Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Political Discussion

I was engaging a group of my friends in a discussion about politics in Singapore. Actually they sort of have to be concern with the political scene here as most of them are 21 this year and they need to vote in this upcoming election. Out of the four of them that I asked, most were receptive in answering and airing their views on the political scene here. And I suspect, like most first timers, they are rather excited to be finally be able to express their opinion through their votes in this election.

Of course, the paramount issue before everything else was the issue on the progress package. After having a good laugh at me for missing out these 'goodies' by a year, things got serious as they started comparing their bonuses. Some got the maximum amount and some got a bit but everyone got more than me. So they started discussing about what to do with the cash. Some wanted to buy a new phone, some wanted driving lessons and some wanted to use it to buy more magic cards.

But anyway, things started deviating to the upcoming polls. One of them stayed in Hougang and he was telling me how his neighbours the left and the right of him has voted for the opposition everytime. He was not so sure if he wanted to vote opposition this time around but like all other youths, he wanted an alternative voice in the parliament. It seems likely now that Hougang is the strongest opposition territory that could guarentee at least one opposition seat in the parliament.

Although he stated clearly that he would consider carefully who to vote for, his heart was going with the opposition because in every romantic sense, voting for the underdog appealed to him. Yet his analytical mind pondered on the current life that Singaporeans are enjoying under the PAP. He stated how efficent the public buses were, how modern the country was and how much the government has done to turn Singapore from a Third World to a first. He wanted this to continue as he was happy with how it was going.

Another friend then cut in and mentioned that he would vote for the PAP in Choa Chu Kang because of the upgrading. He felt that 'upgraded' flats would carry more value on the property market and could send his house price soaring by another 100 to 200k. Was he too pragmatic? Thinking everything in dollars and sense? Why does he want to sell his house for another 100 to 200k more? Was he unhappy with his current location? He wasn't sure. He just wanted a status quo, where things run the way it is and his property appreciating in value.

My friend in Hougang then stated that if indeed one day the PAP fail to live up to its name, an opposition face in the parliament could then be a rallying point in where Singaporeans can support him to question the government's ineffectiveness.

But are they really satisfied? How about issues like the CPF minimum sum? NKF? These issues were brought up by the opposition. My Hougang friend replied. The reason for a CPF is to relieve the government of the burden of taking care of old folks. By storing a minimum sum even when they have hit the withdrawal age, it would ensure that the old folks would not draw all the money out and spent it frivolously and hence become a burden to society yet again. Such micro managing could be said as restrictive in a way because the money in the CPF ultimately is still ours. But knowing the nature of spendthrift Singaporeans, keeping a minimum sum could well save our lives from dire poverty.

Indeed by this conversation, it showed that youths today are not political apathetic. They understand the government viewpoint and they weigh issues. Most are pragmatic but they know that the government is doing a fine job for Singapore.

My friend concluded the conversation by asking me the question that I started off asking. Who would you vote for if you could vote? I stared at him, pondered a while before replying: PAP.

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