May 26, 2011

The perfect ending to the 2011 General Elections

Original article by Lianhe Zaobao, May 25 2011. Photo taken from Pritam Singh's FB album.

The perfect ending to the 2011 General Elections

"May we take a photo with you?"

When former Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew heard the request from opposition party leader Low Thia Kiang, he gladly agreed, even exchanging a few words with him.

This was after last Saturday's Cabinet Swearing In ceremony, in which around 700 guests attended the subsequent reception at the Istana Gardens, the country's political patriarch Lee Kuan Yew and the Worker's Party Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang, together with five other Worker's Party elected MPs and two NCMPs, were gathered together in this precious photo.

Low Thia Kiang: "I respect MM Lee's contributions to Singapore."

This photograph is not only of historic significance, it also leaves a lot to the interpretation of the imaginative viewer.

It turns out at that time, the eight Worker's Party MPs were taking a group photo near MM Lee's seat, so when Low Thia Kiang saw him, he walked over and asked if MM Lee would like to take a photo with them.

When answering questions from our reporters last night, Low Thia Kiang remarked: "MM Lee is Singapore's founding father. Although I oppose some of his policies made during his term in office, and am unhappy with the way he ran the country and some policies, including the closing of Nantah University, this also led me to join opposition politics. His achievements in bringing Singapore to where it is today is there for all to see, and I respect that. The Worker's Party MPs asked to take a photo with MM Lee before his retirement from the cabinet out of respect for him."

In the recent elections, Low took the bold step of leaving his familiar Hougang ward where he defended successfully for the past 20 years, to lead a team to contest the neighbouring Aljunied GRC, and took five steps from the PAP in one fell swoop. His successor in Hougang, Yaw Shin Leong, also successfully defended the single seat constituency.

In addition, Worker's Party candidates Yee Jenn Jong and Gerald Giam were offered Non-Constituency MP seats, as a result of being the losing opposition candidates with the most votes.

According to the Worker's Party MPs who took the photo with MM Lee, even though they only exchange a few words with him, the atmosphere was very cordial and MM Lee and Low Thia Kiang were all smiles throughout. This may reflect on the beginning of a new, sophisticated political era, making it the perfect ending to the fierce competition that was the 2011 elections.

Reform starts at home

Barely a fortnight has passed since the end of the elections, that two PAP MPs have made a fool of themselves for making inappropriate comments, one on Facebook and the other on mainstream media, no less.

Obviously not taking a lesson from Tin Pei Ling to be careful of what to say on social media, Tampines MP Irene Ng made a comment on Facebook complaining about the extensive media coverage of the Meet-The-People sessions of the Worker's Party in Aljunied GRC (implying she's not getting any):

Her sour grapes comment brought her no small amount of flak, since being the incumbent in Tampines GRC (to which unfortunately I belong), the RC with its air-conditioned office and hordes of eager grassroots leaders at her beck-and-call will be as she left it before the elections. So of course she can start work two days after the elections.

Compare that with Low Thia Kiang and team having to take over Aljunied GRC (which will take another 1~2 months pending account audits) from scratch, and having to conducting MPS in void decks Hougang-style sans air-conditioned offices, which one is more newsworthy?

Irene Ng, your constituents are not stupid, we will know if you have served us well whether or not your trumpet it on social media (and shooting yourself in the foot in the process) or not. It's your mindset that the mainstream media is the sole entitlement of the PAP that is really off-putting.

Not wanting to be outdone, barely two days later, ‎MP for Nee Soon GRC Dr Lim Wee Kiat expressed how he felt about cutting ministerial salaries to the Lianhe Wanbao:

“If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communication and Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discuss policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister’s ideas and proposals, hence a reasonable payout will help to maintain abit of dignity.”

After recently starting a review of the contentious issue of ministerial pay, it seems that PM Lee is really serious about reform. But all that effort (whether going through the motion or not) will go all tumbling down if more MPs like Dr Lim continue making such stupid remarks that clearly do not show that they're not in it for the money. In fact, money equals dignity in the value system of your average PAP MP, which I'm not sure if the kind of characteristics we are looking for in our future leaders.

