Tag Archive | "General Elections"

Presidential hopefuls can learn from Worker’s Party

Presidential hopefuls can learn from Worker’s Party

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

White is out these days. Which is why pro-establishment figures won’t stand a chance in the coming Presidential Election.

By Terence Lee

Tan Kin Lian trying too hard to be David Copperfield.

WHEN the Worker’s Party swept into Parliament in May, it was largely because they hammered home their campaign slogan: “Towards a First World Parliament.”

Never mind that many of their policy proposals were lame: People were clamouring for more opposition voices in Parliament, and they got it.

And I hope Presidential hopefuls Tan Kin Lian, Tan Cheng Bock, and maybe even George Yeo and former Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan, were watching closely.

Because therein lies the key to riches, glory, power, and fame — maybe not riches, because the Presidential salary is expected to be slashed.

But here’s the deal: Whichever candidate that comes across as the most independent-minded and sensible stands a good chance of winning.

And not just that. He must be like the Rock — the People’s Champ. He must be perceived as the People’s President; an advocate for the voice of ordinary Singaporeans.

In other words, the Presidential hopefuls must strike a balance between lame dog S.R Nathan and mad dog Chee Soon Juan (version 1.0).

Why do I say this? Two facts to chew on:

1) People have grown more comfortable with dissident voices in Government

Very likely, this Presidential Election will be contested. The last time there was a dogfight for the position was in 1993 where Ong Teng Cheong ran against a reluctant Chua Kim Yeow, henceforth called The Other Guy.

Both Elections have one parellel: They came after a surge in Opposition support in the preceding General Elections.

In 1991, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) captured three seats in Parliament, and the opposition parties secured 39 percent of the votes. The SDP was still intact in 1993.

Ong Teng Cheong from a bygone era. Photo: LEE CHIN

According to Warren Fernandez, then writing as a journalist with the Straits Times, The Other Guy won a substantial 41.31 percent of the votes largely because of his independent streak. This despite how people got angry that his campaigning efforts were largely non-existent at the beginning.

“Opposition parties, which had earlier asked voters to spoil their ballots, began urging them to vote for Mr Chua instead. As polling day approached, the front-runner’s lead narrowed,” wrote Warren.

A few things here:

Ever since the People’s Action Party had a track record, they began harping on it like annoying insurance salesmen. Teng Cheong tried it, and the Men in White did it again in the last polls. But if the results were any indication, this track record will not always play sweet music.

The gap between the General Election and Presidential Election will only be three months at most, compared with two years in 1993. Which means the Men in Blue’s victory in Aljunied GRC is still fresh on people’s minds.

This could galvanise Singaporeans. George Yeo could benefit from his defeat should he decide to contest this time around. Tan Kin Lian, who is friendly with the opposition parties, would surely welcome an endorsement from them.

2) Less is at stake at picking a dissident President

Think Chiam See Tong’s by-election strategy, Presidential Edition.

Lee Kuan Yew is famous for invoking the bogeyman of Singapore politics — the freak election. What happens if the opposition parties win by a large margin, and form the Government despite their ineptness?

Fear-mongering, for sure, but not invalid. Technically, if everyone voted because they want more alternative voices in Parliament, disaster would befall Singapore. That’s because the Worker’s Party had said that they are not quite fit to rule.

No such concern for the Presidential Election.

The Singapore President has limited powers. The Cabinet will still be around even if you pick a rabid dog to fill the post, and so will the Prime Minister. Less is at stake.

Singaporeans will be less disincentivised from picking a dissident as President.

For sure, all the potential candidates so far are ex-PAP men. But all display some semblence of independent thinking. Right off the bat, Tan Cheng Bock portrayed himself as a vocal backbencher who was not afraid to say it like it is. He has the first-mover advantage in this campaign, although his support of the arrests of the so-called Marxist conspirators will disgust left-leaning voters.

George Yeo calls himself a “minority voice” in the “broad church that is the PAP”. He’s widely respected by moderate voices, and you can count on fangirl Xiaxue to campaign on his behalf again (not sure if that’s a good thing).

Tan Kin Lian’s claim to fame was when he organised a rally for investors of the High Notes and Minibonds investment products, which saw a turnout in the thousands. He’s the candidate that the opposition parties and supporters are most likely to endorse.

Tony Tan is, well, Tony Tan. Although he opposed the Graduate Mothers Scheme, his low profile in recent years will work against him. Should he decide to run, he has a lot of media schmoozing to do, although that won’t be a problem.


