SHOULD I RUN FOR ELECTION?
(There is a poll below that you can also vote in.)
I have been writing on my blog, The Heart Truths, for more than the past 3 years now.
The reason why I write is because I believe that as a citizen, we have a right to speak up, so that we can protect ourselves and our country.
I speak up because I believe that the people in our country can and should live better lives because they deserve to.
Today, Singaporeans work the longest hours in the world, while earning one of the lowest wages among the highest-income countries.
To me, the responsible thing that a government needs to do is to take care of its people. If a country becomes too expensive – and Singapore is now the most expensive country in the world, then a government needs to ensure that people are able to earn enough to have a decent living, and that they are taken care of in terms of their basic needs, in housing, healthcare, education and retirement.
Even if not, the basic duty a government has to its people is to create a better society, so that our people can grow and flourish and so that Singapore can be a kind and happy place for our young to grow up in, and for our old to age gracefully in.
When I first started writing, I did not understand why our elderly Singaporeans are still working as cleaners and cardboard collectors. Today, I understand why. They could not save enough to retire on. But why? Because the PAP has been taking their CPF away to earn huge profits for themselves in the GIC and Temasek Holdings but Singaporeans are forced to make ends meet with depressed wages and inadequate retirement funds.
To me, this is wrong. Anyone can see that it is wrong.
And I do not think that we should allow such injustice to continue. And so, I write.
Over the years, not only did I write, I started speaking up. I started making educational videos, giving talks and then speaking at protests. I felt that for the lives of our families and children, we have to speak up so that we can protect them and so that our society can grow.
I didn’t start out wanting to be an activist, or even a blogger. What guided me all this while was to speak the truth, to want to be honest to yourself and to speak about what you see and how you know things can get better.
For me, I feel that it is a basic responsibility that each and everyone of us have.
When I started to face persecution from the government, when I was made to lose my job and when I was charged by the government, that made me see through the PAP’s true colours.
When I saw how one of our own was also being persecuted by the PAP, I launched several campaigns to #FreeAmosYee.
A government’s duty is to protect its people. It is not to abuse its power to hurt its own people. It is not to use its power to protect those aligned with it, but punish those who are not. Then, the government has lost its bearings and is no longer working in the interests of the people.
When this happens, we need to throw out the ruling political party and vote out in a new party or parties to form a new government, to protect the people.
When I started writing, I did not think that it was necessary to be involved in politics. I saw my writings as a social commentary. But as I write, I realised that we cannot choose to remove ourselves from politics. Everything is politics, be it the make of the shirt we wear and whether we have enough money to put food on the table.
It is politics if we want a government to implement a minimum wage to increase our wages. It is politics if we want a government to increase healthcare and education expenditure, so that we can afford these basic necessities. It is politics when we want transport fares to be reduced and it is politics when we want the government to #ReturnOurCPF. We cannot not deal with politics.
But do we need to play the game of politics? Do we need to play dirty? I don’t think so. And I don’t want to.
From being a citizen who wants to speak up, I have grown to become an activist, and now as the election draws near, I wonder, is there something more?
Should I run for election?
If I do so, it is not because I want fame, power or money. I want nothing of that. I do not believe you should run for government because it gets you to places. If you do that, then you are not the right person for government.
A person who wants to run government should be someone who wants to serve the people, and who believes in making our society a better place. It is not to think about how many shopping malls or condominiums we should build near MRT stations, so that we can earn the most profits. It is about thinking about how the lives of Singaporeans can be improved and how our spaces should be built to allow people to come together, to have a place to relax and to have a place to call home.
A person who wants to serve the people has to be one who is even willing to accept a lower pay, and who has the humility to not see him or herself as being better than the people. No, there cannot be natural aristocrats. If we believe that everyone is equal, then everyone has to be equal. If we believe that everyone is equal, then we will provide equal opportunities to allow everyone to be able to get ahead, in their own way.
Only when each and everyone of our people grow together will our society grow, and will our country grows.
If a person wants to serve, he or she has to serve because he or she is of the people, and not better than the people.
As I think to myself, I wonder if it is time for me to run for election, to serve my people.
But I believe that anyone of us can run for the election. For is it not each of us knows some of what needs to be done, and what solutions we need for the country? We might not have all the answers but this is precisely why there is a government and this is precisely why there is the civil service, think tanks, academics, civil society, media etc. No one of us have all the answers. But together, we have the answers.
For me, government is not where the best people are. Government is where the people who want to better Singapore are. It should not be about making money. It should not be about having power. It is about making Singapore a better place.
And this is what I hope Singaporeans can know – that each of us are good enough and we need to have the confidence to believe in ourselves and in our own power to see change, and to make our society a better place.
This is what I hope to see in Singapore, a place where our people are not only proud of ourselves, but proud of our fellow people around us. A place where not only a few can develop to the best of their abilities, but where all of us can, and grow the country together.
What I hope to see in Singapore is a fair, just and equal society where our people are happy, and where we know that this is our home, and work together to make it even better.
I want our people to be free, to be themselves and to be allowed to follow their dreams.
I want our people to be respected.
And this is what I hope for Singapore.
I have dedicated my writing to better the lives of Singaporeans over more than the past 3 years. Every writing I do is to hope that the government will hear us, and create policies to protect Singaporeans.
But if the government does not want to do so, then perhaps it is time Singaporeans put ourselves in government, so that we can finally work with one another to implement policies that will protect our fellow people and our home.
And if I do run for election, it is because I want to be able to enter government, to debate about these issues and allow policies to be passed to protect Singaporeans. This is all I want.
And for my friends who have been with me on this journey, if I may ask you now, do you think I should run for election to represent Singaporeans?
Do you think we should put our own voices in parliament?