In a rally speech at Raffles Place on May 3, PM Lee once remarked:

“Supposing you have a Parliament with 10, 15 or 20 opposition members out of 80, then instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I will spend all my time, I have to spend all my time thinking of what is the right way to fix them, what’s the best way to buy my own supporters over”.

If PM Lee is really serious about reform, he should get his own house in order really soon, to avoid further embarrassment by his own party MPs. Otherwise, instead of spending his time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, he'll have to spend all his time thinking of how to stop the nitwits within the party from embarrassing themselves and the PAP.

Time to get the Whip out.

May 23, 2011

Taiwan talk show on LKY and Singapore politics

A recent Taiwanese talk show devoted an entire program to cover the recent 2011 General Elections, the Lee dynasty and Singapore politics. Although there are some inaccuracies in the commentary, it is an interesting look at Singapore from a Taiwanese perspective.

May 20, 2011

China misreads Singapore model

Interesting article in the Hong Kong based Asia Weekly magazine on the 2011 General Election, see through the eyes of a Chinese political academic. The original article (in Chinese) can be found here.


Retuning to Beijing from Singapore to observe the 2011 General Election, Chinese political academic Li Fan remarked: "The Chinese government's interpretation of the "Singapore model" (of governance) is wrong, they only see the surface and are ignorant of the fact that Singapore law also controls their ministers, allowing civil rights, and the right to form parties, including opposition parties."

Specializing in "election studies", Li Fan also found a mirror of reflection for China. The Director of the World and China Institute (WCI) made a trip from Beijing to Singapore specifically to observe the elections. He spent nine days in Singapore observing and comparing the election process to that in China.

On May 10, just before boarding the flight back to Beijing, he told Asia Weekly excitedly:

"I recognized that these Singapore elections will be especially important, and sensed that historic changes will take place. As an academic who studies China elections, I felt I should be part of the Singapore elections. And as expected, breakthrough changes did in fact take place, this trip was worth every cent."

For the past number of years, China has sent batch after batch of officials and academics to Singapore to observe and learn the "Singapore model" of governance. Li Fan explained that in the eyes of the Chinese government, the "Singapore model" meant continual economic development in a ideally harmonious society where the citizens could live in safety and find enjoyment in work; a clean government free of greed and corruption; no democracy where the ruling party rules with a monopoly on power, with the opposition never winning over governance of the country; Singapore's laws have effectively controlled society, and create an obedient populace.

China's leaders have taken a seemingly logical stance: "Look, it doesn't matter if a country has no democracy, so long as there is a comprehensive framework of law to control society, and control it with an iron fist. As long as the government is clean and there is continuous economic growth, the people will be happy, and it wouldn't matter if there is democracy or not".

Li Fan pointed out that besides the features pointed out above, the Chinese government has ignored an important aspect of the "Singapore model", where Singaporeans enjoy the basic civil rights, and have the right to form political parties and societies, including opposition parties. The Chinese don't understand that Singapore has so many opposition parties, where China has none. Singaporeans have the right of conscience, although it cannot be denied that the Singapore government still welds strict control over the media, its laws are not as the Chinese government sees it as only controlling the citizens, it also severely restricts its own officials. The very fact that the opposition could have this breakthrough, is due to the election rules which makes it hard for the incumbent to play dirty. The Chinese Communist Party's interpretation of the "Singapore model" is wrong.

Li Fan said: "(For China) to really learn from Singapore, the first thing is to give the citizens basic civil rights. China does not have the right to vote, freedom to form political parties, nor freedom of speech. Fortunately we still have the Internet in China, but it is not as free and open as that in Singapore. Although Singapore is lacking in democracy, society does not go into chaos even though the incumbent party has been ruling for so long, because the people have these basic civil rights."

Academics from China coming to Singapore to observe the elections include those from the Shanghai East China University of Political Science and Law, Shenzhen University Singapore Research Centre, and Shenzhen University School of Management, mostly by invitation of the NUS East Asian Institute. Some of the Chinese mainstream media, like the Nan Feng Chuang and China News, have also sent correspondents to Singapore for coverage. The following is an excerpt of Asia Weekly's interview with Li Fan:

After observing the most hotly-contested election in Singapore since independence, could you give us a summary of the main points of this election based on your observations?