Already, online discourse has placed Ong Teng Cheong as the President by which the upcoming contenders will be measured against. That’s no surprise, considering his vocal opposition against the government, plus the fact that he was never given a State funeral.

Ironically though, the candidate that stands the best chance to win it all would be the one that can emulate The Other Guy’s campaign message: A “credible apolitical alternative”, they called him.

But scratch that “apolitical” bit; it’s an uncool term nowadays.

Join our community on FacebookTwitter, or follow us on the S.alt app for Android.

Tyra Banks yells at Lee Kuan Yew

Tyra Banks yells at Lee Kuan Yew

Tags: , , , ,

Confessions of the Virgin Voters

Confessions of the Virgin Voters

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Nation presents a unique way of covering the elections.

By Terence Lee

Here's our first Virgin Voter graphic - the Schoolgirl Virgin Voter! Put this up on Facebook and make your confession.

THIS year, I will be voting for the first time, and so will my fellow editors (except Belmont, who’s an old timer). There are about 100,000 people like us; maiden voters who are about to catch the excitement of the polls.

While one of our writers has said that voting is like having sex, I disagree.

Voting is better than sex. Or chocolate. Why? Because while an average person is likely to do the dance countless times, contingent on the fact that he or she has the EQ to get laid, that same person may reach 80 and never get a chance to vote. Ever.

That’s especially true if you live in a constituency where no opposition dare to tread.

For the luckier ones, assuming we live till a 100 and the elections happen once every five years, we’d get at most 16 shots at the voting booth.

If I were you, I’d be super invigorated.

Therefore, we folks at New Nation want to celebrate the fact that we’ll be Virgin Voters. From today onwards, you’ll be hearing from many first-timers about their thoughts towards the elections, the candidates, and the proceedings.

Some of us will even be providing coverage of our respective constituencies, speaking to MPs, candidates, and voters. We’ll be attending rallies and walkabouts, giving you our unique take on the elections, through the eyes and dirty minds of a virgin voter.

Now, as you know, it takes two to tango.

While, we, the editors and writers of this humble online magazine, are eager to get off the starting block, we are counting on you, the reader, to contribute with us. Whether you are a virgin voter or a second timer, it doesn’t matter. And if you’re 60 and doing it for the first time, there’s no shame in that.

And we don’t care whether you’re pro-PAP, or anti-PAP, lesbian or straight, passionate or blah. Here’s how you can help:

1) Write for us. Or help with photography and making videos. Share your thoughts about the elections, and we’ll publish them. If you’d like to take this one step further and cover the elections in your constituency, do let us know too. Email us at [email protected] if you’re interested.

2) Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and share the gospel of the Virgin Voters with your heathen friends.

3) Share the pride of being a Virgin Voter using one of our unique Facebook display pics. We will be launching new ones every week on our Facebook page. Don’t like them? Why not create your own, and share it with your friends, and us?

Together, let’s make our first time a less scary one!

The battle for Mountbatten could be the closest of all

The battle for Mountbatten could be the closest of all

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Single Member Constituency is gearing up for a fight between two lawyers. The best part? Both candidates are well-known for being very nice.

IN A Group Representation Constituency, it is a fact that the heavyweight candidate fronting the pack will always hog the limelight and publicity.

So if you cannot hold your own, especially in a SMC, you’re more or less done for.

Which is why the battle for Mountbatten might just be the most exciting to watch yet.

Lim Biow Chuan from the People’s Action Party is a lawyer who first stepped into the shoes of an MP after the 2006 General Election when he was fielded in the Marine Parade GRC that went uncontested.

Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss from the National Solidarity Party is facing her first fight this election in a constituency she knows like the back of her hand. And she is planning to take it on as a (even more?) well-qualified and credentialed lawyer.

Here are some interesting facts: Both candidates are 47 years old, which means they have crossed paths professionally and personally many times before this GE.

Based on their replies, both candidates advocate for more to be done for the elderly.

Lim obtained his Bachelors of Law from the National University of Singapore. Chong-Aruldoss has a Masters in Law from the London School of Economics (gasp!).

And from what New Nation has seen on the ground, both candidates have their fair share of supporters.

This fight could be the closest of all among the 12 SMCs that are being contested.

Click on the links below to view the questions New Nation posed to both candidates and their replies.

Q&A with Lim Biow Chuan | Q&A with Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss

Want to have the blogosphere in your pocket? New Nation has an app for that. Available on the Android Marketplace.

