Saturday, 30 August 2008

Fear?


The chinese version of this article was first published in 'Hammer' issue 0802.

'Hammer' is a newsletter published by the Workers' Party on a quarterly basis. Members of the party will be at different market selling it on every Sunday morning.

It has been two years since I joined the Workers’ Party in June 2006. I was helping out as a Polling & Counting agent in the last GE in Aljunied GRC. It was an opportunity I do not want to miss. I was 28 back then, therefore I thought to myself… “Not now, when?”

I never wonder how my friends or colleagues would react towards my involvement with the party. To me, it was something very normal and right to do. I remembered after my first Hammer Sales outreach, I was reading a copy of it on the bus and coincidentally I met my former colleague. He was curious over what I was reading, so I showed it to him. Oh God! You should have seen his expression. The ‘I cannot believe it’ look was written all over his face.

What shocked me even more was when he said this to me in mandarin, ‘I would very much like to read it as this is the first time I had came across the Hammer newsletter. But can we not do it on the bus? A lot of people will be looking at us.’

I was bewildered! Are we not allowed to read on the bus regardless of whatever the reading material is? This friend whom I met is in his mid 50s, a retiree. Well, I gave him the benefit of doubt that he is probably less savvy thus making a big hoo-ha out of it. I did not really give him an answer, I just bid goodbye and alighted at the next stop which fortunately happened to be my destination.

On another occasion, I was on my way to our party walk-about; I met my neighbor at the lift lobby. We started to chat a bit and she found out that I was with the party. She was singing praises of how well Workers’ Party had performed in the last election and she would like to take a look at the Hammer newsletter too.

Next she was whispering to me to lend her the newsletter, she instructed me to put it into an envelope then pass it to her. There were only two of us in the lift and YES, she was whispering. This was another auntie therefore again I told myself she is not savvy, don’t blame her and stay cool.

The last straw came during a get-together dinner with my friends. Most of them are working in the government sector and staying in Aljunied GRC. We were on the topic of elections and the Workers’ Party. They were doubtful about the secrecy of their votes, worried that their bosses or the ruling party (PAP) will know who they voted for. This is a group of people from ages 28 – 33. I was dumbfounded. The first two encounters were people whom may not know what was going on. But this group of young working adults, they were questioning on the secrecy of their votes! One of them even said, “If I had known earlier that it’s a secret I would have voted for WP.”

What has Singapore education taught our people? What kind of mindset are we having? What type of messages had been send to them? Why are they thinking in this way? What triggered them to think this way? Why is this type of fear instilled into them? Should MOE (Ministry of Education) consider inputting ‘Voting Rights’ into our education system?

Voting is a secret and it is really a secret, no doubt about it that was my answer to them. Fortunately, I was present at the Tuas Incinerator to witness the burning of the votes and therefore I can vouch to that.

Just think, if your bosses or the government knew who you voted for, what are they going to do about it? Give you a raise plus promotion because you voted for them? Or black-mark you and you will always be the last person they will consider should there be any pay rise if you did not vote for them? If the latter were to happen, what does this tells us of our government? Can we still trust them? Can we still move ahead together? Are we a city of possibilities then?

Secondly, is it that easy to know who one voted for? Our voters have got no trust over the government on this aspect? Is this the correct impression one should have of our government? Is there no trust?

Spend some time thinking about the answers to the above questions before you make your sacred vote the next time.

17 comments:

Jolene said...

It's quite incredible isn't it? I know quite a few people my age (I am 25) who also think that their votes are not secret, who think it is naive of me to believe they are, and who are concerned that some years in the future if they rise to prominence any votes they make for the opposition will be dug out and used against them in some way. And many government sector employees in my peer group refuse to sign petitions etc. because they say it is against their employment terms.
How can anyone claim the "culture of fear" is not alive?

Anonymous said...

what to fear? we are all numbed already all these years. I have never voted for the PAPEES eversince the last 3 GE instead I voted for the Oppositions regardless of who they are from. Reason: Simple! I would rather vote for a new party even though they can't do much to help rather than giving 1 more vote to one that keeps destroying the livelihood of our very own Singaporean all these years, and worse they keep telling lies after lies . . . disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Voting is a secret. But the total votes cast in a particular precint is not secret and could and may be used to the advantage of the ruling party in boundary redrawings and dilution of opposition votes.

The conditioning of fear has been honed to a fine art by the ruling party, with subtle and veiled threats over the years, such that the majority of Singaporeans are feeling the way they are, ie neurotic. That is enough to give the ruling party a stranglehold on power for so long.

Anonymous said...

