This coming election, I will finally get to strike a cross on a piece of paper, symbolising my choice and fulfilling my duty as a Singapore citizen.
However, I am concerned about the factors which can influence my vote. I want to know if the candidates are capable of being effective voices in parliament, and whether they are aware of world issues and international relations. Are their national-level proposals well thought through?
And, have they been through failure to know the value of success? This is a significant measure of wisdom to me. Are they good people and do their moral values align with mine?
As a child, I never understood why my parents were glued to the TV, watching men in white wearing garlands, and being paraded around—it was as if they had just won the World Cup.
They told me it was because they won seats. I was confused. Were they playing musical chairs? It was not until my dad took me to a political rally in 2006 till I sort of understood what this "obsession" with seats was all about.
WORKER'S PARTY RALLY IN 2011.
PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
I had no idea what I was in for. MP Low Thia Kiang's voice resonated through a large field in Hougang. People around me shouted in support and applauded passionately. The raw energy reminded me of the atmosphere of watching Singapore vs Malaysia in the Tiger Cup at Kallang Stadium.
I started listening intently to the people in blue and the voices that blared from the surrounding speakers. They were not just there to mindlessly complain and criticise the government. They were voicing concerns about hard-hitting issues like housing, CPF, the rising costs of living.
These issues were very close to the heart, and I could understand why my dad took the rally very seriously. He had sacrificed and worked very hard for us, and all he wanted was for his concerns to be represented and addressed in parliament.
I started reading about the political scene in Singapore. I followed the elections closely, and marked results and odds as if they were soccer matches. I even followed mrbrownshow and his funny political podcasts, and memorised some of his ter kua jokes.
As a first-time voter, I have other concerns too. Will my enthusiasm cloud my judgment when I decide to vote? Can I show support publicly for a political party?
What if my boss spots me in the papers, just like how many of us young voters used to hunt for Wally from Where's Wally?
"Boss, not me lah that one, I where got so obiang wear light blue polo like that. I know I'm Malay, but I am not at every corner you know," I once thought playfully to myself.
Furthermore, what does my vote really mean? Does it represent my support towards a party or specific candidates? Or, is it better to spoil my vote if I am undecided?
It would be a challenge, considering the short time left to judge, but I will try my best. After all, my vote still represents a choice, a stand and a voice, regardless of its numerical influence.
PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Similarly, my peers are excited about voting for the first time. Some are concerned about the costs of living and the competitive job markets, as we all face this "quarter-life crisis" when we start our careers.
We engaged in heated debates about the issues politicians raised and joked about them, without hinting at who will get our eventual vote, and rightly so, as it should take timely consideration.
To fellow first-time voters, doing a little bit of research and readings will help in making informed decisions. Take news and social media posts with a pinch of salt (and add that salt to your popcorn if politicians start bickering about each other), and form your own judgments. Attend the rallies by various parties and read their manifestos.
All the best and have fun!
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