Q&A with Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss

Q&A with Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss

Tags: , , , , , ,

New Nation speaks with National Solidarity Party’s candidate for Mountbatten SMC.

Q&A with Lim Biow ChuanQ&A with Jeanette Chong-AruldossMain story

What advantages do you think you have contesting in Mountbatten SMC?

I spent my childhood living in Mountbatten and I also lived in Mountbatten in the early years of my marriage. I know the area very well. I also have many friends living in Mountbatten including some former neighbours who are still there.

The demographics in this area have changed drastically over the years. Although much physical progress has been made, there are still people in this community that needs help for very basic things in everyday lives, such as getting around or paying their bills on time.

There is also much to be developed in the Mountbatten community spirit after being in the shadow of distant cousin Marine Parade for so long.

What is your view of Lim Biow Chuan as your political opponent?

Both of us are part of the law fraternity and I respect him for his work both professionally and in the field of serving his residents.

We are even because this would be his first contest for the mandate of the residents of Mountbatten SMC.
What are some issues you would raise in Parliament if you were elected?

For a start, we would scrutinize every policy and start getting the government to listen to the people. I would like to be the voice of the people to hold the government accountable and to ensure that there are ‘checks’ and ‘balances’ in Parliament.

Specifically, I would like to advocate for our senior citizens to enjoy well-deserved privileges, having contributed their most productive years to the development of our society.

What are the two most pressing issues affecting Singaporeans at the moment?

Housing is definitely an issue that Singaporeans are very concerned about because this is a long-term issue that affects very much how they are able to live their lives in terms of whether they are able to settle down to start a family, to pursue their goals and reach their true potential and have enough for their retirement after 30 years of mortgage and interest payment.

The other issue would be the cost of healthcare, particularly for the lower-income families. It is not so much the quality of the healthcare service, but rather, the affordability of these services.

What is the most difficult aspect of contesting in Mountbatten SMC?

It is an area with a wide distribution of residents from all walks of life and each of these segments has their own set of issues and concerns. When I look at the issues affecting Mountbatten residents, I realised that they are not peculiar to the constituency but symptomatic of some of larger issues faced by the nation.

To be effective, I know I need to step up to address them on a national dimension. However, this is where I think I have the advantage over Mr Lim in offering alternative views challenging the dominant power.

Why should voters vote for you?

I am a wife, a mother and a practicing lawyer. I am well qualified and credentialed. These include a Masters in Law from the London School of Economics. I have been in legal practice for over 20 years. Over the teo decades of professional work, I have dealt with many types of cases and I have seen too many real-life cases of hardship.

This is especially so, as I specialise in Family Law in my legal practice. What I offer Mountbatten residents then is my experiences as a lawyer and my understanding of their bread and butter issues as an ex-Mountbatten resident, a wife and mother of four children. I believe I have what it takes to do the job of an MP for Mountbatten.

In addition, I would like to serve the constituency by ensuring the delivery of a high standard of upkeep and maintenance of public amenities. I will also ensure that Mountbatten residents will benefit from greater access to public services which will be more responsive to their needs.

I intend to be the voice for Mountbatten and speak up on both national issues as well as municipal issues.

Q&A with Lim Biow ChuanQ&A with Jeanette Chong-AruldossMain story

Who would you vote for as your candidate if they were to contest in your constituency? Join the poll!

Q&A with Lim Biow Chuan

Q&A with Lim Biow Chuan

Tags: , , , , ,

New Nation speaks with the incumbent MP for Mountbatten SMC.

Mountbatten has recently been carved up into an SMC, from a GRC. Do you think that contesting in an SMC is to your disadvantage?

I don’t think it’s an advantage or disadvantage. It was carved up on the requirement that we should have 12 single member constituencies. And based on the population profile, the boundary review committee decided that this would be best as a single member constituency.

Do you think it’s disadvantageous that you have to contest on your own now, instead of riding on SM’s coattails?

I think there’s always security when you’re contesting in a GRC. Nevertheless, every MP that I know are prepared to go single member if they’re called upon to do so. Again, I don’t see the issue of it being an advantage or disadvantage.

Put it this way, SM Goh has reputational advantage, and you don’t have that this time. Do you think this puts you at a significant disadvantage?

I wouldn’t see it that way. At the end of the day, when we first came it, it certainly helped because there may not be a level of recognition. But having worked the ground for five years, I should be able to command the respect with or without Mr Goh. Even if we are part of the GRC, I would certainly be required to hold my weight, and not hold on him. Because if I still have to rely on SM Goh to pull up my votes, I think I would have failed. I wouldn’t have done my work as an MP covering this area.

