Reply to ST letter “Winners and losers this GE”

I refer to the 13 Sept 2015 Straits Times letter “Winners and losers this GE”.

The PAP knows from the last election that when opposition candidates are delayed at the nomination centre leading them to be disqualified, it reflects badly on them because the election department is controlled by them. So it may not necessarily have been out of magnanimity but out of self-interest that they are making sure this doesn’t happen again. Their helping an independent candidate at nomination centre despite knowing that the opposition is adopting a one-on-one strategy says it all. The PAP wasn’t there to help the opposition.

How can we congratulate all candidates when many opposition candidates did not taste victory? For many of their families, the long suffering will continue. Many of them have toiled for years without pay, without recognition, often with ridicule and even at their own expenses. Time and again, the electorate has not given them their due reward, what is there to congratulate for getting nothing? Or are we congratulating ourselves for the marvellous fortnight of show once every 5 years?

It’s hard to say that PAP activists are sacrificing their lives since we don’t know what benefit or good they get out of their association with the PAP. On the other hand, being poor as they are, there is little if anything the opposition can offer to their activists other than a nice pat on their backs.

The majority of voters did not traverse Singapore to listen to rallies. Many swing voters for example, didn’t bother too much about the official messages out there, preferring to listen to the grapevine, rumours and hearsay.

We cannot thank the national television for broadcasting pro-government messages day after day ever since the death of Lee Kuan Yew. It’s an extremely unfair platform which the opposition must work against.

It was the PAP who resorted to questionable tactics and below-the-belt attacks while opposition candidates mostly conducted themselves with honour and integrity. If there is any party to blame for the division, it is primarily the PAP.

The anger wasn’t so much that friends and family members had different views but that they had so easily believed hearsay and scare mongering without so much as pause for a moment to think for themselves.

How does Ms Sng expect those who have borne the brunt of questionable tactics and below-the-belt attacks to put aside these grievances and pretend nothing has happened? For sure, without being held to account, these perpetrators of questionable tactics and below-the-belt attacks will once again use them 5 years later.

What cheek does the party that resorts to questionable tactics and below-the-belt attacks have to ask for unity for the country?

Straits Times, Winners and losers this GE, 12 Sept 2015

Congratulations to the People’s Action Party for winning 69.9 per cent of the vote.

That the party helped ensure that opponents were not disqualified on technical grounds makes it an even more worthy winner.

But there are many other winners in this election, too.

Congratulations to all opposition parties which fielded candidates, thus contributing to a democratic electoral process by offering voters a choice.

Congratulations to all candidates, their long-suffering families and their dedicated activists who have sacrificed a huge part of their personal lives to make this election a well-contested one.

Voters traversed Singapore in the past week to listen to different political parties at their rallies, so that they could make an informed choice.

Other voters who remained true to their respective party of choice must be congratulated, too, for their conviction and loyalty, remaining firm in their views. The multitude of opinions can only benefit the democratic process.

Congratulations and sincere thanks to The Straits Times and some of the other media for their concerted efforts to give all parties as fair a coverage as possible, and for giving voters platforms to voice their thoughts. That contributed to voters having more information and viewpoints for consideration.

We are, therefore, all winners in General Election 2015, having benefited from a much more transparent electoral process.

But there were losers too: Civility was lost. Elections should be a contest, not a dogfight.

In their dogged push to win, some candidates and supporters of all parties lost their heads and resorted to questionable tactics, realising too late that in trying to demolish respect for their opponents, they lost the respect of voters for themselves instead.

Some of us also lost what we said we wanted in a democratic society: the ability to listen to others who have different opinions.

Many of us became angry with friends and family members who had different views. But what was most worrying was the loss of unity among Singaporeans.

Elections are divisive by nature because of the different points of view on offer. But the degeneration into below-the-belt attacks turned healthy arguments into hate for fellow Singaporeans.

Now that the election is over, I hope we can put away our cudgels and our different coloured T-shirts, and wear “I love SG” shirts instead.

Better yet, keep the latter always on, even as we put another party-affiliated coloured shirt over it during elections.

Agnes Sng (Ms)

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