I have decided not to vote for WP even if they are in my constituency. They have shown how incapable they are even holding a seat in parliament versus an NMPs and kowtowing the incumbent all the way. If i had to vote for PAP why would i want a PAP-clone. Voting is secret, but gahmen has huge machinery of knowing which age group of which part of constituency voted for them. Your papers have serials. I dislike PAP but i would still vote them in over WP over that fact that some WP themselves voted PAP. How to trust them? Anyway, WP has only done work on hougang and practically nothing else. No protest no nothing except more AIR talks by sylvia. To me she has lost the mojo she once has during the last election by agreeing with the incumbent so much. I kind of pic her wearing MIW uniform. So much so i am also a liverpool fan. Hope they win the league this year.

FG

vote without fear said...

The ruling party have this real fear of losing at the polls. They have everything to lose and have much to hide from the public. The best defense is to go on the offense and that is to instill fear in the people. Sueing political opponents to bankruptcy to prevent their involvement and using state media as propaganda to influence sentiments. Putting up many obstacles in the elections system to disadvantage the opposition. I have come to my own conclusion that the PAP indeed have a dark side but it is still within the ability of citizens to vote them out. It is crucial to understand that only a new govt can bring about changes to laws that will empower the people, such as having a referendum to settle certain issues. Right now, the PAP is the law and they do as they please. Can this be right for the people and country ?

Anonymous said...

Well, that dumb admission by a WP candidate that he voted for the PAP has done the WP a lot of damage. No running away from it.

I do not see PAP doing work or improving Hougang either. So, what's the problem with WP not doing anything outside of Hougang?

Anonymous said...

Hey friend...

I think its unfair for us to say if they are doing things for hougang a not...only people residing in hougang will know :)

Sorry, i just thought that we have to be fair in judgements

Anonymous said...

Fair in judgements? Any dumb ass will tell you that Hougang and Potong Pasir never figured in any of the PAP's upgrading plans or improvement plans. The whole Singapore knows this for a fact, not necessarily only those people living in Hougang.

Anonymous said...

"I do not see PAP doing work or improving Hougang either. So, what's the problem with WP not doing anything outside of Hougang?"

Well-said!

Anonymous said...

To: Anonymous (04:32)

hey sorry if i was misunderstood here...i mean we cannot judge that WP is not doing anything for people in Hougang or other constituency.

Cos I mis-read anonymous (03:15) as WP not doing anything for Hougang...

So pai seh hoho for my blunder :(

Anonymous said...

Hi anon 4.20. Point taken. No hard feelings.

anon 4.32

tewniaseng said...

Why worry about secrecy of voting. In a democratic society, we have our rights to vote for oppositions.I dare to vote for opposition if govt knows, so what,this is called democracy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lilian,

To your post about fear...

I have been living overseas now for more than 8 years, but i still read about the political happenings back in Singapore.

Strangely enough, the paranoia and fear even comes up right here in HK. Many of my singaporean friends would only talk politics or talk harshly of the current govt, only with close friends.

Many of my friends will avoid any political discussions with other Singaporeans they've only just met, or those who seem all too eager to get opinions of things back home.

They sincerely believe that the Singapore govt has informants/moles amongst the many Singapore communities throughout the world.

Is this not a scary thought by itself? Because the fear and paranoia has been so ingrained, people naturally shut up or censor themselves?

that is how powerful this weapon has been for our current leaders.

Aygee

Anonymous said...

Hi, Anon 01 Sep 2008 PM 12:08 and others might want to consider this insider info: among 20 WP candidates, 11 live in wards contested by WP, 3 live in wards contested not by WP and 6 did not vote due to walkover.

Whether rightly or wrongly was his choice, if one wants to vote against WP because of that, I would think at least 7 WP candidates must have declared voting for PAP. But more than 11 obviously gave their vote to opposition because 11 are WP contested and out of 3 at least 1 gave his vote to SDA, Chiam's party.

Anonymous said...

Voting is supposed to be in total secrecy. Why would people have the concern that it is not? It is obvious NO ONE believe in the integrity of this system. Shouldn't this by a case for WP to argue on?

Anonymous said...

'The voting is supposed to be in total secrecy. Why would people have the concern that it is not?'

That is the beauty of the skillful play on the minds of Singaporeans so much so that they are paranoid. They tell you the obvious (that your vote is secret) but feed you the niggling doubt by numbering the ballot papers, so that voters are worried that the ruling party can find out who you voted for from the numbers on the ballot. For the sake of jobs, children etc, some would ask: Is it worth the risk?

Anonymous said...

Singapore is said to be 1st world and 1st Division but the people's mentality is truly 3rd world.

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