These two weeks have been tiring, from Nomination Day to the eve of Election Day. I have not attended a single rally. But I have spent much time watching the recorded videos on YouTube, reading publications from both the mainstream and the alternative sources. I feel as though my politico-meter has shot up from zero to red hot in merely days. Almost every day, I would wake up at least once in the middle of my sleep thinking about how I shall cast my vote, with vivid dreams still pulsating refused to fade.
Voting can be emotional. It is because deep inside, there is this love for our country and our people. During this election period, rifts can be seen from the discussions revolving around citizens and the foreigners, the born-and-bred Singaporeans and the new citizens, and among those who vote for status quo and those who vote for change. Rifts that I hope will be mended after tomorrow. As an immigrant who has been a Singaporean since 1998, where do I stand? I love this country and the people, hence the decision to settle down and contribute. To assume that I would vote for the ruling party blindly – as all new citizens would do – may not be a valid claim as raised by the alternative voices. Why? I was brought up in Hong Kong where districts are drawn with defined boundary, whereby votes were cast onto an individual. Here in Singapore, the boundary of the constituencies is redrawn by the government in every election. Many constituencies are represented in groups and instead of picking who are best to represent us, we have to pick the team as one package. From where I come from, freedom of speech is valued. Here, there are guidelines to follow. Including what the political parties can and cannot do on Cool-off Day (today). When I compare what I read from the mainstream media, versus what I read from the alternative sources, I have started to doubt what I have been reading all these years. To sum them up, as a voter who has not decided on which party to vote for, I am not blinded by the picture I have originally fallen in love with. It is clear that the barrier for alternative parties to enter into Singapore political scene is unfairly high. To that extend, my kudos to the alternative parties that stand up and challenge the status quo. You have my deepest respect.
Singapore as a whole is not doing badly, objectively speaking. We have come back up from a technical recession fairly quickly. We have good growth this year, despite the global financial challenge. Most importantly, our country is strong and our diplomatic relationship with the rest of the world seems good. Better than those days when we have to constantly worry about the water issue, and to deal with criticisms from our neighboring countries. Singapore is indeed more vibrant in the past five years; and the landscape has improved. Our country draws envy from the foreigners; some eventually wish to settle down and contribute. Foreigners like I once was. I do not have a lot of complain about the government but a few. I feel that the growth of our population has outpaced the expansion of our infrastructure. That is bad planning. I do not have much confident on our national security, despite the heavy budget we have put aside for defense. Cost of living has outpaced the wage increment, which increasingly makes me worry about my retirement. And I still feel that we should have kept GST low. The members of parliament should be more visible on the ground rather than once in five years (in my case, I have not seen any MP in my life before, except during the media events). There should also be more, much more credible alternative voices in our parliament rather than one that is dominated by one single party – a system that I doubt would be sustainable in a long run.
When I watched some of the speeches made by the alternative parties, I am surprised by the talents we have. Some moved me to tears. These are just words, you may say. I beg to differ. To be able to speak with such sincerity and conviction requires the individual to have true passion and the experience of being on the ground engaging ordinary people. Without such, the speech would feel like a scripted speech, watching the person making that speech would feel like watching a parrot talks. And you can tell who have been walking the ground, who have not. Some of these speeches touch my heart. If we have a system whereby voters can pick-and-mix candidates from different parties, I would want to see some of these talents from the alternative parties to be voted into the parliament. As of now, we can only pray for some miracles to see some of these faces in our parliament.
Come this May 8, we may wake up to a government with no representatives from the alternative parties. I highly doubt if there would be a political tsunami, like some may have speculated. There may be more alternative voices getting voted into the parliament. But anything less than a critical mass would merely be a status quo. We would be politically dormant for five years and the awakening process would kick in again, for two weeks. Unfortunate for me, I am not from a constituency that makes headline. The contest is less than lukewarm. I do not think how I vote would matter to the final picture. The previous ruling party for my constituency will continue to rule. Hence, it is easy for me to say that I am ready to vote wisely, and bravely. But I am not going to say just that. I am ready to vote with my clear conscience.