Thoughts on the Singapore GE 2011

Below is one of the best personal commentaries on Singapore’s politics and the elections that I’ve read. Best in terms of objectivity, humility, full knowledge (not half-truths) of history, Christian’s view, balanced and especially humanity. Please read on.

Even though I’m against the PAP, I do recognize that in the past the PAP has had to make hard decisions and they’ve had to pass unpopular policies for the benefit of the country.

Governing a country is certainly not easy. Some decisions are hard decisions, but they need to be made nevertheless. So I do think that in general the PAP has had the right intentions.

They are not out to enrich themselves and they have no intention to make the poor suffer. They are well-qualified people with our interests at heart.

As yet, I wouldn’t trust an opposition government to make the right decisions. I believe the opposition candidates have bigger hearts, but I don’t believe there are enough with the experience and knowledge to understand the complexity of decisions involved and to make the difficult “non-populist” decision when needed.

On the other hand, while the PAP have lots of talented people, that in no way means they always make the right decisions that are best for Singapore. And that is the great problem with a one-party dominated parliament. There may be debates within the party, but that’s not good enough.

We need more voices and alternatives to be discussed publicly, not just behind closed doors.

Read the full blog post here>>>

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GE 2011: My reflections… part 1

For me, the General Elections’ results carry a mix of emotions- one of euphoric delight which is matched with indescribable sadness at the same time.

Not to mention the deep injustice of how the electoral process and contest are carried out.

Firstly, I’m delighted over the overall outcome of the elections. This GE finally marked a victory for the opposition and for Singaporeans who do not connect with an authoritarian-style government.

History was made when almost all constituencies (except one) were contested for the first time since independence. PAP didn’t win easily as it did in previous elections which was marked by massive walkovers.

More importantly, the opposition namely the Worker’s Party (WP) secured 6 seats in parliament with 81-6 with PAP the majority. Again, this is the record highest number of seats for the opposition since independence.

But the highlight has to be the historical breakthrough win of Aljunied GRC by WP. The first GRC ever to be won by the oppositon since the GRC system was introduced in 1988.

However the pursued of democracy in Singapore was dealt a heavy blow where Mr Chiam See Tong was ousted by the PAP team in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

This was further aggravated with the marginal defeat (by 114 votes) of the Potong Pasir SMC to the PAP after 27 years. Now Chiam, the longest serving oppositioon is out of parliament.

What is upsetting was the 242 spoilt votes that were made in Potong Pasir SMC. Though the votes if had been decided could have cut both ways. At least the results would have been undisputed.

I hope this can be a lesson for those who had spoilt their votes not to do so the next time. Be responsible and make a decision.

That said, the votes of 2011 for the future of Singapore speaks a lot about our voters. This is what I’ve learnt:

  1. Singaporeans are rationale and pragmatic voters. They do not vote for opposition for the sake of an opposition in the name of democracy at the expense of poltical or economic instability. (Observation: From election results of SPP in spite of the overwhelming support of oppositions at rallies and 27 years in Potong Pasir ward).
  2. Voters do want a credible opposition towards a first world parliament. If oppositions can field better quality candidates than the ruling party, chances are high to win their votes. (Observation: From the Aljunied win which I believe was helped by the introduction of Chen Show Mao).
  3. Most voters fall in the middle-income group. Hence, more educated and affluent. Therefore, they cannot be cowed by dangling ‘carrots’ of upgrading and etc… (Observation: From the defiance of dismissing Lee Kuan Yew’s threats).
  4.  The demographics of the voters have changed with the addition of Gen Y. Hence the chasm between the incumbent and voters has widened. No longer can the PAP use old tactics to engage and win seats. (Observation: From the online protests and swelling of support towards the opposition when smeared with media attacks).

To be continued…

Singapore elections is over!

After more than a week, the elections is finally over!

In what is touted as the historical elections since independence, majority of the Singaporeans found themselves thrust with the responsibility of making a decision to vote for the first time.

And I was one of them.

Besides wanting to make my vote count, I was determined to ride on this tide of change towards democracy in our nation.

For the first time, I went on a walkabout with the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate, Ms Teo Soh Lung whom I know personally. It was her first election and so I was there to lend my support at Yuhua SMC.

Having attended almost all the rallies on each evening, I was also assigned by TheOnlineCitizen to cover a PAP rally. And so I contributed a coverage article during this elections; a differing perspective from what our media propagates for Singaporeans to read.  

Finally, I got to volunteer as a polling agent for one of the opposition parties. Being my first time, it was interesting to observe the voting process first-hand and to understand the procedures. 

Although I think the process needs to be upgraded with technology, but I can attest that our votes are kept secret. Haha…

Being non-partisan and pro-Singapore, I’m thankful that I could play a part in the opportunities given as an active citizen.

Majulah Singapura! 

GE 2011: What is God doing?

This year, the general elections in Singapore looks to be a watershed one!

Since independence, this is the first time all (87) seats are contested except 5 seats namely from Tanjong Pagar GRC. And this was due to a controversial incident.

Nonetheless, this remains a significant progress for Singapore’s political scene especially with majority of Singaporeans voting for the very first time after countless walkovers.

