Saturday, May 06, 2006

Why my vote matters and why I don't give a damn

Why my vote matters and why I don give a damn

In another 10 hours, all the talks shall see its culmination into the number of votes each side. If there is a common underlying message from all aspiring and veteran politician taken to stage for the last 2 week, it will be that the people’s vote matter. 1.22 million Votes will be cast with 37 seats being the prize.

Take a step back to a week earlier, where son and father take to the media and engage the people. While the Prime Minister had a good time taking on people from all walks of life on a feel good session, where with a few quick promises were made and delivered quickly.

His father and mentor took on a younger generation which consist mainly of first and second time voters, some never see the inside of a voting station ever since walkover becomes a term as popular as elections. While they try to ask tough question to the battle-hardened old battle-axe, they seems to be more trying to step on themselves and each others. They came across as a bunch of uncouth, camera hogging ingrates trying to act like adults asking childish spoilt brats. In fact, my own take is that someone has just put a bunch of sheep into the den of a lion and all of them spoiling for a fight and hoping that they can win; not a prayer. However, if they are to be used as gauge for the sentiment of this generation of voters, it is obvious that there exist an extremely wide gulf, more of a chasm in the thinking between the old and the young. While the old guy assumes that we want a fight and a more lively parliament at the cost of political and hence national stability, I feel that what we are hoping is for once, to have a voice that check and balance the system; a parliament that will not gives you an answer that what is decided had been decided and there are reasons, full stops. All we want is in simple truth, to have a government that not just delivers, but willing to stop and listen for once before shoving what they feel is right down our throat. We can only bite so many bullets before 1 slip past and blow our head out. That is not really a tall order for a world-class government, is it?

As the time draws near, one opposition party unfurled its party manifestos quietly at its website leading to criticisms from the incumbent and asked the opposition to withdraw its manifestos citing its dangerous thinking and seditious nature. And it is this expose from the incumbent that the rest of the populace heard and learnt of the manifestos.

Moving ahead in time, as the incumbent shows its hand and introduces new faces while retiring old ones, they were taunting the oppositions to do the same and that the oppositions, probably wiser as they are now experienced, choose not to answer the taunt and hold their card close. But while the new faces from the incumbent goes to show that they are serious about self-renewal, the oppositions’ new faces are considered wet behind the ears, unknown and lack of a proven track record, so much for consistencies in definitions. While we have people in the parliament that stays on even past 80s, some opposition parliament members have served too long and should leave making way for younger members of the incumbent.

Even nomination did not go on without much fan fare and hullabaloos. There were surprises as some supposedly hot constituencies were given a miss while some were challenged. One surprises was the challenge by young first time opposition against the Prime minister and his team. This however, pales in comparison to an opposition candidate, a form to prove that he is of minority origin, a video that proves that he put it back into his bag and a phone tapping which he told of the consequences to the ELD officials. This took the center stage in the entire campaign till 2 days before the polling date while everything else took a backseat. Every single member of the incumbent took up arms and had a jab demanding for apologies and at a latter stage, a withdrawal. So much so, that the Minister of Home Affair even made a statement that 4 member team can run in a 5seat GRCs, which is only later being refuted by the Minister for Foreign Affair. It really does leads 1 to wonder if there really is a rule to the game or that one side can make it up and change it as they goes along. Of course, one can always claim that the Election Department is independent and neutral. But the Gomezgate issue leads 1 to wonder how independent it is and that promises made on certain constituencies will stay as single seat instead of being merged into neighboring GRCs leads one to consider that the electoral boundaries can be influenced.

IF there is another name for the time of rally, it will be called the time of wonders whereby for contested constituencies, their MPs suddenly appear everyday to shake hand, and if you have a problem, you can talk to them and they might just simply whisk it away with a little magic wand. This is also the time where other than abalone porridges, they get million dollar upgrade and estate improvement plan if they happens to be an opposition ward and that they will only get it if the incumbent’s candidate gets voted in. Our Prime Minister once commented that money politics and pork barreling had been the scourge of Japan politics. While here, the 100 Million dollar carrot is nothing more than improvement plan for the estate and that progress package is nothing more than to share the fruits of the nation’s success despite the obvious coincidence that the payout is done a week before the nation goes to the poll. Besides fielding candidates where some put the party and the leader’s integrity to question, the oppositions, if elected in greater numbers will also become a problem of which requires our Prime Minister’s personal attention and fixing (ok, should read countering after the secretary correct it a day after) and that they are a great distraction which will hinder the countries progress. The thought of oppositions in the parliament getting spayed and neutered was a bit disturbing.

One of the issues that were scantly mentioned was the NKF debacle. This could well be because of the recent high profile defamation suite bought against the infamous Chee brother and sister as well as the rest of the SDP. The possibility of sub judice could play an important factor in making it a taboo subject.  The issue is not about the government but more of transparency. While the Minster for Health managed to sort it out in 1 afternoon as the old NKF management seek him out and resigned en-mass and left him to appoint an interim management which went about cleaning up the mess. The question that failed to answer was that, with a few whistle being blown in the past, why wasn’t the issue being bought out in the open and that do we have enough check and balance to prevent a similar incident to happen and in its worst possibility, a government agencies. We had seen the passing of Sarbane Oxley in the wake of Enron and MCI but yet little is being done here in the matter of legislative measures being taken in the wake of NKF.

If there is one thing I agree with, it will be that the whole election is and will always be about the future. While it is important to know who brought about the success this nation has enjoyed in the past, it is even more important to consider what we want for the next 5 years and the 5 years after. Is it stability that we want? Check and balance? Uncertainty as we vote in the unknown? I do know that despite the great turn out in the Opposition’s rally is by no means a given that they will be voted in. But I am heartened to see that the oppositions are slowly getting its act together and they are now on their long road to getting their credibility a boost. However, as not all oppositions are created equal, I do hope that this election will see some clowns making curtain calls and bowed out as it is way overdue for them to get off the political stage of Singapore. As for me, polling day is truly a vacation as I am in a GRC that is a walkover. Which is why, despite all these, I don’t really give a damn…. I am sure the MPs of this constituency don’t care as well, at least for the next 5 years.

For those that are voting, have a care and vote carefully.

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