I will summarize it in two main points. The first is the election breakthrough. The PAP have blocked the opposition from entering parliament for a long time, and the opposition parties have organized themselves very successfully in this election to achieve an important breakthrough with the Worker's Party winning a historical record of six seats.

A GRC requires that candidates form a group to contest a large constituency where winner takes all. The opposition Worker's Party consolidated their star candidates into one team with Secretary General Low Thia Kiang at the helm and won the Aljunied GRC. Since the introduction of the GRC system since 1998, this is the first time the opposition has won a GRC, and handed heavy losses to the PAP. Three ministers were unseated as a result of the loss of one constituency, which included Foreign Minister George Yeo.

But most importantly, one of the ruling party's young candidates who was slated to be a 4G future leader, also lost the election. To the ruling party, this must be the biggest loss of all. For decades, the opposition has finally made a breakthrough, and this is obvious for all to see.

And your second point?

The second point is very important, and is my personal observation. Singapore has made a great leap forward in terms of freedom, and at the core of it is the elevation of civil rights. I've attended multiple opposition rallies, and they constantly encourage the voters to vote bravely and not be afraid.

The voters were quite worried in the beginning, because the government made some changes in the election system for this election and added serial numbers to the voting slips. Actually, this change prevents election rigging and election fraud. But because there was a serial number there, voters were afraid that the government would be able to know who they voted for and give trouble to them. From an elections angle, the serial number is actually a good thing for the opposition. The opposition has also explained this, but there are still many voters who are worried. But the final results showed that voters still dared to exercise their rightful vote.

What is the significance of this?

The significance of this, is that people do not care about the repercussions (of voting opposition) any longer. Therefore, elections and the improvement of human rights goes hand-in- hand: human rights pushes elections forwards, and elections in turn enhances human rights. Overall, this gives more freedom to the people, and this is a major trend where democracy and human rights in Singapore move forward interchangeably.

What lessons will these Singapore elections bring to China?

In these Singapore elections, I've often heard the opposition say that they want to let the citizens voice be heard, and allow ordinary citizens to participate in policy making. If China wants to learn from the real Singapore, it should guarantee the basic rights of its citizens, then push for the development of democracy. This is the first point. Secondly, in the course of the elections, the ruling party expressed a wish to become more open and reform itself. It initiated changes to the elections system half a year ago, redrew the SMCs and GRCs, added serial numbers to the voting slip, and introduced a "Cooling Off Day" before Polling Day. These measures helped the opposition to win seats in the election. An example, besides the 87 parliamentary seats, there were a total of NCMP seats reserved, up from three previously, where the best losers from the opposition could enter parliament, albeit without voting rights.

Ruling party initiates reforms

Actually, this tells voters that the changes in the election system is advantageous to the opposition, and were initiated by the ruling party in order to better gauge voter sentiment. During the hustings, Lee Hsien Loong said that his father Lee Kuan Yew should keep his mouth shut, these incidents have allowed the opposition to make a historical breakthrough, and has major significance to China. Singapore can read change in the ground and hope itself up to reform and respond to the dissent in its citizens. If China is to move forward, it must do the same as well.

You mentioned Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. What is your impression of him?

Lee Hsien Loong is an exceptional man, who is brave enough to apologize to voters for things that had gone wrong. Since when has the PAP openly apologized for anything? How can the Communist Party of China possibly say "Sorry" to its citizens? Lee Hsien Loong reiterated that this election is a watershed for Singapore, and marks a point where politics in Singapore will enter a new age.

How did the Singapore media fare in these elections?

The Singapore media played a big role in allowing the opposition to score a breakthrough. In the past, the media only reported on the ruling party's views, and even though a large part of media coverage still centered on the ruling party, it started to report on the opposition in a large way. Also the effect of new media, the Internet, Facebook and Twitter, which the ruling party could not control, the majority of young people on the Internet supported the opposition.

In summary, how will these elections inspire China?

For China, firstly, the government must have an open attitude and allow citizens to have dissenting voices. In this modern age, it is impossible for the government to totally control society and its citizens, so it is better to maintain an open attitude. As Premier Wen Jia Bao recently said, "We must create the conditions to allow ordinary citizens to criticize the government."