From the last election that happened in 2006, I’ve observed two key factors that are distinctive in shaping this election.

First is the increased numbers of young voters or Gen-Ys who are eligible above the age of 21 years old, and the other is the influence of social media, in particularly Facebook that is shaping the opinions of Singaporeans.

These two are inter-linked because it is the Gen-Ys that are more savvy or in tuned to such online social media platforms. And together, they prove to be a lethal force to be reckoned with.

It has contributed in addressing the general lack of apathy among the average Singaporean towards political issues and appealed to more citizens to join the opposition parties.

Because information is now no longer just confined or belonging to the higher echelon of society or baby boomers. The Internet has levelled the playing field where vital information is easily accessible and shared among people.

That said, amidst all the buzz and excitement, I’m trying to discern what is God’s agenda or move in this overall political situation.

I strongly believe that He’s taking Singapore to the next level where this nation and the Church can fulfill its full potential towards advancing His global redemptive plan.

So in this elections, let’s pray and vote wisely.

My learning points from Pastor Rony Tan’s incident

No one had expected that the recent incident of the insensitive comments by Senior Pastor Rony Tan from Lighthouse Evangelism Church would have resulted in such a severe public backlash.

That said, I do believe Pastor Tan never did intend to be demeaning or insulting towards the beliefs of Buddhism or Taoism.

Nonetheless, lessons can be drawn from this incident. And below are some of my personal learning points:

1. The influence of new media

Pastor Tan subjected himself to the online community when the videos with his inappropriate remarks were uploaded on the church’s website.

Unknown to many, he was hauled by the Internal Security Department (ISD) after it had first appeared on Hardware Zone’s online forum which eventually escalated to the authorities.

This incident is a fine example how the new media has become a powerful tool that can either work for you or against you. And it is imperative that we as Christians learn how to use it effectively and strategically with the purpose to engage as salt and light.

2. Be a responsible communicator

I believe being responsible is a better description than being careful when in comes to communication. We not only need to be mindful with what we communicate, but how we communicate. And this is especially so when there is a wide audience who are listening, watching or reading what we’re communicating.

Whether it is on the pulpit, through the media, in a group or with your spouse and even through social media sites like Facebook or blogs, we need to consider the impact of what we want to communicate. And more importantly, as best as we know how, reflect Christ in us with our communication whether in words or in deeds. (c.f. Colossians 4:6, 1 Peter 3:15-16).

3. Let the Church be known for what She stands for

This is another unfortunate incident that has not helped to mitigate the negative perceptions that people have towards God, the Church or Christians in general. You may read this as a reference to some of the general perceptions.

It is time that the Church of Jesus Christ gets to be known for what She stands for rather than for what She is against. And what the Church stands for is LOVE. We need to be known for loving people radically just as how Christ did so and does so.

Till now I can recall how I was won over and reconciled to God, and it was not theology that persuaded me. It was LOVE.

I was drawn to God by Christ’s unconditional love in spite of my sins. He literally love me out of sin and darkness, and I believe that this is how the Church ought to demonstrate His word and be known for, in order to truly advance His Kingdom.

Time for the Church to Love

Last Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong presented his National Day Rally speech.

Strangely, the topic of race and religion dominated his speech.

However, in view of the inevitable force that is changing our social, political and economic landscape in our global world, I reckoned that his speech was somewhat a timely reminder and a wake-up call to us Christians.

That force is that of globalisation which is pushing people together even closer than before. And religion or its fundalmentalists and dogmatists are becoming an opposing and dangerous force that divides and threatens our society’s progress.

“Catalysts” for further globalisation

Back in early June, US President Obama visited Cairo, Eygpt and delivered a groundbreaking message to urge an end to suspicion and discord between America and the Muslim world.

He highlighted that “the relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars.”

In a gesture of reconciliation with the Islamic world, Obama further conceded that tension “has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.”

Even Tony Blair, the Bristish ex-Prime Minister had launched his new inter-faith foundation called the Tony Blair Faith Foundation this April.

What makes the foundation’s work distinctive is its emphasis on uniting people of different religious traditions in practical action – with the eradication of malaria a key priority at this moment.

The Church’s divine appointment

With this backdrop, I strongly believe that if there is a such divine appointment for the Church to represent Christ in His fullness, it is NOW.

For too long Christianity that was founded upon a legacy of love has been tainted with the worst sort of intolerance and prejudice.

Most troubling of all is witnessing how the teachings of Christ has been hijacked by believers who hate in the name of love.

“When people worship Him today – or even speak his name – the object of their devotion is unlikely to be who they think he is,” said Deepak Chopra in his book titled- The Third Jesus, “it seems clearly that He has served to divide peoples and nations. He has led to destructive wars in the name of religious fantasies.”

Even in his rally speech, PM Lee cited the AWARE saga as an attempted takeover “by a religiously motivated group who shared a strong religious fervour to enter civil space”.

I submit to you that if we Christians truly desire to spread the message towards fulfilling the Great Commission, then we cannot afford to be known or driven by a religious motivation.

As a people, we need to be more concerned about what is right than about being right. We need to be love motived, simply because God is love; being the message is more important than us merely spreading the message.

Christ in this 21st century not only needs to be accurately represented, but also re-presented.