Many people would think that given the size of the people attending the opposition rallies and online chatter against PAP and for the opposition, this coming election will be a big win for them. On the contrary, as we have seen in the previous elections, this may not be true. The good news this year is that there are probably even more people who may be supporting the opposition and even more people willing to voice their opposition. The opposition may not win big this year, but given the trend and giving it 10 to 20 years, we will surely see even more qualified candidates joining opposition parties and even more voters swinging their votes over to the opposition. Things may not happen this year, but wheel are set in motion and change will come if we are patience enough.
The problem with PAP dominance is that barriers to entry are made very high for the opposition. Election boundaries are constantly redrawn to shift voting patterns in favor of the PAP. Community centers under the People’s Association are used to ferry uncles and aunties with free food to attend PAP rallies and I thought they are supposed to be non-partisan? Broadcast and print media are servants to the PAP, not to investigate what is facts, but to tell Singaporeans want PAP wants them to know. The police, security forces and judiciary, by virtue of the laws bulldozed by PAP in the parliament, are but loyalists of the PAP, used by them to spread fear and to control and maintain power. Civil servants, whether they like PAP or not, will probably have to vote for PAP, mostly really out of fear.
Then there are votes who vote out of fear and lack of empathy and indifference.
Fear because they fear voting in the opposition will make things more difficult for them in the estate. Their estate prices may drop subsequently and new amenities for their estate will take a back seat in favor of PAP wards. Some fear that if they voted for the opposition and if the PAP won, their names will be noted and getting any help from the PAP after that may prove to be difficult. This is the reasons why the PAP is playing the fear and regret card in the news media. They know a lot of citizens responds to these messages well and will not dare to make the wrong move. The same fear card was used by Vivian on the gay issue, in order to secure votes from the anti-gay voters in his constituency, probably right wing fundamentalist religious people.
For those who are indifferent or lacks empathy, its probably harder to convince them otherwise. These people have a good quality of life for themselves and their families. They want everything to remain the same after the elections so that they can continue to have their maids and occasional holidays. To them, as long as their life have no major upsets, there are no causes to fight for. They don’t care to know about civil rights or don’t have any idea or don’t care why people are jailed by ISA. They think that over time PAP will make those changes or accommodations and there is no need to fight against PAP for it.
The same mentality gets some gay people over the call to abolish the penal code 377a. Some, have their partners, build their little nest and go about their usual daily routines. Others are happy to have their parties, sex and drugs. They don’t want anyone upsetting their way of life by calling for the repeal and upsetting the government with a backlash. They believe that the government will abolish that in time to come. Upsetting them too early will compromise their current contented way of life. And so they prefer that nobody fights for gay equality and upsets the government and leave it to them to work on it as a when they pleases.
Many people harp on the Mas Selamat incident, with the focus on the toilet escape. It makes sense, of course, but for me this is missed by a mile. For me, the incident should be more about the accountability of the Internal Security Acts. Whether Mas Selamat is a terrorist or not, I strongly believe that he should be given a fair trial in an unbiased hearing. Being in ISA custody, was he given a fair trial and hearing, was he tortured? Could he be a political dissenter rather than a would-be terrorist? We are all already aware of how ISA has been used by the government to subvert challenges to their power, even the average person on the street have an irrational fear that if they talk too loud against the government, they may need to have a kopi session the next day. Mind you this is not the PAP tea session. I constantly hear gay people talk about how they worry about their jobs being compromised or being monitored if they speak too loud for gay rights because of the fear of ISA. This is precisely why ISA needs to be abolished to be replaced by a structure more accountable to the people and not subject to the abuse of power by the PAP. The ISA just gives PAP too much leeway to abuse their power without proper checks and balances and it must go.
Coming to the gay issue, its a good thing to know that in general most people don’t really care if an MP is gay or not. Does that mean a gay MP will take about nothing but a gay cause? Does that mean a Muslim or Buddhist MP will talk about just their own religious cause? Or a woman MP will focus only on women’s issues? This is truly really fear mongering at its peak. But this does show to us how strongly the PAP team regarded the SDP team. Every time we see smear campaign coming from PAP, we know that its because they fear those that they smear. Already, we hear talks and rumors about potential drastic steps PAP are prepared to conjure up in order to destroy the SDP chances or credibility in contesting for the GRC. I have no idea what that maybe or if they will indeed carry that out, we can only wait and see. Given that PAP have full control of the police forces and security forces, i.e. spying on citizen, it is not hard to think of the kind of information they can gather to make this possible.
I know we are all frustrated by the sight of so many foreigners in Singapore and about job security, however, please don’t use them as the bogeyman or make a joke out of them. They are flesh and blood people who works hard for their own livelihood and family and don’t deserves us screaming for them to get out or us joking about them. The focus should be on the issues of our policies and how it impacted Singaporeans and what we can do improve the situation.
Also, one thing we must remember is that these so called foreign talents are really a huge and diverse group. The frustration are not necessary the same and they are not all necessary taking away jobs from Singaporeans. I suspect the most visible groups and those that some of us are frustrated about are the lower skills foreigners. However, we sometimes need to ask ourselves, how many Singaporeans want to do those jobs that they are doing? I wonder even if with a minimal wage scheme and with policies to encourage employers to hire Singaporeans first for those jobs, how many really want to be a house maid, road sweeper, rubbish collector or construction worker? If anything, we should thank them for building the houses we live in, keep our estate clean and taking care of your children or old folks when you are too busy earning for a living.
As for jobs that so-called went the way of the foreigners, honestly I have no idea what people are talking about. Not that it is non-existence, but for people in different industry, this may be either a perceived or actual problem. Taking my own experience in the IT industry interviewing people for some IT positions. I found that the general quality of Singaporean candidates to be not as good as compare to their foreign counterparts interviewing for the same jobs. Some could not articulate their thoughts properly or show enthusiasm or passion for the the industry that they are in and worst of all the one-question-one-answer interviewee. It can be quite frustrating having to face such candidates and so don’t blame me for not recommended any Singaporeans for those positions and giving them away to better foreign candidates.
Whether or not, this is a watershed election, in the future, I want a Singapore where gay and transgender people are free from fear of being themselves, where they get equal opportunities to work and social help without having to hide or be ashamed of themselves and where the media are allow to portrait positive images, movies and articles of gay and transgender folks.
I want a Singapore where citizens are free from fear of speaking out in public, where lawyers can comment on the law, where news media actually carry real news about Singapore, where ISA and 377a are abolished, where all detainees of the ISA and those exiled are given a fair hearing and fair compensation if they were wrongly accused, where the RCs and CCs are not beholden to the PAP but to its citizens and where those we really need our help or have fallen into the cracks are help by the government to bring their lives back in order, where population is not increase just to catch up with GDP growth and finally, a Singapore where I can truly be able to say it is my country and not one that PAP allowed me to be in.