Secondly, I believe the best way is to enter parliament to express dissent. The Singapore opposition only could criticize the government outside the system before, and finally have the chance to do so in within the system. The government should now be aware that if you let the populace scold you outside the system long enough, they will topple you one day when push comes to shove. '

Thirdly, give the citizens more civil rights, and allow them to organize themselves.

Fourthly, I hope the Chinese government will keep an open attitude towards the upcoming grassroots level elections, and allow grassroots voters to stand up and voice their real concerns. In the long run, China should concentrate on developing a civil society, and expand civil rights.

May 19, 2011

I hereby present to you - The New Cabinet!

PM Lee presented his new cabinet lineup yesterday. Some highlights:
  1. Teo Chee Hean replaces Wong Kan Seng as Minister for National Security, perhaps a taller guy can better look for escaped fugitives?
  2. Lim Swee Say remains in the Prime Minister’s Office, happily counting the zeroes in his CPF account
  3. "Yakult" Ibrahim is now Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts because he has the most "culture" (by @TheRealLeticia)
  4. Can't afford a flat? Now Khaw Boon Wan will tell you to buy one in JB! For only $8!
  5. Vivian Balakrishnan showed how much he loves gutter politics, so PM Lee granted him his wish and sent him to manage the longkangs
  6. Gan Kim Yong, architect of Singapore's hugely successful foreign talent policy, will be tasked with doing the same for our health sector.
  7. Singaporeans now have a new swear word when stuck in overcrowded buses or the MRT: Tuck Yew!
  8. The Gen Y can now look forward to more hand raising activities (how about a Kee Chiu workout?) and rousing speeches on small island republics, now that Chan Chun Sing is Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports

May 17, 2011

Chen Show Mao on cover of Asia Weekly

"Singapore's political breakthrough"
"The opposition's elections Great Leap Forward"

The Worker's Party, Low Thia Kiang and Chen Show Mao were featured prominently in the article, the focus being the political tsunami that was the fall of Aljunied GRC to the WP and subsequent retirement of George Yeo. Praise given to LTK for his "mission impossible" gamble to leave Hougang to contest Aljunied.

Also mentioned were Nicole Seah and Tin Pei Ling, and their respective receptions by the younger voters, as well as the effect of social media on the election results of GE 2011. The Worker's Party victory at Aljunied was hailed as cementing the foundation of a two-party parliament in Singapore.

May 10, 2011

Yam Ah Mee iPhone ringtone

This must be the best Yam Ah Mee music mix around, practically begging to be made into an iPhone ringtone. So I made two versions, and you can download them here and here.

After downloading, just double-click on the file to add it to iTunes and sync to your iPhone. Go to Settings > Sounds > Ringtone > Select ringtone under "Custom", and you're done! Enjoy!

May 9, 2011

My thoughts on GE 2011

The people of Singapore have spoken, and the voters of Aljunied GRC have opted to repent for the next 5 years, a fitting end to the most exhilarating elections in memory, and sleepless nights catching up on election news and rally videos on the Net. Finally, life can return to normal in Singapore.

Or can it?

GE 2011 marks a watershed event in Singapore politics, that much is obvious. Besides the landmark feat of a GRC falling to the opposition for the first time, it marks the political awakening for many Singaporeans, especially the younger generation, due to social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, tools which did not exist in the mainstream in 2006.

Although I've been blogging for some time now, you can see that prior to this election season that I've neglected this space for quite some time. I have these elections to return the blogging streak in me that has disappeared for so long.

Also, I've had a Twitter account for some time, but only really began to use it in earnest to catch up on the latest election news and tweets. I even got a tweet back from @mrbrown! Turns out he's also one of the many Aljunied repenters.

When the election results were returned by "Returning Officer Extraordinaire" Yam Ah Mee, the tweets from the #sgelections tag were flashing non-stop way into the wee hours of the morning. It was really quite remarkable and comforting to see my fellow Singaporeans so interested in the outcome of their future, even for once. I hope this enthusiasm does not diminish in the coming five years to the next election. Then we would have really matured as a nation, and will no longer be labelled as docile, unquestioning sheep of the ruling party.

