<Blog post by Cassandra Chia>
Lying on my sofa while watching Channel 5, I could hear the commentators sharing their views on the possible voting trends, and opposition parties responding to media queries on their thoughts of the sample voting results. One candidate likened our governing system to that of North Korea and China, and “suan” Singaporeans that we should not “complain” since majority of us chose to vote for PAP, also factored in the wearing off of novelty factor for their party’s weaker voting performance compared to GE2011.
Another seemed upset and perplexed by the unhappy on-the-ground sentiments they received during their walkabouts which did not align to the voting results that favoured the incumbents. Another candidate also weighed in that the fear PAP placed into people during the rallying period e.g. instability and uncertainty the presence of the opposition parties may bring about, the over-focus on immigration issues, as well as the governmental incentives e.g. Pioneer Generation Package and the SG50 atmosphere being significant motivating factors for the national vote swing.
Local and Regional Factors
I have to credit our government for regularly making improved changes e.g. increased social and economic assistance to special, needy or elderly groups, improved on housing policies, taking steps to better the transport and educational system etc. PM Lee’s favourable image and words he said during the rallying period would also have a huge impact on swaying Singaporean voters.
And adding on to these, I personally feel LKY’s recent death and the media sensationalization of his passing on a national scale also played a contributing role. It might have impacted Singaporeans from all age range to vote for him out of respect and grief for his recent passing, and also for the legacy he has left behind. It is quite an irony when people talk about the importance of about voting with our mind, not our emotions. By using LKY passing as a reason to vote for PAP, is that not being swayed by our emotions already?
Another contributing reason could also be Malaysia’s current political instability, mixed with uncertain possible impending racial tensions? If our nearby regions are facing disorder, it will naturally have an impact on the stability of Singapore. With also the enthusiastic presence of opposition parties this GE2015, Singaporeans might have voted for PAP out of fear that other Singaporeans would give their significant votes to the oppositions, which may lead to instability.
“I guess Singaporeans get the government they deserve, so I don’t want to hear any more complaints.” – Kenneth Jeyaretnam from Reform Party
Change vs Stability
Even Aljunied GRC – what we assumed would be a comfortable fight for Worker’s Party ended up with a very close margin against the “suicide squad”. When I look on the Internet, it is common to see netizens making comments or posts with anti-PAP sentiments. New voters this year could have also resulted in more liberal votes. The rallies and social media trends even also showed high support for some opposition parties e.g. The media hype and positive reaction towards Dr Chee Soon Juan.
So what does this mean? It seems like familiarity and stability are what Singaporeans want when they voted for GE 2015? Maybe majority of Singaporeans are actually happy with our current government, with only minority wanting change? Or maybe, we are just “lion” keyboard warriors, but turn into a “mouse” when it comes to voting? On the opposition’s side, like what some candidates said, they would have to evaluate this voting trend.
Nevertheless, I think as much as some opposition candidates have to improve on their image and quality e.g. increase their ground work commitment and presence, preparedness and awareness towards national and social issues, answer media queries more effectively, having a more detailed and concrete long-term plans, Singaporeans have to be more opened to voting for CHANGE if they genuinely want CHANGE.
After the Aljunied Election results came out, Mr low Thia Kiang told the media of the importance of building “trust” between the people and national institutions such as … mainstream media. “Any politicisation of these institutions to gain political advantage, to me, is against the national interest of Singapore”.
The last factor I’m going to bring in would be the mainstream media. Could this desire for status quo be influenced by a “safe” and slightly “favorable” mainstream media portrayal aligned to PAP’s interest? Remember the constant CPF improvements advertisements, high media exposure of the positive changes and policies our government has implemented? Pioneer Generation Package Getai videos played not only on our screens, but on elderly populated areas like Chinatown and Toa Payoh Hub?
A recording of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew reading the Proclamation of Independence on National Day? as well as the prominent mainstream media portrayal of the AHPETC saga, which may have mislead readers to somewhat undermined the credibility and capability of opposition parties in general. All these just-so-happened to be publicised near the GE2015 period.
With such an unexpected result, it is hard to predict whether we would be able to see progressive changes by PAP for the next 5 years, or how opposition party candidates will fare @ GE2020.