Friday, January 25, 2013

After the final pitches in Punggol East

If I had to go to the polls this Saturday to vote a new representative into parliament, what would my options be?

First, I'd have to consider my position in life: I'm decently happy, possibly to the point of being complacently so. Married; have something of a family and a job that pays a fair wage for a fair day's work. My living conditions are comfortable, while the neighbourhood is still developing. It's not particularly upscale, but it's not exactly a slum either. It's a position I'd like to keep for a long time to come.

After tonight's final rallies, my take on the candidates is as follows:

The green guy who's aiming for a job that requires him to talk in parliament can barely make himself understood talking online. He has no discernible platform beyond wanting to be in parliament and on my behalf run interference on crucial matters that require a decision because that's what an Opposition does, thus proving that Opposition unity is possible. Mr Logical, himself.

The yellow guy alienates everyone the moment he opens his mouth. It's not his grating colonial accent but his air of superiority that tends to rub the wrong way. For a person who claims he can out-debate the PM should he ever have the opportunity, it's puzzling that he would deliver his last speech -- haltingly -- reading his script word-for-word, which he had prepared on his smartphone. Maybe he should not have forgotten to bring his reading glasses.

It's really down to the last two candidates who deserve more serious consideration.

The blue lady represents a party that has been building credibility of late. It's a party that's been increasing its vote share over two consecutive national election campaigns because it promises to do in parliament what many people would love to do personally, but would get arrested if they tried: slap the decision-makers for making stupid decisions, "stupid" being a relative term: if the decision was not for an option mooted by the blues, it's probably stupid and deserves a slap.

The new white guy isn't above hamming it up for the camera and making some incredibly dumb assumptions about private transport ownership during televised interviews. A touchy subject, considering he owns two and so many other people own one less than he thinks.

At this point, neither looks like a viable choice. Let's now examine the blue vs white campaign strategy to see if there's anything there that could sway my vote.

While blue lady raises important issues that many people are concerned and even angry about, as a (hypothetical) voter in a by-election I feel that she's addressing the wrong crowd. For all the rhetoric she raises on behalf of stay-at-home-parents and single parents, just how many of such people actually make up the electorate in Punggol East constituency? In a national election, perhaps such issues might make a difference, but as an average HDB dweller, I'd rather have assurances that my neighbourhood will be well taken care of. Blue lady assures us that as soon as she's elected, she'll take over the town council expediently... but that's it. She has more important issues to consider, issues of national importance, so I should just go home and suck it up. Gee, thanks.

The white guy, oddly enough, has the smart game plan for once. He knows his audience. He's talking about things I want to hear about: literally concrete issues like maintaining the upkeep and the upgrading of the neighbourhood where I live in and getting the mall fixed up. In a by-election with only one seat being contested for, I know voting in a non-majority candidate will make absolutely no difference to the party proportions in parliament. I'm not going to sacrifice the next 3-4 years of development of my constituency (and my property value) for a symbolic political principle. Plus, unlike the other guys and gal whose language sounds imperative and commanding -- vote me in 'cos I know what's good for you -- white guy is offering a hand in partnership and is saying let's work together.

Yeah, yeah, I know it's all campaign blather, but in the end we have to trust that what comes out of the mouth originates from the heart.

Edit 01:
The election results are in. It's an odd feeling to see that what I thought was the rational choice was not what the majority decided on. Emotion and feel-good won the day, and perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised. There's been too little of that going around our little island recently. And now that the people are seeing that a bluer Parliament will not usher in the end of the world, it's clear that this blue wave is just starting to pick up momentum. Let's prepare for a more balanced Parliament at the next GE, trusting that head and heart can work together for the benefit of the body. At least the people are still discerning enough to keep the lunatic fringe where it belongs: out there.

No comments: