Friday, May 6, 2011

Election Watch: The day after tomorrow

The day after the General Elections should be a day of national unity, regardless of election outcome.

How you vote on Saturday will decide if the MIW or Opposition parties end up licking their wounds.

If the People’s Action Party (PAP) is returned to power, one would hope the party will accept its fresh mandate with humility and respect.

The public image that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong projects is one of a leader who genuinely cares for Singaporeans and works with their interests at heart.

This image is demolished whenever high handed statements that chide or belittle Singaporeans are rammed down the throats of voters. Words like “repent” and “slum” spring to mind. Older Singaporeans who have not voted for some time are not amused. They worked hard to build up Singapore during the city state's formative years and do not take well to such paternalistic talk.

Many will see the inside of a polling booth for the first time in their lives tomorrow, so one hopes today's cooling off period will allow them to think through what's at stake before marking the "X".

Add Generation Y young voters, who have that independent streak typical of today's youngsters, add grassroots members who tell their masters what they want to hear and you can well understand why the upper echelons of the PAP have been caught blindsided.

We have met MPs with poor EQ before. Just read about this sorry episode here.

Whether real or perceived, the PAP’s arrogant image could upset voters who genuinely fear the lack of Opposition voices will let the PAP run roughshod over public feelings.

This view is reinforced by words such as “repent” because the combination of arrogance and perceived demi-god status in multi racial, multi religious Singapore is a potent one. Are you surprised Singaporeans in and outside Aljunied GRC were taken aback by that call to repent? People seem sick and tired of the old punchlines and the MIW may learn the hard way tomorrow the price of scoring own goals.

We are an educated society. But many English speaking Singaporeans lack the literary flair to appreciate the nuances or subtleties of word play. Not to make too much of this matter but can you imagine how non English speaking heartlanders would react after the vernacular press translated the "repent" quote for Malay, Mandarin and Tamil newspapers? Pause for thought, please.

To defence aware Singaporeans, the amount of power the post 7 May government will wield makes it imperative that the people in power govern with a heart and a level head and a pledge to follow not just the rule of law, but the spirit of the law. Draconian laws that govern free speech, spell out what is an illegal gathering, legislation that allows detention without trial and police powers that allow the PM to quash dissent are instruments that could be abused by a rogue party.

If the PAP scoops all seats, except for Hougang, it should have the foresight to engage netizens before the next GE swings round.

With PM Lee making the effort to connect with Singaporeans, the party must walk the talk and ensure it reaches out to different and dissenting points of view if it really believes it is the best only option to shape Singapore's future.

If the MIW are serious about giving Singaporeans a voice, it should not let problems fester only to see problems bubble to the surface come election time.

Above all, Singaporeans will watch closely how the MIW behave after the polls.
* Will it settle scores with opponents and all those who dared to speak up against it?
* Will mopping up operations extend to social media that gave netizens a play by play account of the hustings (such as Yahoo News)?
* How will voters be made to repent?

The PAP must be prepared to say how it will repay the trust of voters if they take the PM's apology at face value and give him another five years to get the party transformed.

Talk is cheap. The price of your vote is priceless.

As the saying goes, people get the government they deserve.


Anonymous said...

Worst case scenario : 82-0

David Boey said...

MIW may not retake Hougang.

If the 81:1 scenario pans out, the MIW may condition themselves to ignore street talk and net chatter in future.

And Opposition strategists will be hard pressed to get a good sense of how to push dissenting voices to match words with deed.