If you want Democracy, Do your part!

See a touching email (A Letter From Bryan Choong) forwarded to me and another article “My vote and my ‘child’s future’” from Stephanie Chok. If you want real democracy in Singapore, do your part, if not for yourself, do it for your children and your children’s children! I hope my children will never ask me the questions I have been asking myself: why laws and policies (such as Casinos and open door policy) are passed despite lots of objections? why are we not consulted on major constitution changes such as elected presidency and GRC? why we often have to suffer unpopular policies in the name of survival or national interest (such as CPF cuts and Privatisation of National Assets), aren’t there better way? Has the Government lost touch with the ground? and most of all: “Dad, why didn’t your generation do something?” I couldn’t have put it better than Stephanie Chok, go read the exerpt below yourself.

Remember the Three Questions asked by Chen Show Mou

  • Are you better off today than five years ago?
  • Are you more hopeful today about your future and your children’s future than you are five years ago?
  • Do you think with the Workers Party representing you in parliament, that you will get better Government’s policies?

And If A Freak Result Occurs …..

  • The ruling party is to be blamed for putting all eggs in the GRCs which forces electorates to choose all or nothing. It works for them when the ground is sweet but a disaster when the people are unhappy with the Government.
  • If the unthinkable happens and the elite civil service failed to hold the fort for another five years, it means that PAP has failed us miserably for the last 40 over years without building a solid foundation for the future generations.
  • We should count on those people who are willing to step forward to serve, regardless of whether they are from the ruling or the opposition parties to have the good of Singapore at heart. They are not in the Parliament or Government to run the country down.
  • And last but not least, we must have faith that we are not short of talented Singaporeans to come forward if all the above fail, just like Lee Kuan Yew, Lim Chin Siong and many others did 50 years ago.

I really envy the voters of some GRCs and SMCs, their choices will be much much easier than mine.

Nevertheless I know I will do my part for this election. May god bless Singapore!

The PAP’s understanding of our society is one that is shaped by money, by fear and by selfishness.” – Dr Vincent Wijeysingha



A Letter From Bryan Choong

One week ago, a friend wrote to me after reading my facebook status that I am still considering if my vote should go to an opposition candidate. She wrote about invalid votes and voting for alternative voices in GE 2011. I took one week to think about her thought provoking email because it will be disrespectful to give her a one liner reply.

I am 34 years old and have never been given a chance to exercise my right as a citizen. The closest I got to a GE was accompanying my mother for her voting when Jalan Besar GRC was contested in 1988. I might be wrong with the year since it was so long ago.

In any case, I actually thought that on the actual ballot paper, there will be symbols of bird, train, ship or typewriter, and I will have to cross next to these strange symbols. I thought to myself what if I match the wrong symbol to the wrong party. Do not laugh, I am serious.

This year, I want to have my chance to vote so much that I was desperately looking for ways to make sure that happens. After reading her email, I went on to watch a RazorTv video which explained the logistic requirement for a team to compete in a GRC.

I realised that like many Singaporeans, I have not been fair to opposition candidates. We complained that we did not get a chance to vote each general election but we have not done anything to support their work. Especially for a small party with few candidates and little resources, it is extremely challenging for them to find one proposer, one seconder and at least six assentors, plus backups and these volunteers must be from the constituency they are contesting in.

We just sit in our armchairs and do our coffeeshop style nagging but when an opposition team needs our help, we back off and quietly hoped someone will volunteer himself. My mother told me since I was young that instead of asking for help from someone, I should do it myself. Since I want to vote so much, I need to be part of the process that makes it happen. I realised that I cannot be volunteering for the opposition parties this GE because I will be away on a conference trip for one week, flying in just in time on 7 May to cast my vote (I am praying that Valuair do not fail me).

After the RazorTV, I was just thinking about the effort involved in putting together a GRC team. As usual, I procrastinated and did nothing. Perhaps part of me think the opposition team will screw up the paperwork anyway. Last friday, I got a reminder again by yawningbread article about the nomination team and decided that I should volunteer to be a proposer for the contesting RP team in West Coast GRC.

It was not for anyone, it was purely for myself, just so that I cannot blame someone else for not able to give me my voting chance again. So I did my part on the Nomination Day today. At the nomination centre today, there must be hundreds of different parties supporters and we were literally “white out”. But I think it was only a small privilleged group of people who witnessed the nomination process in the nomination hall. Compared to what you saw on CNA, it was relatively peaceful and uneventful in Jurong JC school hall. I was standing in the middle of PAP, SDP, RP and NSP candidates watching CNA and I realised they are also commoners, just like us. But we also know we have made ourselves part of the history, whether we are from the oppositions or the ruling party.

Our names, NRIC and signatures are part of the historical moment. If you asked me if I had any worries that my name appeared on an opposition nomination form, yes I did. And I secretly hoped they would not reply my email. They did and I realised how deeply entrenched the irrational fear I had inside me.

