08 August 2008

Apathetic Singaporeans?

For quite a number of years and quite often, I've read or heard about Singaporeans being apathetic about the socio-political issues here. The most recent that I've seen is from Aaron. He guessed that we are apathetic because we are given "a roof over the head and a full stomach" and Singaporeans "will only become interested in socio-political issues if they are starving or they have to sleep on the streets." Perhaps that is true. Perhaps joblessness, homelessness and starvation was the driving force, the fuel for the fire in the bellies of the Singapore pioneers to engage in socio-political issues,

or do we really have to go into that to get Singaporeans to be engaged? Especially our youths? Perhaps there is an alternative - an alternative that I experienced and will share with you now.

I was apathetic. I don't even know what is an MP, the purpose of parliament, what are political parties, who's in what party etc. When it comes to social issues, all I know is that the destitutes are taken care by the charity organisations, once in a while school or army dish me a donation card/bin and tell me to help in charity, I get attend school in sardined-packed buses and a lot other mundane or should I say bread and butter issues. This understanding of socio-political issues had stuck with me even when I'm 21 (legal age for voting), even after I got married about 5 years later.

Why? Simply because I know someone has voted for someone and that voted someone will take good care of Singapore. I couldn't care more as long as I have a job, a house and my family is well taken care of. However, this apathy was dispelled, on the very day when I received the Election notice that I am supposed to vote.

"Who is this guy? Who is this contender? What have they done? What needs to be done around my constituency? Who can do a better job in addressing the needs of the residents? Who can do a better job to address the needs of Singapore? What are the needs of Singapore?" and so, with only a few weeks to V-day (it was the 2001 election and from what I know, one of the shortest period between announcement to voting day), I did a frantic search on whatever I know about the two candidates and yielded very... very little information.

When V-day arrived, the only reason I voted for that particular candidate was a very simple letter addressed to the residents a couple of years back. I will not tell you the content of that letter because it is not the point. The point is, that is the only thing that I know of, he did for the residents and I know absolutely nothing about the other candidate.

From that day onwards, I told myself to read up more, to find out more. It may be years before I get to vote again or perhaps never will I have the chance again but I want to vote wisely with an informed choice. It was a good thing that I did that because come 2006, my area was contested again and I must say I know who I am voting for.

Did hunger, poverty and homelessness drive me to become interested in Singapore's socio-political issues? For your information, I'm still gainfully employed, I still have my HDB flat and none of my family members are starving... except when I'm on a diet.

My point? Let the people know they have a say and they can make a difference. They earlier they know, the more interested they'll be and the earlier the Government can find good leaders to groom.


Abdul Rahman said...

Hi khirsah. Good to know you're no longer apathetic to socio-political issues. :D


Allow me to do some shameless advertising of an upcoming public forum:

"Universities and the Undergraduates: Designing Education for the 21st Century"

Date: 23rd August 2008 (Saturday)
Time: 2.00pm to 5.00pm (Registration from 1.40pm)
­­Venue: Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium
Level 2, School of Accountancy, Singapore Management University
Dress Code: Smart Casual

Register your name to sociologyntu@yahoo.com.sg

Check the website for details

Hope to see you there...

Thank You

khirsah said...

Hi Abdul,

Thanks for the invite. At present, I think I'm only at the "interested" stage but have yet to get into "participation" stage.

Not only that, that day is a very special day in my family, one that I cannot be apathetic about or wifey will turn me into a pathetic ape.

Thanks again