What advantage do you think you have against Jeanette Chong Aruldoss from NSP?

Certainly there would be the advantage of being the incumbent. It has always been a surprise to me as to why the opposition would feel that they would only come to a constituency to work the ground just before the elections. I always felt that a serious opposition would be working the ground that they want to contest in, if they’re serious in it. And they should be here a few years ago.

Not necessarily Mountbatten but they should be working the ground around the entire area if they’re really interested in serving the community. I think being an MP is not just going to parliament to debate about issues. You must be able to have an impact of people’s lives. The question is how you want to impact peoples’ lives, how you want to make their lives better…

What do you think is the biggest impact you’ve had on the people of Mountbatten?

I think it’s really to help those who need help. There’s a segment of people from the lower income, people who have issues that they can’t solve. So together with the grassroots leaders we see what we can do to make a positive influence on their lives. Not everything they ask for we can solve for them. We try our best.

Am I right to say that the most pressing issue for you this coming elections is helping the lower income?

Not necessarily so. I think that the lower income has an inherent set of problems that you want to help them with. There are various aspects to being an MP, it’s not just doing one thing only…

How about this coming elections, what’s the most pressing issue you would ‘harp’ on?

I personally don’t think that there’s one particular issue area.

If you had to pick though?

I won’t ever run an election in that manner. At the end of the day you have to ask the residents, who do you want to be your representative to represent you not only in parliament but also to look after your estate, to make things work if things are not working. You want to make sure that someone is there, someone who is dependable, able to empathise with your situation and say “look, I want to help you”.

There are many types of residents though – lower, middle, higher income brackets. Which group do you think you appeal to the most?

My intent is to serve everyone. Everyone who feels “I have an issue”, they can come and see me I’ll do my best to help them. I have a large number of private estate dwellers and they do come and see me for their issues. Some of them complain that… “can you cover the drains in my estate”, “can you help chase the NEA to clean the drains up”, “can you sure that the litter is cleaned regularly”…

So are you saying that an MP is like an aggregator of complaints?

Not really so. That was in direct response to your question, “do you only cater to this group of people”. My answer is that we cater to everyone, who’s involved, who feels that they need a solution to their problem.

An MP is like a caretaker of the town, these are part and parcel of being an MP on the ground. And apart from that, you have to go to parliament to voice the people’s concerns….

Do you think the government is spending excessively at the moment?

No, I think they’re always prudent when they spend their money, because there’s this accountability and in the event they spend excessively, there would be several people who would look into it, who would take the government to task. This would be the MPs.

If you had to raise issue with the government right now, which issue would you target?

You have to see what’s the current issue of concern. I’ve raised issues about rental flats, because this is reflective of my constituency. I’ve raised issues about education, about transport. I’ve recently filed a question in parliament, about whether the government should consider building lifts and escalators and overhead bridges where there is a significantly larger number of elderly people. Because elderly people struggle to climb up. So could the government do something about it.

MPs also spend a lot of time talking to ministers. Some of it is behind the scenes, a lot of it are requests to speak to ministers. And a lot of times we don’t do a big song and dance about it. Because it is really work in progress all the time. I seldom want to say something and make a song and dance about it because that’s not necessarily the best way to solve a problem. You can always stand up, shout and scream and say “you must do this this this” but what is the reaction that you will stir up? If you put people on the defensive, my experience is that you will always get more difficult solutions to the answer.

But if you work with people to find a solution, it always turns out better that way. So a lot of times we work with the ministers to say “Look, how can we solve this problem”. And the ministers have, based on my five years there, always been receptive. If they feel that you have a concern that is valid, they would sit down with us, send down their civil servants to work with us, to look for solutions.

Q&A with Lim Biow ChuanQ&A with Jeanette Chong-AruldossMain story

Who would you vote for as your candidate if they were to contest in your constituency? Join the poll!

PAP can represent everyone’s interest? Thanks, but no thanks

PAP can represent everyone’s interest? Thanks, but no thanks

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Here’s the scary part about last night’s Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum: For a minute there, I actually bought what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had to say. But not for long.

By Belmont Lay

The Prime Minister's wife, Ho Ching, was there to lend her quiet support. Photo: FANG SHIHAN

THE gist of Prime Minister Lee’s argument about leadership renewal is pretty straightforward: There really is only one party in Singapore that is wise and talented enough to attract the best and the brightest to lead this country.

