Monday, 9 May 2011

GE: Singaporean History

You might not know what 'GE' stands for. In Singapore it doesn't stand for General Electric. It stands for General Election.. a fun time in the Singaporean calendar. I reckon it's had more discussion than all cultural festivals put together.

I was more than lucky to be in Singapore as a Politics student at a time, when politics couldn't be more important. And was even better was that most criticism of the ruling PAP was concerning the prison break of a crippled Indonesian terrorist - which I was actually here for back in 2008. I've just been very lucky when I've come to Singapore that big things happen.

But anyways, the election. Why am I writing about it? well because, the ruling party lost a Group Representation Constituency. And why is this important? Well cos that's 6 seats, gone just like that. The PAP still got 81 of 87 seats, which is clearly a landslide but never in the history of Singapore has the ruling party lost more than 4 seats (that happened in the 80s and is still spoken of as glory days for Singaporean politics). And on top of that nationally they had their worst percentage share since independence.

The PAP said that it is a clear sign that they need to listen to youth voters.. and well, yeh, this is true.  They should have known this before the election really. I mean I've only been here 4 months or so and even I realised that the students and young people in Singapore aren't as impressed with the ruling party as their parents and grandparents - probably because they've been born after the struggle, and are just experiencing the benfits as the status quo - but either way their mindset is different and if you just look at the reception that opposition leaders got at the Singapore Forum on Politics, it was clear that there would be some sort of swing to the opposition.

Makes me think though, I know Singapore is a small state, but the youth vote and opinions of younger people in this country could really make a difference to the ruling party's approach to state-society relations. Only last winter, in the UK, we had several marches and protests against policies that would worsen the lives of students (and indirectly, their families) in order to appease some bankers who gambled the country's money away. We failed to even make an impression on the party who claimed to stand for us. Is there any type of protest vote in the UK that will make the coalition sit up and take note?

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