Friday, May 6, 2011

Election Thoughts

Minister George Yeo's speech at the Ubi Rally on 5th May was very well made.  It was a true and contrite recognition of the current state of play - no frills, no varnish.  He gave very frank and accurate assessment of MM's reference to Aljunied voters having to repent over 5 years if the WP is voted in.  It is also gratifying to hear the PM say that the government will engage young Singaporeans more after the election.  It is time to open the public square to more contradictory discourse and debate, whatever the outcome of the election.  What the last 9 days have shown is a section (the size will be determined on 7 May) of the electorate that has not been given sufficient opportunity to vent and air their heartfelt concerns to their leaders.  Voters have not been de-sensitized to opposing and contrarian views.  Some may not even be able to discern the strength of arguments.  That is why many resonate well with opposition voices emerging in the course of a 9-day spurt.  Many have not imbibed nor internalized a sufficient dose of contrary views, to be able to sift the correct from the bizarre, the practicable from the unrealistic, the simplistic from the considered.  We have misunderstood what we perceived to be voter apathy or disinterest in politics.  Post-election, this feedback process must go beyond REACH, and a constant discourse must take place not only amongst the young, but all other segments, including the civil service, statutory boards, the labour movement and other agencies.  The watch-words must be to tamper economic rigour (which is important) with tolerance, compassion, grace and an openness to listen to dissention and even occasionally sharp criticism.  This may be the beginning of a new dawn for public accountability and debate in Singapore.

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