GE2015 is what I would call a harrowing experience. Over the 9 days of campaigning, even as I tried to stay neutral, I could not avoid hearing inciting sound bites from the candidates and reading the virulent remarks on Facebook. The tension was clearly in the air and I could sense people losing their cool, myself included.
Very early on, I made a conscious decision not to watch any of the rally or broadcast speeches, because I do not wish for myself to be upset over candidates who made up for the lack of thought with flair and fanfare. I am a firm believer of substance over form and I would choose a man who is clumsy with his words but does his work over a man who is able to stir up emotions with his words but does no work. Personally, I was resolved to vote on the basis of the candidate’s work over the past 4 over years, not the past 9 days.
Among my group of friends, different people have different preferences. Some preferred blue skies, while others liked white clouds. There were also those who felt like giving candidates with a past a second chance. To each his own, I would say. I would not have appreciated anyone trying to change my mind, which makes it logical for me not to impose my views on others. As such, for the past 9 days, I bit my tongue and stayed silent. It was not always easy, particularly when I read unfair analysis and uncalled for potshots at particular groups.
Today, on my way to vote, a new insight came to me. No doubt that Singapore is divided in terms of the haves and the have-nots, but I think this is not the real division that is seen during this election period. Singapore is divided in terms of the contented and disgruntled. Some might argue that the contented are probably those living comfortable upper middle class lives that have no idea what real poverty is about. I would say let’s not be too quick to judge.
Let me go back a bit in time.
Like many Singaporeans my age, I came from an extremely humble background, perhaps more so than my peers. I remembered when I was in primary school, my parents could not afford to send me for piano classes and I was most envious of friends who could play the piano. My good friend back then decided that she would be my piano teacher. She invited me to her home and taught me how to play. Of course I didn’t quite succeed but I appreciate the gesture.
All through primary, secondary and even my JC school days, it was always obvious that I had less than many of my peers. But amazingly, they never made me feel bad. Their parents taught them not to flaunt their wealth but to use what they have to help others. I had my ups and downs in school, but I will always remember those who had been kind and gracious to me.
Fast forward to today. Honestly, with my kind of background, if I were in school today, I am not confident I would have as easy a time as I did. Till this day, I continue to marvel and appreciate friends whom I met at different stages of my life who extended a helping hand to me as well as others like me.
In the bygone days, whenever we see a problem, or whenever we see someone having a problem, we walk over and offer our help. Today, most folks would turn and walk away, posting the situation on social media and expecting ‘the government’ to do something about it. It is interesting how the hearts and attitudes of the people have changed. And of course, there will always be those who blame the government for this change. It is not our fault that we have become selfish people.
As I watch the election results released on CNA, I am thankful for a strong mandate given to the PAP government, appreciative of the implications for our nation at the international front. I am thankful that the silent majority is generally sensible, though I know there are many who would disagree.
Personally, I hope that after I wake up tomorrow morning, we are still one people, one nation, one Singapore. Regardless of who we voted for, let us too do our part for our country, this place that we love and call home. Let us be doers instead of grumblers.
Finally, I think that Ah Gong would be proud of us ~ not because PAP won a landslide victory, but because the whole nation has been mobilized to cast a vote for the future each one of us seek, and most of us have a point of view. To me, that is our coming of age as a nation.