Elections: Of course the PAP!

It is an exciting period in Singapore. On May 6th, we go to the polls to choose our next Government. I, like many other Singaporeans, do not have to vote. Because the all powerful People’s Action Party (PAP) is being returned unopposed in my district. This is not uncommon. In almost every election, less than half the electorate actually vote. Funny, huh?

I asked the waiter at lunch today, “Who are you going to vote for?”
“Of course the People’s Action Party!” he said, with some gusto. Another sycophantic fan, I thought.
“Why?”
“I have voted for the PAP every single time, sir!”
“Why?”
“Very simple. I am worried that if I vote for anybody else, the Government will check my serial number and blacklist me.”

Oh.

I wonder…..how many people actually choose out of fear?

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One response

  1. Quite a few, actually! :)I’ve done a couple of interviews with Singaporeans and almost every single one of them does not want their photo, or actual name to accompany anything of what they say about their elections or government if they say anything remotely controversial.Many cite the exact same reason your waiter had given.They worry about being blacklisted, about not being given upgrades or benefits among others.A huge majority of the people i spoke to also voiced their frustration at not being able to vote, given the high number of walk overs in their districts. Some said that they had only voted once or twice in their entire lives, others said although they sometimes had the opportunity to vote, they felt discouraged and resigned to the fact that nothing would change. It was amazing watching the shift from cautious, reluctant speakers to openly vocal and opinionated individuals when told that I would not use their original names or print their photos. As a Malaysian journalist who covered the initial part of the elections, including the nomination day, i wonder why my company did not put up my article online even though it appeared under the world section of the physical newspaper. Was it to protect the journalist, or to prevent Singaporeans from accessing the article, or for fear of causing bad relations between the two countries, or from some other reason i was not privy to? I have no idea!As much as I have mentioned my little experience with Singaporean politics, I have not ever had the chance to cover the Malaysian elections. Chances are, the responses would be relatively similar.You would think if people are dissatisfied, they would do something to change the system, instead of fuming in silent desperation. But I guess the truly bold are few and far between and often history has shown the courageous ones to suffer great challenges in the course of their struggle. Perhaps most people are unwilling to get out of their comfort zones and put themselves or their families at risk of the slightest chance of backlash. But then, perhaps then they lose the right to expect anything to change?I don’t know enough about these issues to give a proper analysis. These are just some observations from an inexperienced journalist covering elections for the first time. All I can safely say is that politics is a strange game!Meera Vijayan

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