As election in Singapore draws nearer, many who’ve never voted before, especially more so the youths are excited about the decisions that they’ll have to make as first time voters.
Earlier today at a General Election forum organised by the Youth Executive Committees in the Tanjong Pagar GRC held at Sinema @ Old Skool, the event saw youths of all ages and races attending and fielding their questions furiously to the panelists; Ms Indranee Rajah, Dr Cherian George and Mr Jason Wu.
The event which had an attendance of about a 100 participants in the venue saw a range of questions being raised; Ministers and MPs wages and allowances, GRC format and Political Education.
One of the questions which raised a lot of hype was no doubt that of the Ministers and MPs wages and allowances.
The GOH, Ms Indranee herself admitted that she receives an allowance of about $15,000 of which doesn’t go into her pocket. The amount she receives as allowance is used for her to make defray costs in supporting her GRCs in organising activities. She also humbly admitted that when she first got into parliament, she wasn’t aware that she was going to receive an allowance until she received a call asking her of her bank account number!
Further to that, there was also a question asked of why are out MPs only part-time and not full-time MPs. The reply was simply because our dear MPs earn more in their day jobs and thus, there is a need to find a balance between their private and public life. I’d agree to that too since the only ones who hold full-time careers in parliament are Ministers and Parliament Secretaries.
One interesting point to note made by Dr Cherian George was that Singaporeans can expect the PAP candidates who are Ministers to roll out national plans for Singapore during the period of campaigning. Whilst the national plans are good for all Singaporeans, the timing of the announcement have been done to ensure that such coverage makes it to the first page of the papers.
This in my opinion is of course to offset the importance of what fellow opposition candidates have to say during their campaigning. According to Dr Cherian George, Singaporeans can expect about 4 of such announcements to be made during the period of campaigning.
During the refreshment session, I had the opportunity to further ask questions to Dr Cherian George.
One such question that we shared and perhaps agreed upon was that of ChannelNews Asia’s Political Forum and soon, ‘Question Time with the Prime Minister’.
Whilst the Political Forum was meant as a tool for the PAP to show their oratory capabilities and wit to retort opposition candidates by fielding two of it’s best, Tharman and Josephine, the opposition had Dr Vincent and Gerald to thank for where Nizam and Lina failed to raise their profile.
Fortunately for the PAP, ChannelNews Asia is still helping PAP out by next organising ‘Question Time with the Prime Minister’. What does this programme serve to do? It simply serves to help the Prime Minister answer questions close to Singaporean’s hearts in times where New Media has played a huge role in causing mindset shift over the years.
Separately, in attendance at the political forum were mostly friends and fellow Singaporeans from the Chinese community with a few members of the Indian community present. There were hardly any from the MALAY community except for one or two faces that usually attend such events.
My question instead would be, ‘Do our Malay youths care about politics?’
If the forum was anything to go by, I don’t think our Malay youths are bothered nor do they wish to be bothered by it and this is definitely a huge concern.
Perhaps, I should organise one for Malays alone.
What do you think?
To end, based on a survey of 61 people who attended, 49% informed that they’d vote for an alternative party to be in parliament! If that is representative of Singapore, we could see a very much diminished PAP in government which also means that some ministers are going to have to look for new jobs!