And that party happens to be the PAP.

This is a re-iteration of what his father, Lee Kuan Yew, famously once said: If a jumbo jet carrying 300 of Singapore’s top leaders were to crash, Singapore would be finished.

So you want viable opposition parties to be at the helm? Nope, sorry. They are going to find it even harder to attract the best.

You want a two-party system? Nope, not even remotely possible. Not that the PAP did not think about splitting itself into two.

The younger Lee said: “But the most important reason why a two-party system is not workable is because we don’t have enough talent in Singapore to form two A-teams.”

He added: “We are now pulling together the next A-team of Singapore. And the PAP candidates in this round will form key members of this team and in the next couple of rounds.”

Fair and good, right?

Well, not until you take a look at what is happening on the ground in the opposition camp and you can easily dismiss what Lee had to say about the shortage of talent.

The simple fact is that not everyone who is bright and able wants to be part of the PAP.

The National Solidarity Party has two ex-government scholars: Hazel Poa and Tony Tan, as well as a lawyer, Jeanette Chong-Aruldoss.

The Singapore Democratic Party has Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, who worked as a social worker (with a doctorate in social policy) and absolutely rocked at the Channel NewsAsia debate last week.

And short of introducing God himself to run in a GRC, the Workers’ Party has Chen Show Mao.

So, pray tell, I want none of these but Tin Pei Ling? Just because the PAP says she is good?

Why should I trust the PAP’s ability to screen for potential candidates let alone attract top dogs? There is nothing in their mechanisms that inspire confidence or convinces me that they are not just making up numbers or creating the appearance of looking diversified by fielding Tin Pei Ling.

Therefore, two rebuttal points to the PAP system: It reeks of hubris and it has a tendency to breed bureaucratic apparatchiks.

But what really got my goat was what Lee had to say about PAP wanting to represent every Singaporean: “I think we should try to the maximum extent we can, align all the interest of Singaporeans and make sure one party can represent you, whether you are the CEO or whether you are a taxi driver.”


I just cannot buy the argument that one party can represent the interest of every segment in society.

If you’re gay, or if you’re staunchly single, or if you’re divorced, or if you’re a swinger, or if you’re a single parent, or if you’re homeless, or if you’re liberal-minded, or if you’re a hippie, or if you’re really old, or if you’re really poor, or if you lack next-of-kins, you’re screwed.

Even lesser so, when it is one party trying to be representatives of all the people by manipulating the interests of its citizens.

This is social engineering gone mad.

Let’s not argue about hypotheticals but illustrate using a vivid example: Just look at what happens when you have one Housing Development Board dictating the housing needs of 80% of the population.

The system eventually went tits up late last year when it can no longer make affordable housing to cater to the needs of the masses.

My take on this is pretty simple: If the present Government (a term that was interchangeably used with PAP last night) is indeed as brilliant as it makes itself out to be, it should have been able to create an alternative to the HDB, or made tweaks to refine it.

But it didn’t.

And you ask: Why is there a need for an alternative?

Because public housing, which are built across the island, 1) do not have any quotas reserved solely for local Singaporeans and 2) are subjected to open market competitive pricing, forces prices of housing across the board (private property included) to explode the moment demand goes up.

HDB prices have gone up drastically over the last twenty to thirty years, outgrowing the average Singaporean’s ability to afford them.

And yet the HDB would still insist on providing for the majority, which means it will come back to bite you and me in our asses, because no matter how much richer you can get, you might still end up in a HDB.

Or remain staying with your parents.

I see you have half a million dollars there? I’m sorry, you can probably only afford to buy a three-room flat in Ulu Sungei Goondu, behind Woodlands forested water catchment area, you high-income earner you.

So, here’s the point of today’s missive: If you’re gay, or if you’re staunchly single, or if you’re divorced, or if you’re a swinger, or if you’re a single parent, or if you’re homeless, or if you’re liberal-minded, or if you’re a hippie, or if you’re really old, or if you’re really poor, or if you lack next-of-kins, you’re screwed.

The PAP doesn’t represent your interest at all. It can’t and I won’t even humour myself to say it can.


Want to have the blogosphere in your pocket? New Nation has an app for that. Available on the Android Marketplace.

Online comedy duo on General Election

Online comedy duo on General Election

Tags: , , , ,

Quit playing games for my vote

Quit playing games for my vote

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

You know it’s time for you to vote when all you hear in the news is the “PAP” and “The Opposition”. But you know it’s supposed to be about you and not them right?

