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.