Category: Current Affairs
Published on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 00:00
Written by Shawn Danker
I am a classic middle-ground voter. Also known as a fence sitter or swing voter.
I am not a die hard supporter of any party in the Singaporean landscape. I used to root for the Workers' Party for awhile because they were the plucky underdog who stood up against the dominance of the PAP. But I have been growing increasingly disillusioned with the state of the opposition in Singapore. I began to realize that I would only vote for party with the most rational, well argued and convincing plans.
So what did I do? I set forward to properly educate myself on party stances and manifestos because I was determined to cast an informed vote. I paid attention to news reports, attended parliamentary sittings and got to know the candidates myself.
I was bombarded with all sorts of rhetoric, rants and pleas before and during the hustings on my facebook feed. But many of these posts annoyed me immensely. Many of these posts hurled what I felt were toxic attacks, doing nothing to advance the cause of a specific candidate or party. All I saw was an underhanded attempt by certain players to harness the political tide for their own benefit. Posts that accuse ministers of doing nothing but collecting their fat paycheques made me not want to vote opposition at all. Conversely whenever people tried to advise me to "vote wisely", it made me want to vote foolishly and choose the opposition. I often found myself wondering if supporters on both sides knew that pressuring others towards their political beliefs only ends up backfiring.
I saw and heard many opposition supporters loudly declare that we need action and change. That the PAP is NATO: No action talk only. It made me wonder if these advocates of change have any idea of what the sentiment on the ground is like at all. That they have let their hatred of all things white blind them to the fact that the MIWs have been very busy working their collective asses off since 2011.
The G itself has pushed through many initiatives to rectify some of the biggest bugbears facing the public. The MPs have worked hard to look after their individual wards, some making several house visits to reach out to residents about whatever concerns they might have. Lee Bee Wah for example, has stood up in parliament to speak about the effect the high cost of living is having on one of her residents who happens to be a bus driver. Ms. Lee pressed the government to do something to increase overall salaries or be faced with an exodus of local bus drivers from their professions. The truth is that the MIW like Ms. Lee, has been quietly doing many things to win the hearts and minds of their electorate over since the last election.
Conversely, what did the opposition do over the past four years? Truthfully, except for voting against the population white paper, the WP did nothing significant in Parliament. They only filed one adjournment motion before parliament dissolved and elections were called. Low Thia Kiang should not claim that the WP fights for transparency when the party's tai chi pattern over the town council saga has only ended up obfuscating the issue even further. Frankly the WP has done nothing to address the public's lingering doubts about their ability to manage a town council, let alone run the country. The WP is very lucky to hold onto Aljunied because there was little about the last four years that suggested they deserved to hold on to it. This election was a wake up call for the Workers' Party because the swing voters who voted them in expect the WP to be better than just tai chi and talk.
Supporters on both sides of the political spectrum need to realize that the average Singaporean is not politically unaware or apathetic. We have simply chosen to act when it matters. If I were the PAP, I would thread very carefully. The swing voters have spoken. They can give unto you, they can taketh away. This is not blank cheque for the PAP to do as it pleases and go back to the pre 2011 of doing things. If I were the WP, I would sit down and reflect on what I need to do to up my game or face fading back into the fringes of Singaporean politics. The next five years are going definitely to be very interesting times for swing voters such as myself.