It's election season and it looks like I may get my first chance to vote in my own country, which also happens to be the only country in the world where I have taken a very public oath to die for. It's going to be quite an experience voting in this Red Dot. I mean, it won't be the first time I've voted. Voted three times in the UK (EU Parliament - voted Greens and referendum on a Mayor of London and for the candidate to be Mayor - Tory), so the experience of going to the polling booth is not new to me. However, the fact that I'm voting in my own country rather than in someone else's should be an experience.
However, I don't feel excited. Perhaps I've finally become a true Singaporean after a decade of living here. I've spent the best part of a decade making lots of noise about not voting in my own country as if it was a denial of something inherent to my well being. However, now that the chance may exist, I'm not excited. In fact I am down right annoyed. It may sound crazy but over the years the right to grumble about not voting has actually grown onto me and its actually more important for me to grumble about not voting than it is to actually vote.
I don't know may be, like the rest of the general public, I've developed a strange love-hate relationship with the ruling party. I hate the buggers because they seem to get everything. Yet, I can't do without them because, hey, they're just so familiar that the idea of trying something new or listening to something new seems alien. I suppose, I, like the rest of the Plebs relate to the ruling party like kids do to a parent - can't stand them but can't do without them.
It doesn't help that I live in Marine Parade, a constituency that has been exceedingly well looked after. Our HDB (Council Flat equivalent in the UK) flats look better than a host of condominiums, Our bus routes make the need to drive redundant and our facilities are superb. For me, I live on the 22nd floor and have a direct sea view that most private property owners would kill for.
I've enjoyed all of these goodies because the chief Member of Parliament in my area is the former Prime Minister and now Senior Minister, Goh Chok Tong. If you want to put it in simple terms, Mr Goh has brought home bacon, eggs and caviar and as long as he remains our MP, why the hell should any of us want to boot him out?
Yes, intellectually, I'm all for having more voices and more debate. You're only going to get that if you have a credible opposition. However, how does one keep an MP with the clout to give you the goodies but still have alternative voices?
For most of us, the answer was simple - we voted the ruling party and allowed the opposition to single member constituencies. In short, we kept PAP because they delivered the goodies but also kept two opposition members there to irritate the hell out of them.
Will this election be different? I think it will. People are a wee bit more vocal. The governing party has also displayed a certain level of arrogance - particularly over areas in which it shown itself to be less than competent - let's think of Mas Selamat and floods along Orchard Rd. This arrogance does need to be checked.
However, do I really want to get rid of my MP who has brought home the bacon for so many years? May be I can do without some of the goodies - but why should my aunt and grandma be denied?
Humm, I wonder how many voters are starting to think about their self-interest above the national interest? I'm worried that I am already one of them.