Cartoon from sei-ji rakugaki

Speaking of sheep, one designer bag toting, foot stomping example was voted into parliament while a Foreign Minister was voted out, both the result of the controversial beast that is the GRC. Actually, the opposition and Singaporeans in general have much to thank Tin Pei Ling, for she has exposed the fallacies and arrogance of the ruling party that no opposition candidate (save maybe Nicole Seah) ever could.

Getting elected into parliament has practically ensured that netizens will be scrutinizing her every move and word she utters for the next five years, ready to pounce any slip-up that undermines to her status as an MP (which is basically everything). The opposition could not have asked for a better aid for their cause, not even Nicole Seah.

Photo from

As a former resident of Potong Pasir, I was disappointed at Chiam See Tong's failed gamble to win the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, and even more so when I learned in the early hours of May 8 that Potong Pasir had fallen to the PAP by a margin of less than 100 votes.

A figurehead of opposition politics and David to the PAP Goliath for the past 27 years, Chiam See Tong is, and will always be a true hero of Singapore, fighting for the residents of PP to make Potong Pasir what he is today.

"I am not actually a brave man, but I love Singapore and I love Singaporeans", Chiam said in a recent rally. It is very sad that the less than half of the voters of Bishan-Toa Payoh and Potong Pasir reciprocated that love. I'm afraid it is the end of an era for the Chiams. Perhaps it is time for him to retire in ernest and let the next generation of Benjamin Pwee and company to take over the reins.

What is my biggest regret for these elections? Besides not being able to vote this time, my biggest regret is not being able to help in the opposition efforts for this election. I would volunteer my time as a counting agent or distribute flyers at a moment's notice if I could. It would have been an unforgettable experience. Maybe in five years time, that would really be an interesting election.

May 5, 2011

Vote wisely. Vote for Change.

Dear fellow Singaporean,

I know you will do the right thing. Vote wisely. Vote for Change.
See you again on May 8.

"I was wrong" says ex-PAP supporter

I came across this post in Facebook, and would like to share it with everyone here, because the original post cannot be accessed anymore. Originally from here.


‎"I was wrong" by Rena Tan
Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 3:16pm

For the most part of my life, I see myself as a conformist. A traditionalist. A conservative. I believe strongly in the concept of loyalty - to my friends, families and loved ones, my job and undoubtedly my country too.

I grew up feeling a strong sense of pride in the nation that has been transformed by the likes of Lee Kuan Yew and other forefathers - from a small fishing village to the multicultural first world city state that it is right now. I swell with pride too when people from other countries complimented Singapore of being a safe, clean, green and stable country, something many of us tend to take for granted, especially for the younger generations of Singapore who never had to go through the devastation of war/terrorism.

Never mind that people are laughing at us for our chewing gum policies, our tough stance on vandalism and the fact that we have campaigns to remind ourselves to be courteous, kind and gracious. At least we don't have kids running around in schools gunning down other kids, or citizens trying to blow themselves up in front of our embassies. I was steadfast in my loyalty to the country I grew up in, and I accepted the fact that although we were not perfect, our leaders have tried their best.

I believed in that for a long time. When I first became eligible to vote, I have no qualms expressing my allegiance to the ruling party. I couldn't understand why my parents and the older generation I speak to think differently. Couldn't they see how far we have come, the progress we have made, the strides we have taken and the brand we have established for ourselves on the global platform - despite being such a tiny island state? I never knew why they were so embittered, why they were always full of angst, and why they were always frustrated and emotional, especially during the election period.

I have always brushed them off as a bunch of grumpy old people who probably have nothing better to do than whine and gripe, an aging population who was always finding fault and perpetually impossible to please.

I stepped into my mid-20s and was once again eligible to vote. By then I had a job, but was struggling to make ends meet as I was laden with education debts and the need to support my family, having lost my dad at age 12. Being the traditionalist that I am, I thought it was normal for a young professional like myself to go through such struggles - as everyone around me seemed to be in the same boat. It wasn't a big deal - you just have to work hard.