But did I place myself at a higher challenge than the opposition candidates? No I did not. They have made more sacrifices than you and I can imagine, for something they believed in. I have done my small part to make my voting chance happen. It is your turn to make this momentious chapter in your life. Be an active part of the nation building process that you have been denied for years. Do not be a fence sitter and do not cast an invalid vote. It is priceless. P.S: I replied my friend’s email today. (Feel free to send this to your potential fence sitters friends, I am sure you have tens of them. 🙂
By: Bryan Choong


An Exerpt From “My vote and my ‘child’s future’” from Stephanie Chok 

Source: theonlinecitizen on May 2, 2011

“I would like my son – yes, it’s a boy, says the doctor – to respect leaders for their integrity, dedication to service and commitment to justice that is not bereft of compassion.

I would like him to be steered by courageous leadership, one that does not succumb to easy appeals to greed and fear in order to secure votes, but inspires him to rise above self-centredness to support decisions that may, potentially, cause him some temporary discomfort, but may ultimately result in a more humane alternative to the current ‘catch up or die’ development model.

I would very much like my child to be able to speak his mind respectfully yet fearlessly if he disagrees with the status quo, without having to hover in the background to remind him: ‘Be careful, son!’ (And then give a long and somber lecture about the existence of the Internal Security Act and how it has been abused in the past to silence and intimidate persons who disagreed and tried to challenge the system.)

I want him to grow up learning that loyalty should be earned, not bought. That if he was ever to become a politician, or even a team leader in his school or manager of a company, that his key strategy should not be to induce obedience through a coercive combination of threats and bribes. If my son wins – a competition, a promotion, an election – I would like to be proud of how he won it through a ‘clean fight’. That he won the respect of others who have selected him because of his capabilities, his potential, his sincere desire to serve others.

I would like my son to appreciate humility and its power to move others. Genuine humility, that comes from admitting to human frailties and mistakes and taking responsibility for them. Humility that is demonstrated by listening with sincerity to others with differing – even opposing – views, without being dismissive, patronizing or bullying them into silence.

I would like my child to grow up in a country where the ‘good life’ is not merely characterized by GDP growth, but by the measure in which fellow citizens protect and care for each other, particularly the most vulnerable amongst us. I look forward to him being part of a country where he could, without being a Presidents Scholar, or even a degree holder, be recognized and valued for whatever skills and talents he possesses. I want him to work in a country where he could excel in a trade if he so chooses – e.g. carpentry, bricklaying, horticulture – and be paid a decent, living wage for an honest day’s work, a wage where he could afford to get married, buy a comfortable (not necessarily luxurious) home and raise a family.

I want my child to be convinced that in this society, there is no shame or crime in being different, that it is important to think critically, imaginatively, and boldly – that the road to success is not through memorizing model answers or mindlessly filling in the blanks with droll answers provided by judicious instructors. I hope that he can flourish within an education system that genuinely fosters creativity, spontaneity and sparks of harmless mischief, and doesn’t kill enthusiasm for subjects/curricula not perceived as ‘profitable’ – e.g. philosophy and literature, as opposed to engineering or accounting.

I want my child to grow up with a healthier understanding and experience of democracy than I have. I want him to experience a Singapore where it is not accepted as ‘normal’ for Members of Parliament to hold on to their positions for years – even decades – without having ever been voted in; where ‘live’ debates between politicians of different parties over pertinent policy issues are a regular feature; where civil liberties such as freedom of assembly and expression and the right to information are not treated as ‘luxuries’ but recognized as the fundamental rights of mature citizens.

I want him to be able to experience the dynamism of an egalitarian society at its best – one where persons fight fearlessly to protect the principles of truth and justice, yet never forget the beauty of mercy and gentleness.

But most of all, I do not want my child, when he is 21 and no longer a child, but an adult about to vote himself, to ask me, perhaps with some measure of disappointment, maybe resentment, or possibly despair: ‘Mom, why didn’t any of you do anything?’


Could we have a ‘freak’ result?

Excerpt from TodayOnline 28 Apr 2011 by Eugene Tan

So, how real is the possibility of a freak election outcome?

Reform Party leader Kenneth Jeyaretnam yesterday dismissed the idea; PM Lee did not go down the route of fomenting anxiety over such an outcome, but said it was “good” to have a strong contest to “make Singaporeans realise more what is at stake at this election … it has very serious consequences”.

Indeed, the Singaporean voter has not been callous. In the 1991, 1997 and 2001 GEs, although the PAP was returned to Government on Nomination Day, voters still gave the PAP a credible mandate on Polling Day. Besides, playing up the fear factor of an upset may leave a negative taste with educated voters. 


Remember the Three Questions asked by Chen Show Mou

  • Are you better off today than five years ago?
  • Are you more hopeful today about your future and your children’s future than you are five years ago?
  • Do you think with the Workers Party representing you in parliament, that you will get better Government’s policies?

Dr. Vincent Wijeysingha’s speech about the “heartware” and the values of a nation


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