Monthly Archives: April 2011

Elections 2011: The duties that accompany change, by Dharma Sadasivan

(Visa: All Emphasise Mine.)

“Since the last General Election in 2006, Singaporeans have seen how social media helped a relatively unknown senator become president of the most powerful country in the world. Singaporeans have also watched as Egypt and Libya underwent political revolution driven by the desire of the people for change. We live in a time of change. We can taste it in the air. We are surrounded by it, we see it happening and we know that it is possible.

This General Election will be one with many firsts. As Singaporeans living in a culture obsessed with being first, it is ironic that it has taken us so long to finally reach this stage of political development. For the first time in decades, opposition parties are challenging most of the seats in Parliament. As a result, many Singaporeans will have a chance to vote for the first time in our lives. For the first time in Singapore’s history, voters are truly connected with the campaigns process as we utilize social media to report, investigate, question, criticize, defend and support candidates and parties. For the first time, we are active participants, rather than mere observers. The Internet has become the battlefield, and for the first time, we are on the front lines.

Elections are the political marketplace of ideas. Good candidates, policies and parties are introduced or retained while those experiencing low demand are weeded out. As a voter, you have a duty to partake in determining the future of your country by participating in this marketplace of ideas. You must decide whether you are willing to buy what the various parties and candidates are trying to sell you.

No matter who you vote for or why, it is vital to remember that your vote determines your future, not your past. The past is often a useful indicia to the future, but this does not hold true in periods of change because changed circumstances result in unpredictable outcomes if the existing model does not adapt rapidly and sufficiently. Globalization, the influx of foreign wealth, and the inability of wages to keep up with inflation indicate changed circumstances. As voters, we must vote for whoever we think can deal with these new issues which may have no analogues in the past. Therefore, vote with regard to the future, not the past.

Also, do not be afraid to vote with integrity. Rather, be afraid that if you do not and the outcome is not to your liking, it may well be because you forfeited your chance to create a different future. Do not be held hostage by fear or threats that your government will take less care of you because you voted for a different party. A government holds duties to all its citizens equally, and by voting with integrity, you hold your government accountable. Naturally, I expect that everyone who has voted in the past has voted with integrity, otherwise the concept of the “peoples’ mandate” would be a farce. Nevertheless, this bears reminding. Vote with integrity.

Finally, take comfort in the fact that, no matter who wins in the end, if everyone has voted with integrity and in regards to the future, Singapore will have taken a great step forward from “A Singapore for the people” to “A Singapore for the people, by the people”.

May the best men and women win.”