Shortly after the last general elections, I discussed voting decisions with some Muslims who voted for the PAP. Interestingly, these Muslims justified their vote for the party as though it would benefit Muslims.
Their arguments were based on:
1. Yes, the PAP has discriminated against the community.
2. But we do not know if the opposition will be better if they are in power.
3. So it is better to support the PAP.
Basically, they argue that it is better to support the devil you know. And since this devil may perform better in other areas (such as economic development), then we should support them.
These Muslims admit that the PAP discriminates against the community and yet continue to support them.
One of the problems they face is the inability to see voting and political engagement outside of a binary outcome: either PAP or opposition in power.
I agree that the opposition has not proven to be better for Muslims. In fact, I do not believe that they are.
But PAP or opposition in power are not our only options. What we should look at is…what strengthens our negotiating ability?
We know that the PAP would be in power anyway. But what will force them to listen more?
At 60% popular vote, the PAP did not really care. Yes, the drop from the previous election hurt them and they became more responsive (which should have shown these Muslims what they should do).
But they still had a 10% cushion. And they can continue to discriminate against Muslims knowing we could not do much to affect their power.
Dropping their popular vote to the mid or low 50s (I suggested 53%) would have a much bigger effect. The PAP would then realise their situation is precarious. They cannot take our votes for granted. They will have to respond.
Our negotiating stand would have become stronger insha Allah. But now at 70%, the PAP’s position is stronger than ever. They do not need to listen or engage. We cannot be a swing vote anymore.
What swing vote? At 70%, even if the community as a whole say we will not support them, they will still be in power.
We have lost our ability to negotiate from strength. To those Muslims who voted for the PAP, good job. You have strengthened a party that discriminated against your brothers and sisters.
And weakened your community. Forget negotiating. Pray that they do not take more of your rights. You have given them the power to not need you.