Being Singaporean by Matthew Koh
What is being Singaporean? Is it having served National Service, represented your country in a Sport or even becoming a Member of Parliament? It is all of the above and more. Being Singaporean begins with having the Status as Citizen of Singapore and being issued with the Pink Identity Card. Some people may say that I recite the National Pledge and sing the National anthem. But this does not make you a Singaporean. When a Singaporean reaches 21 years of age, he or she is eligible to vote in the General Elections or Presidential Elections. He or she has one vote only. The ability to cast a vote at a democratic elections is perhaps the greatest defining moment to express yourself as a Singaporean Citizen.
What is a distortion of Democracy? when the right to vote is changed to having multiple votes for certain individuals or a removal of democratic elections takes place. There may come a time when a country is so comfortable with its leaders that the people give up the right to vote to the leaders like Fascism. This happened during the Second world War Period 1939 to 1945 when the famous German dictator, Adolf Hitler usurped power from the German Parliament. We must not let this sad state of affairs happen in Singapore. That’s where the role of Opposition Parties comes in.
What is the role of Opposition Parties. The role of Opposition parties is to act as a check on the ruling party. It is a spur at the side of the ruling party. It is competition in Parliament provided by the Opposition Parties that we get certain “goodies” from the government to “sweeten” the electoral ground. In Singapore, we have the GST rebates and the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS). Sometimes we even get Economic Restructuring Shares. These are “goodies” which the PAP government handout to the Citizens of Singapore; but most take it for granted. Without pressure from the Opposition Parties, do you think PAP will be giving out any of these? The elected Opposition Members of Parliament (MP) has a vital vote to influence the enactment of laws that affect Singaporeans.
Remember how certain laws like Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) was enacted with little opposition. How about the increase in GST from 3% to the current 7%? Wouldn’t all of us like to have a little more say in how these laws were being enacted. Now Public Transport; bus and MRT fares are increased without much Opposition. Are these laws possibly favoured by the majority? There is a myth that the Silent Majority supports the PAP. However, I believe that they are “fence-sitters” who favour whoever they think is going to win. Is it political education that the silent majority needs or are they just apathetic? What type of Singapore do we want the future to be? Do we want to continue to be blind-folded and led about by PAP? Or do we want a say in how our Singapore is run? Take Singapore back for yourselves. “Power to the People”. “Make it right for Singapore”, JBJ.
What happens if there is Clean-sweep of Seats by PAP again? The possibility that WIS and ERS may be removed. Also the GST rebates may be removed. As there is no more threat from the Opposition. Hence, the PAP need not hand-out anymore “goodies”. The GST may be increased to 10%. Busfare may be minimum of $2 per trip soon. Already a meal at a hawker centre can easily be $4 for a bowl of noodles. Many aircon foodcourts already sell their cokes at S$1.60 to S$1.80 per can. Is there a Singaporean dream?
Public Assistance is at a maximum of S$300 per month for extreme cases. Most of the people on Public assistance get at most S$200 per month and they are not allowed to work. Is this really helping them or discouraging the needy from taking the Public assistance; as basically, it is really not enough to survive. If the PAP is really genuine is wanting to help; they will allow those on Public assistance to supplement their income with part-time employment rather than barring them from all forms of employment. Isn’t this worse than being in a Communist Country? In PRC, (Peoples Republic of China), there is Old age pension and alot of the Retirees spend their time practicing Taichi, playing chess and Sipping Tea. Unlike in Singapore where our retirees are seen clearing plates and collecting used cans and other odd jobs. The Reform party carries the Vision of JBJ , who wanted a “Caring Society”.
We need more Opposition Members of Parliament to create a balance of power in the Singapore Parliament. Currently, there are 6 Opposition Members of Parliament; with one recently sacked, member for Hougang, Yaw Shin Leong; creating a By-election for Hougang soon to come.
It is already an uphill task against the PAP, so I urge all Opposition Parties and supporters to unite and consolidate our resources and abilities for the common good of Singapore. This GE2016, make it the true watershed elections. Let a substantial number of Opposition MPs be elected.