The 2015 General Elections - A View From A Distance
“So, who are you voting for?” is the resounding question that haunts me at every conversation I’ve had the misfortune of being sucked into these past few weeks. It’s that time again. I respond with a sheepish grin and quickly find something to divert the attention to. “The chicken very spicy! Water please!” Someone scrambles for a glass of ice cold water and hands it to me promptly. It doesn’t end there. The group then proceeds to ping pong personal opinions on why a political party of choice is more deserving of their vote than the opposition while I blend into the background, sourcing for the next piece of fried chicken to quietly ravage on.
The truth is: I don’t care. I really don’t. And not in the rebellious and angsty “I don’t a flying hoot about who’s running the damned country!” sort of way. I mean come on, I’m turning 26 this year, and it’s my second time voting. The fact of the matter is, I simply cannot wrap my head around anything to do with politics. I’d rather wrap Parma ham around a piece of melon and shove it down someone’s throat. Perhaps it’s more apt to say that I can’t care. The subject of politics is far too heavy a subject for me to handle. And it’s not like I’ve never tried to study, understand, and form opinions on the matter at hand. I admit - back in secondary school, I never did well for Social Studies and History. Oddly enough, I looked forward to those classes for two whole years despite failing miserably at every opportunity there was – tests, exams, quizzes – you name it. In fact, I had hopes that maybe something will click in my head in one of those classes, and that maybe someday, I will be able to write fluently on matters that are supposed to be close to the heart. That day never came.
As I happily munched on the last piece of fried chicken, my ears are still opened, actively listening to the heated debate on the General Elections. Getting lost in the conversation, I start questioning myself. Am I ignorant? Maybe. Am I embarrassed? Of course. I wish I understood what my friends – fellow citizens of Singapore - were all talking about across the table. I’m quietly piecing every bit of information like a huge mind boggling puzzle at the back of my head. Success rate? Zero - no pictures formed. But should I be embarrassed? I don’t know.
One thing I do know is that I am not proud of this fact, and there’s no reason for me to be. It is possible that I am hoping to be part of this conversation to fit in, but I’d rather not pretend. Some of you may scoff at me and wonder how someone could be so daft so as not to be able to grasp the concept of something as simple as the General Elections or social politics as a whole. Well, why don’t you sit down and think of something that you never understood after all this time despite all the times you’ve tried? You could take on a thousand different approaches for a thousand years to teach someone algebra, but if he doesn’t get it then well, he doesn’t get it.
Don’t get me wrong. I like Singapore. It’s safe. We've got a roof above our heads, and food on our plates. And so far, the country has been well-governed. I’m contented with the way things have been. Sure, there are some things that can be improved on. After all, no government is perfect. Save for the unbearable weather conditions, I really have no bone to pick about this place that I call home. Things could be so much worse.
It came to a surprise to me when I discovered that some of my colleagues – an easy-going 36-year-old man with a family to feed, and also a fashion-forward young adult who, like me, is 26-years-old and voting for the second time– were on the same fence as I was. We often hear people pointing their fingers at the government for their dissatisfaction, but all that came across our minds was “Okay. So?” My colleagues are no fools – they are bright, creative individuals with very sound minds and are passionate about their work, so it is not right for anyone to call them stupid just because they don’t feel strongly about the General Elections, or politics as a whole for that matter. We just are not interested in the politics behind the government, and we are not jumping on the bandwagon just because everyone else is on it.
If voting for PAP rocks your boat because they’ve done a good job so far, by all means. If you want to vote for the opposition with hopes for a better tomorrow, nobody’s stopping you. Whatever the outcome, at the end of the day, we still have to adapt to the changes. And if your idea of adapting is to pack your bags, migrate, and be dramatic, feel free. Till then, I’ll be licking my fingers clean from all the bones I’ve picked from my plate of fried chicken.
Photo credits: Tiffany Qi Qi and Chia Aik Beng on Facebook