By Justin Zhuang

I THOUGHT that Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng was shooting himself in the foot when he questioned the opposition’s motives of wanting to capture a GRC in the upcoming elections. Then again, he made a lot of sense.

“Some say they are doing it for party renewal, some want to be the first ones to do so, but what is the elections about? Is it about the ambitions of a political party or individuals to make history?” he asked.

Clearly, he didn’t seem to remember that his party, the PAP, also has intentions to capture a GRC for party renewal. After all, the party is trying to build its fourth generation team. But in case anyone gets this “team” mixed up with “government”, here’s a quick reminder: The PAP candidates need to be elected by the people first.

That aside, I think his remarks pretty much sum up the elections hustings thus far. All the politicians have been doing is talking about themselves or with one another.

And if history repeats itself, that’s probably how the upcoming General Elections will turn out to be — political entertainment served up once every five years. As usual, the PAP will have a field day caricaturing the opposition parties and their candidates, digging up any dirty and dismal past.

Just look at what they did in the 1963 elections, using cartoons on flyers to succinctly sum up their position against their opponents. The same thing in the 1967 by-elections was done on banners at a rally in Thomson. Nowadays, they just say it as it is, like in 1997 when they labeled Workers’ Party candidate Tang Liang Hong anti-Christian and a Chinese chauvinist. The medium may be different but the method stays the same.

On the other hand, all you hear from the Opposition parties is the plea to us to vote out the PAP — the exact rallying call of the Barisan Sosialis in the 1984 elections.

Yet, what is an elections really about? Is it just about who we vote in or what we are voting for? The problem with our elections here is it never seems to rise above petty politics (and personalities) to a proper debate about issues that matter. It’s like watching an entertainment show on television, with two sides trying to outdo one another, and you as a viewer (some people don’t get to vote, you see), you stand to receive prizes (goodies) just by picking the right winner.

One big reason for this is that neither side treats the voters with enough respect. We don’t know who we are as voters. The constant redrawing of electoral boundaries give us no sense of place. This elections, I am be part of Hougang SMC, but in the next I could be part of Aljunied GRC! Then, there’s the parachuting of candidates: people who don’t live in our constituencies or spend years with us are suddenly moved to stand in a constituency to suit the party’s strategy.

We don’t need a Cooling-Off Day to think about who we want to vote for, but we need certainty about who the candidates are as early as possible. How can we be expected to make an informed choice about a candidate in weeks? Especially when I have to live with the decision for five years!

But the true mark of a people’s candidate is when voters come up to you to take a photograph and an autograph. Not the other way around.

The uncertainty is further fuelled by the lack of a fixed election date, that leads to unnecessary time wasted on speculation. “When are the elections?” “Who will be contesting?” become the de-facto election questions when voters should be discussing the ‘Whats’ and ‘Whys’ of voting.

Uncertainty also breeds uncommitted candidates, because nothing is confirmed until Nomination Day. And in order to win our votes in such a short time, politicians on both sides end up engaging in mudslinging to make their opponents look bad. The opposition especially seems prone to that.

On the flipside, parties the party that can afford more, resorts to gimmicks and giveaways that are sometimes in such bad taste. In order to wrest Bukit Gombak back from the SDP after the 1991 elections, PAP candidate Mr Ang Mong Seng began celebrating the birthdays of children attending the constituency’s PAP Community Foundation preschools. Recalling how he won it back in 1997, Mr Ang told The Straits Times that not only did he sing them birthday songs and cut a cake with them, he even posed for a photograph with each child and autographed it.

Besides the likelihood that the children would have preferred to pose with Barney instead of Mr Ang, I wonder if they even knew who he was. At the very least, the children’s teacher who spends much more time with them in class is more worthy of being in this photograph.

This example pretty much sums up the elections in Singapore: It’s the candidates imposing themselves on us instead of convincing us that we need them. They stick themselves into our lives not necessarily because they want to, but they need to. And when voting is compulsory, it often becomes a choice of the lesser evil.

But the true mark of a people’s candidate is when voters come up to you to take a photograph and an autograph. Not the other way around. To get to this level of acceptance, candidates should start talking with the voters instead of to them.

Oh, and please leave the kids out of your politics.

Justin Zhuang is a Singaporean writer and editorial designer. He blogs about Singapore’s politics, society and visual culture at justrambling.sg