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First-timer voters share the changes they hope to see after Singapore's GE2020

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This year's general election is set to be an exciting one, but what issues are important to youths?

With all the buzz surrounding the 2020 General Elections, what issues are close to the hearts of youths in Singapore?

For many youths in Singapore, this will be the first time they get to cast a vote in an election. Some are excited about having a stake in this country's future.

Before Singaporeans head to the polls on Jul 10, Youth.SG caught up with four first-timer voters to find out what changes they hope to see in Singapore.

Greater transparency, more environmental policies

"I would like to see more transparency and accountability in the government. I think it helps when Singaporeans understand the rationale behind the policies being put out.

"For example, I think many Singaporeans were unhappy when the government announced that it would be raising the GST. I think more information needs to be shared with the public so that Singaporeans can decide whether the hike is justifiable or not, and to better understand government decisions.

"I would also want Singapore to be more inclusive and to look after the vulnerable in our country. I hope that it would be easier for low-income families or the disabled to get their subsidies.

"I think our environmental policies can be improved as well. Our landfills are filling up soon but I'm not sure if we have policies to address this, or whether there is a plan to increase our recycling efforts. I also hope that Singapore can look more into expanding our use of renewable energy sources to meet our needs." - Sofeah Samsuddin, 24, Student (voting in Marine Parade GRC)

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Some youths hope that Singapore will craft more policies that tackle climate change.
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/ALIYAH KHAN

More responsible political participation

"It's great that there is less political apathy among Singaporeans now, but we need more responsible political participation moving forward.

"I think this can be partly attributed to the rise in social media, where there is a lot of anger when discussing issues. I understand that there is a tendency to get emotional when talking about issues, but that doesn't mean that we should suspend reason.

"There should be more consideration for the facts of the situation, and to consider the local context before we get into heated debates online. We should try to substantiate our arguments with facts and be more responsible in how we discuss issues online.

"We cannot afford to be swayed by rhetoric and falsehoods. I don't think it's just the government's responsibility to fact check, but it should be ours as well.

"In this election and the next, it will be a whole new 'social media' generation who is voting. I think we have to be mindful about the nature of social media, and not to just paint an issue as a 'foreign talent' problem or a 'the government doesn't care' problem." - Siddartha Bodi, 24, Student (voting in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC)

More critical debates about social issues

"I believe that as a society, we have centred our lives around basic things like education, money and jobs, which helped Singapore to secure its spot as one of the most economically successful countries in the world.

"Although those aspects are important, I think that Singaporeans are still quite apathetic of, and can sometimes be hostile to, discussing issues like politics and 'controversial' social issues.

"I think this could be because of how we were taught history and social studies in school. Whatever little politics we were exposed to is clearly divided into 'right' or 'wrong'. There is a very obvious and singular narrative that is fed to us, and no space for any form of discussion or thinking beyond that.

"Also, there isn't a platform available for students in Singapore to actively engage in discourse about other things that could affect their lives or society as a whole, such as LGBTQ+ issues.

"I find that we are expected and taught to accept things as they are because the status quo is shown to be 'good', and there's no need to fix something that's seemingly unbroken. I hope that Singaporeans can expand their perspectives and to not blindly accept whatever singular narrative that has been taught." - Izni Khalisah Abdull Azis, 22, Student (voting in Marine Parade GRC)

More cohesion to take Singapore forward

"The pandemic has understandably led to economic security being a key issue this election. However, looking beyond, I hope that 'jobs' don't remain the only focus for the next government.

"It's admittedly naive, but I hope Singapore strives to be a nation of more than just cogs in a machine. I would want a government that looks to address long-standing issues such as educational inequality and our appalling lack of work-life balance. Even more of a pipe dream would be a government that adopts progressive stances with regards to sexuality, race, and religion to forge an inclusive Singapore.

"These would be all the more impossible without a Singapore that is ever-engaged in productive discussions and debates about what is best for the country. Frankly, I feel that we Singaporeans have failed in that task this election. At times, it felt more like a competition between sports teams with the same flavour of blind hate for the opponents, rather than a concerted effort to understand and to reach out to find common footing.

"As such, I hope Singapore will be able to heal from what has been a very contentious election, and to work together for a better future fuelled by a collective Singapore Dream." - Matthaeus Choo, 26, Freelance Writer (voting in Kebun Baru SMC)

BANNER AND TEASER PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/JAMIE LEO

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