. (To Mr. Lim) How have you engaged this enthusiastic group of young student-volunteers? Could you share with us the roles and responsibilities they have been entrusted with? Given that they might be strong assets for your political party in the future, are there plans to retain their interests and services? In the lead-up to the next General Elections, have you factored in this group of youth volunteers, and will you approach more of their counterparts?
3. (To the group) What are three national issues that you are particularly concerned about? Why? Have you discussed these concerns during your interactions with Mr. Lim; if so, what were the perspectives? Has the SDA been campaigning on these considerations?
4. (To the group) Tell us about the experience of walking the ground with Mr. Lim these few days. Take us through a typical day with Mr. Lim in the area: meeting constituents, engaging them, distributing pamphlets or publicity materials, visiting various neighbourhoods? Were there significant lessons learnt, or were there moments that were especially striking?
5. Why the interest in politics? What are three characteristics that you think an ideal politician should possess? Have you encouraged more friends to join the group for different activities?