Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quality, not Quantity

The state of Singapore's election candidates?

In recent weeks and months, Singapore’s various political parties have introduced a slew of new faces.

It is quite certain that unlike recent elections past, the PAP will not be returned to power Nomination Day. Opposition parties look set to contest every seat, and some constituencies are even likely see multi-cornered contests.

This promises that a generation of Singaporean virgin voters who have been living in “walkover constituencies” – many of whom are on the wrong side of 30 (or even 40) – would finally get to see a ballot box up close.

But is that all they really want?

In the words of Oliver Twist, please sir, I want more.

Whether from the PAP or opposition, I want to see candidates who:

(a) Have a track record of being interested and involved in local grassroots and community work. I have my doubts that anyone who has just flown in after spending years overseas is equipped (or committed) enough to serve as an MP..

(a) Can connect with the audience. Being fluent in local languages (and dialects) is nice, but that does not equate to having charisma, which IMHO is a more critical prerequisite for any would-be MP. In election rallies past, I have listened to several MP-wannabes (and some who got in!) who were sorely lacking in this department.

(c) Can critique and suggestion improvements to existing policies (for PAP candidates) or can present practical alternatives to policies they don’t agree with (for opposition candidates). Would-be MPs should not go in riding on coat tails (although this is sadly the case) but at the same time, cannot expect to make a career out of simply criticizing without having to present feasible alternatives.

I do not want to see candidates who:

(a) Base their entire campaign simply on the basis that they will provide an alternative voice in Parliament(for opposition candidates). They have to convince me that they are a *better* alternative. Singapore is not perfect, but things could be worse. Voting for them should not make things worse.

(b) Attacks or disparages a rival candidate on basis of age, gender, race/religion or education level. There is no room in Singapore for bigotry, much less in an MP.

(c) Would view the MP allowance as a “lottery strike.” Those who intend to give up similar or higher paying jobs to serve as full-time MPs win points. Ditto those who donate or use the allowance for the constituents.

Hopefully, we will see a good contest between quality candidates from all sides. Otherwise, I would rather stay home like a virgin (voter).

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