I never thought to rely on the government because I believed its money and time would be much better spent on people who needed them most - the poor and destitute, the aged and lonely, and the handicapped and terminally ill. My struggles were nothing compared to these people, hence I made absolutely no demands on the government to help ease my financial burdens. I scoffed at those who complained incessantly, and assumed that they were merely a bunch of spolit brats and ingrates who had unrealistic expectations of a government who had already done so much.

My vote once again went to the people I felt then would be the best team to sustain Singapore's growth, the team who could best take care of Singapore and its people's interests.

I stepped into my early 30s and for the third time I was given the opportunity to vote. For the first time in 10 years, my belief, trust and blind loyalty to the system - started to waver. People who know me would know I worked extremely hard, depended largely on myself and am a hopeless optimist. My glass is always half full, unless you emptied it.

But at age 30, I was still struggling to make ends meet. I had no savings and I saw no way out of this low-middle class life except to work, pay my bills, pay my taxes and leave whatever morsel of income I have left for basic necessities. I started to understand why life was getting tougher, why our belts were getting tighter and why my money was always getting smaller - no matter how hard I worked or how much I earned.

In the last 10 years, the cost of living would have doubled in some areas, tripled in others. My salary only increased by a single digit percentage - supposedly to curb inflation or to offset the pain of GST. It was no longer enough to work hard. I couldn't see my money at all because they all went into the necessary living costs that I must incur just living and breathing as an ordinary citizen. Food costs, utility bills, transport costs, income tax, healthcare costs - all of which increased year on year, subtly draining me of the very little resources I have left. I started to wonder if my votes have created a money-sucking monster, and the warnings of my parents and the old people I have scoffed at previously for their lamentations and gripes, started to haunt me.

For the first time in my life I wondered - what if what they have been complaining about all this time were actually true?

Despite the nagging feeling that something was not quite right with the system, I fed the monster for the third time. Why? Because at that time, I chose to be logical and rational. The Opposition was unfortunately not united and were, I thought, an irrational bunch. Some went on a hunger strike, some lashed out at the PM in public, others were merely stirring up emotions of the people by focusing on petty issues. All I could see was the Opposition fighting among themselves and falling out with people who they were supposed to ally with to build a stronger case for themselves as to why we needed an Opposition party.

My vote of confidence hence once again went to the party I thought would let me down - less. It was probably a decision I'd live to regret for the next five years to come. The speed of growth - although good for the Singapore economy, has left me gasping for air. The bills kept piling, the taxes kept increasing, and the costs kept escalating.

I started to wonder: Why couldn't the leaders I have voted for slow down a little and see that our salaries have not grown at the same accelerated rate as the economy? I couldn't keep up. I needed a break - a significant and long-term one. Not one in the form of a $400-$500 share package for the entire year, which adds up to meagre sum of less than $2 a day. Hell no. I couldn't even take a train AND the feeder bus back to my home with that amount.

Five years have passed and once I again I find myself standing at this same crossroad - with the power to exercise my vote. This year however, I started to view politics in a very different light. I started to take it more seriously and read voraciously to help me understand the systems I have helped created with my votes. I started to attend rallys, read their manifestos, devour all the online and media reports from various alternative sources, and critically scrutinised each and every speaker on the Opposition parties - just so I can understand what they have to offer.

This time, they have not failed me. The Opposition have reconciled their differences and got their act together. I witnessed a strong sense of unison and a deliberate effort to orchestrate their campaign strategy - so that they could contest in almost every constituency. I can see the silent respect each party attributes to one another, and the consistent message all the parties try to bring across to everyone - in terms of the challenges we have been facing, the pain we are currently going through, the feelings and emotions that are raging in all of us in response to a government who seems to have stopped listening to and caring about its people.

For the first time, all the Opposition parties have put in place people I can look up to, people who have the amazing passion to make a difference, people who genuinely wants a positive change and people who wants to do it the right way. I salute each and every one of them for their selfless sacrifice - as every Singaporean knows, the path of an Opposition is one that is often fraught with difficulties, obstacles and persecution. Just like the Christian way of life.

