Missed the events before and after Nomination Day, and also in the lead-up to Polling Day? Here’s a collection of reports or commentaries I wrote on this blog as well as for The Middle Ground throughout the past month or so.
Confessions of a First-Time Voter: Who to Vote for ah?
But at the same time, our socio-political participation should go beyond the vote. While polarised, discourse – fuelled by the media spectacle and the further digitisation of news or commentaries – is often rich in the lead-up to an election, though the engagement loses steam in the months which follow. As an electorate, our challenge is to sustain these conversations, persist with different endeavours, and to stay informed about policies and their implications.
The Circus that is the General Elections
If I could take time to follow these developments, I used to think, then the people around me – with obligations to be active, informed citizens – should do so too. Yet amassing more information, which has become more ubiquitous as media outlets chase the sensational and present the minutiae, does not necessarily enlighten. More importantly, the ability to pay attention to what happens on these campaign trails is a luxury. Last Tuesday I could join the team for Nomination Day because I had a day off from school. On Wednesday and Friday when I went returned home at 11 from the WP and Reform Party rallies in Hougang and Yio Chu Kang respectively, my Dad who had to work overtime to get a few lifts serviced, did not get back until an hour later.
Still a Burning Topic: Foreigners Here Today – and in the Future
The 6.9 million figure from the White Paper on Population – emphasised by the G as a projection and not a target, after rigorous debates in Parliament and rambunctious protests at Hong Lim Park in 2013 – is far from forgotten. In fact, it dominated the political dialogue organised by the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS) last night.
Discussions on “hot button issues” turned quickly on the themes of population growth as well as the influx of foreign workers, both cited by representatives of the opposition parties as root causes of dissatisfaction in Singapore today.
Clean Politics and Cleaner Candidates
Noting that Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) Paul Tambyah – at the party’s 35th anniversary dinner on Saturday – had called for a campaign which does not “degenerate into name-calling or silly jibes about eating orh luak”, moderator and editor-in-chief of socio-political site Inconvenient Questions Viswa Sadasivan asked what made him call for a good, clean campaign. “We need to go beyond personality politics,” Prof Tambyah explained, “and if [the SDP] stood anywhere near the low ground, the mainstream media will come down on us like a tonne of bricks.”
Desmond Lim: He Who Toils in the Background
And as Mr Lim emerges from the background to the spotlight for the upcoming general elections, he is also providing the younger members with the exposure, training, and knowledge for the future. The fight in the next two weeks will not be easy, and will take more than panache in the face of scepticism or increasingly demanding voters to secure electoral victory. “For me, I will continue regardless of the outcome,” he responded when I asked about his plans if he was defeated on September 11, “but the SDA is not about me.” Strategic and leadership visions are in place for the next few years, it would appear.
WP: Men and Women in Blue – With a Tinge of White
This year, notwithstanding the absence of a new heavyweight like Mr Chen, there appears to be less fuss over the new WP slate. Which perhaps is positive for the party, since the quality of these individuals and their profiles are perceived as givens, and at the same time signals lower apprehension associated with joining the opposition parties. Thus far, only engineer Redzwan Hafidz Abdul Razak, 30 – since his wife is a civil servant – has expressed concerns along this tangent. “It boils down to the fact that the Opposition was not something that a civil servant should be associated with,” he told the media last Wednesday.
Campaign and Rally Coverage
In the Middle of a WP Sea of Blue
WP supporters will continue to turn up in great numbers for the next seven evenings, but the discourse has to move beyond AHPETC and the regular rabble-rousing. Ms Lim has acknowledged that it will not let the town council issue bog down its electoral campaign, and that the WP “should be talking about the future of Singapore and some national issues” (TODAY, September 3). Preaching to the converted is easy; selling a vision of an empowered future to the Singaporeans beyond a rally will be more challenging.
Reform Party in AMK Casts Hong Lim Shadow
With a reported turnout of 4,000 to 5,000 individuals, the party reckons it stands a fighting chance, and contends that it will go into greater detail of the issues in the coming days. Yet beyond the rally site and its ardent followers, perhaps the biggest challenge for the RP is not just the substance of its policies and recommendations, but also the truculent tenor of its campaign to cast away the spectre of Hong Lim Park.
Nine Questions With the Electionaire Team
Seventy-two hours after its release, Electionaire – “a tool for users to find out how much they agree with [the stances of the political parties] on the relevant issues of this election” – has since been accessed by more than 140,000 users and received half a million page views. A majority of the new users are from Singapore, and the average user spends 4.5 minutes on the website.
A Round-Up of the Rallies Based on Issues, Day #6
The men and women in white were characterised as “cocky”, as being “too high up in their ivory towers”, and as out-of-touch individuals who have continued to spin the same story they have always spun. National Solidarity Party’s (NSP) Eugene Yeo said the highly-paid ministers were not listening, and therefore could not understand the problems of the poor. Speakers from the Opposition parties also contrasted the present PAP leaders with the founding fathers of yesteryears. “I was with the PAP in the past, but that PAP is no longer around,” Sadasivam Veriyah of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) said.
Low: “The WP is Ready to Run More Town Councils”
For the second night in a row, the Workers’ Party (WP) steered clear of the issues surrounding Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC). Instead, both its leaders reiterated the party’s ability to run more town councils. “We are confident that the WP is ready to run more town councils,” secretary-general Low Thia Khiang said. “Our return [to Serangoon Stadium] is even more special,” chairman Sylvia Lim added, “because it is now home ground. We’re next to Boundary Road, and from here we can smell Marine Parade.”
SDP Stands by Alternative Policies; Closes on Emotional Note
In the party’s final rally of the campaign, Professor Paul Tambyah of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) rebutted arguments published by the People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, which criticised their alternative policies. Prior to the campaign, the average Singaporean had no idea about our policies, Dr Tambyah said. “We are very grateful to the PAP for disseminating this information to every household in Holland-Bukit Timah.”
The Opposition Responds to GE2015 Results
“All this is a mandate for authoritarianism and brainwashing,” RP’s Kenneth Jeyaretnam said, when the sample counts for Ang Mo Kio GRC and West Coast GRC were released. Comparing these to similar margins in China and North Korea, he added that “Singaporeans get the government they deserve. I don’t want to hear any more complaints”.