April 14, 2006

Who Cares?

Who cares about politics these days?

The PAP

Being the ruling party since 1959, you would expect them to care. To be "on-the-ball" in fact. You read about them everyday from media reports. I used to marvel at the similarity in which they address the public; sometimes I wonder if they read from the same script. After a while, it became boring. Then came saturation point and I just switched off mentally whenever I hear them speak through the media. They have become predictable and monotonous. The only exception is MM Lee. His speeches never fail to captivate me. Anyway, in recent years, things seem to have improved at least and we get to hear different perspectives from within the PAP ranks. Some, notably Mr Tan Soo Khoon, Dr Tan Cheng Bok and Dr Amy Khor, even raised a few eyebrows. The debate is alive after all.

The Opposition

Nobody would lament more than the Opposition when it comes to the notion that nobody cares about politics these days. Obviously they must been the subject of much cold reception in their efforts to promote "active citizenry". There is no doubt that there is trend towards political apathy in Singapore, especially amongst the younger generation. However, it may not be valid to correlate the Opposition’s failure to arouse interest entirely to citizen’s apathy. I believe that amongst those who do listen, there is just a lack of fresh ideas from the Opposition to get their attention. Consider this: after the GRC concept was introduced in the 1988 GE, they are still harping on the demerits of this system in 2006 and have yet to garner the support to win any such GRC. No wonder nobody cares to listen when the Opposition starts to croak the same old tune again.

The Citizens

No doubt, there is a waning interest in the debates going on in the Parliament and even to the hustling during election periods. I think there are good and bad sides to it. The bad is that citizens are too caught up with their individual lives and become mentally disengaged from the events and trends taking place on a community level. Everybody has now come to expect excellent governance but few people will want to play a role in it.

What then, is the good side of this political apathy? Some has said that Man is lazy by nature. But when hunger strikes, Man will seek all ways possible to satisfy his needs for food. Likewise, when life is good and people are in contentment with the general scheme of things, few will stick their necks out for a revolution. Contentment breeds apathy. When there is discontent, apathy will dissolve. We can afford to be apathetic because our nation has, by and large, been successful so far.

Conclusion

So what does this apathy spells for Singapore? Well, as long as the PAP continues to be successful in bringing in candidates who are dedicated to the good cause, the country will be governed well and contentment will continue.

What if they should falter at some point in time down the road? A period of chaos and discontent, followed by the emergence of a few good men to lead the country out of a crisis? Will the divine coincidence of events that resulted in the Singapore miracle be re-enacted again by the laws of nature? I have my doubts and I dare not think of the consequences if they should falter. Those who are not in alignment with what the current opposition politicians stands for should perhaps seriously consider whether they can play a role within the system which is already established and proven to work. Singapore is a small country and every pair of hands makes a difference.

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