In its pursuit of growth and profits, the system has stopped listening, stopped caring and stopped consulting. As I read stories after stories of how the financially strapped citizens were kicked around various government organisations in their quest for financial assistance; how brutal some officials were in oppressing those who couldn't afford to have a proper meal much less pay their utility bills; how families were coerced to sleep in tents on the beaches or void decks as their homes have been seized by the government for defaulting on loan payments; how some have resorted to throwing themselves in front of an oncoming train because they have no one else to turn to - my heart broke and I realised how wrong I was. I was wrong to trust that the people whom I've put in place with my votes would take care of them.

I was slapped with an even harsher reality as I read with utter disbelief, the breakdown of salaries these leaders get to earn as ministers. No wonder they were blind to the plight of the people. No wonder they were ignorant of the struggles we go through. No wonder they could not emphatise with our pain. No wonder they have lost touch with the people and were deaf to their cries. No wonder. The amount of money and power they are reveling in - have completely de-sensitized them to the reality of the lives of the ordinary Singaporean. They are no longer obligated to serve the people wholeheartedly and fight for their causes. They simply have too much to lose.

It is with a heavy heart that I write this note - to apologise for my oversight, and for feeding a monster time and again and allowing it to balloon to such catastrophic proportions. It is my folly, and I am sure the folly of many young people to come - because I was once that young, impressionable, nationalistic, idealistic, loyal and passionate voter who believed that our leaders could do no great wrong, and who could bring us to greater heights better than any other parties could.

I now know why I had a thought once, that if I ever have a kid, I will send him/her overseas - as Singapore has become too costly, too rigid, too stifling for any kid to grow up with their own voice and freedom to be creative and expressive. I never knew what sparked that thought - but I guessed like so many people, although I have felt the effects of an uncaring system, we were still in denial - choosing to believe in the best of the people we have voted for.

I have no wish to influence anyone with this note, as it was written more for myself, as a piece for my own self-reflection. But if you happen to be reading this, just know I have come one full cycle, and I have been on both sides of the fence. Know that I have read, heard and seen enough to form my perception of the system I have once trusted, and I am committed to make a change.

As a Chinese saying goes:"When a student fails, the teacher is at fault. When a kid misbehaves, the parents have failed their duty." Hence similarly, when the system turns its back on the very people it is obligated to serve, the voters who put these leaders in place are responsible.

Come 7 May 2011, I urge all of you - please vote responsibly.

May 3, 2011

Dear Politically Apathetic Voter

Dear Politically Apathetic Voter,

In case you haven't noticed, the Singapore General Elections will be held on May 7, and chances are you will have the chance to vote this time around because 82 out of 87 parliamentary seats are being contested by the opposition.

If you couldn't care less about the election, and don't wish to bother yourself with the headache of choosing which candidate(s) to vote for, please do all other Singaporeans a favour and don't vote on election day.

It is NOT a crime if you don't vote. Don't believe me, go check out Section 43 of the Parliamentary Elections Act. It doesn't say anywhere that you will be punished for not voting.

Your name will only be struck off the register of electors.

What's the register of electors, you ask? It's simply a list of Singaporean citizens that are eligible to vote in the current election. People who did not vote in the previous election for any reason will have their names struck off and won't be able to vote in future elections.

I know it's ok because I did not vote in the 2006 elections as I was overseas at that time. I didn't get fined or caned or put behind bars. It only meant that I can't vote in the 2011 GE. That's all.

So since you don't really care about elections, it's simple really. Just stop voting and you won't be bothered by the Elections Department ever again.

Just don't vote on May 7. Go watch a movie, or go and chiong the night away or something.

The rest of Singaporeans who give a shit, thank you.

Some useful quotes for GE 2011

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." - Joseph Goebbels, propaganda minister of Nazi Germany

"Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play." - Joseph Goebbels

"Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it" - Adolf Hitler

Hitler's Nazi government was a master of propaganda, and the PAP must be a great follower, to obfuscate, confuse and paralyze the electorate with fear:

"In politics stupidity is not a handicap." - Napoleon Bonaparte

No, in fact, it can even earn you a GRC seat behind a Senior Minister!

"Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber." - Plato

Politically apathetic? Well, then you deserve the government you choose.

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives." - John Stuart Mill

Afraid to rock the boat? Or change the status quo? Even if it means the future of your children and grandchildren are at stake?